Several times a month Cheryl heads out of Napa for her job, which means joining the Bay Area rush hour fray. How she hates that.
As much as experience has told her to expect otherwise, she’s eternally hopeful that she can zip from here to there, at the speed limit or faster, with nary a traffic blockage.
Does this ever happen?
Of course not, yet she returns home at day’s end feeling utterly betrayed by the State of California’s highway system and those selfish motorists who just have to be out there during prime time, making it hell for everyone.
She traveled to Oakland last week. One hour and 45 minutes!
She was devastated. One hour and 45 minutes for a 40-mile jaunt. What kind of world allows that?
I empathized with her. What you endured is more than unfair, I said. In fact, it’s cruel.
I always praise her stamina for industrial-strength commuting. I couldn’t do it. I’m a Napa softie, probably the softest of the soft. My commute from west Napa to the Register’s new offices on Soscol Avenue is a total breeze. Ten or 12 minutes tops. I’ve done it in less.
The secret is to not drive when other people are clogging up the road. Doesn’t everyone understand that?
In my case, I have to leave my house no later than 7:20 to avoid getting locked up on First Street, waiting my turn to crawl over the Highway 29 overpass.
Browns Valley generates a phenomenal amount of outflow traffic between 7:30 and 8. It looks like the mass evacuation of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.
But if you roll through First and 29 before 7:30, it’s like being in a presidential motorcade, this lane for Kevin Courtney only.
Once I hit Jefferson Street, I deviate from what you might expect would be my most logical route to work — east on First, then north on Soscol.
I prefer an uncrowded alternative path through residential neighborhoods that is both uncluttered and charming. The 25 mph limit is slow enough that I get to admire Victorians and cute cottages pretty much the whole way.
This is a sublime drive. If I didn’t do it for work, I might do it recreationally.
I’m sorry, but I cannot divulge my secret route to 1615 Soscol. I don’t want anyone else to use it.
Cheryl’s going to read this and grumble about how doubly unfair her treks are.
Even when she’s not doing long hauls out-of-county, which is 95 percent of the time, she is bedeviled by rush hour traffic on Redwood Road and Trancas Street.
I can show up at work as early as I want and avoid the crowds. She cannot. Her employers want her on the road when everyone else is.
Cheryl’s Prius tells her the length of each trip in miles and minutes. Her in-town commute takes as few as 10 minutes or as much as 20.
Ten minutes bliss her out. Twenty minutes make her super cranky.
Cheryl recites these travel stats while making dinner. And sometimes during dinner.
She believes the Napa Valley Register should do something to correct the situation. Perhaps a series of traffic exposés to bring the public works czars to accountability.
Generally I don’t have much patience for such talk. Isn’t Napa traffic a fact of life, something to be endured, not solved? Can’t we talk about the cats instead?
At other times I am more empathetic.
You battle so bravely on our roads and highways, I say. You are my road warrior.