In Yosemite, the single-lane roads usually run slow. People are more focused on the mountains around them than going the speed limit, which is fine. It’s Yosemite. Taking a few more minutes to get from "beautiful hike A" to "stunning waterfall B" isn’t all that bad.
A few years ago, my family and I sat on one of those roads for about an hour. Didn’t move an inch, and didn’t know why.
Turns out, there was a bear sitting in the middle of a road. An enormous, playful bear. Nobody wanted to try to drive around him and the park rangers were having trouble fighting around the traffic, so the big guy just sat there, enjoying his afternoon.
Again, this was in one of the best national parks in America, so it didn’t really matter. There’s plenty of flora and fauna at which to gaze.
The rangers got the bear to move, and as the cars started moving again, we saw him scamper off into the woods. It was a long time to sit and do nothing, but I thought it was worth the wait.
Up until that point in my young life, that’s the longest it’s ever taken me to travel less than two miles.
That is, until Thursday, when I thought it would be smart to leave the Los Angeles Times office at 6:20 p.m. to try to catch a 7 p.m. game at Dodger Stadium.
Instead of mountains, I had honking buses. Instead of California condors, I had a different type of bird being flipped in the air.
Instead of a bear at the end of the wait, I had an angry security guard who snapped at me to produce my credential at once, lest he banish me from the parking lot I’d been trying to reach for what seemed like forever.
I know that terrible logjams exist all over the world, but it’s hard to imagine anything worse than trying to get to Dodger Stadium on game day.
Apparently thinking 40 minutes to go less than two miles was foolish. Silly me, the out-of-town intern. It took me more like 90 minutes to get to the stadium. Cesar Chavez Avenue was more obscene than Donald Sterling. At one point, I got so bored of sitting at a standstill that I started sorting change. Forget walking — I could have army-crawled to the stadium faster than going in my car.
And I’m just a lowly sportswriter! My two big concerns with getting there on time were to find a parking spot for my boat of a vehicle and to make the cutoff time for the press dinner. Those might not be listed in order of importance.
I’m fortunate to have a job that lets me go to as many baseball games as I want, and I usually get to the stadium well before the traffic arrives. What if you’re a family that’s able to go to only a game or two a summer, and you’re driving from farther than two miles away? How long would that have taken? What if staying an extra 15 minutes at work caused you to miss the first three innings, like I did?
What if you can’t see a Dodgers game on TV because you’re not one of the chosen 30% and this lousy stretch of concrete is your only way to catch a baseball game in Los Angeles?
For what it’s worth, the vast majority of the traffic police and Dodgers employees were as helpful as can be. There might not even be a solution to this — too many cars in too small a stretch will be a problem anywhere.
But 90 minutes to go two miles is less than ideal. Welcome to Los Angeles, I suppose. We’re not in Yosemite anymore.
Everett Cook has lived in Los Angeles for six weeks. Follow him on Twitter at @everettcook