Tehachapi Ca. You ever wonder what a mountain grade is? Noooo, not those little bumps in the road through Arizona,, of course some of those can get a tad steep.
I'm talking about the grade from the depths of haities. I know California allows *medical Herbs,, But I think before it was some what legal,, Someone back in the 50's or so, was smoking some of that when they designed this grade. (They must have had their poster board out and crayons, and kind of *winged it on paper,so to speak). It was originally a rail road passage in which a train with 85 plus box cars could pass over itself with the curve of the pass. Now the highway is similar,, But has a long,, and I mean a long boring, fall asleep at the wheel type grade. It seems to just go on forever, seriously. Your climbing along and you think you would have to be on the look out for low flying aircraft. Just when you think your making headway as the grade levels off a little,,, that little flat plane dissapears and the grade continues, as far as the eye can see. I once thought, the first time tackling the grade with the ole 5'er in tow with a full sized Lincoln on a dolly behind that,, That I could almost see the Japanese coast line in the far distance. It turned out to be just another step into the grade. When they made this road,, they made areas where it would level off to about a 2% grade from the original 7% grade just to tease you into thinking, you have finally made it. Wronggggg. As the desiginers smoked another bowl of their enlightenment herb, they threw in those short level areas. (by the way,, the haze you see as you get closer to the top is NOT clouds,,, Its the left over residue second hand *herbal smoke from back in the day). So, you just keep the throttle floored, trying to hold second gear,, maybe 3rd if your really lucky and chug towards the top. If you wimp out and let the truck slow down,, your inclined to go to the far right climbing lane. The only bad thing about being in that lane is the fact that they have a small shoulder. But wait,, thats Not the only bad thing about that shoulder. That shoulder is there for a very good reason.
After climbing this grade numerous times now, I have figured out why that small shoulder is there. Its for people using walkers to PASS you on the right. I know this, because I made the mistake and didnt maintain my speed going up and ,so called babied it and to my disbelief,, a lil ole lady scooted right pass me,,, At first I didnt think I was going that slow,, or she was going that fast,, but them tennis balls on her walkers feet was starting to smoke a little. ( I hope she had road side walker assistance,, just in case she blew a tennis ball out.) Anywho,,, as you finally get to the crest of the peak,,You can see the purdiest valley down below. They have a nice pull off area at the top, so you can soak in all that beauty and let the ole truck cool down.. Yes, the temp guage will go up some as you climb the altitude along with the weight strain. As you walk around stretching and trying to wake up your hind quarters,, you can look back at the grade you just climbed, and all those other poor saps doing what you just did. At this point on the map, atop of the Tehachapi pass, you can see the valley and hills of Golden Hills,,,, Looks amazing in the evening as the sun is setting in the west . It casts a beautiful shadow across the staggered rock formations, and you can catch a glimpse of the headlights down below.
(key word,,,*down below)). Yea buddy,,, your at the top of a mountain pass,,, the only way off the top is down. (betcha ya didnt think about that right away). Ok,,, your back side is finally getting the feeling back in them as ya waddle your way back to the truck. ( picture a cowboy who has been in the saddle for 8 hrs).Ya climb in the front seat,,, shuffle and situate yourself, finding that comfy spot in the seat,, that by now feels like a buck board wagon seat. That 4 inches of high density foam and springs in the seat have the comfort level of a brick.,,but less lumps. You buckle up, You have to be safe,, no excuses. (will explain another reason to the seat belt in a few). You start up the truck,,, check the guages,, engine is running good, concidering the oxygen level is equivlent to whats on the surface of the moon. This is a good time to reflect back on those concert tickets with the seats way up in the nose bleed section. The height your at up here, makes those seats feel like basement row seating.
You finally merge onto the really really slow lane to pick up some speed to merge politley with the other traffic. Now the trick to doing this is as follows. Merge slowly,,, the other drivers in that slow lane will go around you, and yes, its ok to let them pass around you. I say this, because now your on the way down. That cute yellow sign says 4% down grade ahead. Ok,, now that 4% is just a suggested number. From what I have seen AFTER that sign,, is the same sight I once saw on a Great America roller coaster.(You know what I mean, You climb that tall coaster hill,, crest over the top,, then its almost a 90% straight down, scream like a girl type downgrade). Ok,,Ok,, not quite that bad,, (yes it is, dont let that sign fool you). I have come to the conclusion with that sign is,, It is telling you,, that you will have a 4% chance of not tasting your underwear under the pucker factor feeling your about to encounter. This is a very good time to tap your brakes a little and test them,, and to drop your transmission into a lower gear, other then drive. Now your all set as you start the down grade,, white knuckles? Check,,Eyes wide? Check. Tensed spincter? Double check. Your speed gradually increases as you start the desent,, and occasionally you will come across a tanker truck who is poking his way down the hill. You glance over at the driver to wave a happy hello, and he looks at you with eyes bugged out beyond normal reasoning, his steering wheel half crumbled under his death grip and white knuckles, and a fully burnt ciggarrette in his mouth with the full length of ashes still intact. (that guy needs a vacation,, jus saying). You turn your head back to the road ahead and realize your picking up pretty good speed and not even touching the gas pedal.. Whoo hoooo,, getting good gas mileage now.
