Tomorrow, at five-thirty in the morning, my parents and I shall leave our London home and begin our drive to Spain, stopping in Dijon, France for the evening.
It’d be easy for me to write a piece about why you should drive instead of fly somewhere. Of course, usually we fly because it is undoubtedly the fastest method of long-distance travel. But I think there are some distances worth travelling on the ground – and usually, it isn’t that much slower than flying. What might be more difficult is a piece about why you should take the slowest, longest route available, instead of the fastest. At first, it sounds a tad bonkers – but just hear me out.
Take a trip I’ve driven a few times: from the Los Angeles/Orange County area to San Francisco. The flight from LA to San Francisco is incredibly short. I’ve never flown it myself, but I imagine it’s both short and somewhat overpriced.
Driving, on the other hand, gives you several options. If you stick around long enough, you’ll probably read about my dread of I-5 far too often, but that’s because if you’re on the West Coast, the road is bloody everywhere, and often, it’s bloody boring and uninspired. Great for the truckers, terrible for the drivers. But that’s option #1, and it will get you to your destination the fastest.
Option #2 is Highway 101. It’s like I-5’s younger, cooler, and taller, sibling. It still has stretches of boredom, but you’re closer to the coast, and for that, you have far more scenic views. This will take longer than I-5, but at least you won’t die of boredom on the way.
And, of course, I’m a big advocate for option #3, the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). This route will take almost twice as long as I-5, and you can discard any dreams of exploring San Francisco the same day you leave Los Angeles, but bloody hell, it’s one hell of a road. You’ll drive right through Malibu, with the ocean crashing on your left. You’ll drive through beautiful towns such as (if you take the Lake Chumash Pass to bypass the Santa Barbara traffic) Solvang, Cambria, and Carmel. You’ll discover the wonders of Big Sur, drive right past gushing waterfalls, huge seals, and potentially have the waves crash up onto your vehicle before you climb the cliffs.
I could go on and on, but I’ll leave that for my post dedicated to the road. But now, hopefully, you’ll understand what I’m after. The things you’ll see on Highway 1 are unique. In fact, you’re likely to never forget the wonders that are there. But if you just fly, or take the Interstate, you won’t even have a clue. So if you’re heading up to San Francisco for the week, take a day or two to take the long route, because it’s always worth making the journey part of the destination.
So what’s the deal? Why am I starting this blog about the ‘promise of the road?’ What does that mean? What’s a slab of asphalt promising me?
Well, for a long time, I’ve been very passionate about driving. And not just the young-boys-going-fast passionate, but simply driving. Slow or fast, straight or windy, it doesn’t matter (unless you put me in Los Angeles traffic. That isn’t driving, that’s hell.) I’ve found other people with a similar passion for this idea, this concept, of traveling by a car. There’s just something rather romantic, perhaps even nostalgic, about it. Heading out on the open road, no agenda, no appointments. Freedom.
Of course, cars have always been an icon of freedom. Picture a movie scene of when the lead character gets out of prison. Whoever is picking him up, he or she is usually leaning against a good-looking car.
For a long time, I’ve had people to share glimpses of this passion with, but nowhere to document my journey. No other website seems to try to capture this idea. This isn’t about off-roading in huge Jeeps, this isn’t about going as fast as possible. This is about four wheels, a driver, and the road. And, of course, the places you see and the people you meet along the way.
I will be collecting images, memorabilia, quotes, ideas, and more, from my road-travels, and I will also be writing some stories from the road, because nothing lasts forever quite like a good story, and nothing harbors a good story quite like a good road.