Cajon Pass Commute Checklist



Check Your Tires Before Every Trip

Days are getting shorter. You know it’s almost winter again.

Though your car should be regularly checked before every trip, now is the best time to have it checked.

Because I don’t really know how to check (under the hood), the only ones I could do are things that do not require one to be an “expert” on car maintenance.

I love cars but I was never good at knowing what is wrong with them — That’s my hubby’s job.

Plus, I have never washed a car. I don’t even know where to start! I could wipe here and there but wash a car? Nuh-uh.

I have never checked my car’s tires until one night after getting off at Metrolink Rancho Cucamonga Station, I found my car’s tires flat. Luckily, my siblings were with me. We just celebrated my brother’s birthday. They helped me inflate the  tires at a nearby gas station. It was actually my sister who did all those. Sad to say, I don’t even know how to put air in the car’s tires. I didn’t even have any loose change with me!

From then on, I regularly (visually) check my tires and of course, the petrol gauge. I do check it. I’m paranoid about fuel gauges. Last thing I need is be stuck in the middle of going up or down the Cajon Pass with little or no fuel, no cell phone signal, and be caught in a snowstorm!

Make sure your cellphone has plenty of juice as well. Have a spare battery or ‘charge bank’ and/or car charger. Oh, but if there is no cell phone signal, be sure you know where the CALL BOX is. Be careful when walking to one especially when visibility is low.

Have a change of clothes with you. I keep mine in a bag in the trunk. If I can’t get home, in case, I can always change and smell fresh. Hehe.

And some snacks and water.

This is important for someone like me who knows only TWO things to check:

Tires and Petrol/Gas Gauge.

Shame on me.

So, let me share a checklist from the DMV website.

Regular checks

It may seem intimidating, but basic care car is often simply a matter of popping open the hood and taking a look at the engine of your vehicle.

Some basic car care starts with examining the exterior. Check your tires at least every other week to make sure they are inflated properly. This should be an actual check with a tire pressure gauge, but you may also advantage from a visual check to make sure the tires appear equally and properly inflated.

Other visual checks that require almost no vehicle mechanics knowledge include the following:

  • body and bumper damage, which should be monitored for insurance purposes
  • leaking fluids underneath the vehicle, including oil, power and brake fluid, transmission or other fluid (air-conditioning may cause water to drip under a vehicle)
  • smoke in vehicle exhaust, aside from normal diesel emissions or startup fumes
  • engine or fluid warning lights, which should be promptly addressed before any further driving

Under the Hood

Of course, much of the day-to-day driving maintenance for your vehicle must occur with the hood opened and up, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a mechanic. The most important things to monitor and check regularly include the following:

  • engine oil level and cleanliness
  • antifreeze/coolant level (never attempt to remove radiator cap while engine is hot or warm)
  • brake and power steering fluid levels
  • transmission fluid
  • belts

When checking fluid levels, the engine usually has containers and canisters with fill-level lines. Make sure the fluids are above the minimum line, and below the maximum line. You should also keep an eye out for any leaks or worn radiator and other tubes, which should be replaced before pushed to the point of bursting.

Other things to be watchful for in and around the engine include loose electrical or tube connections, worn or exposed wires, and loose or warped belts, which should be promptly replaced. Belt replacement is somewhat difficult for some motorists, but is a relatively simple and inexpensive fix at a service station, so it may be worth the trip to your mechanic to get the right belt installed correctly.

You should also keep an eye on your vehicle’s battery, and be aware of its age. Batteries should be replaced every five years or so, and if your battery is not getting the proper charge to easily start your car, you should have it checked. You can usually have your battery’s charge and water level checked for free at a battery replacement station. Most vehicle batteries come with comprehensive warranties, as well.

Changing the Oil

One of the most important things you can do to maintain your vehicle is to change the oil and oil filter regularly. Some mechanics recommend changing the oil every 2,000-3,000 miles, but you can safely drive further. However, you should be sure to change the oil of your vehicle, or have it changed, at least every 5,000, including a new filter.

Your oil should be relatively clean, but still have a dark color to it once it runs through your engine. You should regularly check your oil level, and maintain it between the minimum and maximum fill lines. This is why it is a good idea to have some motor oil with the vehicle so you will be able to add some if needed.

There are a variety of types of motor oil to choose from. Lighter weight oil, such as 5W-30, is typically better for colder temperatures, while heavier oil, such as 10W-40, is more suited to warmer temperatures and climates. If your vehicle smokes or uses a lot of oil, a heavier weight and synthetic blend motor oil is probably best.

