Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Most Beautiful Drive in the World

Ok, that’s a pretty bold statement. One open to an awful lot of personal interpretation. Still, I’ve found it. Bar none, THE most beautiful drive on the planet. Now, I guess I have to be fair and admit I haven’t driven every road worthy of a great drive. I’m guessing that back east (meaning anywhere the wrong side of the Sierra Nevadas) there are some neat roads. I know that Yurp has some great drives as well. Still, I’d put this drive up against any, anywhere. 

303 mi Cayucos - King City
1. Head southeast on S Ocean Ave toward 12th St 1.0 mi.
2. Take the ramp onto CA-1 S         1.1 mi
3. Turn left at Old Creek Rd 9.1 mi
4. Turn right at CA-46 E/Green Valley Rd 5.9 mi
5. Turn left at Vineyard Dr 4.5 mi
6. Turn right to stay on Vineyard Dr 2.7 mi
7. Turn right to stay on Vineyard Dr 1.8 mi
8. Turn left at Adelaida Rd 2.5 mi
9. Turn right at Chimney Rock Rd 5.8 mi
10. Turn left at Godfrey Rd/Nacimiento Lake Dr 7.6 mi
11. Turn right to stay on Nacimiento Lake Dr 1.7 mi
12. Turn left at Interlake Rd 20.4 mi
13. Continue onto Lockwood-Jolon Rd 2.3 mi
14. Turn right at Lockwood San Lucas Rd 11.8 mi
15. Turn right at Paris Valley Rd 8.9 mi
16. South 101
Skip #17 and 18. 
19. Exit Bradley Rd
20. Continue on Bradley Rd 1.7 mi
21. Turn left at Hare Canyon Rd 6.4 mi
22. Turn left at Indian Valley Rd. 11.2 mi
23. Turn right to stay on Indian Valley Rd 1.8 mi
24. Continue onto Peach Tree Rd 13.7 mi
25. Continue onto CA-198 W 364 ft
26. Turn right at CA-25 N/Peach Tree Rd 60.1 mi
27. Turn left at Union Rd 4.8 mi
28. Turn left at CA-156 W/San Juan Rd 4.2 mi
29. Turn right at The Alameda 0.2 mi
30. Continue onto 3rd St 0.2 mi
213 mi – about 6 hours 7 mins

Much of this, I’ve written about before, but we just got back from a 3 day, 1000 mile trip with a few other crazies and this was the first half of Day Two. We left about 9AM from The Dolphin Inn in Cayucos and for about four hours, we were in awe. This drive has everything you could want. Long sweepers, tight twisties, and everything in between. The scenery is everything from moss covered oaks to open ranch land to vineyards to shear cliffs. Many of the roads have no center line. Some bits are a tad rough, some, nicely repaved. It took the best part of a tank of gas in the TR so make sure you fill up in Cayucos because you won’t find many places to stop along the way. Actually, you won’t want to stop. 

We did this in late March, maybe a bit early for the best wild flowers, but the hills and the fields, and the meadows were so green, I was thinking we were back in Ireland. After mid-May, it all starts to brown, and by June, you have a whole different beauty. The gentle hills turn a golden tan, very reminiscent of the beach on a summer day, covered with the forms of lovely ladies baking in the sun. 
The center piece of this drive is THE most beautiful road in the world, California State Highway 25. this stretches through a valley that runs north/south just east of Paso Robles, ending at the northern end in Hollister. You know Hollister, right? Scene of the biker takeover on about 1948 or so that inspired the movie
The Wild Ones with Marlon Brando. Some of this drive skirts the infamous San Andreas Fault, which lends a further bit of drama to the landscape. One the weekends and in the summer, motorcyclists are out in force. Trust the bikers to know where the good roads are. 
What fascinates me about this drive, are all the other roads that branch off. You could spend several days just exploring the area and never get tired of what you see. Sometimes, St. Serendipity also plays her hand. We had been on the road almost 4 hours, and were only a dozen miles from Hollister, but we both HAD to pee! Up comes a cross roads (I hesitate to call it a town) called Paicines. It’s a post office in a country store/restaurant. You walk in and clearly, this is where the local ranch hands and farm workers spend Saturday night. There is a bar at the back, a couple of worn pool tables and the aroma of fresh tortillas, tamales, and salsa fill the air. This place is GREAT! Well worth the stop, even though you’re so close to Hollister. 
Now, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. If ANYONE can get Wanker, Pillock, and Prat from Top Gear over here, give them the use of some proper Sports Cars, ca 1960 or so, I’m telling you, they would weep with the sheer joy of this drive. We’d also hear no more of their holier-than-thou-anti-everything-but-England crap.