Saturday, July 23, 2011

Season Of the Ditch

"Life", some past sage opined "Is what happens while you're making other plans"  my plans revolved around a sunny afternoon, three hours of freeway driving, my camera and Boreal's mountain and chairlift. CalTrans, it turns out, played Life in my little drama.

Though I usually avoid Trans-Sierra travel on Fridays, the travel window opened Friday, and up the hill I went. I enjoyed smooth sailing all across the Big Valley despite the Friday traffic. A few minutes of crawling around a fender bender on Three Mile Grade out of Colfax, and I was back up to speed.

Cresting the top of Whitmore Grade, I found a forest of orange highway construction signs preparing motorists for a detour ahead. Coming out of Nayak, all eastbound traffic was split, trucks, buses, and those wanting to exit the freeway stayed on the existing eastbound roadbed, the rest of the thru traffic was funneled onto the westbound roadway, leaving the eastbound side clear for road construction.

Interstate 80 is close to 50 years old, and it's showing it's age. Fixing the failing roadbed has been an ongoing project for at least the last twenty years. America has grown a bit in 50 years, so extra lanes and widened bridges are part of the ongoing project.

My view of the eastbound construction was fleeting, but I could see the contractors already had the old pavement removed and they were doing the sub-grade work, and it looked like one lane of concrete was finished. It looked like one really long two lane ditch.

Eastbound traffic returned to normal east of Yuba Gap, and by normal I mean awful! The pavement from HWY 20 east to Rainbow Road is some of the last to be replaced, I'm sure it's still the original concrete laid in the early sixties, and it features twin grooves a couple of inches deep, ground by seasons and seasons of chain controls. The exposed aggregate really roars as your tires roll over it at have to turn up the radio and close any open windows.

From Rainbow Road to Kingvale things quiet down...this pavement was new last year and hasn't been ground to oblivion just yet.

What's this? At Soda Springs we detoured again, again to the westbound side, again with the Jersey Wall separating us from the westbound traffic. Not much time to take in the sights of construction until the summit flats, where I could look across the eastbound lanes at Boreal's parking lot where there was even more construction.

Most of Boreal's parking acreage  has been turned into a construction site. They're grading a building pad at the slopeside edge of the parking lot near the bottom terminal of the lift they're turning today.

The building will become a year-round  Action Sports Training Center opening in Summer 2012.

Here's where my plans met Life. I had planned to get off the freeway and snap a few photos of Boreal's grooming crew while they put the finishing touches on the hill. I would have parked where the building pad is being excavated. So much for the best laid plans...


  1. That sage was John Lennon.

  2. "Life, John Lennon quipped, is what happens while you're busy making other plans"

    It's a line in Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy" from Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1980 "Double Fantasy" album, released only three weeks before his murder.

    I've always associated the quote with Ruth Gordon, who recited the line in Hal Ashby's 1971 film "Harold and Maude", though I can easily imagine Mark Twain uttering the words as well.