Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

< Previous | List | Encountering snow north of Los Angeles, then on to Highway 1 with an empty tank of gas; and back home


Click to enlarge!

With my flight back to Europe scheduled for late-afternoon, I was too close to Los Angeles to just drive back to the airport this day. Since LA as such doesn't tempt me much, I decided to detour through the mountains. The disadvantage of not writing down any notes immediately while driving over unfamiliar streets is that my exact route - both the tentative plan and what I ended up driving - is somewhat lost by the time I write this.

What I remember is that I'd planned to take a road that would climb quite high into the mountains that lie north of the Los Angeles basin. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that there had been snow recently. At first, the roads were still very clean and driving was effortless. But as I climbed in elevation, there was more and more debris on the street: ice that had fallen from trees and rocks that had been dislodged from the mountain side of the road by thawing ice.

Whenever I could, I drove in the middle of the road to stay cleer of those rocks - I didn't want to have any tire trouble when I was mere hours away from returning my rental car. But then, there was a "road closed" sign - the road ahead wasn't plowed, and the people who had made it this far were getting here to hike nearby mountains with snow shoes.

I turned around, suddenly under a bit more time pressure because I had to retrace my steps. I left the mountains without many more stops, driving past full parkings and busy roads - evidently, these were ski areas, and the Angelinos were heading here on their weekend in droves.

I made it back to bigger highways without any further surprises, and with some more time left... so of course I had to create some more anxiety. I decided that I'd still have time to see a bit of Highway 1 north of LA; except that the road I wanted to take to get there was further away than I expected at first. So by the time I was in the final hills before reaching the coastal highway, the fuel gauge on the Commander slipped towards zero; and I was pretty far away from the next major town where I presumed I'd find a gas station.

I crossed Mulholland Drive, but all I could think of at this point was fuel. I need not have worried, however, because what remained in my gas tank easily took me to Highway One and then south to the nearest gas station. I filled it up with enough gas to get me safely down to the airport, still stopped along a beach to "tag" the pacific and then did the last of my packing in the back of the Commander.

The drive to LAX, the rental car return and checking in were all eventless; and another vacation had come to its end.

Miles driven: HASmi (0km)

Accommodation: : $0.00

Written on Thursday August 28th 2008 while waiting for an oil change