Cambrian: Slice of Life

Want to guarantee that I need to get out of my house? Tell me I can’t leave

Humans are so perverse.

Want to absolutely guarantee that I’ll desperately want to get out of the house and go somewhere else for a while? Just tell me I can’t do it.

It’s the forbidden-fruit syndrome.

My mind conjures up all kinds of things I should be doing elsewhere, people I need to see immediately, places where I should be, errands that must be done right now this minute.

I get possessed by an itchy restlessness, and no amount of reading, writing, exercising, sewing, cooking, chatting, emailing or binge watching cures it. I definitely need to go. Someplace else.

Not happening.

Sometimes, I can’t leave because of health issues for me or someone else in the household. Sometimes, it’s an appointment here that I’m dreading but must endure, an expected phone call-back, or visitors arriving momentarily. Sometimes it’s vehicular woes — no car, and I’m sure as heck not walkin’ to Morro Bay, people!

Or, as was the case in early October, our virtual house arrest was because nearby roadwork dictated that nobody should drive or walk on those streets until newly laid-scraped-and-rolled micro-surfacing was fully dry.

Drive on them too soon, and the unfortunate vehicle would wind up with a nasty case of splattered-on asphalt acne.

What is microsurfacing, besides gloppy and gooey?

10-03-19 microsurfacing on Ellis Avenue c.jpg
A microsurfacing machine works on Ellis Avenue in Cambria. Kathe Tanner

L.A. County’s Department of Public Works defines the process as applying “a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion, aggregate (very small crushed rock) and chemical additives to an existing asphalt concrete pavement surface.”

Oh dear. New asphalt usually reeks, and my asthmatic Husband Richard is very allergic to the fumes.

San Luis Obispo County said its $2 million-plus project (presumably through Oct. 17) would protect the roads from “further deterioration and improve the traffic-wearing surface,” and would include resurfacing 39 miles of county-maintained roads and streets, at the rate of up to 13 a day!

More than 110 of the mostly residential work sites were in North Coast neighborhoods, while some others were in North County.

Our enforced home confinement provided an up-close lesson in fixing streets. I’d never before realized how complex it was to do a little roadway Botox.

The process had begun weeks before, when a crew groomed pavement edges and trimmed back any greenery that had grown its way into a trespassing violation.

As the project start date drew closer, a tentative schedule was available for those who knew how to ferret it out.

Oh, swell! We have a circular driveway. The street onto which cars exit from the driveway was to be resurfaced Oct. 2. Work was to be done on the intersecting avenue, from which we enter our driveway, on Oct. 3,

And the drive that forms the third boundary of our property? Oct. 8.

How kind. The planners spread out the torture.

A few days before the project began in our area, helpful, pleasant crew members set out no-parking-on-this-date signs. Later, street sweepers swept streets in a futile battle against brisk afternoon winds that had been regularly scattering lots of leaves, tree limbs and other debris onto the pavement.

By mid-morning on Oct. 3, the enormous microsurfacing-application machine was lumbering down our street, spraying a wide swath to cover half of the road. A crew member scurried along behind, rather like a sorcerers’ apprentice wielding an oversized, upside-down squeegee to smooth out what had just been squirted onto the road.

Then all was quiet for some “curing,” time, during which we probably could have slipped out via the unsprayed half of the road, sneaking downtown via a truly circuitous route.

But, since we were unsure when the goliath machine was coming back to finish up, thereby totally blocking our driveway, there was no guarantee when we’d be able to drive back in, and we didn’t feel like pushing Husband Richard up the back hill and through the meadow in a wheelchair.

So, we stayed home, twiddling our mental thumbs.

Once the spray machine made its return visit, we knew we were well and truly trapped for the duration, until the roadway dried and crews gave the “all clear.”

Naptime, anybody?

Reality check: Our confinement felt a lot longer than it actually was, and fortunately, the dreaded asphalt fumes were barely noticeable. And the road closures really inconvenienced such people as garbagemen, vacation-rental agents and their clients, deliverer folks from USPS, UPS and FedEx (just to name a few) and others with a lot more at stake than feet itching to be somewhere else.

Of course, we’re very grateful to county Public Works for the smooth new surface now coating so many of our town’s residential streets. Being optimistic realists, we hope it lasts longer than one winter.

And my goodness, it sure is nice to be able to just get in my car and go.

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