One thing that the new job has a bit of (not too much) which the old job didn’t is a commute in LA traffic. To get to my old office in the morning or back home at night was 10-15 minutes or less and with the grid of local streets available there were a hundred different routes to take if one street or the other was blocked by an accident or something. The new job is 20-45 minutes in the morning (depending on if there’s an accident in the bottleneck through the Calabasas Grade on the 101 Freeway) and typically 40-60 minutes back home in the evening.
Today there was the additional complication of multiple brush fires in the area, which despite being 20 to 40 miles away, filled the air with smoke and ash.
Map from arcg.is/0Pvq0f using data from County of Los Angeles, Esri, HERE, Garmin, METI/NASA, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, EPA, NPS, USDA | FEMA NSS, EGIS | USGS, GeoMAC, Esri | County of Los Angeles, Esri, HERE, Garmin, METI/NASA, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, EPA, NPS, USDA | NOAA, Esri | NASA, Esri
For those of you not familiar with the Los Angeles area, I’ve indicated the general area of home (red circle, red arrow) and the new office (red circle, green arrow). That freeway (white line) where it says “Calabasas” is where the 101 Freeway goes through the Calabasas Grade between the San Fernando Valley (Canoga Park, Winnetka, Reseda, Encingo, Granada Hills, etc) and the Canejo Valley (Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks).
Someone at the office noticed the smoke about 16:00 and our first thought was that for it to be that thick there must be a fire nearby – fortunately, that was not the case. Still, here’s the view from the office parking lot when I left at 17:00. I wish there was a way to convey the choking stench in the air.
I knew the commute would be tough for a couple of reasons, even though the fires weren’t near us. First, people get freaky when it smells of smoke and your eyes are burning and you’re starting to cough and it’s hazy and threatening… It’s a very base, animalistic response from somewhere way down on the brain stem left over from our lizard ancestors.
Secondly, with that “Basin” fire at the junction of the 101 and 405 Freeways 20 miles ahead there would be massive slowing. Part of it is people slowing down to simply watch the fire and smoke near the freeway, some of it is the reduced visibility. A lot of it is that many surface streets used as commuting shortcuts in that area had been shut down as fire crews moved in and possible evacuations were set up.
Sure enough, about two exits after I got on the freeway near the office, I saw this:
For reference, if there isn’t any traffic at all, this sign generally shows 7 minutes to Topanga Canyon and about 18-20 minutes to the 405 Freeway.
Welcome to LA – bring fire extinguishers!