I talk about road tripping and my own car quite a bit, but after looking over some of my old photo sets I realized that I hadn't gone into much detail about one of the best drives that I've ever taken. Perhaps not surprisingly for those of you who have followed this blog, it was part of the 2010 cross country drive I took with my friend Dave. After a week in Indio we drove to Los Angeles and up the Pacific Coast Highway on our way to San Francisco. Even after all of the miles we'd traveled, this wasn't just a scenic detour, it proved to highlight what a good road trip was all about.
From the vineyards surrounding Santa Barbara to the emergence of rocky cliffs and fog rolling off of the ocean, the Pacific Coast Highway is like driving through a continuing series of breathtaking California postcards. The road rises and falls between beaches and hill top vistas, while winding along the coast to reveal new views with every turn.
Puttering along in Dave's campy VW, it was somehow appropriate for the drive. It was unassuming and laid back, and for that brief moment seemed to echo its own stereotype in those surroundings. I'm sure we still joked about it the entire time regardless. I mean really, what guy actually wants to drive a VW bug? Dave was always a character though, and I guess that's why it suited him.
We pulled over along one the dirt roads carved alongside a cliff to take in the view. The fog had thinned out and the sun brought out the colours of the coast. Seeing a photo op, I climbed up one of the steep hills close by. Soon after Dave noticed where I was, snapped a quick picture, and started climbing.
While taking in the ocean view, I snapped a few pictures too as Dave joined me at the top. I had just put in a new memory card that morning, but in my rush to check my pictures, I accidentally deleted all of the shots I'd snapped in Santa Barbara. I kicked myself for a bit after that, but also felt relieved that I'd switched memory cards and hadn't lost everything.
To ad insult to injury, I gashed my foot on a rock on my way back down the hill. Let it be noted that sandals aren't ideal for climbing. All things considered though, I took those brief upsets in stride. They actually made me remember the experience more, and losing those pictures from earlier in the day actually motivated me to document more of the drive than I probably would have otherwise.
Back on the road it wasn't long before we were in the thick of Big Sur. Tall trees and greenery painted a new picture, and a cold breeze was blowing in off of the ocean.
A short time later we approached the most famous landmark along the PCH, the Bixby Canyon Bridge. Stopping again, we snapped pictures and watched a steady stream of travelers slow down to admire the bridge as they crossed. It was a pretty cool place, and admittedly I had the Death Cab For Cutie song in my head at the time.
In the end it was memorable for all of the right reasons. The scenery, the conversations, the eagerness we had to keep stopping to explore and take pictures, and the reward of reaching a brand new destination at the end just made the drive seem near perfect. It's an experience I'll never forget, punctuated further by the fact that Dave has passed. This place will always be special and seem a bit more poetic now. While the date is unknown, I know I'll be back again.