For those interested in today's epic journey, see below.
Got up today at 6 a.m. so I could try to get out at first morning light. The snow had stopped, but there was the trifling matter of getting out of the motel parking lot. The two Indian gentlemen in charge of the hostelry are, sadly, getting on in years and were clearly not going to shovel things out (although they manfully worked to clear the steps). A plow was scheduled to come by, but as one might imagine they were in demand this morning and it was unclear when this would occur.
Happily, the collected residents of the New York metro area responded like true New Yorkers under pressure -- they bitched and whined and complained to these two fellows that they should do something, despite the fact that it was obvious that the two elderly gentlemen were not going to shovel out the parking lot and had made what reasonable arrangements they could. there be nothing like the presence of complaining New Yorkers to inspire me, I borrowed a shovel from the inn keepers and dug myself out and something of a path to the exit. This involved my getting stuck while the impatient New Yorkers got into their own cars and patiently (for New Yorkers) waited (i.e., they did not yell obscenities or honk -- of course, it's not like they offered to help either).
At last, it was on the road again! I can assure you that the Garden State Parkway at 8 a.m. today was miserable. This was not for failure to plow. It was because the wind kept blowing the snow back on the road, so there was the equivalent in many places of "microblizzards" and lots of places on the road where we had an inch of refrozen snow, ice and slush. Being New England bred, I took this at firm but reasonable speed and managed an average of about 30-40 miles an hour. The folks behind me (especially locals) were inclined to signal their displeasure until one fellow demonstrating to me how it was totally possible to travel at normal speed for the Garden State with no traffic made a picture-perfect fish-tail and slammed into the Jersey barrier (happily for him, just as some emergency equipment was coming up the other way). THAT persuaded the other drivers that perhaps the fellow with the MA plates understood about driving in snow.
[Besides, 30-40 miles an hour is pretty good on the Garden State through Newark between 8-9 a.m.]
By about 9:30 a.m. I had finally made it to the NJ turnpike and pulled in for a rest at the Molly Pitcher rest stop just south of Exit 8A. Unfortunately, my effort to get back on the road was delayed by the New Jersey Highway Authority truck in front me swerving into a snowbank as I tried to exit. They dug themselves out, but the full stop left me stuck in refrozen ice an unable to clear my car out of the exit lane. Of course, the New Jersey Highway people declined to assist me, as did all the other NJ Highway people folks who backed out of the exit lane to use a different exit and leave me stranded ("Sorry, we're running late" said the one who actually had the courtesy to respond). Happily, some folks from out of state were willing to actually get out of their car and help push me the ten feet to get back on firmer ground and off we went again!
Things were a miserable, wretched mess until south of Trenton. Then the only thing to worry about were the gale force winds. These made the Delaware Memorial Bridge something of a hair raising experience. But once past the bridge it was relatively smooth sailing.
Unfortunately, I missed my drop off of the rental car deadline at Dulles (where I picked up my own car) by two hours. The result was to double the rental fee -- which was not cheap to start. Indeed, it is safe to say that the car rental and motel stay were approximately triple the total airfare (although I shall get a credit on Jet Blue for the return leg I did not use).
However, despite the above venting, I am home -- and extremely grateful for the fact. My Aunt Julie who came up to visit my mother is now stuck with them until Thursday, which was what I feared would happen if I tried to get back by plane. (I was on Jet Blue and JFK is one of their major hubs. I expect them to be backed up for several days.) I saw plenty of cars buried along the side of the Garden State this morning in case I regretted my decision to stop for the night.
In any event, I am glad I got up to visit my folks and various relatives. Especially glad to have had a chance to see mabfan, gnomi, Muffin, Squeaker, and goldsquare (my brief interchange with hammercock hardly counts). Now for a nice relaxing evening at HOME!