In the Shade of the Freeway

Gonna build myself a house                                                                                                                in the shade of the freeway…                                                                                                                                       Jackson Browne ‘The Pretender’

imagesI’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it or not but I live beside a major interstate, the 210. Been living in the shade of the freeway for thirty six and a half years now and you know, its never really been much of a problem. In fact sometimes it’s quite comforting. I usually sleep with the window open so as I’m dozing off I can hear the world outside. Part of that world is, of course, the freeway.

On those nights when I have trouble falling asleep I lay there listening to the occasional car pass by and I’m transported back to a time when I was about 9 years old. We were traveling to Reno late one night in the family car. My dad got tired of driving so he pulled over to the side of the highway,out in the middle of nowhere, to rest for a few hours. I was in the backseat of the quiet car slowly drifting off to sleep, listening to the cars driving by in the night. It was a very soothing and peaceful sound, a sound I never forgot, the same sound I hear coming from the freeway all these years later. I still find it very comforting.

The 210 freeway runs east to west, parallel to my backyard and rises up directly behind us. The only thing separating us from the interstate is the freeway service corridor, which is really nothing more than a narrow dirt road with large, overgrown California  pepper trees and heavy vegetation on the freeway side. The plants and trees assist in muffling freeway noise and help to beautify the high slope leading up to the freeway. At the top a tall, block sound wall runs the length of the freeway.

soundwall1For years the view from my backyard consisted of a bare, dirt hillside with a big, ugly block wall at the top. In time (their own sweet time) Cal-Trans finally got around to installing irrigation and planting the hillside. It took quite awhile but now at least my view is green and I love the California Peppers they chose to plant. We had a gigantic one in our front yard when we were kids.They are a welcomed reminder of my childhood. But best of all there is no sign of the sound wall.

Living in the shade of the freeway you’d probably think that the noise would be the biggest issue, but it isn’t. The sound wall and trees definitely help but the biggest plus is the elevation of the freeway as it passes my house. Because it passes overhead  much of the sound misses my house and is much louder further down the street. Oh you can still hear it in my backyard but it really isn’t bad. We spend considerable time in the backyard and had our fair share of barbecues and parties. I can honestly say, the freeway has never been an issue. Oh we get an occasional loud big rig blowing by, or some ricky-racer crotch rockets, but it’s no big deal. Believe me we wouldn’t have stayed all these years if it was. Now if the freeway were below ground level that would be an other issue entirely. Yeah, we’d be out of here.

It’s that damn freeway service corridor that’s a cause for concern. Since it runs parallel to the freeway for miles, it is often used by scavenging coyotes. It’s not unusual to see one, to as many as six or more making their was along the corridor in the early morning hours searching for food. Small household pets have become fair game for these scavengers. Several years ago we lost our cat to the coyotes. One night we let him out and he never came back. A few months later my son found his collar and half eaten remains in the service corridor. Another time we had a coyote jump the back wall and come into the yard in search of food, namely our two small dogs. My wife called 911 at 3 in the morning and excitedly reported that there was a wolf in the yard trying to get our dogs! Yeah, she was really shaken up! A wolf indeed!

Since that time we haven’t had another coyote incident. We still see them around the area but no problems. All in all, living in the shade of the freeway all these years has been pretty good to us, so many good memories. We love our home and neighborhood, freeway and all.

Just a Thought…

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