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Eric Douglas: Take the road less ... congested

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One of our cats got sick recently. Aside from the stress that comes with a well-loved family pet being in pain and unable to do anything about it, and not to mention the stress of the vet bills that inevitably arise, I ran into the perfect storm of headaches: road construction.

He had already improved, but last Monday the doctor wanted to see him for a follow-up. That was fine.

The problem was it also happened to be the same day that the Interstate backups began on I-77 at Westmoreland Road.

There I was with a cat in the carrier, and he doesn’t particularly care for the feeling of riding in a car, when I came face-to-face with a traffic jam because of a collision. I finally got extricated from that mess and got to town to get the cat to the vet.

It just so happens that I also had to drive to Beckley that day. Guess what? More road construction on the Turnpike.

Fortunately, it was more slowdowns than stoppages, but still frustrating.

Coming back into town, I called my wife and asked her to check road conditions online. What she told me encouraged me to get off at the MacCorkle Avenue exit and drive surface streets through town.

Then I had to go back across town to the compounding pharmacy to get some additional medicine. My wife reminded me of a way to get back across the river and home.

All in all, I made it through all of that running without incident — but with some elevated stress.

Of course, I had a lot of opportunity to think on the road that day. It made me resolve to look for alternative options. Yes, I will still use the Interstates when the construction is done, but I plan to find surface street options when I can.

Charleston isn’t that big. I bet most of my potential detours won’t be more than a few minutes longer than my normal routes on a good day. And I will remember how to get around when things go awry.

More importantly though, it’ll be healthier. Stress does horrible things to your body.

We have entered orange barrel season so there will be loads of slowdowns, tie-ups and closures. It is better to be prepared than to sit in traffic waiting for your blood pressure or your car to overheat.

A little planning and thinking ahead will get you a lot farther down the road. It’s better for you than getting agitated behind the wheel and yelling at people who are trying to pass or are generally acting like idiots.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit or contact him at

Funerals for Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Berdine, Robert - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Bonsall, Buddy - 11 a.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Holstein, Gary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Keener, John - 8 p.m., Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Miller, Edward - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Wright, Virginia - 11 a.m., Nitro Church of God, Nitro.