The Promise of the Road

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.

For some of my photos and experiences on Highway 1, click here.