The Last Word at the Lake: Traffic at the Lake

Just after we moved to the lake, I was standing on a tennis court in Denver talking to some new friends. 

“You’ll like it here,” one said. “My only advice is to avoid Highway 16 from about 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. and then again from about 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., and you’ll do just fine.” 

He could have swapped in several other highways, and the statement would have been just as accurate. 

Traffic goes from bad to horrible during in-season weekends, and it goes from horrible to apocalyptic around the holidays. I lived in New York City for 20 years and have never seen worse traffic than the Target parking lot at Christmas in Mooresville. If ever there’s a buying rush for a zombie apocalypse, I recommend avoiding this parking lot that turns into a gridlocked, well, parking lot. 

Last holiday season we were late picking up a Christmas tree but managed to nab one of the last ones at Lowe’s on Highway 150. The guy just behind me in line was there searching for a Christmas tree stand, but they were sold out so he bought a firepit on sale to (I assume) burn his Christmas tree. 

Traffic pulling out of Lowe’s was, of course, a nightmare. After waiting through a few cycles of a traffic light that’s so long you start to wonder if it’s malfunctioning, it was finally my turn to go, but of course some guy pulled into the middle of the intersection blocking traffic. I pulled out and drove around him, but a police officer in an unmarked car disagreed with my logic and hit his lights to pull me over. I’m not sure what was going on in the police officer’s personal life, but I will say the high-level anger and outrage he brought to my car window felt wildly disproportionate to the level of the crime. Maybe he did some breathing exercises in his car after collecting my license and registration, because a few minutes later he returned them with a written warning and a verbal one: “They were supposed to widen this highway but pushed it out a few years, so get used to bad traffic here.”

Traffic is so bad along this highway, and you have to wait for such a long time to make a left turn onto it, that you’re almost better off turning right and then driving all the way around the world. When I drive to the grocery store I’ll go past cars trying to make a left turn. And then on my way home, I swear I’ll see some of them still waiting. But I guess that’s part of the admission price for life at the lake. Maybe one day we’ll see some road construction start. 


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