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Tackling the Los Angeles underpasses

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Sugar Bowl Mix: Tackling the Los Angeles underpasses

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tackling the Los Angeles underpasses

Somehow, in all the years I've lived in Los Angeles I've never had more than a fifteen to twenty minute commute to work or the girls' schools. And those commutes never involved freeways.

Until this year. Now I drive fifteen miles. Which may not sound far. But it involves four freeways, one very badly designed freeway exchange where I have to merge three times and get over four lanes all in the space of less than a quarter mile, and twenty-three underpasses. Yes, twenty-three.

I'm a confident driver. Eight lanes of freeways, multiple merges, monster truck grills in my rear view mirror, rear enders happening next to me (last month), cars on fire (last week)  - none of these bother me particularly.

I credit Toronto's Don Valley Parkway for teaching me well. I drove the DVP's middle lane three or four times every week starting when I was sixteen. Los Angeles drivers are tame after driving with the insane Toronto drivers who run you off the road (or at least give you the finger) if you're speeding slower than 85 miles per hour.

But aggressive drivers have nothing on those underpasses. LA is earthquake country. And something about sitting, waiting, under those underpasses completely freaks me out. Seeing the tragic, horrific images from Japan's earthquake over the last week really drove this freak-out home for me.

Today Caroline documented some of the underpasses. The girls helped me count them as we drove home. They shouted in excitement as each underpass went by.

I didn't tell them the underpasses scare me. That I step on the gas to make the turn onto the freeway so we don't have to sit under the underpass waiting for the next light. That I shift into second and creep along if the light ahead is red so I don't have to pull to a stop under the underpass. That I wait for traffic to move forward beyond the underpasses if the freeway is a parking lot. Which it is so often.

No, I'll keep this freak-out to myself. And continue tackling the underpasses, clenching my teeth and gripping the gear shift tightly when I find myself staring up at steel and cement rafters, the beat of the overhead traffic drowning out my own heartbeat.

What's your freak-out?

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Participating in Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

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