In an effort to avoid driving north through Los Angeles on I-5, I hit upon the idea of using Hwy. 395. When I hit the one-lane 17-mile no-passing section, I had a very long time to contemplate, “What was I thinking?”
The no-passing part was courtesy of CalTrans. As far as I can tell, CalTrans tears a section of a road apart, posts a sign such as “Low Shoulder” or places concrete barriers along the side and changes the sign to “No Shoulder” – and then departs, moving its equipment and workers to another section to tear apart. Job security through the year 2017.
The Good. Seventeen miles of no shoulder/no passing is surely a record. Fortunately, I was followed by a large red truck that kept a steady, safe distance behind me as I drove along at 45 mph. As far as I could tell, he was the only vehicle behind me. How lucky, I thought. Twenty miles later, when I could pull over, two or three dozen cars passed me at 65 to 80 mph. That’s when I realized the red truck had actually been protecting me. Not only didn’t he rush me, he surely took the brunt of the bad words the drivers behind him were yelling out. I figure if I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me. They laid all the blame on him. By the time they saw me and realized the truth, they were going too fast to have time to even extend their middle finger.
As an aside, what I’d like drivers who tailgate me to know is this: If you rush me, I’ll pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you don’t rush me, I’ll pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The Bad. Once the shoulder on the two-lane part of 395 was available to me, I would move over to the right in my lane when I could see it was safe for the less-the-five-cars behind me to pass (i.e., able to use left lane, which was empty of on-coming traffic). I cite the five-car figure because that’s when I’m required by law to move onto the shoulder or use a turn-out. I always use turn-outs, even if there’s only a single vehicle behind me. Should there be as many of three cars behind me, I’ll pull over onto a shoulder when it’s safe to do so. But this one asshole on 395, rather than swinging out into the left lane, used MY lane to pass me, forcing me onto the shoulder. I’ll leave it the Karma Cops to catch up to him.
The Ugly. Notices of “Passing Lane Ahead” are posted about a mile in advance. The second notification is, “Passing Lane ¼ Mile Ahead,” at which point I turn on the right-turn signal in the hope (sometimes in vain) that the cars following me will refrain from using the slow lane to zoom around me. Imagine my surprise, then, when the car behind me passed on the left as soon as the passing lane was visible in the distance. The problem? There was a blind curve ahead, making it impossible to tell if there was oncoming traffic. Now this jerk, who couldn’t wait, oh I don’t know, say 15 seconds, is a good candidate for a Darwin Award. My only concern, however, would be if he did hit an oncoming car at 70 mph, he would probably live while the innocent victims in other car would probably perish. I’m not sure what kind of curse to place on a person who jeopardizes the lives of others. Perhaps a really expensive moving violation ticket? Suspension of his drivers’ license? Violation of his parole?
The “Beautiful”. It turns out that Christy Brinkley is alive and well. I’m referring to the blond siren driving a Ferrari who flirted from afar with Chevy Chase in the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. This particular bombshell was a brunette in her early 30s with a boyfriend in tow. She arrived at the pool at the RV resort in Lone Pine in shorts and a T-shirt, which she slowly removed to reveal a bathing suit underneath. As the dads and grandfathers with bellies and tongues hanging out watched, she bent over with her rearmost feature toward her enraptured audience to apply suntan lotion to her legs. She then proceeded to sunbathe in a most provocative position. I dare not write more because my son reads my blog. I don’t want him to be aware that I know a thing or two about sex.