Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Motoring West - Final
One of the fondest images I remember from my first drive to Los Angeles, back in 1996 when I headed out for graduate school at USC, was this descent from the high desert on I-15 as you enter the LA Basin.
When you hit this spot, you've been screaming through the desert at high speed from Las Vegas (although we were coming from Barstow this time), with gentle climbs and descents up in the range of 4,000 feet of elevation. That desert is hot - my radiator had given out in Utah and Nevada and I'd had the core replaced in Las Vegas (AAA recommended a garage on the strip - right next to Caesar's where the Bellagio fountain is these days) - so all I could think of was, "am I going to see the little red light again?" And you've been driving bumper to bumper at 80 miles per hour for more than 200 miles by that time, passing scorched pavement from car fires every couple of hundred yards with burned out hulks pushed aside into the median. A surreal place.
Then suddenly, you round the bend, and those green mountains that catch the last drops of Pacific moisture and that have been growing on the horizon hit you in the face like a wall, and you begin a sharp descent of a couple thousand feet through a five mile long pass. It's pretty exhilarating, and for east coasters, like me, even disorienting.
In the photo, we are headed southwest to the Ontario airport. You can see the oncoming east bound traffic under the guardrail on the left side of the photo, and you can see the road ahead to the right. There's even a light touch of snow left on one of the peaks over to the right, as it had rained Monday night in the lowlands.