Other Replacements and Maintenance

Other important components and parts of your vehicle and engine that need regular maintenance and infrequent replacement include the following:

  • air filter
  • headlight, turn signals, and brake lamps
  • spark plugs and cables
  • engine timing belt
  • windshield wipers

Most engine tuneups are either actual motor work, or electrical tuneups consisting of spark plug, cable, and distributor cap replacement.

The biggest thing to remember with ongoing vehicle maintenance is to address issues promptly, including engine knocking or other noises, and do your best to try to understand what may be going on before you visit the mechanic.

Be safe.

A Taste of Home – without the Hassle

When September rolls along in Manila, it’s the start of the Christmas season. Road are brightly lit and Christmas lanterns decorate the streets.

I was lucky this Friday night, Sept. 12, after I went to see my high school friend, Lorna, who is here on a business/leisure trip from the Philippines.

Coming from the Rosena Ranch, the newly-built community on Glen Helen Parkway, going to the I-15North freeway entrance. But when I got there it was closed. Even the exit ramp was closed. This was at approximately 10:45pm.

I drove back and continued on to Fontana to get onto the Sierra Ave. freeway entrance. Whew! Yes, this was open!

Driving towards home, passed the Cleghorn sign – 1mile.  Looked to the other side of the freeway, I-15 South. Yipes! What happened??? Traffic didn’t seem to be moving!!!

This was at 11:12pm.

Going up the Cajon Pass, a string of lights awaits.





Going further up along until after the Summit… yup, traffic seem to be at a standstill. Tsk tsk tsk!

My apologies to those who were stuck in traffic. Don’t know what happened, but they were fun to watch.

Against the dark, lights on the cars and trucks look like lights from a Christmas tree.

I get very distracted and won’t be able to tell a Christmas lantern from an actual traffic stop.

That is what happened to me while I was driving in Manila one time I was on a holiday.

Traffic light was green. Or so I thought. It was actually a GREEN Christmas lantern. Police motioned me to stop but it was too late. I was on my way. Thankfully, I didn’t get a ticket nor had an accident. Roads were empty. But it was all brightly lit – just like the Cajon Pass last Friday.

Just like as I was back home.

One Soulful Machine

Sleek, silvery, and of late, painted with pictures of county fairs and baseball adverts.
Carrying weary souls of travel to their predetermined destination.

Everyday. Non-stop.

Lulling me to sleep with its smooth, quiet chug-chug while passing through picturesque backdrop or snarled traffic, snubbing ‘em all for it has a schedule to keep. No time to stop and smell the roses.

Yet, just like myself, gets tired of traversing lines back and forth. Breaks down. Following signals that seem meaningless to an ordinary organic.

At the end of the day, brings these souls back. Rest now. Bids goodbye as the sun sets.

Tomorrow again, my trusty train.
See you I shall.


Do the Can-Can

Being the youngest (of three) in the family, I’ve had my share of hand-me-downs.

Growing up, I could say I got my own knickers, cassette tapes (before there were even CDs), microphone, diary, and pencil case. Pretty much everything else I gave them new life.

I still own that green and white tennis shorts that were originally my Dad’s then my Mom’s then my sister’s then my brother’s then mine. Kept it for sentimental reasons.

The memorable memories with previously-loved things were the ones I had in school.

College days, almost everything were mine – except the collared shirts I pleaded my Dad to give me. They were his YSL shirts. It was not about the brand. I loved the patterns and the feel of them. They were really soft and comfortable. I wore them to death.

High school was spent in an all-girls school where my big sister had gone too. I missed the testing date for my first choice of school so I thought I could go to where my sister spent her “blossoming” days. I got her skirt. Luckily, my mom had kept it despite out six year gap. The skirt had a black and white plaid/checkered pattern and a very stiff feel to it. It had been treated to be like that so it won’t have to be ironed. It was bigger and longer too. I’d get in trouble with it because I used to fold down the waist part so it would fit and not fall down. Also, make it the length the school “desires”.

Sister was more curvy and taller than the “stick-y” me, so my Mom had to get me my own top.

I did get my dream shoes too. My very own black “felt” (suede) ballerina shoes — eventually.

The most memorable, if not most embarrassing memory, I have with hand-me-downs was in elementary. Me and my brother go to the same school. We were only a year apart.

The lucky ones I “inherited” from him were his pair of shoes. You know how boys could wear them out — in a day! I had worn “laughing” shoes – when walking, where the sole almost separates from the main shoe with your white-sock-clad foot exposed.

Then there was the time when I was Grade 6. A time when I was starting to feel self- conscious. It was my last year before I get on to high school.

I was in a dance. I don’t remember what it was for and what song. I have been in many.

We were practicing after school. One routine called for a no-holds-barred-kick-high-up-in-the-air move. I was lucky the few times I did it. But then the teacher said to give it all.

