My morning commute

These days I’m up around 7:30am pretty consistently, so I can leave for work by 8:40. It takes about 50 minutes on average to get down to Sausalito in light traffic, which is pretty good considering it’s a hair under 50 miles from door to door. Both my departure and destination are right off 101, so most of the time I’m cruising along at top speeds.

I feel pretty lucky to have a Civic, which gets around 36mpg, or 450 highway miles a tank, but which also means I can’t go a full week without having to fill up. At $3.20/gallon of gas, that’s ~$40 a pop—not counting the environmental cost. Kind of makes me want to find an apartment in Sausalito. So I could walk or bike to work instead. If you think about it, 50 miles (and 50 minutes) is really an incredible distance. At this rate, I’ll drive the equivalent of my North Carolina to California cross-country trip every month.

The morning commute is pretty predicable. It can slow down around the North San Pablo Road exit, which is mostly due to the big hill there and partly due to traffic backing up into San Rafael just over the hill. But sometimes it doesn’t back up, and I wonder why. I wonder if traffic engineers ever watch rush hour traffic from helicopters in spots like this to understand the traffic like physicists understand fluid dynamics. I wonder if their computer models take the grade into consideration. I wonder if a tunnel would help.

The first week or so I listened to music. I was having great thoughts in the car, so I put together a hipster PDA. Now my mind just kind of empties when I’m in the car. Lately I’ve been listening to NPR. I hear the end of Morning Edition with a few minutes of the California Report which I like (local news, that is), and then I get about a half hour of Forum, which I’m kind of getting tired of. Listening to something in the car is a great way to pass the time, but I don’t enjoy feeling like such a passive receptor of information. I don’t like not interacting.

In my mind the drive is divided up into all these segments. There’s the straight and flat stretch leaving Santa Rosa/Rohnert Park, the hilly Petaluma bit with the grapevines, the straight and flat Petaluma bit, the non-freeway part between Petaluma and Novato, the boring Novato part (three lanes though!) that blends right into San Rafael with the hill, the almost-there Corte Madera/Tiburon/Mill Valley stretch, the first Sausalito exit, the climb up into the hills over Sausalito where the fog is sometimes spilling over, the Waldo tunnels, and a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge as I take the last exit before the bridge down into Sausalito.

The new office has a totally radical parking garage under the building, so I pull in, enter the sekret code, and park.


Books on tape, my friend. Books. On. Tape.

You are the only guy I know who takes over an hour to get ready in the morning! What are you doing to your hair? ;-)

You leave at 8:40??? You don’t have to be at work until 10??? Why didn’t I know this before? Although I sometimes listen to things while driving, I usually relish my commute as a time to be quiet with my thoughts- I am a captive audience for them. Beware of the temptation to make calls, though- those are not times of day when cell minutes are free!


I think it takes me about 20 minutes start to finish to leave the house in the morning. Including email. I recommend lecture series. We listened to one for about 15 hours straight on the way home, about science in the 20th century. Awesome.

This is funny. I can not believe I ever typed the words “I … relish my commute.” I must have been delusional that day. But I did have a high cell bill back then.


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