Saturday, July 31, 2004

Brunswick to Paris

Day Two of the Environmental Law Summer Seminar seemed like more of a distraction than not to what I perceived as the real event of the day: getting cranberry juice to L. She had called me late last night (she's in Milan and calling me on European time) and said she was suffering from a bladder infection. She didn't have any medication with her and was attempting to coordinate a doctor's appointment through the hotel concierge, but wasn't optimistic she'd be able to get a prescription filled. So, as a backup, she requested that I stop at an Atlanta store called "Arden's Garden" and pick up two bottles of pure organic cranberry juice as a homeopathic backup cure.

No problem, said I, although I was still at the Conference on Saint Simons Island and five or so hours away from Atlanta until at least noon, and I had to catch a 9:00 p.m. flight to meet her. Now, nine hours should be plenty of time to drive to Atlanta, buy the juice, and get to the airport, but since the conference didn't end until high noon, I didn't get on the road until about 12:30, and needed to be at the airport by around 7:00 p.m. to clear security and pre-board for an international flight. So nine hours was pretty quickly reduced down to 6 1/2 hours, at least five of which would be spent driving on I-95 to I-16 to I-75 to Atlanta. Still it shouldn't be much of a challenge as long as there were no problems, no traffic and my car held up.

Which is what had me concerned. My back tires were pretty bald (I should have replaced them months ago) and I was concerned that five hours of straight 75-mph driving on them might lead to a blow out. Even so, as I was heading out of Brunswick in a pouring rain, I wasn't thinking about traction until I hit my brakes as I was approaching a red light. The car tried to stop but the bald tires couldn't get any traction on the wet road, and I could only stare over the dashboard in horror as the car skidded into the middle of the intersection of two four-lane roads as the traffic light went from yellow to red and traffic began moving on the cross street.

Fortunately, I was able to come to a stop about halfway through the first lane without colliding with any oncoming traffic, and I quickly threw the Jeep into reverse and backed up to my side of the traffic light. My heart was still pounding from the adrenaline rush but I thought I had avoided trouble, when suddenly, from the opposite lane, a cop car pulled into the middle of the intersection, stopped, and threw on his flashers. "Just what I needed" I thought, "a damn ticket!" But as the cop car stayed there in the middle of the road, effectively stopping any traffic on the cross street, another cop came down the opposite lane, lights flashing, and then another, and finally a big old limousine. It turns out that the cop in the middle of the road was merely providing a barricade for a passing convoy, which was coincidentally passing just after I had skidded into the middle of the road. After the limo passed and the light on my side turned green, the cop in the middle of the road took off, as did I in the opposite direction, shaken and quite unconvinced of my tires, but relieved that I just neither got in a collision nor received a ticket (or both).

One o'clock. Six hours to go. The rain started to let up as I got on I-16 and headed away from the Georgia coast, and I started making up some of the lost time by cruising around 80 mph. Although I did hit some of the inevitable traffic just south of the City, I was able to get to Atlanta around 5:00 p.m. I had called ahead to Arden's Garden to make sure they still had at least two bottles of cranberry juice in stock. I'm pretty sure the clerk didn't believe me when I told her I was coming up from Saint Simons to take the juice to my girlfriend in Budapest, but she assured me that they had plenty of juice in stock, which they did when I got there at around 5:15. I also got myself a big old smoothie while I was there (my only real meal of the day since breakfast), and still was able to stop by the condo for a quick shower before leaving for the airport.

I made it to the excessively named Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport by 7:30 and was easily able to make the flight to Paris, the first of two legs of my trip to Budapest.

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