Laurie and Maurice Aburdene should have known their trip home wasn't going to go smoothly when they got into their car at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday afternoon and found the battery dead.

It would get much worse for the Lewisburg couple.

Back from three weeks at the University of Liverpool in England, where Maurice, 60, an electrical engineering professor at Bucknell University, had been doing research, the Aburdenes set out for home in their 1995 Nissan Maxima after getting a jump.

They had passed the Lansdale exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Northeast Extension when a flashing sign instructed motorists to turn on the turnpike's radio station. They learned their normal route - Interstate 80 west - was closed due to the snow. The message urged motorists to get off at Quakertown or Allentown and follow alternate routes. They unfortunately opted for Allentown and got on I-78 west. They fortunately gassed up first.

"We weren't on it 30 seconds and the traffic came to a dead stop," said Laurie, a 54-year-old grandmother. "We sat for six hours and didn't move" except to nibble on granola bars and chit-chat with stranded but "fabulous" truckers all around them.

State police briefly got traffic moving, allowing the jet-lagged Aburdenes to go three miles before coming to another stop that lasted two more hours.

For most of the time, they sat in their Maxima and talked and admired the stars. "It was a clear sky," he said. "It was a gorgeous night," she added.

They decided to turn off the radio to conserve energy. "That's when it got kind of depressing," Laurie said.

It was 3:30 a.m. yesterday when they finally got off I-78 and dragged themselves into the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn on Route 100 just west of Allentown in Breinigsville.

As their luck would have it, they were forced to wait seven hours for a room, where yesterday they "basically slept, watched TV, and called friends to let them know we're safe," Laurie said.

Their goal today is the same one they had when they left Liverpool on Wednesday - to get home.

Contact staff writer Diane Mastrull at 610-313-8095 or dmastrull@phillynews.com.