A traffic report say that I-880 was already clogged up, and that's usually not the fastest route anyway, even though it's the shortest. So I headed up CA-84 and Niles Canyon Rd to I-680 north. Passing the I-580 interchange in Dublin/Pleasanton, I heard that there was an accident ahead in Danville. Oh, if only I'd known this ten minutes earlier! I got up toward the area and traffic slowed to a halt. More information came through on the accident: a rollover accident blocking the three left lanes of the four-lane freeway.
Realizing that the clog of cars ahead of me was going to last for miles and take forever, I made a snap decision, managed to fight my way to the next exit, and headed back south to I-580, where I headed east toward Tracy. This route is longer, and I lost something like a half hour in the up-and-back to Danville/Alamo, but with the delay from that accident, a huge slowdown reported on the Benecia Bridge, and reports of stop-and-go traffic at Cordelia Junction and all along I-80, I figured I still made better time this way.
I-580 was congested, but moved pretty much at not worse than about 40 mph, with some faster stretches, until it finally moved up to full freeway speed beyond Altamont Pass. I took a brief break at a gas station in Tracy, a full two hours after I'd left Fremont.
Traffic along I-5 between Tracy and Sacramento was busy but moving at the limit except for a couple of minor slow spots at Stockton and downtown Sacramento. However, I found it nerve-wracking, because I was going full freeway speed rather than my usual more sedate 55 mph I drive in my daily commute.
Passing through Sacramento just before 5 PM, I was able to make pretty good time as the traffic thinned out a bit beyond Woodland. At Dunnigan, I picked up my original itenerary, 1:20 behind where I should have been and having gone roughly 70 miles out of my way.
I stopped at Redding to get gas at the Safeway gas station, where I'd earned a 10 cent/gallon discount on a single transaction. To my great annoyance, after I thought I'd filled the tank, I did the math and realized that if that figure was correct, I would have been getting 30 mpg, which is impossible. I switched on the key and the gauge went only 3/4 full. But I'd already finished the transaction, so from the pump's point of view, I'd used my one-shot discount, and it didn't care that it took another six gallons to actually fill the tank. Yes, it's only sixty cents, but it's still annoying.
I ended up spending an hour at Redding, because the Safeway shopping center has a Starbucks, where I got a coffee -- I dumped a lot of caffine into my system to stay awake during this drive -- and checked e-mail. I then went into the grocery store and bought a small amount of groceries for dinner tonight in the Holiday Inn Express, where I expected (and was not disappointed) to find a microwave oven and refrigerator. I'd taken a small ice chest with me with a blue-ice block in it -- it had kept several cans of Coke cold for me during the afternoon, but I could fit a container of milk into the ice chest (barely).
On the slightly brighter side, as the sun was setting at Redding -- almost exactly 100 miles from the end of today's trip -- the radio reception improved so I could tune back into KNBR and hear the end of the Giants game just as I was losing the FM signal of the local network affiliate, and I then had the post-game show and sports talk thereafter for company as I made the best time I could up to Yreka.
My original plan was to get to Yreka at 8:30. I pulled into the parking lot just before 10:30, having driven 401.7 miles in 8:45 including stops, an average of 45 miles per hour. As it happens, that turns out to be almost exactly the same average speed that MapPoint used when calculating what should have been a 333.3 miles trip starting at 1 PM.
The lot was crowded, and there were four people ahead of me at the front desk, even at 10:30 PM. Fortunately, my prepaid reservation was waiting for me. (The fact that the reservation was prepaid was why I didn't bail out and stop sooner, incidentally.) I hauled my stuff up to the room and in a few minutes I will prepare dinner, and soon after that, try to sleep, although now I'm all wired up with the liters of caffeine I consumed, and from the semi-white-knuckle driving.
Fortunately, check-out time tomorrow isn't until Noon, the included breakfast is open until 10 AM on weekends, and I'm not in nearly so much of a hurry. The plan calls for me to leave at 10 AM, but Lisa told me to not rush and not worry, so I'm going to do just that.