Posted by: Megan | June 14, 2007

The I405 and the brush with the law!

A recent work assignment cast me away from the comfort zone of the number 57 tram in Melbourne onto the other side of the road in America. In discovering  a whole new new meaning to commuting there were times I wished life on the road could have been as simple as slotting a $3.20 tram fee into the machine.  From neutral to fifth gear, numbness to fear …

405.jpg     police.jpg

Bernard Fanning and the I405

Who would have thought that in just one single mile that Bernard Fanning’s latest soundtrack ‘Tea and Sympathy’ could be listened to five times over? During the drive from San Diego to Los Angeles unfortunately, it wasn’t hard to believe! In fact, listening to track 01: “Thrill Is Gone”, followed by track 02: “Wish You Well”, followed by track 03: “Not Finished Yet”, let alone track 06: “Which Way Home” had me question the likelihood of Bernard having composed 75% of his lyrics stuck behind the wheel in standstill traffic like his fellow Aussie commuter. It would be hardly surprising, and while I didn’t see that day any keyboards or strung guitars on the dashboard in the cars ahead of me or behind me, not to mention the 3 to my right and 3 to my left, I certainly witnessed a fair amount of makeup being applied from the coloured pallets on the dashboard, thumping of the dashboard, heads laid to rest on the dashboard, and sadly a display of the speedometer signal straddling hard to reach for the 0.1 mph mark … on the dashboard! There was certainly time to think though …  and so I wondered if the stretch of 130.50 miles was a wasted sealed monopoly ground for a 130.50 continuum of a Starbucks outlet for there was one on every other block in the country. Or maybe coffee was not even in the question, as I know at one point of the journey I would have happily risked my state of health and general wellbeing for a whole 1L bottle of Gordons Gin with the fresh lime just stuffed right on in, less the tonic and ice!!! Ah yes, it was a welcome indeed to the Interstate 405, a major route linking the northern and southern parts of greater Los Angeles metropolitan area … should you move.

Gloria Gaynor and the I405

On the contrary to the above, when the 405 moved, it moved!!! Chips to my right and a Chevy to my left and every other car manufactured out of the United States at full speed ahead in between on the I405! Oh yes, “hey hey” this little Aussie was afraid, was petrified, and if Gloria Gaynor wasn’t in a hurry to change the words of her well known lyrics at the frightening speed of the traffic, then I was …

At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinkin’ I could never live driving on the wrong side;
But then I spent so many nights
Thinkin’ how Jac and Dyan did me wrong
And I grew strong
And so I came back from the 405 with somewhat grace
I just walked in to find Jac and Dyan with that grin upon their face
I should have changed that stupid lane
I should have made a right hand turn
If I’d’ve known for just one second I’d be lost
So on and on, go driving on
I just turn around now
(’cause) I’m not lost anymore
Mapquest was the one who tried to hurt me with it’s way
Did I crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I. I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to drive I know I’ll stay alive;
I’ve got all my life to live,
I’ve got all my web training to give and I’ll survive,
I will survive. Hey hey.
It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying’ hard to mapquest the directions of my daily route,
And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself. I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high
And you see me somebody new
I’m not that timid little driver that’s very new,
And so you feel like droppin’ in
And just expect me to be free,
Now I’m savin’ all my freedom’ for driving somewhere new
Go on now..

Glamour, fame, fortune … they all had potential, yet tell me please how it was a): possible to get a clear picture of the Hollywood sign at rapid pace b): be discovered in such haste merging lanes every 0.1 mile just to steer clear of wrongly exiting only to be found at the next gas station asking for directions [in hindsight a phrasebook would have been useful] back onto the 405 race track!

Beyond the I405

One would imagine that driving on the “wrong side” on the I405 be training enough for the Grand Prix, let alone exiting Chicago – bound for the gradual approach to the 95W in the Midwest, later on in my solo road trip across the US of A! Yes, one would have thought … The drive … all 7+ hrs of it … Well, firstly began skidding an almost 360 degrees, on the iced, non-salted road just outside of the Hertz rental domain at O’Hare International Airport which did make me question at the 180 degree mark why I declined an upgrade for a vehicle more prone to driving in the snow. Secondly, after the initial 134.61 miles to Madison, bogged by this stage in the snow at the University of Wisconsin car-park further questioned my rental options [thank god for at least the snow “equipment” in the car …] …. Thirdly, in the midst of the next segment, the 265.85 miles bound for Minneapolis, the need for coffee became rather apparent, as to stay awake for the remaining mileage, only to experience at the chosen gas station a “coffee” somewhat too representative of my hiking days in Africa not so long ago, which clearly, says a lot …. Fourthly, should there be a term, in the extended attempt to keep awake, as the 2nd segment of driving was a long stretch, I have to admit, that for the sake of another “Aussie in America” story (and trust me, there have been a few to date), I was somewhat keen to be pulled over by the flashing lights, and sirens of “Chips” (OK, the “cops”) like a NYPD episode, except on I-94W, for all an awakening eventful experience … The thing is … it was more a thought than the reality it became … oops … 15miles over the speed limit and the experience became real … I kid you not … I pulled over like a dutiful citizen [HA!!!] … and watched in my rear vision mirror Mr Interstate 95W Patrol put on his cowboy hat [seriously] before walking to my car window. I was not that phased … to the point that I just so thought I would only be fined that when asked for my driver’s license, without thinking, I handed over my visa card … oops … He was lovely … He either let me off because of my accent [“Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi”] or the fact that he thought it was my B’day on February 3rd by wishing me a happy birthday in slight advance [we do the dates differently here!!!!] … I hope he was not too taken aback at the same time I was equally so, when I said that it’s not my b’day until next month!!! Oh well …. A piece of paper for the story I now have!

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  1. […] Renewed driving confidence – bolstered by the experience those many hours spent on the I405 provided me with – gave me reason to believe that it was time to hit the road again. This time on […]

  2. […] Renewed driving confidence – bolstered by the experience those many hours spent on the I405 provided me with – gave me reason to believe that it was time to hit the road again. This time on […]

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