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Alps on the Road

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I have no idea where to put this - the concept is to write a trip blog that will make it onto my site, but not have to upload it every day, or start at a blog site just for one trip. So I'm just going to blog here and take the result (and possibly witty commentary or Q&A) and make it a feature on my site.

Day 1: The first few paragraphs were recorded as I crossed the Delaware and crossed into Pennsylvania. Sorry, Penna, I hate you. Nothing personal, just PennDOT and bad history. Okay, maybe that's personal.

Airplane flew out on a northern arc, looped down near the Raritan River then WNW along I-78, crossing it and slowly heading north away from it (above Washington, NJ) before straightening out. The plane made some weird beeping/squeaking noises just before starting takeoff, and then they said "enjoy your flight on this 737." Given what just happened with Southwest, I was less than thrilled. Takeoff was steeper than I thought possible, but we made it so clearly they knew what they were doing.
Let me tell you, I was really glad to be sitting next to a quiet couple who were reading, watching TV, and sleeping. The waiting area was full of young kids screaming...
I figure truss bridges aren't very photogenic at 20,000 feet, so instead of nabbing the 22/old 22 Delaware crossings I went for a pic of PA 33 transitioning to its newer section south of 22. It's a lot more visible from the air (pavement change) than the ground. The photo also has the 22 trusses in it, so I'll see how it comes out. A lot of photos I could say that about, I guess. As I'm writing, we're already passing the Allentown airport. Planegeeking gets you there so much faster than roadgeeking...

Looks like everything from PA 100 westward is clouds. The pilot told us to blame Cleveland for the weather before takeoff. I intend to do so.
Random thought as I'm doing the airplane crossword: Clue - Lock opener. First thought - How do I fit "pick" into three spaces? That's an MIT education for you - it opens doors. After the crossword, I did the Sudokus and carefully replaced the magazine in the seatback so that the next person can be upset. Later on I got done editing all of the Rhode Island photos for the next update before my laptop was ready to die. More than two hours of graphics work - not bad at all. Could have used a larger seat though, I'm pretty sure they narrowed up the rows beyond what can physically fit adults. My elbows were jammed behind my seat and into the person next to me (sorry), I was getting shoulder cramps from having to look straight down at the laptop, and any time the person in front of me moved I was in danger of a crunched screen.
Somewhere after the clouds broke, we crossed two large rivers in close succession. I think the first one was the Mississippi, no way to be sure. Either it's surrounded by lakes, or there's been a bad flood. (If there's another large river up that way that's flooded, then that's where I was.) All around that and the next river, instead of being divided into neat farming squares, there are intricate, lacy networks of dark lines against the pale tan ground, tracing every little stream on its journey toward the big river. It's amazing how farmers have plowed every available corner of land against such a densely woven matrix of waterways. As I'm writing this, we pass over one township that screwed up its platting for six miles - the grid is slightly wider and skewed to the west, then reverts back to where it was to the north and south.
Later on, there's a transition from the red sand of the desert to white, and I get excited for the White Sands. Turns out it's too expansive, doesn't quite look like the White Sands area, and is too close to California to be in New Mexico. So, there's actually quite a bit of snow on the ground out here! Guess I'll be prepared for it on the next legs of my journey. That's some crazy blinding white out there. Interesting fact: In highly white conditions, the eye's cones shut down - stare at a sunny white surface for five minutes, then turn to something with color in a regularly lit room and try to see any of it. Glad I have sunglasses, not glad that when I tried to adjust them just a little bit to fit my face the lenses popped out. Took me more than 10 minutes to get them back in, and the whole thing's cheap plastic and Chinese metal. Hoping that doesn't happen again, though at least I know how to do it now.
Speaking of things that break, my camera's zoom is very finicky. My best bet to get it to work is to shake the camera first. Oh, I have some great parenting skills developing. Of course, within the first five photos, I need to use it. Black button-copy one way sign on a side street leading from the rental car area to I-5! Zoom worked for me, thank goodness. No time for zoom after that, the freeways have an INSANE amount of button copy still. California has a very long way to go to replace their signs. I took at least 600 photos of button copy, total both directions. 800 photos total in about 4 hours of driving. I know most of the trip won't be that crazy, but Monday has a lot of freeway legs until I get to Santa Monica (old 66), then it's just sporadic bits of 15 and 40 out to and through Arizona. Next Tuesday, though, I'll drive every freeway in Phoenix, then out on I-8 to San Diego and every freeway there. Is it possible to get a callus on my wrist? I know I'll get one on the pinky that has to hold the camera in position. I can hot swap batteries out without missing a photo; I may have to attempt to hot swap out a memory card given how densely rich the photographic opportunities are here. Hopefully I'm not taking more than 2000 photos in a day, but I honestly have to expect anything, especially for the day that I'm driving around Phoenix.

