My first road-trip to California was in 2005 when my 6’7″ brother and I (6’3″) piled into my tiny Nissan 200SX and drove straight through from Portland to Highland, CA to visit his girlfriend for a couple of days… Before turning around and driving back two days later. We took I-5 most of the way there, and we ultimately got lost somewhere around Rialto and then I ended up bawling my eyes out on the side of the road in downtown San Bernardino late at night, pretty sure that I was going to get carjacked. But that is a story for another day. Not the greatest experience for a first drive, but we ultimately made it. (I am not sure if GPS was not around yet, or I was just too poor to have GPS… but my printed out Yahoo Map failed me big time).
Since I decided to go to law school in Malibu the following year, that trip was the first of many, many drives between Portland and the Los Angeles area, almost all of which were straight through drives, many of them by myself (and even with company, I usually did most or all of the driving). That is nearly 1000 miles straight through, y’all. Every single time I have told myself “OMG THAT WAS AWFUL. I AM NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.” And yet, the opportunity presents itself and I do it again. At least a couple of times per year, for the last…. 6 years? Why? Well, I have completely lost my mind, obviously. Additionally, there is the therapeutic nature of the open road, the fact that even with gas prices these days driving is cheaper than flying (and I am nothing if not a bargain hunter), and the fact that it is nice to have my own car in Portland and bring as much luggage as I want (and sadly sometimes the motivation is the need to transport giant binders of work).
So… Thanksgiving was rolling around and Dave and I decided to go visit my family in Portland. And we decided to.. you guessed it… drive. The gas was DEFINITELY cheaper than the price of putting two humans and two dogs on a plane (or two humans on a plane and two dogs in day care), plus we knew it would be nice to have our own car up there. Dave refused to follow the Michelle-Crazy-School-Of-Thought and was not willing to drive the 1000+ miles all in one day. He also was not interested in taking I-5 the whole way, even though it is by far the quickest route. For those who have not had the pleasure of driving the 600 miles or so of I-5 through The Middle of Nowhere, California… Let me just ruin the surprise for you and tell you that it leaves much to be desired. We decided to split the drive up into two days each way, stopping both times to visit Dave’s friends in Monterey, and taking the prettier coastal route on the way up.
BEST. IDEA. EVER.
The drive was beautiful, and with the exception of some really bad traffic at one point, I never reached the “OMG GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR I WOULD DRIVE OFF A CLIFF RIGHT NOW IF THERE WAS ONE JUST TO GET OUT OF THIS CAR” point.
Parts of Highway 1 totally reminded me of my drive around the Coastal Causeway of Northern Ireland. So beautiful! It’s one lane each way most of the time, and very curvy at points, and I imagine the traffic can get pretty bad at high travel times. Luckily for us, we were driving it in the middle of the day on Tuesday so there wasn’t any traffic. Just miles and miles of beautiful views… and me attempting to take pictures of said views with one hand with my iPhone while Cosmo “held” my other hand.
On the way back from Monterey, we wanted to be sure to get past L.A. before the worst of rush hour traffic, so we took the 101, and cut across near Fresno to return to the dreaded I-5. It was 6 hours instead of 8 though (and 6 hours would put us in L.A. ahead of the evening rush). And L.A. traffic is awful. Desperate times call for desperate measures. However, even our short cut turned out to be pretty. It turns out the 101 from Monterey takes you right through some California wine country. Unfortunately, I don’t really have good pictures of that but I’m so glad we took that route back!
Now, safely back on solid, flat, sunny, dry ground in Southern California, we both swear that we won’t make that drive again, even the pretty one, unless we are moving there. We’ll see next year 😉