Now, my shoes were big on me. It was a black, leather pair. I had to wear two pairs of socks just to keep them.

Because I wanted to kick the highest, I gave my all. Shoe went flying up in the air — as if in slow motion. Hit the blackboard and fell down on the floor.

Picture Source

Full Moon Phenomenon

Because it was a full moon last night and I still managed to get a glimpse of it this morning on my way to work, I have some pictures to share of the sights I took (while driving – ssshhh). I was careful and at one time had to stop on the side of the road so as not to miss (an angle) – and hit another vehicle. No, it wasn’t a close call. I was careful. IMG_3775.JPG

On Cajon Pass…


Nearing Devore…


And for some reason today, the train was full. So I checked if there are any train alerts. Yes, one. The train before mine was canceled due to mechanical problems. That’s why. Plus the train was also shorter than usual – a car or two short.

All along I thought they’ve come to see the Queen (that’s me).


Thank God it’s Friday!

Because I’ve reached my data limit on my phone for the first time in forever, I decided to turn my Wi-fi off and cellular data so as not to incur any additional charges, just in case. My cell phone carrier keep sending me text messages reminding me to upgrade. Nah, I’ll survive.

I’ve kept the same number for as long as I remember. I’ve given them (phone company) good business and loyalty (even though there were really tempting deals). I’ve stayed on just because I hate calling them for everytime they try to sell me something that I can’t say no to.

As I write today in the train, on a quiet Friday morning, usually an excited chatter could be heard, telling each other of their weekend plans. Not today. QUIET.

That’s good. I can let my mind wander – to sleep that is.

Given my habit of daily blogging and/or reading, I never get any chance to play my music. Just listen. Unless I’m in the car where I can’t exactly keep looking for songs I like to play. I still have to drive, you know? So I just “shuffle”.

If I’m lucky I’ll hear songs I haven’t heard in a while. Most of the time, even though it’s on shuffle, out of 1500 songs, funny it seems like I hear the same songs again and again.

So now on a quiet, sunny Friday, 5th of September (quite a few celebrate their birthdays today – Happy Birthday to you!). Drifting off… nibbling on my fruits…

Though I know I will end up listening to my all-time favorite, the greatest Billy Joel.

Absolute Displacement


Year 2829.

Robots digging. People in space suits. They’ve just traveled back to their mother planet, Earth, from Mars.

Something BIG has just been discovered.

After the Big Shake, the 8.0 magnitude of an earthquake that shook the entire High Desert and obliterated everything in sight. And now, for the first time, unearthing the belongings of this legendary Cajon Pass Commuter.

Thousands and thousands of paper train tickets. Wow! Why were they kept? archaeologists wonder.

Books and many, many books! Books with words. Big, thick books along with smaller books. Must’ve had lots of children, they assumed. Books with pictures and more pictures of babies, kids, and what “Earth” looked then! What could one do with all these? Such an odd one.

Oh, but what about the mountain of CDs? It was the dawn of digital age and yet this particular one had loads of ‘em. A sentimental one perhaps?

Strangest were the notebooks covered in pictures of cars, flowers, recycled calendars and gift wrapping paper of different colors and designs. Folders after folders of so-called blogs.

Ahh, these were the life chronicles.
A blog blotter.


Crack of Dawn

Waking up early is my thing, I’d rather start my day early, provided I retire early for the night too.

Weekdays are especially tough, getting ready for work. Dragging myself out of bed can be a –drag.

Weekends are a different story. This is my ME time. I wake up before the sun rises. By Friday night or if I was too lazy to pick up a pen or type it in my phone, I already have it in my head a list of things to do. I want to check things off my list soonest I can so my mind is clear of distractions – further enhancing my “weekend getaway” (from it all).

Enjoying the stillness. Watching hummingbirds zoom by – poor creatures – always in a hurry. Breathing in the crisp, morning air. Slightly meditating… Focusing on the QUIETNESS which seem to be a rare commodity these days in our household.

After an hour .. my mind wanders back to my list…
Do laundry
Cook breakfast
Cook food for the week
Tidy up my work table
Hoover (when everyone’s woken up)

Most of the time this is my list of chores. If more things to be done, then I take one or two off the list to give way to more pressing issues (like outlet shopping and watching movies) ;-)

But then there are still some “messes” to be taken care of in between .. like the ones that this lil monster of cuteness do.


Bless her heart.

Once More Into the Fray

Commuting does this to me while driving along the Cajon Pass….

Lanes get blurry

Blurry Lines


I get double vision

Cajon Pass Mirror

My nerves are frayed.

” We are living in very challenging times.

Pressured in the workplace and stressed out at home, people are trying to make sense of their lives.”  – Les Brown

And thus, this blog ;-)