Friday, October 22, 2010

Sneaky Short Cut = Creepy Short Cut

I literally just got home from a quick trip to San Diego...actually Escondido, which falls right in between LA and San Diego. From where I live in Phoenix, there are basically two ways to get there...via LA on the 10 or San Diego on the 8. The 8 made the most sense to me, to avoid Phoenix traffic and LA traffic, mainly. The tricky part becomes getting efficiently to the 8. One option is driving South/East on the 10 to Casa Grande and picking up 8....or....cutting through Maricopa and jumping on the sneaky short cut to Gila Bend, where you get on the 8. I chose sneaky short cut..... In case you are not familiar:,+az&daddr=gila+bend,+az&hl=en&geocode=FTpt-AEd5klS-SnjV5WpLuUqhzGwO-oMUMACBw%3BFXC-9gEd4hNI-SnjfTCNQCjVgDErggvuexfqbQ&mra=ls&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=40.409448,79.013672&ie=UTF8&z=10

I left after work last night, which got me on 238 right around 7:30 pm. I can't tell you with any certainty what the landscape looks like, as it was pitch black and rainy, but it seems quite desolate and I'm guessing very desertish. The speed limit is a generous 55, and the road features many sharp turns and quick dips that would nearly lend themselves to getting awesome air.
(do you ever take it off any sweet jumps?)

Driving the way I learned to drive, naturally I settled in at 65 mph. After a few miles I could see headlights behind me. Then they were *right* behind me. Wow is this guy coming up fast! The vehicle (turned out to be an SUV) caught up like I was standing still and was on my bumper in a matter of seconds, then sat there for what seemed hours until a "passing zone" was presented. As he blew past me then tapped his brakes, my mind started flashing back to stupid scary movies...which, by the way, I always hate watching...such as Jeepers Creepers, the Strangers, and Crossroads. Ok Crossroads was scary for a whole nother reason...but I digress. I am suddenly very uncomfortable with where I am, alone in the desert, and no cell phone signal (of course).

Obviously the outcome was not as dismal as my mind briefly anticipated.

Later I see blinding headlights coming toward me, and I realize it's a train. Seeing a train out there like that in the dark seemed lonely and unnerving. I can't quite describe how or why. It just had this ominous feel to it.

I was moderately relieved to reach Gila Bend, but found that it is not a comforting section of civilization, and I'm not really comfortable again until I arrive in the San Diego city limits.

Tonight, as I returned to Phoenix, I found myself turning onto 238...a bumpy, unwelcoming intersection from about 10:45 pm. This feels even more unnerving at this time of night than the previous evening. At this point, I'm tired. Tired of driving. Tired of thinking. Just tired. A train is moving along just out of Gila Bend as I get going over the more dramatic "dips" on this end, and I find my foot feeling heavy after hours of 75 mph speed limits. I find myself SPEEDING across 238 quite comfortably at close to 80 mph. I leave the train in my dust and am just anxious to see Phoenix city lights. Maricopa lights, for that matter. I convince myself if I get pulled over, surely the officer will be forgiving when I explain my fatigue and feeling of unease. Of course this is ludicrous and I would be kicking myself had I received the very expensive ticket that would have followed, but in the moment I just needed to GO.

Thinking about the shortcut again from the comfort of home, it seems silly where my imagination takes me. I'd almost like to go drive it in daylight, but then again, I don't really want to drive it again. At least not without an arsenal. But in all likelihood...I won't be visiting that section of road again for some time.

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