By Lex, on Thu – July 22, 2004
No, not blog traffic! Blog traffic is good!
We are not at war with Oceania – we have never been at war with Oceania.
OK, now I’m free-associating, and you’re forced to bear with it. Or not.
When I lived in Key West, we enjoyed ourselves on the island mightily for the first six months or so. We had wonderful restaurants, beaches, charming venues with an amazing assortment of adult beverages, live music, colorful people, fighters to fly three times a day (well, some of us did anyway). Why go anywhere else?
Eventually we (some of us anyway, the ones who didn’t have the option of flying an F-16 up to Boston to catch a Sox game, and weren’t committed to sampling every last flavor of frozen adult beverage at Fat Tuesday’s ) decided it was time to broaden our horizons a bit. Push out against the barriers.
Go to Miami.
Now, Miami is like any big city.
It’s big in that way that big cities have in that, as a tourist, you feel as though you might very well be in Jurassic Park after the power went off. Because there was every chance that you’d be fine right where you were, and an equal chance that you could inadvertently blunder into a life-altering event, and you just didn’t know where the dividing line was, or what side of it you were currently on. You had this sense that everyone else was in on it, and watching you with casual contempt. Waiting for the velociraptors to strike.
For whatever reason, we never found the part of Miami where “everything was going to be OK.” We always found ourselves in places that the Miami Herald described as “funky” (read: smells bad) or “edgy” (read: roll your windows up, lock your doors, don’t-make eye-contact-for-God’s-sake-whatever-you-do terrifying).
So we were pretty much instantly abused of the notion that Miami was a place to go to “get away from it all” in Key West. Whatever “it” could have possibly been, in the Key West context. Because they weren’t even vaguely aware of “it” in Key West. “It” wasn’t there. They hadn’t even heard of “it.”
We used to fly some of our missions over the Gulf of Mexico, and the Coast Guard asked us occasionally to be on the look out for rafts, boats and such – folks trying to get to Florida from Cuba. Trying, if it could be believed, to get to Miami.
And it sort of set me to thinking: If it was worth strapping yourselves on raft fashioned from palm fronds and inner tubes, and cross 90 miles of shark infested waters in the baking Caribbean sun, if it was worth it to risk your very life, alongside that of your family’s, to get to Miami, if it was worth all of that… How bad did Cuba have to be?
Where are ya going with this, Lex? We were talking about traffic! Weren’t we?
I have a point, I think.
I live in the North County (Coastal). Our house is just off a relatively modest, four lane freeway. Two lanes each way, separated by a broad, grassy median. Just far enough away that we aren’t burdened by the constant whizzing sound of traffic going by, close enough that it isn’t a burden to get to the 5, the main artery heading south to the salt mines. Perfectly located.
Our little four lane has a 90 degree on ramp, that takes us to the 5 proper. Sometimes there’s a bit of a backlog there, and it’s possible for the brave or adventurous to divert to the right, away from the on ramp, under the overpass and come at the 5 from another direction. It can save nearly 2.5 minutes, done correctly. I know, I’ve measured it.
But now our highway has just been extended to the east – it connects with places like Poway, and Rancho Bernardo, and Ranch Penasquitas, and all sorts of other fragrantly named sub-divisions that, heading southbound, used to only have recourse to the dreaded I-15, which in morning traffic is not unlike molasses moving through a surgical tube. Which is to say, slowly. Very, very slowly.
So now, with the final completion of the east-west highway, the brave and courageous can vault across the intervening mountain chain, avoid the I-15, and use our humble highway to join the 5. Which has, over the course of the last four days since the highway has been completed, complicated my life no end.
Now our little on ramp, which was occasionally sclerotic, resembles nothing more than a full-blown myocardial infarction. It is a parking lot, wretched, frustrating, fist-slamming on the dashboard spittle flecking on the windshield mile-and-a-half of north county, coastal (and inland) gridlock.
What does one do, in such a situation, precious One takes to the bike again, one does. Because the bike solves all traffic problems.
But here’s where it gets a little maddening. The new people are aware that there alternatives to the prescribed on ramp – they are dimly perceptive, in a proto-human, 2001 A Space Odyssey, oooh-ing over the obelisk manner that one can go under the on-ramp, and around, and save 2.5 minutes.
But they’re not quite sure how it goes. How it’s supposed to go, What to do.
So they hesitate, and weave randomly, and tap the brakes at unpredictable intervals, entirely spoiling my attempts to blithely lane split their miserable, caged, four wheel bound existences. And if the BMW R1150GS was equipped with laser blasters, no few would have gone to an unlamented fate, over the course of the last few days.
But they come back, day after day. Which makes me wonder: If it’s worth this degree of stultifying, sand-poundingly frustrating traffic over in our little part of paradise, how bad could it have been, back on the 15?