From Texas to Mordor in 24 hours (or shut-up and drive stupid)

3/25/2004 1:00 AM

Tuesday at 5:20 AM I left the Lone Worm Ranch and headed for Mordor, I mean Los Angeles. I made this comparison after a few hours of being inside the city limits of this big bad motor city. Going from the almost idealistic world living on a ranch in the middle of Texas and then driving all day and night to end up in a swirling mass of human flesh, concrete, steel and manicured landscaping was an experience that I look forward to reversing.

I grew up in LA and loved it. I watched LA grow as I grew. I got married in here and my first child was born here. To me LA goes from Ventura to San Diego and from Santa Monica to Blythe. OK technically this is all of Southern California and I am being simplistic in my broad generalizations but for 25 years I have roamed this part of the country and driven the freeways and generally I liked growing up in LA. When I drive around on the freeways and streets the names on the street signs bring back memories from my past or movies that I have seen that were filmed in LA.

I have heard that New York is intense, but I have not been there. I think what freaks me out about LA now am that I grew up here and every time I come back LA seems to have gotten bigger and more complex. Every time I try go back to an old haunt to see if or how it has changed the location has changed so much that I sometimes cannot even recognize it. For example I was visiting my dad who is in a confessant hospital in the city of Orange. When I use to live in an apartment near the location and worked in Irvine which is a few miles away. After my visit I decided to drive around the area and see what had changed. All the large eucalyptus trees that were planted on all the street medians are now huge. When I left Irvine in 1989 they were tractors pulling up citrus groves where a toll free now runs. I use to ride my bike during lunch down to Newport along the route. Sometimes progress can be inspiring and at other times it makes me sad. Citrus groves replaced by toll roads and condos makes the point of you can never go home a reality.

Some folks marvel at how I can drive for 24 or 30 hours at a time alone. I must admit that it amazes me too after I get to where I am going. I do not take any pharmaceutical drugs when I drive. I only drank 4 large cups of coffee and 1.5 liters of Dr. Pepper during the trip. I stopped for one meal in Lordsburg, New Mexico which is about 748 miles into the 1457.1 mile drive. I like driving long distances especially at night. Sometimes during the day I get distracted by the scenery and want to stop a lot and take pictures. At night however I can focus just on driving because it is dark. I can also see traffic better because of headlights. My dad taught me how to drive and here are some of the night driving tips that he passed on to me that I still use.

  • When you see on coming headlights do not look at them look at the fog line on the far rights side of the road.

  • Adjust your side mirrors so that they do not allow rear head lights to shine in your face.

  • Adjust side mirrors so that you have to move your head forward or backward to see traffic behind you.

  • Once you have you mirrors adjust as described above you can keep alert by always checking traffic all around you front and rear.

  • When you are checking traffic you will want to stay out of ‘wolf packs’. Cars that travel in groups close to gather cause a lot of accidents.



So I will assume that you have seen the Lord of the Rings (LOR) or have read the book to understand why I am comparing my drive from Texas to LA as the journey that Frodo took to take the ring from the land of the Hobbits to the center of evil Mordor. I make this comparison affectionately and I am not implying that LA is evil even though folks may think it is the land of Lost Angels. I grew up in South Central LA and did not know it was a bad neighborhood until I left for La Jolla just north of San Deigo. I grew up thinking every neighborhood had rival gangs and endless miles of asphalt connected by concrete freeways. Before going to Texas in September of 2003 I also thought that the only place to live there was inside Austin city limits. I was wrong on both assumptions and the older I get the more I learn about never completely relying on what you know now. If I have to feel good about an aspect of my personality it is that I am not afraid to jump in with both feet and try something or learn something new.

So here are some of my comparisons of Texas as The Shire and LA as Mordor

  • Road rage exist in LA because folks spend a lot on time commuting in slow traffic on freeways. In real central Texas there are not enough vehicles on the road to get mad at.

  • In Texas it shops have signs everywhere saying guns are not allowed, in LA signs say no bills over $20 allowed.

  • Hamburgers at Tommy’s in LA are puny compared to What-a-burger in Texas

  • In LA it is spring and summer all of the time, in Texas it is really hot all of the time except for two days when is cool.

  • In Texas the you can watch the seasons by watching cows get skinny then fat and calves pop out, in LA you watch the seasons change by the amount of smog that is in the air and how well you can see the mountains



Well you made it this far and I am sure that I have said some things that are totally whacky. I am sure that if I had never left LA and I drove to Texas I could compare it to Mordor and LA would be the land of milk and honey. In fact as a certified gadget junkie I was surprised at how well I adapted to not having internet access or a TV out at the Lone Worm Ranch. I have always been person that has let computer use increasing creep into my. When I first started staying out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere I could barely make it through the evening without a TV or Internet access. Actually I had tons of Internet access at the computer shop in Giddings, so when I came home I grew to appreciate not having to turn on something. Well sitting on the porch on Sunday afternoons maybe the subject of another blog entry

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