Adventures in Trafficland… and other such nonsense

Last week I had the privilege of sneaking away mid-week with my husband on what we coined as our “Hockey Holiday”. Being that we live in a small town away from the hustle and bustle of “city life”, I always find myself completely unnerved when we travel into the depths of entropy known as Southern California.

Okay time out! I have to confess to you all that it was just a little over a year ago that I lived amongst the beautiful chaos. City lights, traffic meters, homeless people sleeping on the streets and in the parks, shopping centers, and little blue monsters that took money from you so that you could park. At that time it didn’t really bother me… All the people, cars, and busyness. I never really saw it for the bedlam it was. To me it was just the way things were… 20 minutes to here, make sure that you allot an extra 3o minutes here for traffic. That was just life.

Well, as the old Bob Dylan song says, “The times they are a changin'”, and we packed up our family and moved. There were lots of reason for our decision to relocate and I do not regret it one bit! You see, once we relocated, traffic became 6 cars at a stoplight and there are more open spaces and very few malls. Sounds peaceful right? Well it is.

Yet I regress… back to the story on hand. We left our quiet sleepy little town around 11 o’clock AM on the day we were to be attending a professional hockey game. According to all of the different maps and gps units we have, the trip should have taken us 4.5 hours to get to where we were going (our hotel in Anaheim). With this in mind my beloved husband and I set off. All seemed to be well as we drove through several little cities and towns working our way south. We stopped in Solvang for a quick bite to eat and to stretch then we continued on our journey.

Once we hit Ventura County we had to make a decision. Would we stay on the 101 or take the 1 through Malibu. We decided to take the beautiful coastal scenic route on Highway 1 to avoid any “unnecessary” traffic, (even though it was mid-week.) About the time we hit Malibu reality set in. Apparently everybody in Malibu had someplace to be and I did not get the memo! Traffic slowed to a crawl literally! I mean I could’ve walked faster than we were diving. Eventually we connected with the 10 out of Santa Monica. I wish that I could say that traffic picked up then but sadly it did not.

By this time not only had we been on the road for the allotted 4.5 hours but I was starting to get scared that we would not make this precious hockey game that I had been dying to attend. We changed from the 10 freeway to the 405 to the 605 to the 91. I am sure there was a 57 somewhere in there as well. So many freeways it was hard to keep track! I mean seriously… How screwed up is Google Maps anyways?! I am pretty sure that there are little green men sitting with a “Google” bumper sticker on their rocket ship in outer space, pay rolled by Google, to send rouge directions to poor unsuspecting people here on Earth that are trying desperately not to get lost. Sorry, again I digress.

So with each new freeway/highway we were met with more and more traffic. I kept saying to my beloved husband: “How can this be? It’s only Wednesday! Where do all of these people need to go? Cant they just stay at home or work or wherever they were?” I was getting more and more disheartened with each new freeway. I was thinking that this was not the way I had intended to spend my afternoon. The sky was a lovely shade of brown from all the smog in the air and I was getting homesick for clean coastal air and wide open spaces with each passing moment. Everywhere I looked there were cars sitting patiently to move forward… inch by inch through concrete jungle of highways and buildings. Buildings might I add that seemed to be stacked upon buildings that look like they had popped out of the ground for no apparent reason other than to take up space. Parking lots, malls, more concrete everywhere you looked. We encountered more freeways and highways than I have ever seen in my life. We traveled through towns I had never heard of or had only seen on a maps. We saw people reading iPads and tablets and others fiddling mindlessly with their stereos or electronic devices. I sat in my vehicle vowing that this was the last time I would have to set my eyes on this cacophony of architectural nothingness.

At about 5:00pm we were still on the road. The puck was to drop at the Anaheim Pond in two hours. Our little GPS system said we had about 45 minutes left till our destination. I was doubtful as we were still commuting at the speed of a turtle on crack. Seriously, we were going no more than 10mph. However by some small miracle we began to move again. This time hitting seriously crazy speeds of 60mph! Lo and behold a freeway change and a few miles later we arrived at our hotel in the middle of no where Anaheim. It was around the time that the GPS had given us too (after all of its continuous recalculating). By the time we parked our vehicle we had been on the road more than 6 hours. It may not seem like a long time to some but that is FOREVER when you are stuck in stop and go traffic! My beloved and I had just enough time to change our clothes and head over to the Pond oh which is now called the Honda Center (LAME!)

Remembering that we needed cash to pay for our parking we decided to try and find an ATM. Want to talk about the joke of the century. Our lovely Google Maps had us side tracking and back tracking through city street detours and all over the place just to find that lovely ATM. I have never seen this part of Anaheim and for the record it was kind of shady. When I think of Anaheim I think Disneyland… I mean who doesn’t? This WAS NOT Disneyland nor the Disney Walk or anything of the sort! This was the city… the real city of Anaheim. Broken down shops in sad little strip malls, houses so close together you see what your neighbor was doing in their living room from your kitchen window. People randomly crossing the street no where near a cross walk, with no apparent reason for doing so. It was chaos. Beautiful, sweet, and a little scary.

We eventually made it to the Honda center and were able to see the last 5 minutes of warm ups before the game began! What sweetened the deal even further was the fact that my Chicago Blackhawks shut out the Anaheim Ducks 2-0! It was fast moving, action packed game and we were glad to be able to be there to see it! I could go on about the game but I will save this for a different post. What started out as a fun adventure quickly morphed into a trafficland nightmare.

However, at the end of it all the trip South became a oddly satisfying. With the ability to see the game and visit family and friends it was a real blessing. It was also a reminder to me that there are “city folk” and there are “rural folk”… I do believe that I fit into the last category! I am happy to live in a place where there is more open land than housing tracts. I can’t imagine how many hours are wasted sitting in traffic that could be better spent doing things that make a person happy! You know like taking a hike, reading a book on a sandy beach, or swimming in the ocean… that list could go on for days!

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