Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

A slight detour…

My drive between home and the office involves 25 or so miles on 2 freeways, some busy streets, and some lovely scenery, but at times it gets really busy (especially on a Friday). When I first started doing this commute, I researched some alternate routes for when the freeways get really bad. I can drive between home and the office without touching a freeway; it adds an extra 5 miles and 15 minutes to the journey, but when the freeways are bad it can result in an actual journey saving of up to 45 minutes. The thing is though it’s a slow boring drive through a big chunk of one of the towns between home and the office.
When I researched the alternates, I noted another road that could be used, however feedback from some folks who know the area led me to believe it was really not a viable alternative – it’s a slow windy road that hugs the side of the mountains, and for a lot of its length is single lane with passing points. So I discounted this as an option.
18 months on, I found myself with a really bad Friday drive home, no time pressures to be home quickly, and I felt like exploring a bit, so I decided to abandon the usual non-freeway route home and try this other drive that for the past 18 months I’d considered was not a viable commute route home. It was a lovely sunny day, and I really didn’t want to be bored from the usual non-freeway route or frustrated with the freeway traffic, so I headed for the unknown 3rd option.
Well it was amazing. This road was like some of the little windy country lanes found in the less well developed countryside areas in England (the sort of roads I used to love cycling and then later motorcycling on back when I was younger and still in the UK), but with two differences. 1) the drivers you do run into on this road are a lot more courteous than the typical car driver you run into on the little country lanes in England, and 2) the scenery was stunning.
The left hand side of the road (as you drive from the office to my home) needs no barrier, as it’s up against the side of the eastern foothills for the Diablo mountain range. The right hand side has occasional barriers, and a spectacular view down into a valley, and for a good length looks down onto a reservoir.
The road swings around many hairpin bends and winds through the foothills, and I found myself at almost every turn looking at a wonderful and new image of the countryside that had for the past 18 months been hiding quietly behind those foothills as I drove past on the freeway. Because I was so busy taking in the scenery and enjoying the challenge of driving the road, I lost track of time, so when I popped out at the other end back onto some more familiar roads, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it hadn’t taken me any longer than driving my usual non-freeway route. It also didn’t really register until later that along the whole drive I hadn’t encountered a single vehicle coming the other way.
2 weeks later, and I found myself in similar circumstances, and this time I had my camera with me, so I took some pictures (see my photo albums). This time the road was a little busier; it seems that a few other people had decided to do the same thing as me, but even so the number of vehicles was very low, and they made no impact on the drive time for that part of the journey. This time I also had a close encounter with a deer (which decided to play chicken with me and which I missed by about a foot at most).
So I won’t be driving this road every day as when the freeway is flowing normally it is still the quickest way home, and I certainly won’t be driving this road when it is wet or icy as I can see it being very dangerous, but if it’s a nice day and the freeway is bad, or even if it is just a nice day and I’m not in a rush to get home, I can see myself driving this way home a lot more….

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