Tag Archive for Sepulveda Pass

2015 Running Tab of Expenses Due to Poor Road Conditions

 

Driving in Los Angeles, we are forced to pay more than our fair share of car related expenses. We pay more than most states for car insurance and vehicle registration. We drive cars disproportionate to our income levels (granted, a problem of our own making) and of course we pay more in maintenance because we tend to drive more. We need our cars to get around more than most other major metropolitan areas because of limited public transportation options. But, what seems most unfair is that despite our gas taxes and numerous voting measures that have passed to improve our roads, we still have among the worst roads in the nation. These poor roads translate directly to dollars out of our pocket. I thought it would be interesting to keep a running tab for 2015 on just how much money comes out of my pocket due to poor road conditions. My first expense for 2015 has surfaced and I thought I’d share it with you.

But first, last year, because of endless construction in both my neighborhood, at work and on the freeway of course, I had to replace 2 tires because of nails in the road. I hit many potholes, which lead to the need for an alignment more than once.

Back to 2015 … I have to pay the deductible on a new windshield. You’ve probably seen the beautiful “Sunset In Venice” Starry Night photo that I posted on my blog page Photos Captured on the Road. If not, check it out along with other photos I’ve taken. The stars that appear in this photo are actually pit marks on my windshield appearing as stars in the sky. I give credit to the 405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project for this artful masterpiece. Without the endless construction debris blowing onto my car, we would have missed out on this new brand of urban art. It also made for an interesting driving experience when driving at sunrise or sunset with the sun straight ahead, rivaling a Harold and Kumar tripping moment.

Just a couple of weeks ago, when heading North on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, a sizable rock hit my windshield, making it necessary for me to finally replace the windshield. While I was hugely relieved it wasn’t a bullet, the mark it left would say otherwise. So, I called my insurance company and they’ll replace it, less my deductible. So far for 2015, I’m up to $250 in expenses due to poor roads in Los Angeles.

It’ll be a little sad to say goodbye to the blinding beauty the pitmarks created on my windshield, but alas, the year is young and the construction continues.

By the way …

Thanks to those of you who expressed concern because I didn’t post last week. I’m back and all is well … I won’t let it happen again! Thanks for your continued interest. Have a wonderful week!

Marci

Being Present, Mindful Awareness in the Car

Which way now?

Which way now?

Feeling Philosophical in the Car

Driving along this morning to work I was thinking about how there’s so much in life that we just dial in. It’s true on the road too. We drive on autopilot, not really consciously knowing where we are at any given moment. It frightens me a little sometimes when I arrive at my destination and I can’t recall even a moment of the drive. I wonder, “How the heck did I make it there!” I’m so programmed to drive in the same direction every day, I don’t even think about it. I often miss everything around me along the way. Even though we get where we need to be (albeit not always where we WANT to be), in the process of “getting there,” we miss the journey, life happening all around us — the beauty and of course sometimes things that aren’t quite so beautiful.

Time spent in my car is truly a metaphor for life. As I said in my first post for mybLAuto (see my Welcome post if you haven’t read it yet), the road is a main character in my life and sometimes a reflection of who I am and where I’m going. Most of the time, we think driving is about the destination, but really it should be about the journey. That’s where the mystique of Route 66 comes into play and why we take Highway 1 instead of Interstate 5 when heading North. After all, wouldn’t you rather smell the salt air along the coast than the stench of cows along I-5?

Perhaps if we considered the journey, we wouldn’t get nearly as frustrated on the ride or frazzled by the time we reached our destination. Then, maybe just maybe we could better appreciate where we are. Two hours of my life every day in the car is a lot of time to spend not being fully conscious and simply reacting to everything around me. I can better use this time to be an active participant or even a casual observer.

We hear a lot these days about mindful awareness. It’s about being present, appreciating the now, the moments that lead us to where we’re going. So, I decided to test myself this morning, challenge myself to be a little more present in the car as I’m driving. Sure, I was still listening to the news, running down my To Do list in my head, but here were a few of my observations when I stayed “present.”

I could see the Getty Museum on the hill, the Hollywood sign, the downtown skyline and the snow capped mountains in the distance as I was driving on the freeway. The mountains were spectacular. I could feel the coolness of the air outside radiating on the windows, showing me winter is here (Southern California’s version of winter anyway). I knew that the air was crisp and clean outside. The smog was still washed away from the last rain, making the sky a brilliant blue. I could see forever it seemed.

