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2006-08-04 - 1:51 p.m.

Well, we got Brin safely to her husband. That part of the trip is detailed in her entry. The fun part happened after we parted ways.

We left the Denny's in Paso Robles at a little after 4pm. I was heading back down the 46. I figured that, if I took the 46/5 route, most of the going-home traffic would be done by the time I hit Los Angeles. Taking the 101 through civilization might have been more scenic, but would take longer...not to mention that the 101 adds about fifty miles to the drive.

But I had other delays. Past the James Dean Memorial Junction, there are a couple sets of passing lanes, and then it's one-lane-each-direction for about thirty miles. Shortly after I passed the Junction, I found myself behind a white SUV...and a fire vehicle with its flashers on. Uh oh.

Well, I couldn't pass the fire vehicle. The law frowns on that. So the three of us headed through the last two passing lanes in single file. We rounded the bend at the last passing lane...and I saw the smoke. And the fire.

Uh oh again.

The fire vehicle (it wasn't a full-on firetruck) hit the siren and sped up. So did the SUV. We wound up coming to a line of cars/trucks/ least thirty, all stopped in the middle of nowhere.

The SUV decided to head for the shoulder and go around. I never saw what happened, but I hope he got a ticket.

I shut off my engine and got out to take a look. The fire had blackened several acres already. The wind was blowing from the west. I had been heading east, and the fire was on the north side of the 46. I was still quite a ways from the fire line, but I could see it. The brush/dry grass was burning nicely, thanks to all the hot dry weather.

I was subsequently joined by a few other motorists, and of course someone asked me the obvious stupid question: "When will they let us through?"

I'm at least a good 300 yards from the police car controlling traffic. How the fuck would *I* know??

So I gave the obvious answer: "I don't know. I'm over here. You could go ask the cop, but I'm guessing he's a little busy right now." The questioner looked a little annoyed, but he got the hint: I knew what he knew. Fire. Traffic stopped. We'd go when they said we could.

We all shot the shit for awhile. Turns out the questioner was from Mission Viejo, which is also in southern California. A young guy driving a large pick-up was from Fullerton. We talked about why were in this patch of nowhere. I bemoaned the fact that I should have brought my GameBoy.

After about fifteen minutes, traffic started moving. We all hopped into our respective vehicles and started (slowly) moving. When I got to the burn site, I saw what had caused the fire - an overturned pick-up hauling a trailer that had some load on it. I don't know what it was before, but now it was a load of charcoal.

The fire-line contined to expand, but we all out-ran it easily. There was some passing as we were able to speed up, but we all made it to Lost Hills (where the 46 meets the 5) without further incident. The only other annoyance for me is that my cell phone has no service out there in the I couldn't call Brin and let her know what happened for quite awhile. We had agreed to send text messages during the trip, just to reassure each other that we were safe. I was incommunicado for about an extra 30 minutes. Brin was a bit concerned when we finally talked - I called instead of texting - but she was glad I was all right.

So was I.

The rest of the drive went smoothly. By the time I hit the 5, I had cranked up Little River Band and was singing "Lonesome Loser". LRB sustained me until I got through the mountains on the 5. Once through, the Angels-Texas game had started, so the CD player went off and the radio went on.

I made it home and dry at 8:11pm. Brin and John arrived at THEIR home at exactly the same time.

So the whole trip went well. We may do it again sometime. But that'll be AFTER recovering from THIS one.


I slept in today. I have to go in early to set up my drums, so I'll catch more nappage before I shower and head out.

But I'm done here. At least for now.

Be seeing you.


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