Travel in the Great State of California

Let’s get the whining out of the way, shall we?

The LA basin is bordered on the north by a series of mountain ranges: the Santa Monica Mountains divide the city proper (if one can rightly say LA even has a ‘city proper’) from the San Fernando Valley, which ends with the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Interstate 5 traverses the very bowels of the City, crosses the Valley and enters the mountains, becoming ‘the Grape Vine’ for the next 50 or so miles as it gradually rises to 4,144′ at the Tajon Pass, after which it plummets down into the Central Valley where it becomes mostly flat, straight and boring.

640px-Los_Angeles_Basin_JPLLandsat
Looking northeast from out in space off the coast. Mountains touching the ocean on the left are the Santa Monica; above them is the San Fernando Valley of Valley Girl  infamy;  above that are the San Gabriel Mountains.Image from NASA. 

There are a couple of cities along the Grapevine, Santa Clarita being the largest, but soon, as it continues to head north, the number of exits peters out until there’s one maybe every 4 or 5 miles. Despite what Hereclitus might have said, the road up and the road down are not the same: due to the terrain and the unfettered creative genius of 1960’s traffic engineers, rarely do the up and down lanes lie side-by-side. Instead, they wind their separate ways through the mountains, once even switching sides so that opposite traffic is on one’s right, English style.

Why, the unhealthily-interested or bored reader may find himself asking at this point, is he mentioning this? Say some nasty accident happened north of Santa Clarita, like a big rig tangling with a SUV pulling a trailer, with overturned trailers that blocked all 4 lanes and injuries that required airlift out? That would be bad. Traffic would be stuck for HOURS, even!

4 and a half hours, to be more precise. Might have been longer, since, while the people and even the wreckage were gone, they hadn’t reopened any lanes when we reached the scene of the accident about midnight and inched past on the shoulder. We, along with thousands of other travelers, were trapped – couldn’t get off the road, couldn’t turn around, couldn’t go forward.  4 lanes of traffic, including hundreds if not thousands of semi-trucks, along California’s major north-south artery had to be condensed down to one lane and scutched past on the shoulder.

So, of course, you are encouraged to say a prayer for the 4 people involved. We did. But we also got in at 4:40 a.m. Sunday.

Our 11 hour round trip to drop our son off at Thomas Aquinas College for his sophomore year turned into a traffic nightmare.

How was your weekend?

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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