Monday, October 3, 2011

Traffic jam naturalist

Despite the fact that Topanga Canyon is a remote rural community very different from the rest of LA, our two-lane mountain road is a traffic corridor from the Valley to the Coast. Sometimes during the morning commute, things get conjested.

It's six miles from my house to the beach, winding down from an elevation of 720 feet above sea-level at our village fire station. The descent goes through what we all call the "S" curves, which are a dizying spiral with sheer clif walls on one side and a drop to the creek hundred of feet below on the other side.

When traffic's moving fast, it's a road that demands all your concentration. Topanga families go through a rite of passage, as kids learn to drive this road. There's nothing that builds more trust than sitting in the passenger seat, your foot firmly pressing the floorboards, while your teenager steers the car down the "S" curves!

But when there's a traffic jam, you find yourself with the rare opportunity to sit quietly and study nature as it's presented to you.

On one side out the passenger window, a specimen of Zauschneria californica mexicana, or the California fuchsia, clings to the grey-maroon sandstone of the Sespe Formation.

These bright coral tear-drop flowers cheer up any morning commute!

Out the driver' side, a spectacular illustration of the earth's geologic force, as shattered and tilted layers of coarse sandstone sediment alternate with shale and other rocks.

If you're a passenger in a swift-moving car, it's dizzying to peer out the window and watch the rocks rushing past. But as a driver, stopped in a traffic jam, you finally get a chance to see everything in close-up detail.

Next time you're stuck in a back-up, appreciate the world around you.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I love those coral red flowers...I enjoyed them when I was hiking around in the hot desert sun.

Yesterday I drove back to Columbus from Berkeley Springs (334 miles, generally speaking).

14 miles from Columbus, they were repaving I-70. It took 40 minutes to go 1 1/2 miles and I was almost out of gas. (And it was too dark to see anything.)

But heck, I made it!


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You really appreciate your surroundings. That's a gift.

Anonymous said...

The last time I was stuck in a traffic jam (making my 5 hour drive closer to 6 hours), I was simply thankful that I knew a back route to get home... after making a U-turn on the freeway.

But I do love being the passenger instead of the driver. There is so much to see every day!