My husband, Dan, and I are currently driving from Los Angeles, where we recently hosted our sixth annual Beverly Hills Shorts Festival , to New Orleans, where we're eager to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Tonight, while headed east on Interstate 10 near Benson, Arizona, we suddenly encountered a traffic jam. Having faced several similar interruptions earlier in the day – mainly due to infuriatingly inefficient construction projects – we assumed that it was like all the rest, and needless to say, we were both frustrated by the prospect of yet another delay.
When, however, Dan spotted some huge flames below an upcoming overpass – not to mention a slew of emergency vehicles – we immediately understood that this was no ordinary hold-up. Tired and cramped from the long drive, we both longed to exit the highway and bypass the accident scene. As evidenced by the various motorists who climbed out of their cars to survey the burning vehicle (or vehicles) – and, in some despicable cases, take photographs with their cell phones – we weren't the only ones anxious to start moving again.
Eventually, the lengthy line of idling cars, vans, and 18-wheelers was directed onto the nearest exit ramp, from which Dan and I were finally able to see the accident scene below. Surrounded by the flashing lights of police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks was a crushed, flame-enshrouded 18-wheeler, a trail of burning debris, and, worst of all, a covered body. It sickened me to think of the poor driver's last harrowing moments – and the fact that, following his or her untimely demise, other motorists (like us) had been initially irritated by the stoppage that the accident had caused.
Headed toward a truck stop for some much-needed rest, gas, and snacks, Dan and I both recognized the value of patience while traveling: the patience to drive without haste, take scenic side trips whenever possible, make time to notice roadside attractions (from windmills to wildflowers to ghost towns), and appreciate each other's company while on the road. After all, we'd much rather have been delayed by an accident than to have been the victims of one.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo / Text © 2011 Laura Martone
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Florida Keys , Moon Michigan , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans, which will be published in Winter 2012.