Monday, February 15, 2010

What a drive!

Yesterday we left Las Vegas in the mid morning and headed south.  I had mapped out a route that would have seen us overnight on a casino parking lot in Indio but when we got there it seemed too early to stop so we pushed on.  We were headed for Ramona, California where Michael & Christi are managing a Western Horizons campground.  I should have known better than to just let Streets and Trips plot a route because that has got us in trouble in the past but i did it anyway.  I knew we were going to go through some scenic country because the route was really squiggly but I had no idea how scenic we were going to get.

Before we got to the scenic part we damn near killed an idiot.  I’ve threatened to kill idiots in the past but this was all too real.  We had just turned west at Vidal Junction which is no more than a miserable little hole in the middle of nowhere and certainly not one of the scenic spots I referred to.  We were just nicely back up to speed when this moron stepped out of the sagebrush alongside the road, literally in front of us.  He had no shirt, tattered jeans, a major sunburn and wild hair but what was really alarming was that he had a large rock in each hand and he was in the process of throwing one of them as he stepped onto the road.  That one flew in front of us and he immediately prepared to pitch the second one into the side of the bus.  By that time he was beside the bus so all I could do was grab a glance in the rearview mirror and then look ahead waiting for the crash of the rock into the bus or a window.  Nothing happened so I looked in the mirror again to see him staggering around in the middle of the westbound lane.  The car that had been right behind me had disappeared from view – he must have swerved into the eastbound lane.  In hindsight I expect that the moron was so close to the bus that the rush of wind as we went by likely briefly disoriented him and then sucked him in behind us.  He was clearly high on something but killing him would have been a bad thing nevertheless. 

After we dawdled our way through Indio thanks to Streets and Trips routing us through downtown, we headed south on US 75 and almost immediately hit the scenic stuff. 

I would have liked to take more pictures but there just wasn’t any place to stop.  I grabbed a couple from a turnout but I felt that I was endangering other motorists by tying up the turnout.  California has this bizarre law that puts the onus on the lead vehicle in a highway parade to let the following vehicles go by.  That sounds good in theory but what happens in practice is that the following vehicles don’t bother trying to pass which leads to some incredible parades on the highway.  When the lead vehicle in the parade gets to a turnout everybody expects it to pull over and generally they do.  As long as I had the turnout blocked though nobody could pull in so I thought we should keep moving.

A little further up the road we came to what is apparently all too common on this stretch of highway.  Somebody heading west the same way we were wasn’t paying attention.  The road is narrow with occasional sharp drops off the shoulder and it is best described as sinuous.  Apparently the driver dropped a wheel off the shoulder, lost control and spun into the oncoming lane where his passenger was t-boned by a motorcycle.  The motorcycle driver was killed as was the car passenger.  When we drove by the emergency crews were working to extract the body from the car.  The ambulances were gone so I warned Marilyn not to look as we went by but apparently she had already looked and paid the price for that in her dreams last night.

We probably won’t drive that stretch of road ever again but it was well worth making the trip once.

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