Sunday, November 30, 2008

Too many people, too many cars

Our visit to Corinne and her two dogs, Havoc and Duncan, in Beaumont, California was short but sweet. We had enough time to get in some play time in the park with the dogs, drive up into the hills, go out to dinner, and sweep through Sam's Club for some bargains (wine and a new GPS to replace the old one that was stolen in Victoria).

The weather on Saturday was spectacular--warm and sunny enough that we needed air conditioning in the car. We drove up to Oak Grove where there is an apple orchard theme park, very charming and complete with Early American style building and costumes. Many families from the area were visiting with their kids--obviously a Thanksgiving tradition. Lots of fun for us as well. Corinne and I bought matching red sandals there.

We were lucky to have been able to skirt most of the Los Angeles basin traffic. We left the jammed I-5 shortly after Castaic and breezed into Beaumont on a new highway I-210. Beaumont is 70 miles from LA but still part of the frantic Southern California lifestyle. Some people who live there actually commute daily to Los Angeles for work--a trip of over two hours each way (if the traffic is good). Freeway driving is just part of every day and trips are measured in hours rather than miles. It seems that Southern California is the victim of its lovely climate--there are just too many people and too many cars, and so the sunny, summery lifestyle is marred by constant worries about traffic jams and freeway pile-ups.

This morning, the last day of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend we left Beaumont and headed east towards Phoenix. The east-bound traffic was light but it looked like it was going to be hours of bumper to bumper traffic for people heading back to the coast. Corinne tells us that many people go to a desert dunes area for recreation and it was obvious that that was the activity of choice this weekend. Many RVs, big trucks, and trailers were on the road complete with the ATVs and dune buggies, with over a hundred miles of traffic jam to get through. What a dreary end that would be to a long weekend!

Tonight we're in Buckeye, Arizona. We saw the same kind of freeway backup heading into Phoenix this afternoon so we stopped off here in order to head south to Tucson on a bypass route tomorrow.

The photo of Corinne's dogs shows Havoc on the left and Duncan on the right. Havoc is a great flyball dog, a mix of Border Collie, Jack Russell, Whippet and maybe something else. He is already running under four seconds at the beginning of his career; he's also an absolute love-sponge. Duncan is a Cairn Terrier who did flyball for a while but is now retired. Maggie enjoyed being with both of these guys today, running after tennis balls and playing in the back yard. I think she's missing Geordie as she actually initiated some play with Havoc this morning--and that's unusual for her.

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