As your speed climbs up at a steady pace,, your feeling pretty good,,, thinking,, this is a piece of cake. You glance down at the ole speedo,,, 40,,,,,45,,,,,50,,,,55,,,,,60,, yea,, cruising right along. Then you hear something not quite right. You check your mirrors,,, and everything seems fine,, You look around the cab,, listening,, then realize,, hmmmm,, engine is winding up pretty good,,,, so you look down at the RPM guage and your screaming along at 5500 rpms and climbing. Ut oh... For some odd reason,, that does not sound or even look good. Time for the ole brakes to slow down a little.ya tap the brake pedal a few times as to not smoke them to carbon dust, and it does help,, speed drops down to a controllable 50 mph.. Whew!!!!!,, The engine even sounds better at 3300 rpms and adding resistance to the tow. You regain full control and confidence in the truck as you still decend. Up ahead is another cute sign,,, It says, for the next 2 miles, 8% down grade. Now if you recall, I mentioned earlier, there is another reason for that seat belt. Its to keep you from *falling out of your seat foreward. That's just an FYI. Now about the time you pass that sign,, is when mother nature says your bladder is full. See how that works? Full bladder and a tight seat belt going in a downward motion? ( Take a minute from reading and think about that for a moment.) (grin). Ok,, welcome back,,, Im glad you figured the dilema in that situation. Its also an added situation with your back teeth floating,,(ok I give you another minute to let that soak in). Got it?. Good...... Your onboard then. Ok back to the down grade,, yes,, its a good downgrade, but has a fun part to it also,,,Fun part you ask? Welll duhhhhh yea,,,,,,, Everyone,, and I mean EVERYONE knows California cannot make a straight road,, at least not a very long one. Refer back to the HERB and designing. Anywho,,, as your going down this insane downgrade, the road gradually goes to the right,,, (Think Nascar Backwards,, Go fast,turn left,,, But this is Ca. ,, go fast, turn right). The road has a nice tilt to it which if you plan it just right, you hug the inside lane as you pick up speed, and slowly drift to the high lane,, grab your shifter, put it up from 2nd to Drive, and keep your feet off the pedals... Dont take your eyes off the road, pay attention,, dont worry about hitting triple digits on the speedo, and that your rpm guage is pegged and starting to smoke.Trust me,, its a GUY thing,, arg arg arg,, (thats a manly grunt btw.) Your cruising, passing anything and everything,(even that little ole lady with the walker burning up the tennis balls). You half glance your rearview mirrors, and just as expected,,, your trailer brakes wouldnt work anyhow,,,, The trailer isnt even rolling on the wheels any more,, there kinda in a free floating mode, not even touching the ground. About this time you have come back to your senses,, turned down your testosterone high and realize,, maybe,, just maybe your going just a tad to fast for road conditions. About this time, you have a mental flashback to high school in physics class.. The E=Mc square,minus pi divided by W=YxA to the umteenth power. (wow,, that will make the brain hurt,,),, You shake your head to get that out of there and flashback to driving along a country road seeing nice cottage homes with white picket fences,, awwwww so peaceful..... Then Panic hits,,,, That white picket fence your seeing is actually the phone poles along side of this downgrade. Holy cow Batman,,, we are clicking along pretty good. (At this speed,, if you where to hit a bird,,, there would be no trace of it whatsoever,, it would become a vapor.) Ok,, when I say that Im going a tad fast is a slight understatement,,,Picture being in a centrifuge spinning in circles and your face is almost turned inside out and your eyeballs are firmly embedded into the back of your head, and it feels like your upper lip is peeled back over your forehead. ( I will give you a minute to let that visual set in). Your white knuckling the wheel,,, your eyes are bug out a little more then the truck driver you passed earlier and then the road starts to level out and your speed starts to decline.
You have survived the Tehachapi Pass.. It isnt till about the town of Keene that you can finally release that Gi Joe death grip from the steering wheel, and yur eyeballs retract back into your sockets. You pull off at the fuel stop and find a parking spot and shut the truck down for the night,, Bakerfield can wait till tomorrow.
At about this time,, if you have soiled yourself from your full bladder and restrictive seat belt,,, dont feel bad,,, You have your home away from home Rv right there with ya. Now if you can just peel the seat material out of the nethers, you can get out and go change.. Happy trails.