I observed that traffic was somewhat light, uncharacteristically light, if you were heading south on the 405. It’s the holiday traffic upshot for most commuters. Now, I did get stuck in traffic. Seemed there was an accident, one lane blocked. I did what I do … called KNX 1070 Traffic and reported what I observed. The station is after all in my Contacts listed as “Traffic.” I had a great conversation with the traffic reporter. We talked about holiday traffic, this time of the year, how lucky some people are to have this time off work and of course what I saw off to the side of the road. It was a pleasant conversation followed by an on air report recounting our discussion and even mentioning my name as the tipster.

My car hit the peak of the Sepulveda Pass and was greeted with spectacular views of the Valley. Then, the gas tank light came on warning me that my tank is getting low. I headed down the hill into the Valley and arrived at work. Another warning light told me it’s time to service my car again. As my moments of being present slipped away and these warning lights brought me back to my default state thinking about everything but the moment, I parked my car. I stepped out of the car, took a deep breath, filled up my tank with the fresh air so to speak for just one more moment. It was time to take on the day, perhaps with a little more awareness.

Care to give this a try? Let me know if you do and what you observe.

Marci, Your Mindful Awareness Guru in Training

 

Holiday Traffic — A Guide to Surviving – Holiday Driving Tips

We’re entering the holiday season and with that comes one of the many joys seldom discussed – holiday traffic. It’s a mixed Santa’s bag. For commuters going with the general direction of most commuting traffic, i.e. 405 South through the Sepulveda Pass, the good news is traffic actually improves with your commute. That is about all the good news there is however with holiday traffic. For those of us who have a “reverse” commute (if you can even call it that anymore) traffic actually gets worse at the end of the day during commuting hours. Why is that you ask? It’s because many people are off work and schools go on break. In preparation for the holidays, everyone is out bargain shopping, driving all over town, making traffic much worse. I submit to you, the better the economic climate, the worse the traffic. Hurray for our economic recovery. Bah humbug! What compounds the problem is the erratic driving that goes on during this time. People are distracted, stressed, and always it seems in a rush. I’m sure I’ll be reporting on that in the coming weeks and appropriately shaming people along the way.

So, with all that said, I offer you a traffic survival guide for the holidays, holiday driving tips. Heed my advice and you’ll hopefully avoid an accident and get through the holidays with less stress.

Be careful driving in a parking lot – this may be the worst place to be during the holidays. People seem to have the misconception that parking lots are racetracks — the dog tracks to be precise. It’s a dog eat dog world in a parking lot during the holidays. People believe the faster they go, the better the odds are that they’ll get premium parking. I prefer to park towards the back of the parking lot. It’s easier to get in and out and walking is good for you. When you pull out of a space, go slow and look carefully. People don’t typically stop to let you out on a good day, so don’t expect it on a holiday. Same applies to shopping carts! Just think of the lady who pushed me in Costco with her shopping cart … and it wasn’t even officially the holiday season yet! Do you part to take just one parking space. If you do see people who took 2 or more, take a picture and send it to me. I will properly shame them!

Rearrange your driving schedule – Okay, so I know this isn’t always possible, but try to rearrange your schedule to avoid peak times. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the worst traffic days of the year. Leave work early if you can (although it seems everyone is doing that), take the day off work whenever possible, or stick around wherever you are for the evening to wait for the masses to get wherever they’re going. I’m a big fan of Happy Hour after work, but don’t overdo it. The last thing you need is to get a DUI. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Prepare for the worst – If you are stuck in traffic, be prepared. Bring plenty of music, a good book on tape, practice breathing and isometrics. Hey the latter will help you burn those Thanksgiving calories!

Be vigilant – Note — I said vigilant not a vigilante! You have to be both an offensive and defensive driver during these times. Everyone else is distracted so you can’t be. So, when the asshole cuts you off, let it roll off of you. At least you saw him coming. I saw a license plate frame the other day on a yellow sportscar. It read something like, “Okay so I cut you off. Relax, it’s just a lane change.” I couldn’t get the camera out quickly enough because he was driving too fast. (Be sure to take a look at my post on what the color of your car says about you.) Don’t flip the bird. Don’t start a fight. Don’t pull out a gun. Try not to even mouth what you’re thinking — people are accustomed to reading lips at least when it comes to curse words. I know this from experience. Exercise kindness this holiday season and who knows, maybe the Karma Santa will be extra good to you.

Let someone else do the driving – Nah, I take that back. Bad idea. Unless you’re a lousy driver, only you can control the outcome of driving in chaos. Well, actually you can only control it to a point.

Consult with Sigalert – This is my bible. I always consult with it before heading out anywhere. It helps me know whether or not to avoid certain routes or if there’s no way to avoid a situation, at least I’ll be prepared.

Be safe out there!

Zen Master Marci