In San Diego – observations of the drive

As my father is ailing (alzheimers, and now failing health) I am making the drive to visit more frequently. And that means I spend long tracts of time on the road to San Diego.

Long times behind the wheel and a naturally curious personality, coupled with the keen observation skills of my trade (product manager) and I have some thoughts…

The Route

I usually do the mundane. 101 to 152, over Pacheco Pass (and by Casa de Fruita) to I5 and then bomb down. Stop at the junction with highway 58 (the Bakersfield cut over) for gas/lunch, then back on I5 over the Grapevine. Long ago I learnt that while it is about 20 miles longer, skirting downtown LA by catching 210 often saved about 40 minutes of travel time, especially if you hit LA in the early afternoon. So 210 it is to 15, then boom, you are in San Diego.

But I often dream about other routes. Like 101 south, along the coast, near Solvang, then through Ventura before merging on to I5.

Or Tehachape pass, through the Mojave desert, to 395 south, to 15 to San Diego.

Or even if I am doing the central valley slog, take US33 south, and the slower pace.

But I (almost) never do. Why? Because I just want to get there. Really lousy reason, but, alas, it is the truth.

Day dreaming

As a teenager the family activity was dirt biking, or riding motorcycles off road. Practically every weekend we would pack up and go ride. And that meant long drives.

On said drives, I would gaze out on the side of the road and dream about riding on some of the terrain we blazed by.

That habit lives on to this day. As I am driving over Pacheco Pass, there are a lot of interesting looking fire roads, and roads that are used to access power lines that look like they would be fun.

Or, driving over the Grapevine, you can see the old roads on the other side of the canyon,. They would be fun to drive. I have even looked up some of them on Google Maps/earth.

Or the historic Route 66, having driven on some parts of it when I lived in Arizona (it went through Flagstaff).

But they remain dreams, potential side trips, and diversions. Roads not taken.

Lately, since I have picked up the RC Car bug, I am always looking for places to go bash. Plenty of interesting spaces, and I am wishing I had brought one of my cars down with me. Sigh.

Evidence of Wrecks

While plowing through miles and miles of drab interstate, looking ahead, I see evidence of prior crashes. Skid marks displaying the trajectories of vehicles in the throes of anguish, being hurtled to a tortured rest by a mistake, an altercation, and the dissipation of the kinetic energy.

My physics honed mind looks at these tell-tale traces and tries to imagine what happened. A lane change gone wrong? A distracted driver (sending a tweet?) couldn’t react to a situation? A fatigued big rig driver and a car that plays fast and loose with the law and the forces at play?

No idea, but the record of their “oops” is left in the gouges and tire marks left behind. Sometimes you see evidence of an accident and the charred remains of where the vehicle burnt to the ground (those are especially chilling, and not uncommon on the freeways in SoCal).

Sorry, can’t help but think about it.


I know that I am here to see my father. I know that he will probably not recognize me. It is the damn disease, and it is infuriating. But I will continue to make these trips, and to have this same road trip experience.

One day, after Covid, I want to take a true road trip. No agenda, no plan, just drive to see what there is to see, and to experience life on the road.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.