Highway 85 is, unless you’re a carpool, unusable during commute hours. I’ve been trying different ways to get to NASA for the past week and so far the best I’ve been able to come up with is 70 minutes. Without freeways, there are basically two routes: mountains north and a short run east across Palo Alto / Mountain View, or mountains northeast to Los Gatos and then surface streets to Mountain View. The second option seems to run about 70 minutes both ways, while the first is about 75 (there are three schools on Page Mill and traffic is a bit slower). Five minutes is pretty much a wash. The valley route, though, has a little bit less mountain twistiness and I can get slightly better mileage on the flats even in slow commute traffic. I can drive less aggressively and be all calm and stuff, but there’s just no way around gravity when you’re going uphill.
Now I’ll start keeping track of what stores I’m passing to see if I can combine any errands with my commute.