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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

I have 8,000 miles on my odometer. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I bought it with seven miles on the odometer in July. I commute back and forth from Los Angeles often, traveling the 393 miles between my home in Davis and my home in LA three or four times a month. Because of this frequent and harrowing journey, the I-5 highway and I have a love-hate relationship. I love the sense of freedom, of blasting my music and racing through the Central Valley. However, the 5 might be the most monotonous, unstimulating road known to man. 

After so much time frequenting the 5, I’ve compiled a list of experiences that I have had on the road as a lonesome traveler:

The *Haunted* Rest Stop

My absolute favorite rest stop (yes, I have a favorite) has a somewhat haunted vibe to it. From the abandoned Mexican restaurant to the gated-off gas Shell station that has been “under construction” since I was a child, this charming exit wards off folk that normally clog up the lines for the gas pumps and convenience stores. Abandoned during the day, this rest stop is surprisingly active at night, with everyone from biker gangs to bachelorette parties stopping by during a leg of what is no doubt an endless journey.

Cow Smell and No Cows

The first time I experienced this sensation was horrifying. The smell of cows, or, more specifically, cow poop, slapped me in the face as I was going through a nondescript set of fields. At first, I thought maybe I had run over someone else’s roadkill — what could produce such a foul stench? I looked all around, and there was no distinct source that could explain the horrible smell surrounding me. This has happened a couple of times since the initial occurrence, so it is a part of the journey that I have come to accept. 

Fruit Ninja

Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and strawberries have all splattered against my windshield while driving. While I am not normally phased by my placement among gargantuan trucks on the road, the thud of a potato against my windshield can startle me out of a deep track of thoughts and make me wary when navigating through traffic in the Central Valley.

The Twilight Zone

I’ve found that after about two hours of driving in a straight line, I lose all sense of speed and time. This can be pretty stimulating when it comes to exiting the highway and I’m hurtling up a ramp at 85 miles per hour, slamming on my brakes to not take out the Jack in the Box sign on the side of the road.

Extreme Multitasking

This experience is my least favorite by far, as sleeping and driving are not really seen as compatible activities. After focusing my line of vision on one spot for too long, my eyelids can begin to droop and I have to right myself by moving around in my seat and blasting the air conditioning. I’ve fallen asleep driving about three or four times, and I’ve found that the adrenaline rush after almost running off the road is enough to keep me awake for an additional 10 minutes before I start to wilt again.

Madison Lefler is a third year at UC Davis double majoring in Psychology and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, with a minor in Technology Management. She is also a Sustainability Peer Educator for UC Davis Student Housing and Dining and enjoys makeup tutorials on YouTube, making boards on Pinterest for everything, and drinking overpriced lattes with her girlfriends.
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