Semi Tough on California's I-5

South California highway
South California highway

I hit the road Wednesday morning at 2 a.m. to drive to Mendota, in the heart of California's Central Valley.

My assignment—report on plans to build California's largest nuclear power plant, even though there's a moratorium on new nuke facilitiesin the Golden State.

Driving the I-5 during the dark of night is not for the weak (by the way, people from SoCal always put "the" in front of freeway numbers).

The Grapevine is one long, semi tough mountainous stretch of highway which I shared with hulking trucks moving our economy forward.

Nearly every off-ramp has rigs parked on the side of the road as drivers catch some zzz's.

The Central Valley is a place of dust, heat, flies, cows, almonds, oranges, nectarines, pistachios, alfalfa...and just about everything else that can come out of the ground.

I like it. It's tough. It's not what most people think of when they think of California.

There's only one Starbucks along the 150 miles between Gorman and Mendota. There are probably 20 McDonald's.

But nothing may sum up the vibe better than the sight I witnessed while pulling over for gas at 4:30 a.m.: an SUV hearse.

Not a fancy Hummer. This was old school.

American Graffiti.

After sharing this with friends online, the jokes came fast and furious.

"Was the coffin camo?" "Rims?" "Fur on the steering wheel?" "Chupacabra leather?" "Going out in style! Leaving that one last carbon footprint before breaking these earthly bounds!"

There's something admirably tough about someone riding to the cemetery in a souped up hearse. After all, you're dead. How much tougher can life get?

Speaking of tough...

Here's a story about someone one reporter says took the "House" in Waffle House literally.

A Georgia man was discovered living on top of one of the restaurants in Augusta. I call it the recession version of a bed & breakfast. A sign of tough times. Read it here.

Finally, nothing and no one may be tougher than the honey badger.

I was alerted to this "educational" video about the Manny Pacquiao of the animal kingdom (warning: language). Watch it here.

How tough is the honey badger? He even has his own t-shirt line. The honey badger doesn't care whether he'll end up riding in an SUV hearse, or any hearse.

You can't kill him.

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