Monday, December 24, 2007

We Paved Paradise

As regular readers know, I'm not a big fan of car culture, so I was dreading the 500-mile drive from San Francisco to Palm Springs on Saturday.

If there was a high-speed train to Los Angeles and then another train to Palm Springs, I would be one of its first and happiest travelers, but we don't live in that world right now.

Still, the skies and the countryside were so beautiful Saturday morning as we drove through the Livermore valley...

...and onto Interstate 5, that I uttered the foolish words, "This is going to be a really beautiful drive."

Unfortunately, we picked the wrong day for travel where three million SUVs packed with families were going to visit grandma...

...and at one point the traffic stopped altogether for an hour or so after a minor fender bender between a couple of vehicles.

What was even worse is that the San Joaquin Valley feels like being on a poisoned planet, with the air getting grungier and more polluted the further south you travel. The Grapevine pass above was invisible until we were a couple of miles away from it.

The air in the San Joaquin Valley is so bad that the Los Angeles basin looked like a pristine natural environment in comparison.

That is, until one runs into the Interstate 5 traffic around Magic Mountain where the traffic crawls in a stop-and-start manner for miles at a time.

Though the 210 highway wasn't much quicker when we turned east, the combination of mountains, light and a nearly full moon was fairly breathtaking.

Plus, you get to drive through towns with strange names like Azusa.

We're all complicit in this natural disaster...

...and I only pray that we change course during my lifetime.


pjwv said...

The horrible irony is that cars are still being sold as the ultimate in independence and flexibility, when the reality is gridlock, pollution, and frustration. Yet people persist in believing the myth that cars equal independence. I was actually thinking about car culture and some of your entries on it earlier today; at least two cars almost hit me (I was using the crosswalk and clearly had the light). Merry Christmas!

janinsanfran said...

One more point against cars -- they isolate us from each other. Horrors, that I might have to share getting somewhere with others. We learn to be separate.

Enjoy the desert!

Rent Party said...

C'est affreux. I've been reading Mary Austin's _Land of Little Rain_, on the San Joaquin Valley 100 years ago, and both the prose and what it describes are so pristine...

Daniel Wolf said...

"We're all complicit in this natural disaster..."

You couldn't have put it better. California is rapidly turning into a monument to greed and folly.

(But thank the stars for tamales in winter time!)

Best regards,