Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 101 in California

Beth and I have driven a large portion of US-101. We've driven around the Washington Peninsula, where 101 turns east, then south, and then west to meet up with 101 again. We've driven the length of Oregon (or would that be the width of Oregon) as 101 winds down the coast. And now we've driven it in California to San Fransisco.

The 101 in California is both amazing and strange. One moment you will be driving a two lane twisting road through redwood forests and then it is suddenly a six lane divided highway – in seemingly the middle of nowhere. But it will narrow to two lanes again once you're back in the protected forrests. Which is great. But wherever California can fit six divided lanes, they seem to put six divided lanes.

California also doesn't have mile markers. Roads are marked showing distance to or from the county line. And seemingly at random, sometimes as close as a few meters apart. I'm guessing that with so many roads to maintain, this system allows crews to pinpoint problems to, well, the exact meter.

101 seems to have its share of problems. Several times as the road would wind along the coast, we would come upon recently patched areas, on top of an older repair zone, where the road washed away over the winter. Kudos to the California Department of Transportation for getting everything repaired before we came on down. We know you did it just for us.

And they do the same for their own. We were on the 101. Also listed as the Redwood Highway. Also known as a Blue Star Highway in honor of those who have served the country at war. And individual stretches would be named in honor of Transportation workers who dedicated their lives to making California drivable.

If you were driving the 101 on Saturday, we were the ones in the red jeep driving the speed limit, being passed by everyone.

1 comment:

SpokaneMama said...

I had to laugh when I read your description of 101 in northern california. I lived for more than 14 years in Eureka (the largest town in that 101 stretch).

when I first moved there in 1983 it took 6 hours to get to my mom's house near San Francisco.

By the time we moved from there, it only took 5 hours to get to my mom's house.

No there wasn't a shift in the land, just road improvements. That lovely two lane highway was what we had to drive on from Ukiah northward for many years!

That area is referred to as "behind the redwood curtain" and it took a long time for the roads department to look behind that curtain!!