December 18, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
This just in from southern Nevada:
"From your fearless reporter, on the ground covering the snow-induced traffic wars in Las Vegas . . .
"Who says old guys can't break records? As predicted yesterday afternoon, I set a new personal best in my 20-mile Las Vegas to Henderson foothills commute, shattering the previous mark of one hour and forty minutes with a stunning (and bladder testing) time of four hours and fifteen minutes.
"What I didn't predict was setting a personal lifetime best for any commute. The previous mark for that was shared by many days following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, when tens of thousands of vehicles had to get through the Newhall Pass to the LA basin with only a two-lane road to carry them all. Those 35-mile commutes, at least for awhile, sometimes topped three hours each way .
"At one stretch last night, I went two blocks in one hour. The next stretch was four blocks in one hour. While much of the problem was the snow and people either not knowing how to drive in snow or having rear-wheel drive cars and being unable to make the moderate climbs. (We live at about 2,900 feet, according to the do-hicky in Linda's car. The valley floor is about 800 feet below.) Traffic on the only street into subdivisions with thousands of homes (and more coming)---further testament to the Nevada rule that developers are second only to casinos in getting whatever they want from government on all levels---went from four lanes to three, to two, to one. Cars were abandoned all along the last two-mile stretch to my house.
"But that was just part of the problem. Clinging to their much deserved national championship as the rudest, most self-centered (and therefore dangerous) drivers, Southern Nevadans last night built on that title. They disregarded stoplights and clogged intersections, refused to let traffic in from side streets and gleefully denied folks a chance to change lanes, even to get off the clogged main street. Some just abandoned their cars. Only twice did I see anyone try to help push a car that was stuck. Say what you want about Southern California and its traffic, we rarely saw anything coming close to this in our eight years there, even in equally bad or worse traffic jams.
"When I got home, there was 10 inches of undrifted snow sitting on a large round table in our backyard. After a 9 p.m. dinner, I went out to wrap two different valves and pipes because the weather report predicted overnight temperatures in the 20s. This morning, I cleared the driveway so Linda could get out to the street. It took an hour since all I had was a pointed-tip shovel and the back side of a rake."
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