Traffic Report

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The one thing people from outside of LA ask me about living out here is the traffic.  To be honest, that makes y’all a little boring and due to your lack of creativity.  This area is the entertainment capitol of the world, why not ask if I started dating a C or D-Level actress, or met the guy who knows the guy who handles the dog from Modern Family.  Why don’t you ask if I have been to one of the lesser amusement parks, like Spleen World or Notts Dairy Blarms, or Disney’s California Adventure?  Instead, you ask me how the traffic is.

I get it.  Most of you want to think I am spending eight hours a day parked on an Interstate.  Picturing me blaring my horn at some jerk who cut me off.

Well, I hate to break it to you, my commute is not bad.  In fact … it is quite awesome.

To explain it all to you, let’s get out a map alright?  I am currently living in Burbank, specifically just off of Downtown Burbank.  I work at JPL (like you hadn’t heard me say that before) which is on the Northern-most point of Pasadena, and splits with La Cañada-Flintridge. To get between the two places, I actually go on five different interstates:
I-5 South out of Burbank
CA-134 East thru Glendale
CA-2 North
I-210 South
There really isn’t a direct path between the two places, because the two cities are separated by the Verdugo mountains, a short range but still impassible directly.  As a better description — Burbank is inside the San Fernando Valley, and Pasadena is in the San Gabriel Valley … and two valleys have to be separated by something.  This is important, so remember that point.

Traffic much of the time in any place is all about finding the trend of where commuters are going.  My route counters that trend.  The I-5 Route is the only part that doesn’t since it is the main route out of Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and High Desert – so I go in the same direction as those folks (but that’s just for 2 miles).  By CA-134, I am countering the flow in and out of Glendale by seemingly heading into where everyone else is leaving.  CA-2 is … well … I don’t get CA-2.  It’s five lanes in each direction, but I rarely see more that four or five cars on that patch of road.  It’s free and clear.  Then I-210 just seems to be a steady pace right through to the end.  I have city streets getting to JPL, so with that in context the 15 mile drive takes me between 18-20 minutes on the way in, and (due to I-5) about 20-25 getting home.  Not to bad is it?

Well, here’s the good part .. and the real payoff.  You know that mountain pass I have to cross to get between valleys?  Have you ever driven through a mountain pass and said “wow, that’s boring”.  CA-2 is that stretch.  It’s a climb, there is a 600 foot elevation change between Burbank and La Cañada, and I know neither city is at the peak of that pass. The road gives just a bit of a wind to point out the crests and hill tops around the two valleys.  At night, coming over the top and head down towards Glendale/Burbank allows for the lights of the valley to come alive.  In the mornings, as the sun breaks through and casts its light upon the hills, you get a new glow where the orange meshes with the rough colored slopes.  But with all this rain, we get fog or low hanging clouds – those thinner, dynamic clouds that aren’t sure if they want to just create a haze, drop it’s rain, or just burn away.  In short, the views on that route are absolutely gorgeous, and is one of the contributing factors to pushing me to consider living in Burbank / Glendale … just to have the opportunity to see those views daily.

People give me an odd stare when I say I am happy about the traffic out here.  A drive that length in Boston would have taken me about 45 minutes at the same times of day.  The other drivers would be more nasty and more difficult to deal with.  And the best views would be of the water dripping in the tunnels making new holes that would lead to them shutting down the big dig.  So yeah, I’ll take this traffic … I’ll take it any day of the week.

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