Where's the sign for Highway One?

Guess I've left y'all a little in the dark lately huh?  Good news is I've started working on my novel everyday for a half hour now (well, minus this last week), but the bad news: less blogging.  There's only so much time to write, you know?  Well, we're up to 90 pages in the book so far, and I'm hopeful (VERY hopeful) that I'll have a draft out by late summer.  In the meantime, I'll be sure to check in with some posts here and there.  I actually have another one that I've been meaning to write, so I'll get on that.  In the meantime, lets backtrack to the story of the post today: road trips!

Ah, road trips, there's just nothing quite like em.  Sure, it's probably not the "greenest" habit of mine, but I don't think I'll ever be able to shake it.  Give me a car, a stretch of lonely road and lots of random stuff to see along the way and I'm set.  What was the occasion for this trip?  One goal: finish driving Highway One.  This idea started in my head less than a year ago when I drove the northern stretch of the highway while coming back from Mendocino and suddenly realized, "Man, I've almost driven this whole road, maybe I should drive the whole thing."  Ever since then, I've been on a mission to finish Highway One and after Monday I can proudly say I'm done!

This trip covered the section between Santa Maria and Dana Point, where Highway One ends.  And the scene? Everything from the wine country of northern Santa Barbara to the beaches of Orange County with everything in between!  I broke this trip up into a 3-day weekend with an option to hang a fourth if I needed (more on that later).  The scenes were great, but let's just cover the highlights:

  • Checking out an old abandoned movie theatre north of Lompoc.  It's too bad most of these are gone now, though the one in SLO is still going strong, double features and all!
  • Stopping at a random winery in Lompoc (Palmina Winery to be exact), doing a tasting, then buying two bottles of wine.  Sure it was a bit pricey, but I considered it a tasty souvenir lol. 
  • Hanging on the RR tracks north of SB.  A great opportunity for pics, though I'm still a bit rail-shy after Carmine, Rob and I almost got hit in SLO by a train we thought we'd hear coming haha.
  • Scooted through SB before stopping by Ventura.  MAN there are a lotta thrift stores!  It's nice and quiet compared to SB too.
  • Santa Monica was awesome; I loved the pier and the hostel I stayed at.  Thanks to Gretta and my two Australian roomies for hanging out, it's always a blast!  Course I had the loud snorer in the bunk above me who got in at 4 a.m., but hey, it's the hostel way!  In the future, I think I'll try Couchsurfing or just motels.  You really need a few days in a place to enjoy the people's company at the hostel.
  • Glad to see the spiffy new bike lanes in Long Beach and all the surfer dudes in Huntington.  Newport was a little too pricey for me to stop by lol, but Laguna was cool, even got my dad's Father's Day gift.  Now if I can only remember in June...
  • Nick and Becca, it was awesome hanging with you!  It's great to talk to another hardware guy from school and catchup.  Thanks for the great Mexican food (best the farther south you go) and the eggs in a basket for breakfast!
  • Brenna, what can I say?  I am absolutely STUNNED that you made it out here!  The first person to visit me in 5-6 years out here.  Wow.  Great times with you and Carolyn.  Yes, ducks can fly lol and I still can't believe a tree fell on your parent's car!  I only wish I coulda stayed longer and helped you out with the beeramid lol.  But hey, you'll be back this summer, and you'll be in the Bay, which is awesome!
Of course, the crowning moment of this trip came Saturday afternoon when I arrived in Dana Point.  My mission: find the "CA-1 Ends" sign, just like I did in Leggett up north (see my previous CA-1 post)  After a half hour of driving down the wrong stretch of the road (at that point called the Coast Highway) and getting on I-5 (excuse me, "The 5" down there :-).  Where was the damn sign?  Well, like everything else on much of this SoCal strip, I just chalked the missing sign up to the building up of the surrounding area.  In the end I settled for a CA-1/I-5 sign and I was set to drive down to SD to hang with Nick.

When Sunday afternoon came, I decided that rather than wait for Carolyn's roomie to come home and see if I could stay and find out I'd need a hotel, I decided to drive 8 hours STRAIGHT from LA to SJ.  Good idea?  I don't know about that, BUT it was fun.  I got a great sleep on Saturday night so I was all good.  Give me some techno and a Starbucks double shot (no not a real shot Tara :-P) and I was set.  Of course I got in at 3 a.m. and went into work at 9 a.m., but hey, that's just how I roll.  Oh, I had a passenger too!  Vlad finally decided he needed a ride from Marlize's place in SB to Kristen in Sunnyvale.  He was a great guess, although I drove slower so that a cop didn't pull over and think I had a dead body in the back lol.

So what did I think?  Well, I've put together a nice graphical Google Map to show you my vote for the best stretches of Highway One.  Check it out. 

Green = definitely do it!, Orange = meh, you can skip it, Red = skip PLEASE.  Monterey to SLO is still my #1 vote, although part of it still is missing right now :-)  Ok, as for sections (compare to my previous post above):

Santa Maria --> Lompoc: Eh, not much going on, but a nice peaceful, open road.  Lompoc has some cool little shops and wineries.

Lompoc --> Santa Barbara: The inland part's okay, but you can skip it and just do the US-101/CA-1 stretch to SB along the coast.

SB --> Oxnard: Right on the water and a bunch of cool picture spots

Oxnard --> Point Mugu: SKIP, nothing to see and lots of traffic (esp at rush hour lol)

Point Mugu --> Santa Monica: Pretty cool and right along the water, although not as intense of a drive as my fav part.  Malibu is cool but gets backed up.  The pier at Santa Monica is worth it.

LA --> Seal Beach: SKIP.  Although it's kinda cool to drive through all the little cities in LA, it's very slow going and most of the time there's nothing to see but sprawl.

Huntington Beach --> Dana Point: Check it out, gives you a real taste of SoCal.  All the various beach towns have their own style and lots of stuff to check out.

I may be biased, but I like the NorCal/CenCal portion much better.  To me, Highway One is about an open road with barely any cars on a winding route, not driving on a 4 lane highway in a city.

So what's next?  On my way back, I just so happened to drive all the way up US-101 from the beginning, so now I feel like I should drive all of US-101.  Also, now that I'll be in Seattle, I can take one of my vacations and drive the whole rest of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) down to SF.  Yes, Highway One is part of it, but not the whole thing.

Before any of that though, I'm thinking Route 66 this summer in August?  You in?  I'm looking for someone (or someones) to drive from LA to Chicago on 66 with me.  I want to go home for my bday before I come back out to Cali and move north to Seattle, so I thought this might be fun.  Trouble is cars are so expensive for a one-way rental, so it's just a thought at this point.  One thing this road trip definitely taught me was to not make plans for each night.  I mean, I know I don't have to make it to my friend's house or the hostel, but it just always nags at you, you know?  Yea, definitely doing the cross country road trip with no end points.

We will see how all this goes.  After a week off from biking and writing, it's back to routine this week.  Off to pack a lunch, later kids!


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