Tuesday, October 2, 2012

California Dreamin': Day 8. -- Close to Paradise.

When: June 2, 2012.
Where: San Francisco --> Los Angeles.
The main objective of the day: Five words -- California State [expletive] Route 1.

Now this is what I am talking about.

Sweeping rights, tight lefts, series of S-curves, long straights, hilly terrains, unlimited ocean view on a warm, sunny day, and a stereo that plays my favourite driving music. Oh, and a car too, obviously.

I've driven from Vancouver to Victoria, Seattle, Portland, to Yellowstone through the back roads of Montana and Wyoming, to Calgary through the rockies, as well as from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, not to mention a drive through the heat of South and North Florida; but truth be told I don't think I've ever had as much fun as I did this time.

Highway 1 has never been the most practical highway out there: as a road to get one from point A to point B, it is neither the fastest nor the most convenient comparing to the nearby Interstate-5 highway. Case in point: driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles typically takes less than 8 hours on the I-5, but on Highway 1 it takes 10 hours. If you don't stop. Which you will, because you'd be stopping every 10 minutes to take a picture of the view.

The Bixby Canyon Bridge.
On top of that, there's only one lane -- so if some dimwit decides to tackle the road in a motorhome it is pretty much guaranteed that you'd be stuck behind them for at least a fortnight. From time to time you'd also get the spikey-haired yobbos that scream by in their Yamasaki RK50687-39586ZZ hair dryers, puncturing your ear drums in the process. Going from north to south also means that you'd be driving about two inches away from the edge of a 100-foot cliff with raging Pacific waters right underneath, made even more exciting when you have to make room for the tour buses traveling in the opposite direction in tight corners. The landslide warning signs do help calm things down a bit, though.

But all that doesn't matter, because I have got wind in my hair, AC/DC in my ears, and I'm blasting across the Bixby Bridge at 100 km/h (okay, more like 80, but that's only because of the damn camper van). The variety on this road is amazingly diverse, with corners that would make a Need For Speed video game feel like morning commute, and views that, well, looks like this.

"The Greatest Meeting of Land and Water in the World."

The Agaves Burrito.
Along the way you'd also pass Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Malibu, and it'd be wise if you make a stop at each of them too because they are all brilliant places. Santa Barbara in particular had one of the best Mexican joints I've ever encountered. Fair enough, to encounter a Mexican joint in Vancouver is like trying to find a graduate from Milford Academy -- they are neither to be seen nor heard. This particular restaurant is called Los Agaves, and the Agaves Burrito is something to die for.

... Crap, now I feel like having Mexican. Anyways, back to Highway 1.

I was also hoping to get to Malibu as well -- the home of Hollywood stars and, well, Iron Man. But since I spent so much time taking photos along the highway (and eating the Burrito), it was nighttime when I reached Malibu. Ah well, next trip I guess.

They call this the greatest road in California. I'd say that this is probably the greatest road in North America in general. It was probably not as much fun as I had at Knoxville in Napa (the road is literally a rally cross with no traffic), but on Highway 1 you can sit back and take in the spectacularness of the views and the gracefulness of the roads, and just drive. Nothing seems to matter anymore, and on this road you'd just be driving to drive.

This day has perfectly satisfied the "road" portion of my road trip: it has roads, it has corners, it has views, and it was extraordinary.

The day started at 10am (yes, I overslept), and 11 and a half hours, 740km and over a couple hundred corners later, I was in la-la-land.

Next up: Joshua Tree National Park, as well as the hidden American treasure -- Route 66.