It usually takes Tyler Sowers about 2 hours and 20 minutes to drive from her Fort Smith home to see her boyfriend in Little Rock.
But on Friday night, thanks to a February snowstorm that turned Interstates 40 and 430 into virtual parking lots, the familiar trip took a whopping seven hours. That included several hours stopped with no relief in sight on the I-430 river bridge, Sowers recalled Saturday.
Just making it the 12 miles or so from just north of Maumelle — where the gridlock started — to Rodney Parham Road took five hours.
"I was in park for most of the time," said Sowers, a 29-year-old attorney who live-tweeted parts of her ordeal. "I'd get out of park, go forward maybe 50 to 100 yards at a time, and then go back into park. I was a little frustrated by it ... but I wasn't deliriously, completely frustrated till it'd been going on for four hours."
After awhile, around 8 p.m., Sowers made it onto the I-430 bridge, but traffic there "completely came to a stop," she said. She was able to let her dog, Louie, get out and stretch his legs a couple times and she watched "The Addams Family" on her phone, all the while eyeing her gas gauge tick lower and lower while traffic barely budged.
"At that point, I started thinking about do I need to pull over and walk?" Sowers recalled.
On Twitter, she reported a "dead standstill" on the bridge at 9:45 p.m. An hour later, she tweeted this: "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IM STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 430 BRIDGE."
Sowers watched some motorists get out and walk on the interstate and at one point chatted with a driver beside her.
"She looked over and said 'would you believe I'm missing my own birthday party,'" Sowers said. "So I could probably have had it worse."
A little before midnight, Sowers finally reached a pickup that had been "abandoned in the middle lane of the bridge." There was no sign of the driver and it took a bit of maneuvering to get around it, but Sowers got by and made it to the Rodney Parham exit, where her boyfriend met her in a grocery store parking lot.
"Actually getting out and not having to be in the car anymore, I won't lie to you: I cried," Sowers said. "I'm a girl. I got frustrated and I cried. Tears of everything."
As for her return trip, Sowers hopes to get out of Little Rock Sunday after the latest snow melts but before a new storm moves in. But she's already called work to tell them she won't chance it to be in Monday if there's any possibility of driving through another storm.
"If it's looking remotely bad, I'm not going to be there," she said.