Tuesday, October 04, 2005

California Drivin'

Can anybody enlighten a country boy? Why are roads in the Midwest and South called "I-75" or simply "43," but in California everything is "the 5," "the 101"? As in, "Yeah, take I-75 south to 43 south to 64 east" vs. "Take the 405 north to the 101 north to the 118 east." This is a minor question, but it vexes me. Anyone who can explain the cultural origins of these oddities will be the Paleoevangelical visitor of the day.

Other fun experiences in the west have been looking into some dark mountains at night and seeing where the Hollywood sign is and finding out for the first time that it is not lit at night, having "California snow" (ash from the fires) fall on me, and seeing a couple (apparently on a date) within 30 yards of my motel room door standing literally inside two garbage dumpsters picking out the good stuff and putting it in a shopping cart.

6 comments:

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

now that is my idea of a good date.
won. der. ful.

all the stores in the south begin with the, too.
(maybe there's a connection.) or maybe it's because the roads out west are too windy to actually be followed with the directional descriptor in their names. perhaps the 101 goes n/s/e/w at varying times, so they feel deceptive if they say to take 101 just one way.

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

windy as in WINE (like Shiraz) -dee, not as in WIN (like the World Cup) -dee.

david said...

I too have wondered about the "the" here. I have decided that it's a reflection of a CA mentality. CA's are at least partially convinced they are their own country. So many people think of CA as being on its own that people here have begun to believe it. There may be other 101's in the USA, but they aren't "the" 101. Only CA roads merit claims of exclusive identification.

Keith said...

Don't know for sure, but I'd bet the "the" resulted from one or both of the following reasons: (1) The freeways (the 101, the 5, etc.) were superimposed on LA for LA.
(2) There are so many freeways in LA.

Keith

Charlie said...

Being from Pennsylvania and now living in California, I have observed this phenomena - but only in Southern California. More precisely, in the LA Basin. The possible reasoning behind this is that all these roads originally had different names. When the names changed an article was attached. Instead of "Drive on the Great Coast Highway until you reach San Luis Obispo" you are now told "Take the 101." But again, this is a SoCal thing. Come up north where California is still more than a state . . . it's a state of mind!

anoninva said...

Having just returned from a trip to UK I can say that they also call their roads 'the'. Like, the A1, the M1, etc. so, is an european thing?