You're retired, as you say, so you have flexibility. The first thing is to know what Caltrans is doing and when, and plan around it. That appears to be the #1 problem for you. You can't control idiots -- and the 15-to-Vegas conduit is American Idiot Central. But if you know you have only a lane or two, do it when you know traffic will be at non-peak. And it's not like there aren't other ways to go; there's always the Yucca Valley/Amboy/Kelso route. Or you can be really nuts and take the 405 to the 5 to the 14 ... Peace of mind is a good use of money. It just comes down to the balance.