Today I am glad to be alive. I'm glad not to be in hospital. I'm glad to be telling you this story.
Nathan and I popped off for a drive for a few days. We went up to Gloucester (NSW, not England!). We drove around and looked at stuff and went for some walks of variable length and difficulty (today's was a doozy!). Then we headed out to the coast cos I like beaches and sea and water and estuaries, etc.
That was ok, pleasant enough but not much that made me want to stop. The weather had gone from being brightly sunny inland to threatening rain so we decided to start making our way home.
OMG. The only time I've been stuck in such traffic jams was when we decided to take the I80 (in California) from where the 880 or 280 (can't remember which) joins it on its way to Sacramento. Admittedly the Californian traffic jams involved anything up to 8 lanes of traffic but even the modest two and three lanes of the Pacific Highway coming into Sydney (90, 80, 70 km OUT of Sydney mind you) jammed up good and proper. I spent most of an hour crawling at 20kmh and under. (The hire car did the crawling, I just had to mind the gears and the clutch.) And the weather was miserable! Drizzle to full on rain, back to drizzle, visibility was woeful, the sun set when we reached the first traffic jam (though we couldn't tell due to the drizzle).... One traffic jam seemed to be caused by the huge queue of people trying to stop at a petrol station/mcchukkas/rest stop. Another? Because three lanes went to two.
Finally we broke free of the traffic jam. I have no idea where all the cars went but suddenly we were flying along. I was sitting in the leftmost lane most of the time as I was getting a good run in it (remember in Oz, this is the "slow" lane). Oh lovely, joy, joy we will make it to the thai place in time to get some food - after today I wasn't going to be cooking.
Lalalalala, whizzing along the road. I've slowed down a little because something odd is happening in front of me. I can't see what is going on, though the rain has cleared and the road is just a little damp, but something is happening ahead of me.
When suddenly an SUV in the emergency lane decides to pull out in front of me.
Turns out our hire car does NOT have ABS braking. I definitely locked the tyres up. I couldn't go into the lane beside me cos there was a car there. We're sliding but slowing quite rapidly as I'm braced on the horn. We're going to stop barely in time. *phew* At that point I check the rear vision mirror and realise the guy behind me hadn't realised I had to stop. He suddenly realises he is waaaaay too close and dives into the emergency lane to avoid the back end of my car.
The SUV pulling out suddenly decides that it isn't a good idea and waves me past.
We were a second away from death or terrible injury (small front wheel drive meets large SUV, I know who loses!). Plus the guy behind me was so close I couldn't see his headlights. Crunched from either end, someone would've spun out, bingo bango, noone would be getting home for quite some time cos the highway would've been closed with a multi-car pile up.
But we survived. And I didn't even get too much of an adrenaline rush. I got a little wobbly but usually after that sort of thing I need to get out of the car and go for a walk. I'm pretty sure Nathan also thought we were going to die as he told me I did a good job a minute or so later. It was luck, sheer luck.
So today I am glad to be here, telling you this tale.
PS - things with various friends are fixed up again. Others are still being nongs but well the most important ones are good :-)