posted: November 27th, 2011 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: Traveling “THE 5,” ” THE 10″ and “THE 210″ in northwest California this past week has driven home the meaning of overpopulation in a way no place else in America has ever done. From the moment we entered the northern part of this the nation’s second largest state this old country boy from Montana (4th largest state but with a population less than 1M) encountered driving conditions that exceeded those manifesting themselves from our mistake of several years ago. At the time, we took a wrong turn and then found ourselves pulling our Airstream around Westmorland Circle in Washington D.C. That was bad (also see Vehicular Madness), but here in Northern California it was bumper to bumper not just for an hour or two but for several days.
Centers of Insanity
For two entire days we’ve encountered towns such as Modesto, population 202,747; Fresno, population 494,665; (fifth-largest in California); Delano, 38,824 (just a dot on map); Bakersfield, 347,483 (“room for expansion”); and Adelanto, 31,765 (“up from 18,1380 in the year 2,000”).
But the worst of all these charming towns was San Bernardino, 2,015,355. This city should castrate its road engineers. Roads were constructed of concrete blocks and all buckled like tectonic plates actively creating mountains. Miles of New Jersey barricades extended to the edge of most areas under construction and traffic did not slow. One huge trucker roared past us, squeezing us between him and those damn concrete barricades. Yet another trucker blasted by then applied his Jake breaks, presumably because a small VW was blocking his path – and he wanted to terrify anyone in his way.
Despite it all, most folks who passed us — as we crept along pulling our Airstream — waved, though it was a strange wave lacking most all fingers — save one. We waved back, often with great gusto.
When we finally arrived in Indio, our destination for the night, the lady at the RV park said she understood the frustration. “The Five and those other highways,” she said, may be the nation’s most dangerous road section.” (In California, all highways rise to such importance that they require the article “The.” The Five; The 210; The Ten — and so on. In usage a native Californian might say: “Take The 210 to The Five, then stay dedicated… Such is the vernacular.)
Gated RV Park
The RV park where we’re now parked goes by the name of Shadow Hills and seemed to be ideally located to park our Airstream for a Thanksgiving visit to L.A. (population 9,862,049 in July 2008) where Janie’s brother and family live. The park provides gated security and was a good safe place to leave our Airstream while we enjoyed a three-day family get together.
Janie’s brother is a professor at USC and despite his usage of the vernacular, I’ve always been impressed. He’s also chairman of the Classics department and just returned from a fellowship at Princeton, but even more impressive to this ‘Ole Montana country boy: he likes to hike and he generally agrees with my politics.)
World’s Most Popular Pastime
Tomorrow Janie and I will return to Shadow Hills, hook up our trailer, and complete the drive to Anza Borrego, which means we have about four hours of driving left. Once we’re south of Indio these massive populations centers will drop dramatically, but these insane centers of mankind will remain despite my prayers, and anyone who wants proof that 7 billion (official tally about 30 days ago) earthlings may be too much for planet earth to sustain need only drive through Bakersfield, Delano… San Bernardino. They’re really not isolated enclaves, but ones that virtually sprawl, one spilling over and onto the other.
Many agree that the world’s biggest problem is overpopulation, but just try and find a politician who will listen. After all, who would try and curtail the world’s most popular pastime.
THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO: