Carmageddon is coming and you’d better take a chill pill because, if all the predictions are correct, Los Angeles will come to a complete stand still this weekend causing major delays (and potentially major headaches) everywhere.
For those special few who have been living under a rock or recently awoke from a very long sleep, you may not have heard the breaking news, 10 miles of the 405 Freeway from Getty Center Drive to the 101 Freeway will be shut down in both directions beginning this Friday, the 15th at 10pm (with ramp closures expected to occur as early as 7pm) until the following Monday, the 18th at 5am. The reason for the closure is to improve a portion of the Mulholland Bridge and allow for the expansion of a car pool lane to ultimately help decrease congestion on the 405.
Many fortunate souls had the foresight and wherewithal to plan their exotic vacations or arrange a long overdue visit to their relatives during this time, but for the rest of us who are staying put and bracing ourselves for this auto storm, a little helpful advice on how to curtail our road rage and make the best use of our downtime is in order.
Should you find yourself stuck-in-the-muck (as my nephew loves to say) while driving across town to visit a long lost friend or to take in a blockbuster movie over the weekend, try a few of these suggestions to get you through gracefully and you may even come out a little smarter for the experience.
Break Out the Emergency Items. First and foremost, make sure you have a small emergency kit on hand so that you are well-prepared in the event you need aid on the spot. Lord knows how long it will take ambulances and fire trucks to get to you on this day. Don’t forget the sunscreen! What if your sunroof gets jammed open and the sun is shining down right upon you for hours on end? Sunscreen will ensure you at least tan evenly.
Stock Up on Snacks & Suckers. Regardless of whether you have kids or not, if you are caught in intense delays you will need to hydrate so stock up on plenty of cold water or other replenishing drinks. Put everything into a cooler with ice packs to keep everything cold for as long as possible. An assortment of snacks both savory and sweet will also keep you awake and occupied. I also highly recommend purchasing a supply of lollipops. Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops are my favorite. You may just be able to answer the age old question – how many licks does it take to get to the end of a Tootsie Pop?
Do Not Leave The House Without... Going to the bathroom. Once again, not just for kids, adults need to make one last trip to the potty too! Trust me, an empty bladder is a happy bladder. It is also wise to wear comfy clothes and shoes. You do not want to feel constricted and restricted by a pair of skin tight jeans (although they may be cute!) and your highest Louboutins. If you have to hit the brakes all of the sudden you might break an expensive heel at the same time. Instead, break out your Tod’s driving shoes. If ever there was an ideal time to wear these puppies, it would be now.
Remember the Rules from Driving School. To keep the traffic flowing, remember to use your signals to let others know if you will be moving to the left lane or right lane. Limit your horn use. Everyone is in this together and we don’t need an impatient driver laying on the horn to remind us to move forward nor do we need you giving us the finger or screaming at us at the top of your lungs. We’re moving as fast as we can. If you are a notoriously slow driver, stick to the right lanes which are meant for those just coasting and enjoying the ride. On the flip side, if you are a Mario Andretti in training or from New York (I can say this because I am) and know your blood will boil over if you are not driving in the fastest lane, then by all means move to the far left and stay there!
Consult a Compass. If you do not own a compass, you'd better know your east from your north and your west from your south. Here's a tip: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Downtown is also located east and the beach is west. Also worth noting, the 405 Freeway runs north towards Santa Barbara and south towards San Diego. Purchase a map to get a bird's eye view of surface streets. You will definitely need to use them this weekend!
Take Up Meditation. This weekend may be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill such as meditation. While in your car, pop in some contemplative, relaxing music and start your chanting or counting to ten backwards. Let your mind drift and your body melt into the seat. Picture yourself on a sandy beach in Hawaii with the wind blowing in your hair and a nice cool drink by your side.
Learn a New Language. Visit your local bookstore (if it hasn’t shut down yet) and purchase a DVD that will teach you a new language. Who knows, by the time you reach the Italian restaurant, you may be able to order your dinner in their native tongue accent and all!
Radio is the Sound Salvation. I love my music and you'll never find me in the car without something playing in the background. Traffic is an excellent time to brush up on your karaoke skills and discover the words to all of your favorite songs. Close those windows shut, crank up the air conditioning, pump up the volume and sing till your heart's content.
Squeeze in a Little Exercise. So maybe you didn’t make it to the gym 4 times this week and you’re feeling a little guilty. Now is the perfect time to work out those stomach core muscles by contracting and releasing your stomach or doing fast yoga breathing. How about that seat area? Squeezing and releasing your bottom will help tone your buttocks and create nice definition. Not just for mommies, men you too can improve muscle tone by strengthening your pelvic floor with Kegel exercises! Do a round of all three every 15 minutes and you’ll step out of your car slimmer than when you got in.
Let the Games Begin. Car games seem a natural to play at this time. Although you may be at a standstill, here are a couple of the most popular games to attempt: (1) The License Plate Game in which players attempt to find a license plate from each U.S. state until they have found all 50 and (2) The Alphabet Game in which players look at road signs and license plates to spot the letters of the alphabet, in order from A-Z, then the numbers 1-26 in order. In both games, first one to finish first wins. If you are driving solo, dial up a friend and play over the phone.
Final Thoughts. Fill up the gas tank on Friday morning to ensure you have plenty of juice to get wherever you may need to go over the weekend and while you're there have them check your water & Freon levels too! The last thing you need is to run out of gas or have your car overheat under these conditions and I wouldn’t count on AAA bailing you out either. They may be busy tending to more important things, like ACCIDENTS!
In the Future. Ten years from now, worries like how to survive "Carmageddon" may not be such a big deal. Apparently, Google is hard at work developing the first ever self-operating cars. If this occurs, then rather than hitting the gas and the brakes for hours at a time on our commutes, we can all just sit back and relax, curl up with a good book and take in the view while our cars drive us to our destination. Sounds good to me!
For more up-to-date info, follow @BeatCarmageddon on Twitter, and use the hash tag #carmageddon or check in with your local news station on satellite or traditional radio. Good luck and safe travels!!