Sunday, June 03, 2007

Highway 1 (May 13)

Prius Count 42

All of my good intentions of blogging everyday about our trip have faded as I now sit, vacation over, back in Mesa with only memories. (Update: Now I am in Tucson, move over with sore back and feet. We are very glad to be here.)

Alas, the trip log must continue and so I begin this blog where we ended the last. In the LA area with Disneyland behind us. We stayed the night of the 12th with my good friend and former mission companion Mike Daines and his wife Brooke. They have a nice pad on a hill in South Pasadena. As is becoming tradition during my visits with Mike, our conversation moves from talk of the intersection of our two career interests (graphic design and rhetoric) to the days of the mission. I am amazed at what he can remember about the mission that I have completely forgotten. Visits like the one I had with Mike make it clear that if I am serious about writing a mission memoir (and I would really like to do some serious work on it this summer), I will need the help of the memories of Mike and other mission bros if it’s going to be good.

We left Mike’s on Sunday morning with the intention to drive up the coast to Santa Cruz and our first night of camping—what we didn’t intend was that it would take us 12 hours in the car to accomplish this. But what a 12 hours they were (at least, what a first 9 hours they were). The Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1, from LA to San Francisco offers a variety of sights to behold, from fancy-schmance beach houses to cliff side hotels and from amazing beaches to steep, windy forest roads. The first major beach town is Malibu. It was funny to see that almost every beach house has a super nice car parked in front of it—an indication that even though most of the houses are small, they are not, by any means, cheap. We drove by the beautiful Pepperdine college and then up to Santa Barbara. I would have to say that UC SB is now at the top of my list for future, hope-to-work-and-live destinations. Talk about awesome location! (A quick peak at their web space has revealed that they don’t really have a rhetoric and composition emphasis in their English department—crap!). At some point just south of Santa Barbara, we stopped for a picnic lunch on the beach. It was lovely, but of course, as soon as we had climbed down the rocks from the car and were sitting on the beach enjoying the sand and surf, Seth whined that he needed to use the bathroom. And of course it had to be the less-convenient number two that he had to do. And of course a quick look up and down the beach confirmed that there was no bathroom for miles. So what did we do? It’s gonna sound cruel, but I put one of Maryn’s diapers on Seth and told him to do his business if he could and tried to enjoy the beach. We did enjoy it, even if it was only a few minutes. Seth couldn’t manage his business without a toilet—which isn’t a bad thing. We found one a few miles up the road.

I should mention briefly, that this was the first day that the Prius sightings started to pour in. They were everywhere. We saw at least 30.

Between Santa Barbara and Monterey, there aren’t many big towns—so I need the reader at this point to imagine breathtaking view after breathtaking view. A new beautiful sight was literally around every corner. How I wish I could have just stared at the beaches and ocean the whole drive. Keeping one’s eyes on the road in an environment such as that was akin to having to keep your eyes closed in a movie theatre—and only open them every 30 seconds or so.

We stopped for dinner in the tiny beach town of Cayucos where we ate chowder and fish and chips at a friendly Mom and Pop diner. It was nearing sunset and was getting cooler. For whatever reason, this was a highlight of the trip up the coast for me. I just loved being there with my family in that little coastal town eating fish. The kids were well behaved; Tina and I were having nice conversations; it was just—for me—perfect. I won’t soon forget the feeling. As we started getting further north, we started ascending into the forest that surrounds Big Sir. This was the windy driving, car-sick inducing driving that you might have heard about in reference to Highway one. It was a bit tedious, if only because it was getting late and we were still hours away from our destination. The sun went down, we finally passed through Monterey, but it was another 45 minutes up to Santa Cruz and the KOA.

When we finally got to our campsite—it was about 10:30. You’ve never seen a man and his wife set up a tent so quickly. Our children, unaccustomed to watching their parents work with such ferocity, were beside themselves in the car, a trio of tears and wails. When we all nestled into our blankets and sleeping bags, they fell asleep almost immediately.

Despite its length, I would love to make this drive every summer—though I know that will never happen. For your future trip planning, there are some great campsites at Big Sir and, right near, in my opinion, the most striking site of the trip. The campsites are located about 8 hours north of Malibu and are right on the coastal cliffs. If and when we do this again, we will be staying there.


  1. Glad you're continuing the journey.. wish we could have gone there with you. Thank heavens we all meet up at the end. Did you take any coast pictures? "didn't have a camera by my side this time...."

  2. Yeah--we took a few pictures. The move has delayed their getting up anywhere on the net. I will try to remedy that once I have access to my computer again in the next few days.