The Grapevine

At 4,144 feet, The Grapevine is often snowed in and closed for short periods during cold winter days.  It is wise to check the area weather before setting out to cross through this notorious pass.  It can be dangerous.  The following are situations I’ve found myself in there over the past 10 years or so.
1.  At the base of the pass driving north, a big rig right in front of me blew a tire and had to move over to the side of the road quickly.  Fortunately, I had enough space to slow down and pass.
2.  In winter, it started snowing after I left L.A. and, with a police escort, I was among the last allowed to continue over the pass.  This incident taught me to look at the Grapevine webcams the night before and morning of a trip over the pass in winter.
3.  One of my tires started dropping pressure as I was in the Lebec area.  There was no place to pull over on the highway–barriers were in place from road construction–and when I did limp into town, because it was just before a holiday, no services were available.  I wound up limping on down to Mettler and then on to San Bernardino on Highway 99 for service, which I was able to do because the leak was slow.  It was a scary situation I would like never to repeat.

fixing flat tire on Highway 5 in California
fixing flat tire on Highway 5
in California

4.  Most recently, I had a fast but very eventful drive home from L.A.  I left at around 1:30 pm, got home to the San Francisco Bay Area around 8:30 pm, and in between saw the smoke from what appeared to be a car fire where the 10 meets the 405–that set me back with almost an hour of inching along!  Hideous!  Then, on the grapevine decline, a pick-up truck with things dangling off the back dropped some of its load—fortunately small things—and I had no choice but to drive through it.  I was lucky.  Then I spotted what looked like a lug of about 46 coke-type cans resting between two lanes on the 5.  A minute later I spotted a truck stopped and the driver running back, I guess to retrieve it.  Geeze!  When I got home, I didn’t even unpack, just got under the covers and pulled them up to my chin and hid.

Tejon Pass/Lebec


Fort Tejon State Historic Park 
4201 Fort Tejon Rd. 
Located in Grapevine Canyon, the fort was established by the United States Army in 1854 to protect the Sebastian Indians and white settlers from raids by other Indian groups.  It was abandoned ten years later.  You’ll see restored adobes from the original fort, museum exhibits on army life and local history, and some beautiful 400 year-old valley oak trees.  Civil War re-enactments are sometimes scheduled. 

(; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)