Route (CA): Harbor Drive-Grape Street-5 SB-15 NB (brief detour on El Cajon Blvd)-10 EB-Etiwanda Ave-60 WB-71 NB-57 NB-210 WB-5 NB-126 WB-150 WB
Clinched: CA 15, I-15, I-210
Notes: Someone on the rental car bus pointed out the Coronado Bridge. Closet roadgeek? The old one-way sign is on Belt St. at Hawthorn St., just before Harbor at Grape. Totally visible. Within 3 minutes I saw that sign and an original-spec state name shield, and I was grinning from ear to ear at what California had in store. I've also seen an original porcelain BGS (or BBS, seemed to be black rather than really dark green). There are rogue I-15 signs along CA 15, not that it matters too much (along connecting streets as much as the highway itself). The widest I-15 got was seven thru lanes NB. Incredible. Development continues more or less nonstop from San Diego to Ontario, although it gets a little sparser in the hills around Rainbow.
The original plan was 10 EB-210 WB to clinch CA 210, but there was a nasty-looking rainstorm in the foothills that started hitting me as I got to I-10, so I decided to outflank it along sunny CA 60. Worked like a charm, except CA 71 through Pomona had a nasty backup thanks to a temporary-looking signal at (I'm sure there was always a signal there, but they're building an interchange now, and the signal that I encountered definitely had issues. The interchange is needed.) I trusted the map that I-210 begins at CA 57, and I was rewarded with my final clinch of the day (and plenty of button copy). The only other traffic I hit was a lot of slow volume WB on I-210 in Pasadena. Once I got near the CA 134 junction it all cleared out (since I-210 heads away from L.A. at that point) and the rest of the trip was uneventful. I highly recommend CA 150 east of Ojai to anyone with a motorcycle or sports car. Sunset was okay, but not what I expected - maybe sunrise is better on this road? CA 126 is practically a freeway except for a traffic light outside Piru and the lack of a Fillmore bypass. Four lanes at 55-60 mph, center striped island. No map shows how good that road really is. I was expecting it to be two lanes and hilly.


--- Quote from: AlpsROADS on April 10, 2011, 02:06:55 AM ---I've also seen an original porcelain BGS (or BBS, seemed to be black rather than really dark green)

--- End quote ---

they're green, trust me.  I know of only two black overhead signs left in CA - both are in Oakland.

Alps, with a name like yours, I wonder if you ever drove US 189 between Provo and Heber in Utah?  The mountainous terrain was tamed to the point a freeway was put in there despite opposition from Robert Redford, who owns the Sundance ski resort.  For an alpine engineering feat, it's the best one I have seen plus when driving on this road in the summer, you cool off 20 degrees from what the Utah Valley is going through!  Now it's time to see how long it takes UDOT to do the easy part from Heber to just north of the Deer Creek Dam so it's all freeway from the I-80/US 40 interchange to the northern outskirts of Provo.  The route is important for the trucking industry as they get to Vegas/Phoenix/SoCal much easier when they avoid Emigrant Pass and Salt Lake City's congestion.  The scenic attributes are a bonus!


@Jake thanks.
@nexus it's my name/nickname :P

Day 2: Family time. Casual wandering around fragrant citrus groves (oranges, lemons, and these wonderful bites of deliciousness known as pixie tangerines). One of my favorite moments was following everyone in a line through tall grass. "Follow me so you don't get bitten." "Bitten by what?" "Rattlesnakes. It's okay, they usually bite the second person." Ah, okay. Weather was low to mid 70s, which was pants and jackets weather around Ojai, but perfect to me. So I played some Ultimate. There's no setting like mountains on two sides, palm trees on the third, and a sunny valley on the fourth. Enjoyed fresh-off-the-tree produce and overall a wonderful time.

Not much road-related, though there was the amusing sight of a tree growing in a road shoulder. I don't have any idea why the tree wasn't removed when the road went in - my guess is that it was widened somewhat more recently and developed as a neighborhood, and by that time the few people who already lived on the narrow road had some sort of attachment to the tree. It has a "keep left" sign and reflectors on it, and a band of white paint, but just like the Polish photo that has circulated here before, there is in fact a tree in the road. I'm currently on a ranch where two out of the three access points are creek crossings (paved) - I was told that after a heavy rainstorm, you have to go all the way down private orchard roads to get to the only bridge. Sometimes people can't even get to work.

Downtown Ojai is all Mission-style architecture, all built in the early 1900s, thoroughly beautiful. Charming town, lovely scenery, and tomorrow I leave all that for the desert. Route 66, ho!

I'll have to look through my Phoenix area photos to see if there's anything interesting to check out.  Here's a few photos that come off the top of my head, even though I plan on looking further.

Cutout AZ 202 shield near Sky Harbor Airport.

A few bridge photos from Tempe Beach Park, which is easily reached from AZ 202.

I also spotted a lot of Phoenix area button copy signs near freeway interchanges along the surface roads they intersect with.


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