Why do interstate highways bring out the most Special Snowflakes Ever? I'm 1250 miles into what if ultimately a journey of a tad more than 4000 miles. Granted, I'm taking a bit of the long way (Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Ft. Worth, TX, Atlanta, GA; then Miami, FL), but between winter driving conditions over the Rockies and wanting to visit a few people, I felt that the extra couple hundred miles was worth it. So, today, as I was closing in on the final stretch into San Diego (yay!!! I get to hang out with one of my most favoritest people EVER) I encountered the SSiest driver I've ever seen.
A bit of background: Tejon Pass on I-5 can be quite dicey. The southbound assent is rather steep (reported 6% grade over 5 miles, total vertical assent 2613 feet over 11.6 miles). There are 4 travel lanes. The two an the right are generally reserved for semis, RV's and vehicles that are towing something. The third lane is generally for slower moving passenger vehicles and the 4th for faster moving passengers vehicles. As you begin the southbound assent, drivers are warned to turn off their a/c's in order to avoid overheating and there are water stations every quarter to half mile, along with a number of highway personel to assist if required. I'm no longer an inexperienced mountain driver. While I haven't been driving in these sorts of conditions for a long time, I am otherwise a skilled driver and gained quite a bit of experience travelling across the US earlier this year when I drove through the northern Rockies (Montana, Idaho) and the Cascades (Washington State, Oregon), and, of course, all the mountain passes in OR and CA on this drive going south. By now, I've got a general idea of how my car handles under these conditions. Tejon Pass is by far the steepest grade over the longest distance of all the passes I've navigated thus far. There are, of course, passes that are worse, but those are part of the reason why I'm not taking the shortest route from point A to point B. I drive a 1999 Honda Civic with a manual transmission. /end background.
So, I'm happily motoring up the pass. Even though my car is packed with as much stuff as I could cram in it, I was still able to maintain 60-65mph during most of the assent (except when the posted limits on certain curves were lower). Since I was travelling at the posted speed limit, I spent most of my time in the far left (4th) lane, actively passing slower traffic on my right. When I was just a couple miles from the apex of the pass, this pick-up truck came barreling up behind me. There was a pretty solid line of traffic to my right at the time, so I couldn't have moved over even if I wanted to. Besides that, I was travelling at the posted speed limit
. For this guy to want to pass me, he would have to be speeding, and with law enforcement out in force, that would not be a wise move. Anyway, I continued to climb the hill, looking for a space in the lane to my right for me to safely move over, even though I would have to slow down (which I did NOT want to do while going uphill...which maybe SS driver was thinking the same thing, but I think the difference here is that he was speeding and I was not). Anyway, it took about a mile before there was a break in traffic large enough for me to move out of his way. In that minute, this guy was flashing his lights at me, swerving, honking, and shaking his fist and making other gestures. I could not believe that this guy was willing to make that big of a ruckus on a stretch of road that is so steep and icky that semis were chugging up it at 15mph and the DOT sees fit to equip with the sheer number of emergency stations that exist on that stretch.
I suppose though, that Karma won in the end. Not too long after he got around me, the cops had him pulled over.