Saturday, September 3, 2016

Scenic HIGHWAY ONE in California! Oh my!

If you are in California and interested in driving the famous Highway One scenic highway along the coast, here are a few rules you need to know.  

Rule Number one: don’t be in a hurry! Rule Number Two: don’t be in a hurry! Rule Number Three: Take a good camera.  Seriously, it is a beautiful drive and worth the effort. 

Effort?  Yup! To make the most of this venture, plan well.  First of all be warned!  It will not take long before a driver notes this is some of the most twisted, curvy, torturous driving in the United States, if not the world.  Not all of it is like this, but for the most part you are in for some convoluted motoring.  Thus the importance of Rule Number One … and Rule Number Two, because it is (they are) serious … don’t be in a hurry.  All in all, if you drive this route in a reasonable fashion you can proceed from Leggett to San Francisco in 10 hours, give or take. And that includes stops along the way for some pictures.  Yes, you will want to do that.

So, Rule Number Three demands that you indeed take a good camera.  Some of the most beautiful scenery in the state of California, or any of the United States for that matter, is found along this coast. 
Scenic Highway One offers many opportunities to stop and partake of some stunning vistas
You begin the drive, southbound, up near Eureka; the signs for Highway One are evident on Highway 101 around the town of Leggett, south of Eureka.  We ended up driving south simply because we were wrapping up a tour in Humboldt County and we needed to get to San Francisco to catch our flight home (the route goes all the way to San Diego if you are so inclined to drive it in its entirety).  

This worked out well as my wife and stepdaughter were able to better see the ocean and beaches to their right and holler when it was time to stop and capture images. 

There are plenty of places to pull off the road to take photos of some natural beauty.  Also, it’s important to know this because you’ll need to take breaks and rest up for a few minutes.  

How often you stop depends, of course, on both your stamina (refer back to Rules Number One and Two) and also the scenery that catches your eye, or to be more accurate the eye of your passenger.  Your eye will be on the road.

In addition to natural wonders, there are many very pretty and quaint towns along the way.  Most notably are Mendocino and Fort Bragg.  If you are hungry there are many quaint “mom & pop” diners and cafes to choose from in these towns.  Approaching San Francisco, a rather famous town on Highway One comes into view.  If you are not a horror flick aficionado, this particular town was the setting for one of the scariest motion pictures ever made ...  
The old Potter School used in the movie The Birds
Yes, The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on a 1952 story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, was filmed in town of Bodega Bay.  But it was all fiction, of course.  Yes, all fiction. 

We hope.

Depending on the season, motorists will see some very interesting things.  We were surprised to be there in the month of August and to look out from Bodega Bay and see a whale.  We had figured most of them would have been down near Baja by this time of the year.  But there it was, maybe a mile out.  We could see it plainly from time to time; it would breach and blow.

Because of the route’s unique location and construction, there are few things a driver must anticipate. One thing is highway maintenance (refer back to Rules One and … oh, never mind … you get the picture by now). Indeed, many trip advisors and guidebooks warn of erosion and landslides.  Because this is a two-lane road, there are likely a few places where traffic is stopped by roadwork crews.  You’ll be waiting in a queue of cars behind temporary stop signs or stop lights.  Then, at regular intervals, a pilot truck will lead you to a spot beyond the construction.  The delay was not, overall, distracting; you simply must anticipate it and be patient.  Also, gasoline along the highway is also more expensive than the rest of the state.  The prices should not be a surprise when one considers that the fuel must be trucked in.

It can be tad arduous, but Highway One is a beautiful ride.  Plan well!  Certainly include a good camera and a proper mindset of leisurely travel, i.e., don’t be in a rush.  The excursion is very much worth it.

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