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President delays return to Maine

08/26/2013
"This is as close as I'll ever get to the President," said Mark as he watched President Barack Obama's motorcade speed past him in Syracuse, NY

“This is as close as I’ll ever get to the President,” said Mark as he watched President Barack Obama’s motorcade speed past him in Syracuse, NY

Traffic came to a dead stop near a small, suburban subdivision somewhere between Buffalo and Rochester on the I-90 New York Tollway.

It was 2 p.m. The sky was dark and getting darker. We were a little over halfway into our three-day drive from Iowa City to Bangor, Maine.

I shut down the engine on the Tacoma.  Jen searched the Internet for answers. It only took seconds to find out we weren’t going anywhere soon.

“It’s Obama,” said Jen. “He spoke in Buffalo this morning.”

Twitter said the President was on an upstate New York promotional swing touting a new higher education plan. He was up ahead of us somewhere and headed to Syracuse.

So were we.

After a 30 minute delay, traffic started to move again. Barely. It was like a Daytona 500 restart with dozens of 18-wheel semis in the mix. Everyone wants to go 70 again but the trucks just aren’t that fast.

Then it started to rain. I mean really rain. It was loud…like someone put a bucket on your head and turned a hose on it. They would cancel the 500 in this kind of downpour.

But we continued.

Twitter said the  President made an unexpected stop in Seneca Falls at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. The stop wasn’t long enough.

As we made our way through the rain storm we could see state troopers stationed on bridge overpasses. Dump trucks blocked freeway turnarounds and random vehicles were parked on the frontage road waiting to catch a glimpse of the Presidential Motorcade.

He was behind us somewhere and coming up fast.

In Syracuse, the downpour hit again. Heavy rain slowed traffic to a crawl. I spotted a service plaza sign and pulled off. Sometimes nature tells you when it’s time to stop.

It was easy to get into the service plaza but getting out was another story. The exit was guarded by the state patrol. We were stuck with about 50 other motorists at a Sunoco gas station and McDonald’s restaurant.

But, hey, we’d have a front row seat when the President passed by right?

Soon all eastbound traffic disappeared. The freeway was now closed.

Sitting in your truck next to a shutdown Interstate freeway is strange. It’s like standing next to a river on a hot day and finding no water. You want to jump in but you can’t.

We must have spent close to an hour waiting for the President.

Then two policemen on motorcycles sped past. One waved his arm. This must be it.

Jen and I  got out of our truck and stood next to some yellow police tape at the edge of a service plaza traffic lane. A guy in a huge, four-wheel-drive truck with a telecommunications company logo on the door walked up to the tape with his phone in the camera mode. Two young blonde girls stayed inside a small car parked next to us.

A motorcade of patrol cars, SUVs and motorcycles rolled by at 60 mph. Jen snapped some pictures. At the center of it all was an completely black “rockstar” bus that looked like it was designed to survive a nuclear holocaust.

Just guessing but that’s where the President was riding.

And then the motorcade was gone.

“Can we go now?” said an unimpressed woman said getting back into her car.

In about 10 minutes.

It never took so long to get through Syracuse.

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