I haven’t sat down to write in a long time.
Right now, it feels like I’m trying to knock the rust off an old bicycle in the hopes that it still rides easy. The joke’s on me: it was never easy.
But, I know I need to get back in that chair even if it doesn’t seem like most exciting thing in the world right this second. That’s okay. I think when you do any creative activity, you realize that most of the fun comes after. At least, that’s how it is for me.
Now, I’ve been gone a little while. What have I been up to?
First, I moved from Dallas to Sacramento, California, not Sacramento, Texas, in case you were wondering.
That’s a big move, and I can’t say that I haven’t had and perhaps still have a bit of trepidation about it.
Maybe that’s okay. Maybe most change feels that way, and it’s not really an issue of resolving the discomfort, but instead just riding it out.
Anyways, I meant to write on the road. That didn’t happen.
I drove half of it, but also, for the most part, the world outside the window was just too interesting. Why look down at a crummy laptop screen when you can look out at all of nature while you’re alone out on the road?
The Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, the areas near Flagstaff, Arizona, and California are all beautiful, beautiful places. The rest of Arizona? Kinda boring.
There’s something refreshing about wide-open spaces, especially for a kid who grew up in the suburbs, went to college in the suburbs, twice, and is now living in the city.
So, here’s some observations from the road.
First, people leave reviews for power plants they pass on the highway.
For instance, check out the reviews for this one near Joseph City, Arizona.
Leyna Sortor says “Being from WA where we have hydroelectric, solar, and windpower sources, I wasn’t sure what the two slim towers were from a distance. No need for this.
Take a lesson from Tonopah.” One star.
Ayla Gafni writes, “Saw constellation of lights from a distance. At first thought it was an ocean liner all lit up for the night. Then realized we were in the desert and that doesn’t make sense. Most beautiful power plant this side of the Mississippi. The grand canyon could learn a thing or two about showmanship.” Five stars.
Lisa Groth comments that the power plant is the “[b]est place to roast marshmallows over an open coal burning flame. Family friendly.” Five stars.
If you haven’t noticed, the power plant in particular burns coal.
It’s weird to find a referendum on coal use in the review section.
I’m not sure I understand the motivation of people who feel the need to let the world know that they despise coal plants in the review section on Google Maps. It’s some kind of weird compulsion: must let everyone know that I’m virtuous.
Come on, people. You can’t shame a coal-burning power plant into becoming solar.
Complaining about it on Google reviews is possibly worse than doing nothing, as now you’ve expended time and energy that could have been spent on any of a million more useful things.
Let’s talk California, now.
I have a couple of way-too-early observations.
First, your highway system confuses me.
I have a theory about traffic here.
It’s not due so much to how many cars are on the road, but rather poor highway design plays a large role in how backed up things become.
Granted, I’ve mostly driven in the greater San Francisco-Sacramento area, but the same problem seems to pop up again and again. The number of lanes on the highway is constantly shifting.
You’ll go from two to five and back again over the course of a few miles. This means that through traffic is constantly moved to the left, bringing down the overall speed. Add that to the fact that most on-ramps are curves, which means that merging traffic will not be going highway speed and that the highway often features steep tight curves of its own, which also brings down the maximum speed limit.
I think a lot of this is due to the choice to have the Interstate run through the center of as many towns as possible. This is a mistake. Something I’ve observed in Texas is that the Interstate planners intentionally steered clear of the once-small towns that lay along its route. Historic downtowns are often about a mile from the highway, meaning that the highway could get a massive easement, allowing for wide, consistent lanes, an access road, and straight on-ramps, all things that allow for higher average speeds.
The only solution for California would be to start over from scratch or to build a time machine and alter the past. Both options are expensive, though the latter might be less so.
Another thing that mystifies me is people’s behavior at gas stations. I’ve seen it happen a couple of times now, so I know it’s not an isolated thing.
For some reason, people park at the pumps, and head inside the gas station to buy stuff, and don’t buy any fuel, meaning that the pump is blocked and can’t be used by someone who wants gas.
There are perfectly good parking spaces next to the convenience store. Go use those, people!
So, here I am in Sacramento. If you’re hiring and you need someone who can write, shoot me an email. Or leave a comment or something. Like, subscribe, and tell all your friends and all that jazz.
I have no idea. I love this little blog. It’s always teaching me something new.
Now, to transition and bring everything back around full circle.
Next time you’re out on a road trip, try and keep your head up. With just a smartphone a bit of curiosity, you can learn a lot along the way. The future really is now.