April 19, 2004

Unexplained Sights

If you drive even a little bit you're bound to see something odd every once in a while -- something you can't explain given what you see in the moment you drive by.

Years ago when I lived in the Washington, DC area and commuted in I-95 between Washington and Baltimore, I saw something that one doesn't see every day: a big black limousine burnt to a crisp along the side of I-95 south. It looked like bullet holes all along the side of the car as I passed by. There were unmarked gray and black U.S. government-license-plated cars parked in front and behind the scene. The burned limo didn't appear to have any impact damage from an accident, it was just burnt to a crisp with bullet holes in the doors. There was never a story about it in the newspaper or on TV, and I remember keeping an eye out for some mention of it over the ensuing days. Always wondered what that was all about.

More recently, in fact just a few months ago, I was headed back to San Diego on I-5 at about 2 in the morning, passing through the San Onofre area, and there was this brilliant spectacle of flashing red and white and yellow and blue lights on the horizon, in the northbound lanes. I thought, oh, big accident, but no, as I got closer, I noticed these vehicles, and there were a whole bunch of 'em, were all moving, in formation. In the center of the formation were a line of three or four black limousines, in a big escort with a formation of police cars, motorcycles, fire engines and ambulances surrounding it behind, alongside left and right, and in front, all moving north at high speed, sirens blaring, lights flashing. Who were they escorting at 2am northbound on I-5 around San Onofre? Never could figure that one out.

A couple weeks ago I was once again heading back on a business trip, and found myself passing south on I-5 through Irvine, San Clemente, and San Onofre around 2am. I saw the strangest vehicle: a white U.S. government license plate, with the letters DHS (Department of Homeland Security?) followed by some numbers. It was a bus / mobile home retrofitted to be some sort of mobile lab or command post: the windows were all blocked, and there was no window in the far back. This thing was nearly the size of a city bus, like one of those huge mobile homes. Strange thing was, the vehicle was moving incredibly fast, at at least 85-90 miles per hour, driving in the fast lane, passing everything in sight. I noticed it nearly lost control as it moved through that section of I-5 near San Onofre where there are some pretty serious left turns in the road as you head south. Why the hurry? Where was this thing headed? Who knows.

Today, driving up the hill on Via Capri towards Mt. Soledad, I saw a strange sight. A bicyclist was stopped along a steep stretch of Via Capri, fairly close to the top of the hill. He was down on all fours, looking at the ground, his arms and hands outstretched as if he were examining things on the pavement of the bike lane. As I got closer, I noticed there was a little cardboard box near him. As I got even closer, I noticed that there were millions of shiny reflections in the bike lane all around him, and continuing up the hill for maybe 10-15 yards, shiny reflections as if shards of broken glass. I thought, ah, ok, must've been an accident? Is he injured? Did something just happen and it's a hit and run? But he didn't appear to be hurt. At the far end where the glistening objects stopped some 10-15 yards up the road, was another small cardboard box, its lid open just like the other one. As my car came up alongside him (I'd slowed down considerably below the 25mph speed limit to see what was going on), I noticed the glistening objects were nails, hundreds, if not thousands, of nails. The two boxes were cartons of nails, and it appeared that they'd been either spilled by accident or dumped intentionally, all over that stretch of bike lane. But only the bike lane: I noticed not a single nail beyond the white painted line separating bike lane from my traffic lane. I have no idea what was going on, but I didn't pull over to find out. Next time I pass by there I'm going to check to see if the nails were all picked up. Hope so!

Posted by brian at April 19, 2004 09:41 PM

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