Saturday, May 28, 2005

The longest road trip

Did something I have dreamt of for a long time, the other day - driving up the 1-N, all along the coast to the Bay Area. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime (if not more!) things one should do!

We set out a little after the rush-hour had passed, but got caught in a huge pile-up near LAX (thanks to two SUVs which banged each other and decided to settle matters on the freeway lanes itself, instead of moving onto the shoulder), which set us back by almost an hour. But it was fun, just watching the flights literally swoop right over our heads before they touched down on the runways. As always the Boeing 747s set my heart racing.

The first pit-stop was at Santa Barbara, where we took a drive through State Street (the main avenue, with all the "happening" joints), hoping to find some parking and maybe grab a bite. Unfortunately we couldnt find a decent spot, and decided to drive on and maybe grab a bite somewhere further on up the road. VR was sure impressed with State Street (Pics: Courtesy Monsieur Gabor Cselle, who has a great set of snaps on CA!)!

The stretch of the 101-N between SB and San Luis Obispo is easily one of the most boring stretches of highway (ofcourse, nothing beats the I-5!). We stopped for 'lunch' at a town called Nipomo, just beyond Santa Maria (town where the 'Man with the Fedora' or THE FREAK is standing trial). It was here that the great VR flicked a Red Bull from the gas-station! I think the folks who might have been watching on CC-tv probably were too scared to pursue the thug VR is! Ok jokes aside, he was holding the Red Bull for me while I used the can (the restroom fool!), and decided to walk out to the car for a smoke with the Red Bull in his hand.

The 101-N hits the coast at Pismo Beach, before moving in again towards San Luis Obispo. It's absolutely amazing as you approach the coast from inland. From SLO, you drive west again and hit the coast at Morro Bay, after which the drive's all along the coast.

We stopped off at a few vista points along the coast, including one beach which was full of seals sunbathing happily. There's a fair bit of excitement just pulling off the highway on a whim, right across the oncoming lane, after ensuring (ofcourse) that there wasnt any traffic around! The sheer thrill of hitting the gas, as you pull back onto the highway to continue the drive is sheer exhilaration!

Sometime in the early evening, we reached our scheduled stop-over at San Simeon, the town where we have the Hearst Castle. Built by one of the most famous millionaires in the US, William Randolph Hearst (on whom the movie Citizen Kane was based), it is one of the most imposing 'historical' structures I have seen in CA - the rest are all natural, or lack history! It's on a hill and overlooks the Pacific Ocean, which must have been a pretty awesome sight from up there (we could not go up, as the tours for the day were all over). We did however, visit the museums at the foot of the hill, which had some amazing pieces of art. How I wish I could have seen the famed Neptune Pool at the Castle!

Our next scheduled stop was Big Sur, to catch the sunset! The highway now went into the hills, and the road was pretty twisty and winding! No wonder most of the car commercials are shot here! I could imagine Raikkonen/Montoya take those curves (Note: I'm not a Tifosi!!!)! We just about made it in time, and caught some amazing snaps! It's easily one of the most mind-blowing sunsets I have seen. Standing on the cliffs, above the ocean, waves crashing against the rocks below, mist in the air, a slight nip in the air, a near-full moon rising, the orangish glow slowly turning to red, and then te afterglow once the sun had gone down below the horizon!

After that the drive up to Monterey was pretty scenic in the twilight, with hardly any traffic. We passed the exit for 17-Mile Drive, which has a few fond memories for me! Once we passed Monterey, we took the 156 to get back onto the 101. The dinner-stop was at Gilroy, where we stopped for gas. That Shell gas station must be one of the most popular ones, coz it was packed!

From there it was a straight drive to Fremont, where I dropped off VR and spent the night chatting with AN on guitaring a little more till 4am. Surprisingly the Red Bull did the trick, 'coz after driving 12h I still had a little energy left to ramble on till that unearthly hour!

It was the first time for VR, so he was pretty excited about the whole drive, and he still cant stop raving about it! I am eternally grateful to him for the entertainment and encouragement, and for the extra Red Bull! Looking forward to more trips in the near future!

V's post (with snaps) can be found here! Email me and I'll send you links to the snaps!

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