Junkyard Blog: Road Trip on California’s Legendary Highway 1
Celebrating Labor Day means that there are only a few weeks left of summer. And while the days are getting shorter, there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in one more road trip. With a three-day weekend ahead of us, my girlfriend and I loaded up a 2014 Jeep Compass with a small suitcase and an air mattress, and made our way to visit some friends in San Francisco via California State Route 1, also known as Highway 1.
This was the first time that either of us would be driving the legendary coastal route to the City by the Bay. As an automotive enthusiast, I’m ashamed that it’s taken me so long to make this drive; it’s basically a rite of passage for anyone on the west coast that wants to call themselves a “car guy.” But I finally did it, and it was an absolutely amazing experience.
The first requisite stop was Neptune’s Net in Malibu, a popular gathering spot for motorcyclists and Sunday cruisers. The food leaves much to be desired, along with the stable of porta-potties, but it’s a cafeteria style restaurant with long tables, plenty of parking and just far enough away from Los Angeles for it to be the perfect turn-around destination on a weekend cruise. It’s also where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel end up after they race a Ferrari in The Fast and the Furious.
Taking a road trip means that there are no schedules to keep and no flights to catch, which allows time for impromptu detours at vista points and fresh fruit stands. We stopped to take in the quaintness of Morro Bay, the history of Bixby Bridge and the elegance of Pebble Beach and Monterey. Winding through Los Padres National Forest was also extremely fun, even in the Jeep Compass, which handled the narrow, mountain-side two-lane road with confidence.
Driving on Highway 1 is both relaxing and exciting. Between the small towns, ocean views and mountain roads, there’s enough variation in the scenery to keep you engaged, but it’s definitely a much longer route — 12 hours versus 6 hours on the much less scenic interstate. And while it’s fun navigating the twists and turns through the mountains, passing slower cars is a daunting task as there aren’t too many straight sections of road and plenty of blind corners.
Once we arrived in San Francisco, the Jeep rested in its parking space the entire weekend as we walked the city and took advantage of the efficient public transportation system. Our friends toured us around to picturesque places filled with history, culture and breathtaking views. It was an excellent reward for our long drive along the edge of the continent.
The weekend came to an end way too soon, and we hopped on the interstate to make our way back to Los Angeles, but not before checking out the Google campus in Mountain View.
In Southern California, we only have two seasons: summer and almost-summer. But for those with true winters, do yourself a favor and go on an unplanned trip. Take the path less traveled and let the road guide you to new adventures.
The Junkyard Blog
The Junkyard Blog is written by Andrew Chen, Racing Junk’s resident gearhead and amateur car spotter. In his free time, he likes to accidentally do burnouts while trying to activate launch control. He is not good at left-foot braking.