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Pigeon Pass and Vallecitos Road

Vallecitos Road view

Today I had lunch with a long-time friend and former coworker. In doing so, I followed a route that I had taken quite frequently to Silicon Valley, but the road has changed. I had taken the changed road once before, but I was not driving.

I have written that I am a “sucker for serpentine streets,” and rural roads are no exception. I have also written that sometimes I feel like an unintentional archivist. Today I pointed the motorcycle southward, on Highway 84 south of Livermore. The climb to Pigeon Pass (37 deg 37′ 43.8″ N, 121 deg 48′ 09.6″ W [NAD27 Conus] will put you in the ballpark) had been serpentine in the past, but a highway project has made the road much safer and given the road wonderful, sweeping views. Highway workers continue to develop lanes that will allow unimpeded traffic in both directions. Their work means that views like the one above will never be the same again.

I used to love taking the bike through the “twisties” on Highway 84, Vallecitos Road. On the “down” side, lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic during commutes, dripping oil and coolant, made the road pretty slick in places, for motorcyclists. Gravel trucks leaving gravel pits in Livermore, straining to climb the hill going southward, would create additional bumper-to-bumper traffic behind them. Four-wheeled motorists who expected motorcyclists to “stop on a dime” were another hazard. I used to tell people that when you pull out in front of (or STOP suddenly in front of) a motorcyclist, expecting the biker to “stop on a dime.” that you COULD be right, but that the dime MIGHT be in YOUR pocket! :-) The new road, still under construction, will be much safer (people are speeding on it already, however) and still offer wonderful, even better, views. I found myself glancing at the old road though, the few segments that remained with the trees alongside the sharp curves, remembering what it was like to guide the bike smoothly through the curves, especially during non-commute hours.

I will remember what the road USED to look like (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), back before the Vallecitos Nuclear Center‘s name was changed to “GE Energy,” because “nuclear” still sounds scary to some people, even when you know how to pronounce it correctly. :-)

For everything gained, there is something lost. I know that I will miss the curves, but I will enjoy the new vistas, expecially if the new road saves the lives of travelers and commuters.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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