Sunday, February 14, 2016

Trucks and Traffic

Every time we make the trip from our home in Washington State to our home in Georgia, we swear that we are going to "take it easy" and do a leisurely 3,000+ mile trip (is that even possible?)  Then we set out to do a quicker trip than the last grueling trip.  So we woke up early (like 2 a.m. early) for our latest trip South.  So when we came into Los Angeles around 8 p.m., we realized we could get through LA when there wasn't much traffic.  It was basically us and the trucks as we headed over the Grapevine into LA. We were happy the next day we had made the effort to bypass traffic, but it was a tough day!  Here are some comments on sharing the road with trucks:

  1. It seems like there are more trucks on the road.  Like LOTS more.  But I count everything (a sign of mental illness I hear) and I've been counting trucks per mile for years.  I start at a mile marker counting how many trucks are coming toward us between that marker and the next one. After 10 or 15 miles, I can extrapolate an average of trucks on the road (a very unscientific poll). In past years, on the open road in Texas on I-10 or I-20, 10 was about average.  This year's count was around 6 or 7.  However, in the cities, there are definitely more trucks at all times of the day (and night).
  2. When it's raining, the weather is a LOT worse when you pass a truck. Ditto for snow!  There is usually more water coming up off the road than that coming down from the sky and the cloud of water or snow can blind you!
  3. Snobbishness is a human trait, so I began to wonder if among truck drivers they evaluate each other based on condition of the truck, load they're carrying, etc.  For instance, a three trailer truck should get more points than one simple enclosed trailer.
    And a load of 5,000+ pitiful chickens stacked 20' high by 20' wide by 50' long in cages where they have about one cubic foot of space each or a load of smelly bleating sheep has to rate lower than a load of shiny new tractors - or a load of new cars.  Speaking of car haulers - where on earth are all those cars going?  We see about one a mile going in both directions.
  4.  I suppose speed capability is high on the status scale for trucks - nothing like being trapped behind a truck in the left lane gradually passing a truck that is going about a mile an hour slower.
  5. And a colorful sleeper cab personalized with information about the driver has to count for something.
So after jockeying with trucks all the way down I-5 until we were about rummy from 15 hours of driving, we come to a decision where the GPS directs us to take the truck route and we mindlessly obeyed.  What were we thinking?  An opportunity to drive without trucks for a while, and here we were at 9 p.m. already dead dog tired and hanging out with all the trucks on a truck route. 

And motorcycle riders - yikes!  Trapped in 8 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on I-10 around Pasedena during rush hour on Friday night, with cars darting into lane changes at every opportunity, suddenly a loud noise on our right alerted us to a motorcycle coming up in the median between lanes.  Not just one - many!  There isn't enough money on earth to get us on our bike in LA traffic anyway, but going between cars is just plain foolhardy!  We fully expected to have traffic come to a complete halt while they scraped one or more of them off the road.  Fortunately for the commute that Friday night, they all made it safely.
So trucks and motorcycles make interstate driving interesting, but without the interstates, we probably wouldn't even consider making that long trip twice a year.  More trip notes and pictures to follow.