We were invited to a birthday party “down the hill” on a Friday. I RSVPed weeks ago, sure I would make it to the party, not thinking about the typical Friday traffic through the Cajon Pass, a mountain pass tha separates the High Desert from the rest of civilization. Living on the other side (the north side) of the Cajon Pass means that we have to plan our trips around the weekends. If I go “down the hill”, meaning from Hesperia south towards LA or San Bernardino, I have to plan my drive around the traffic. If I leave on a Friday, I plan to try to return home after 8 or 9pm. If I need to go down the hill on a Sunday, I have to leave before 11am or forget it – I'll be stuck in traffic the whole way down to my destination. It's just a way of life up here in the High Desert – the Cajon Pass is always the “Cajon Crawl”.
This weekend CalTrans is implementing the Cajon Crawl – lane closures on the 15 freeway from 10pm Friday night through 3pm this coming Monday. So not only are the lanes closed, they are closed on the weekend, the busiest traffic time in our area. AND they are closed in the one section of the Pass where there are no frontage roads or quick alternate ways around – you're literally driving in a triangle to get around this section of the Pass on mountain roads in either direction, if you decide to venture off the freeway at all. I kept hearing about the Cajon Crawl on the news and radio. Let alone the usual crazy mishaps on the freeway due to traffic – cars over heating, cars bursting into flames, accidents, blown tires, people backing their cars up the on ramp just to get away, driving on the shoulder … And as I woke up yesterday morning I knew: we weren't going to make it to the birthday party. I had the gifts purchased, Matthew was so excited because it was a pool party, and I was looking forward to seeing my friend who was hosting the party and celebrating her boys' birthdays. But the traffic was too much of an issue!
On top of that, Xaver had to move offices for work, about 10 miles more away from home. No biggie, right? But due to the traffic, he is actually gone 12 hours a day and that 40 mile drive takes about an hour each way. Last night, he got home at 7pm, two full hours after he left work. See this pic below? To the right, that's my house!! This is my freeway exit. That's the Target I shop at. And this is a regular occurrence.
When did it get this bad?
It seems the traffic is worse and worse each week. About 2 weeks ago, every day I tried to come back up the Cajon Pass after having business “down the hill” I was stuck in slow mving traffic in 100+ degree heat. Car fires and accidents, lane closures… it is pretty stressful when this is now your daily life and you essentially live in the boonies.
The traffic comes from a few places:
- People driving to Las Vegas – it's so cheap to drive versus flying and with the economy the way it is, Vegas is a great affordable weekend getaway for alot of So Cal locals. It was the #1 destination on 4th of July for So Cal residents – that means the weekends before and after 4th of July were packed with people trying to beat the crowds (and making crowds of their own) in Vegas. The way to get there? Drive right by my house through the Cajon Pass.
- People driving to Havasu, Northern Arizona, Utah, or Northeast California – the 15 freeway and the Cajon Pass are the gateway to other roads, such as Highway 395 and Interstate 40, that go out of state and beyond.
- People driving home – it's cheap to live here, compared to just 20 miles away in Rancho Cucamonga or Fontana. But we don't have alot of jobs – so we drive through the Cajon Pass to get to and from work, every day.
- Construction – I think CalTrans is run by sadists. Lanes are closed almost every night for contruction and the road is bumpy and lumpy and dangerous to drive on. These road projects take forever. And their burning down bridges while working on them doesn't help it go any faster. This bridge is right by my house… or WAS right by my house…
It's getting to where I don't want to drive down the hill anymore! It's a quality of life issue. How many hours am I spending cooped up in a hot car that I could be doing other things, with my family or friends? Carmageddon, Century Crunch, and now Cajon Crawl…is this just the way of life here in So Cal any more? I'm not into it.
It used to be a joke about driving up and down the hill on a Friday night. Now it is a regular nightmare. It's not funny anymore. I realized I am planning my life based on if there will be traffic or not. That is just silly! I live in the middle of the desert! This is one of those moments when you step back at life and look at what it is and say “why am I doing this? And is this what I want to be doing?”. I just got hit in the head by the traffic brick!
I'm moving. Or buying a helicopter.
Does traffic stop you from doing things you want to do? Do you run your schedule around traffic? Let me know!
Thanks for stopping by today :)