April 25, 2009

Pacific Coast Highway : the road trip

This is the unedited version of the article I wrote for Travelife about my road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway, from San Francisco, CA to Vancouver, BC Canada. I've been meaning to post about that trip so this is a good way to start, and an even better way to save me from having to write it all up again. :)

US 101

It’s late at night on a Friday, one of many typical Friday nights during the salad days of my HS and college life. I’m in the backseat of my friend’s Pathfinder pick-up which is cruising effortlessly through the dark and foggy, yet thankfully familiar, Tagaytay highway heading for the beach. The collective energy in the car is almost palpable: the windows are rolled all the way down, all thoughts of school and curfew have been cast away, Don Henley’s Boys of Summer is blasting from the tape deck, and we’re singing along with him at the top of our lungs while the cool breeze dances along in our hair.

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Being on the road in a reliable set of wheels with good company and great tunes can put me in a fantastic mood. It didn’t always matter where we were going because getting there was already half the fun. So when it was decided that we would be driving to Vancouver, BC from San Francisco, I was over the moon! Not only would I finally be visiting my sister and her family again after twelve years, but I was finally going on a proper road trip! It must have been all those songs that played like soundtracks to road movies or those compelling books by Kerouac or Steinbeck that triggered my own longing to hit the road for my own adventure. There was no real agenda apart from arriving at the final destination. I wasn’t escaping anything nor was I trying to find myself. I was simply giving in once again to my wanderlusting, fun-loving and thrill-seeking nature, open to whatever the universe cared to toss my way.


The road trip gods had gifted us with the perfect sunny California summer day. Being the most experienced and confident driver of the group, Colo volunteered to take the wheel. I rode shotgun as navigator and Therese happily took the back seat. We would pick up Katrina and Lizzy in the city. The Chevy Trailblazer rental we picked up the night before was loaded with five women and five women’s worth of stuff with room to spare. Lizzy supplied the junk food and drinks and I supplied the tunes from my iPod with a playlist made especially for this occasion. My stack of printed Google maps had been discarded and stuffed under my seat, in favor of the infinitely more high-tech Magellan GPS which we named ‘Maggie’.


The plan was simple: we would drive up to Pt. Reyes, do an overnight in Petaluma, then continue on to Portland, OR, stay a couple of nights, then on to our final destination in Vancouver, BC, from where we’d take a plane back to San Francisco a week later. And as with most major decisions in life, we were faced with two options: take the longer, more rewarding scenic route via Highway 1 or the shorter but less picturesque Interstate 5. I suggested we take I5 all the way past CA/OR border, then veer west to drive the scenic route along the fabled Oregon Coast, to which everyone agreed.

But that wasn’t what happened. You see, Highway 1 which is also called the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 101 in certain parts, is the type of road driving was invented for. The type of road you see in movies or commercials where the handsome star in a red convertible has one bronzed arm draped across the shoulders of his blond leading lady with the over-sized sunglasses, while he tackles each hairpin turn skillfully with the other. It’s the type of road that makes you forget that you’re supposed to be about 50 miles east on I5. Yes, there is a reason it’s called 1.

Golden Gate Bridge

It doesn’t matter how many times I do it, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge could never be a been-there-done-that experience for me. Whether shining brightly on a crisp and clear day with sailboats playing underneath or enshrouded in the famed San Francisco fog as it was on this day, it is certainly a thing of beauty which represents one of my most favorite cities in the world. Though the bridge isn’t very long at 1.7 miles, traversing it is like travelling to another country. One made up of sweeping rolling hills, redwood forests, rugged coastlines and craggy cliffs where you might half-expect a leprechaun to jump out at you from the side of the road. Except this isn’t Ireland it’s Marin County, and that was a wild deer, not a leprechaun.

to be continued...


Watergirl said...

I never liked driving the I5, it's too impersonal, all those trucks and not so quaint towns, whereas the PCH has charm, character, and it may take an extra hour or so to get to SF from LA but it's worth the drive. More places along the way that call themselves the worlds capital of (insert fruit/vegie) like Gilroy and that place that grows asparagus.

christine said...

I think you mean Stockton - asparagus capital? I couldn't agree with you more! The PCH down south from SF is just as beautiful and it's practically a crime to skip it for the faster but boring route.

b's lawncare business said...

i would love to go on a road trip like this someday. enjoyed the post.

andi's hoop netting said...

your photos are so pretty!

virginia bed and breakfast said...

These are all the very smooth, wide and broad roads and highways which are looking fabulous and it will always be a pleasure and entertaining trip on these routes for sure.