95 to 5

Finally getting to post after being on the road for the New Year's Holiday.  Just a quick update..  we had a great visit to the East Coast seeing family and friends in a Midlantic tour from DC to New Jersey to Elkton, MD and then out again via Dulles.  Flights were pretty painless, though the initial thirty minute early arrival into Dulles was wrecked by having to wait an hour and 50 minutes for our bags.  Stinking United.

So it struck me on Monday morning as we were making the drive to the airport (from Elkton, about a 2h drive) that we'd drive on the major interstate arteries for both coasts, I-95 and I-5 in a single day — and I got to thinking about the differences between them.

I rarely drove on interstates growing up in NJ.  In the east, interstates were laid down on top of roads and communities that had existed for more than a century.  They are a way to get from one distant place to another to avoid local congestion.  To get from one place to another locally, you'd almost always take a state-route or a US highway.

In California however, the interstates are used everyday — to get to school, to the grocery store, to work, even to the beach.  Even the state routes have evolved to be "interstate like" — high speeds, exit ramps and no traffic lights.  You only get off the freeways when you've already reached your destination.  They're integrated much more completely into daily life — maybe that's why they're referred to colloquially as "the 5", etc.

Also, another difference is the speed.  I think little of going ~85 mph on I-5 (everyone else is), but was very aware of staying in the flow of traffic on I-95, which was about 70 mph. 

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11 thoughts on “95 to 5

  1. Glad you had a good trip, Steve! I remember I-95 well, whenever I had to drive up from Charlotte to DC. Anyway, welcome back and happy 2007.

  2. yanno, i'd never quite thought of it… but having been on both coasts, i see your point. i don't really use 95 for much, unless i'm going to columbia or further south, or north. it makes a few trips easier, but mostly i'd rather just take the surface roads because they're a better drive. don't really have that option in so.cal.
    and good lord, the freeways in california suck. especially in/around LA.

  3. I also did the whole mid-Atlantic tour thing: Baltimore to Milford, DE to Philly. Haha. I noticed that traffic not only goes slower than my beloved 405 but people really don't know how to drive. "No stopping" apparently means "No stopping unless you're a rich housewife with a giant SUV" and six cars running a red light is commonplace.I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I got back to LA..

  4. We laughed b/c we always said that PA drivers (sorry, Rick) always come to complete and utter stops at merges for little apparent reason. We went up to Doylestown to see where my niece went to school and nearly rear-ended a PA driver that stopped at a merge onto an empty highway!
    Clearly, I've become a Californian b/c I was really happy to get back, too.

  5. hahaha, you think PA drivers are bad? drive around Maryland for a few hours. MD drivers take the cake. They are the WORST. And no, i do not count myself among them, i'm not that bad. at least, i'm better than most of them are.
    add any kind of precipitation to that formula? the entire state comes to a full stop. it's so ridiculous.

  6. i'm originally from jersey, schooled in PA for college, and now reside in alexandria / DC . . . and i have to say, some of the worst drivers are HERE in DC. however, i have a theory about why – the entire population is transient. think about what happens when you put a country roads driver in the middle of DC's traffic mess with the circles and highways and diagonal streets. my friends here can't seem to figure out how i've learned how to get around the city so well after only 7 months when they've lived here for years . . . and i tell them "i happen to love driving in NYC. if you can navigate that city and still get back to jersey without dying, you can get around DC."and the PA-merge thing is so true. they stop DEAD. but then again, alot of the merges have stop signs there, and for good reason. their engineers didn't learn the concept of a "merge-lane".oh. have you ever come across someone honking their horn before going through a stop sign? that's hilarious. not sure the origin, but i'm guessing it has to do with farm animals.

  7. Oh, in MA they stop dead too. But you kind of have to, or else your life might be taken by a "Masshole" driver, who doesn't care if you wanna merge. I used to hate it, but since moving back to CA, I miss the aggressive driving in MA, because at least it was mindful. In MA, you don't have bots dots (those bumpy things on the road) and really wide lanes so that you could drive practically asleep… if you don't pay attention, you'll just crash. Anyway, welcome back!

  8. Now – I want someone in Alexandria/DC to give me the infallible pneumonic to making the transition from I-395 to the George Washington Parkway (around the Pentagon) without fail. Right exit-keep Left-Keep left on the 2nd circle, then merge right like crazy to the Pkwy????? My failure rate is 50% – daytime or dark; 50% of the time I drive Rte 50? to the Beltway. Agony. Shame. Humiliation. And Complete Freakin Nut to the cabbies and limos around me.

  9. no offense taken Steve! I don't consider myself a PA driver having grown up in DE and lived for 8 years in northern NJ. DE drivers are very courteous and when I moved to NJ I realized how that strategy was not going to work there. I quickly adopted the habits of "the NJ driver" and would say my habbits most closely resemble those today. So in DE (and PA) when 2 lanes merge to one, everyone merges about a mile ahead of where the second lane disappears. In NJ, both lanes are full until the VERY last inch of space is taken, then people merge. This is faster and causes less congestion. However, I would agree, PA drivers are awful and both my wife and I had a hard time changing our plates over when we moved out here this summer!

  10. So — growing up in New Jersey, I didn't know that everyone wasn't an –um– aggressive driver. So, when I went to graduate school in North Carolina (another place where people drive pretty considerately), I got into town and drove as always — my philosophy: drive like you mean it :) Well, I got more honks, astonished looks, and shaken fists (and occasionally with an extra digit thrown in for good measure…) — it was hysterical.

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