I just returned home from a weekend at Left Coast Crime (a mystery lovers convention) in Sacramento. I drove up and back, which is exactly 416 miles. Each way. This is what I can tell you about the road trip:
Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and Stockton is two lanes.
The speed limit is 70 mph.
It is impossible to drive 70 miles per hour in either lane.
This is because the right lane is occupied by large trucks that go 60-65 miles per hour. The left lane is occupied by everyone else who is driving about 80 miles per hour. Any attempt to drive 70 in this lane results in more tailgating than a Superbowl party.
Sometimes a large truck going 64 miles per hour wants to pass a large truck going 63 mph. This backs up traffic in both lanes while the truck passes... eventually.
There is no way to plan ahead for an accident in the Gorman Pass through the mountains. It is amusing, however, to watch a single car leap from non-moving lane to non-moving lane in an attempt to actually move.
Nothing focuses you while driving through Los Angeles traffic on a Sunday evening like trying to see the road through a bug-smeared windshield and a foggy-cataract right eye. It also helps to avoid thinking of your vehicle, and all the vehicles around you, as metal-and-plastic projectile missiles that could crash and explode around any corner.
Thank God for my iPod.
Later in the week I'll be actually talking about the convention.