Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a Little Black Jeep

This week I was back at my employer’s office location in the greater Sacramento area. I have such a mental block about making the drive up there because the first time I ever went to Sacramento almost ten years ago, I left on a Friday afternoon and it was an awful, hellacious drive.

And ever since, the drive just seems equally hellacious.

When people ask me how far away is Sacramento, I usually say “oh, about two hours.” But that’s not really true.

In the office this week, I was chatting with a coworker who lives there. He’d asked how the drive went, and I told him it was pretty bad. There were three different accidents in varied locations that had backed up traffic in all kinds of directions. So the trip took me three and a half hours.

My coworker replied, “Yeah, I always figure it’s going to be a three hour ride, no matter what.”

Three hours. Just. Ugh.

I can get from Albuquerque to Las Cruces in three hours, I thought to my little self.

Wait a minute.

What’s the distance from ABQ to LC? About 200 miles, right? According to the maps of Google, the distance from my old apartment in ABQ to my best friend’s home is 224 miles.

Then I looked up the distance from the mid-Peninsula to the Sacramento suburb where I was visiting.

125 miles.

Something’s not right here.

So I embarked on some math. It hurt my head and made me wobbly on my pins, but math was necessary.

So if I go 125 miles in three hours, which is 180 minutes, that means I go one mile every 1.44 minutes.

That means:

My average speed is 41.6 freaking miles per hour!

So if that’s an average, that means sometimes I’m going 65 mph, which is the posted speed limit…

And sometimes I’m going squappity mph because I’m at a standstill at Emeryville, moving real, real slow on the approach to the Bay Bridge, or stuck on that freaking causeway staring at the back of a semi-truck that’s belching black smoke and wondering WHY GOD WHY do I have to drive to Sacramento!?


41.6 freaking miles an hour. No wonder this drive is so tortured. To paraphrase that bard of modern times, Sammy Hagar, I can’t drive forty-one.

I like to drive and go. I don’t like stop and go. Go and go, that’s my motto.

I guess it’s a where-you-were-raised issue. In New Mexico, if I go 224 miles in three hours, that is one mile every 80 seconds which means my average speed is 75 miles per hour. Which is the posted speed limit.

Which means sometimes I’m slowing down to make way for other cars and sometimes the New Mexico State Highway Patrol doesn’t really need to know what I’m up to.

Ahem. Anyhow…..

If you listen close, you can hear the sound of all of those drivers pounding their heads on the steering wheel.

Image from The Sacramento Bee.

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  • Lucky

    It’s true that time & distance are such a matter of how fast you’re going! I regularly do brunch in Santa Fe, and people from the East Coast can’t understand why I’d drive 50 minutes to go to brunch. But it’s a FAST 50 minutes. My cousin lives in Amarillo, and he pops out here for a weekend all the time. He, too, is from the East Coast, and 4 hours would get you about 200 miles, from NYC to Boston. In the fast 4 hour drive from Amarillo to Albuquerque, you get almost 100 more miles, and it’s a fast four hours. You just don’t feel it the way you do when sitting in traffic.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Lucky – 50 miles for lunch? Pffft! No problem!

      I recall when a coworker from London was visiting. I’d told him I was driving to Phoenix and it would take about 12 hours. He was stunned. “You can get across most of the UK in that amount of time!” He’s not used to the wide open spaces of the US! :)

  • Patrick Strei

    41 wouldn’t be bad here. Luckily, it’s an island and you can’t drive more than 80 mi in any direction.
    Sounds like you need a dose of white line fever: Get out to Nevbanda and just go! Gas is cheap: life is priceless.

    Highway 50?

    • Karen Fayeth

      Pat – Yeah, I do have a bit o’ the fever. For me driving in the wide open is the best form of meditation. I get a lot of good thinking and amazing ideas out there. I love to drive when I don’t have to think about driving so much and can just let the ol’ monkey mind wander.

  • Avelino

    Agreed with Lucky: California ranks up there with the East Coast as far as how slow it goes on the road. When we traveled to New Hampshire this summer, we actually took a longer route so we could avoid I-95. We all felt it would be a better trip, even if it meant a little more time cramped into a car.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Avelino – I don’t mind going a longer route if it means I can keep rolling. That stop and go stuff is madness.

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