2010.04.28 Sleep while you drive the 405

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

When Rosie and Maddie and I traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco a few weeks ago, we drove up the Pacific Coast on Highway 1. We intended to return via Highway 5 through the middle of the state, but Highway 1 was so spectacular, we soon decided we would have to travel back down that road. maddie_sleep.jpg

Once that decision was made, whenever we stopped to take photos of the scenery and I lingered too long, Rosie was quick to use the line, “Let’s go. You can see it on our way back.”

Rosie was our driver for the entire trip—from rental car pick-up to rental car drop-off. When the three of us met at Los Angeles International Airport, it was quickly obvious that she had the most stamina, had gotten the most sleep and was the bravest among us.

Actually, we barely even considered Maddie in the rental car driver equation. I knew we had hundreds of miles of driving ahead of us; it made the most sense for all three of us to take turns covering the distance.

But, as Rosie and I stood at the counter deciding if Maddie should be listed as a driver, Rosie and I both looked over at where she stood with our suitcases. We took in the worn out, travel weary, unwashed, unkempt, hot, sweaty, vacant-eyed young woman laden with a heavy backpack and full of obvious fatigue.

Rosie and I looked at each other, shook our heads no, turned in sync back toward the counter and proceeded with the rest of the rental check out process. Maddie hadn’t driven in months and she looked like she wouldn’t have known the steering wheel from the spare tire.

She had been traveling for 44 hours without proper sleep. For the next week she would fall asleep almost as soon as the car started moving.

We began a series of photos...Maddie sleeping with her mouth wide open, Maddie slackjawed against the car door, Maddie spread out on the back seat. She couldn’t help herself. Days of travel in foreign lands, often in tense situations compounded the effects of that lack of sleep. You wouldn’t have wanted her driving your vehicle either.

With all the tales I’d heard about LA freeways, I wasn’t eager to drive the 405 to my friend Sondra’s house, especially on three hours sleep. But Rosie is a fearless driver and off we went.

I’m sure I’ve driven on roads before with six lanes all moving in the same direction. Isn’t that how it is coming into New York on I-80 and through parts of I-75 through Cincinnati? But eight? Isn’t eight lanes a little excessive?

There is a lovely single carpool lane—except it’s way over in the very left lane—that you can drive in if your car has two or more people. I didn’t follow exactly how it worked, but every now and then you could enter it and then you were stuck in it for miles...until broken white lines let you know you could exit the lane and enter the fray again.  I don’t know how Rosie knew when to get out of it...we only knew where we wanted to get off, not when we would be close to that point.

The 405 is a crazy, practically unchartered road. The exits only have names; a random few have a number., but it’s just that...random. We’d see an occasional 42 here or a 24 there, there’s no apparent order to the system.

You really have to know where you are going by the exit name, there’s no relying on numbers. It’s as if you have to be an LA native from the start and know in advance that Atlantic, Orange and Cherry avenues will precede Lakewood Blvd., or you will sail right by it. It’s such an  inhospitable system for someone who relies on a logical consecutive numbering system for exits.

Hmm, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if Maddie drove it.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017