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Crossing the 5–Family and Holidays
Photo Photo courtesy of California Department of Transportation, District 12
I5 widening

In 2014, I spent Thanksgiving week at my sister’s place in Huntington Beach, California. Huntington Beach is a bit south of Los Angeles and it’s a very laidback place. Or that’s how it looks from the outside.
Someone coming from the East Coast, like Yours Truly, has a ratio of activity I am accustomed to, as well as a level of autonomy that comes from things like having my own car, my own schedule, and my own idea of what needs to happen when. When you’re on vacation, visiting family, abandon all hope of control. You may or may not have input into what is happening. If your family is like mine, they’ve already made plans for your visit—many of them—using a slide rule for scheduling.
If there is a time difference, as there is between East Coast and West Coast, the adjustment when you’re headed out to vacation is to your advantage. You’ll stay up a bit later and you’ll get up earlier than the rest of the house—for the most part. Coming back, it’s a like a two by four between the eyes. Allow yourself a weekend before resuming your regular schedule and you’ll still experience the time hangover usually reserved for Daylight Savings Time.
The biggest challenge you’re likely to encounter is communication. It might be something simple, like needing to remind one another to take a breath, so you can get a word in edgewise. Or it might be something more–um–important. Take my visit with my sister to her place of employ, for instance.
Deb and I drove to her office nice and early. I was encouraged to dress a bit more nicely than the shorts and t-shirt that had become my vacation uniform. I donned capris and a nice blouse. I had a cuppa with Deb in the pre-work stillness of the office, then confirmed the location of a shopping area not too-too far of a walk from the building. Then the trouble began–I confirmed *my understanding* of Deb’s directions only to find myself miles from my destination, having Crossed the 5!.
Usually we cross “t”s, or eye,s or even sometimes the Rubicon. I started out from the parking lot of my sister’s office, and turned left at the end of the parking lot. I walked down the hill we had just recently come up, came to a light. I crossed the street then made a right turn, with Big Lots in mind.
I am an avid walker. I average between 12 and 15 thousand steps per day. That’s about 6 to 8 miles of walking and the steps add up quickly. While at my sister’s I walked to Huntington Beach pier from the house every day, and had recently gotten my best step-day ever at 26,000! I had no idea I was on the road to something nearly as accomplished.
I walked in the early morning sunlight. Initially the weather was a little bit cool, but becoming more comfortable as the sun warmed things up. Deb works in Laguna Hills and the temperature began in the high 50s, soon working into the low 70s. I passed a shopping center on my right, then one on my left, but neither included my destination. I then saw I was approaching an overpass that went over a major highway. This is the 5!
Interstate Highway 5 is the main highway running north to south on the West Coast of the United States. It is a direct route connecting all of the state capitals of California, Oregon, and Washington states, and there I was, walking across the overpass and listening to the sound of the traffic, sounding like the ocean. When I had finished my crossing and saw no sign of the store I was seeking, I decided to call Deb and figure out where I was.
“The 5?! What are you doing crossing the 5?!” This is where I knew I’d made a wrong turn, somewhere. But WHERE?
Long story short, I had said to my sister—TWICE—“Take a right turn after leaving the OFFICE PARK, RIGHT?” She had replied—TWICE—““Yes,” thinking I meant the Parking Lot, which is what she had meant. A blister and literally 12,000 steps later, we figured out the gaffe in communication, during lunch. All told it’s small as far as communication issues go, but it’s a good reminder that during all seasons and for all reasons, make sure you understand one another before pursuit of separate activities.
Vacation spent with family is always a delight and though sometimes communications issues can cause a brief thunderstorm of agita, the sky always clears and after all, you’re with your family who loves you just because. That said, I will always remember my adventure in crossing the 5. And if you’d ever like to give it a go, I’ll make a recommendation about using the sunny side of the street!
Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!

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