When I first heard the lyrics to the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ song “Road Trippin”, I had no idea what they were talking about. Blue? One? I didn’t have a clue as to what they meant. That is, until I asked around, did a bit of research and finally got the chance to go see it for myself. Then it all became crystal clear…blue!
There are certain road trips that you have to experience before you die. Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), California’s State Route 1, aka Highway 1, aka All American Road down the illustrious coast is certainly one of them. Spanning nearly 700 miles, it stretches from southern Orange County in Los Angeles to Leggett in the northern part of the State, just a few hours from the Oregon border. Typically, those that drive the route go between SF and LA as that’s where the majority of the wonders lie.
My buddy and I started in San Francisco and began our trek southward. Our goal was to make to Santa Barbara, with the hope of locating Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in time before dark. But, as we all know, it’s all about the journey and not the destination. What we saw on the way truly was remarkable. Monterey Bay, amazing Big Sur and quaint Carmel are among many small, charming towns that dot the coast.
Let me save you the time, we didn’t make it to Neverland. It’s not like we could have knocked on Michael’s front door and spent the afternoon with him anyway. But the main reason why we didn’t make it as South as we intended was because the scenery along the way forces you to stop, admire and immortalize.
Especially when it came to Hearst Castle! A destination all its own. Located 250 miles from both SF and LA, the Castle, a National Historic Landmark Mansion and state historic park, this enormous property was home to one of the 20th century’s most famous tycoons, William Randolph Hearst who was a newspaper magnate and publisher.
The entire property spans over 90,000 square feet with “Casa Grande” taking up just over 60,000 sq. feet. 56 bedrooms, 41 fireplaces, 61 bathrooms and 19 sitting areas (if there wasn’t enough areas to sit already) fill the space. Here you’ll find several pieces of spectacular art and architecture as well as the unbelievable Neptune Pool. Words don’t do it justice; pictures do!
There are plenty of tours you can do to really explore this national site. They even have first-time visitor tours which gives you a broad overview of the property and the history involved. This is truly a magnificent place and one that has seen the likes of Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and FDR come through its doors.
Spent a few hours at Hearst before heading back. When it was all said and done, we were on the road for 14 hours! By the time we got back in the SF area, I could swear I saw a guy chasing after a lion along the side of the highway. Hallucination is a scary bitch! Scarier when you’re driving.
If you’re planning on doing this drive, take it from me and get on the road as early as possible to beat that SF traffic which can deflate even the most enthusiastic adventure seeker. Also, make sure you set aside at least a couple of days; take some time and allow yourself to take it all in, appreciate it and explore. The drive itself is beautiful but the attractions along the way are what really make it all worthwhile. What makes the drive even longer is the fact that you can’t help but stop several times along the way to take dozens of pictures. And once you think you’ve taken all there is to be taken, you stop again to take the same shot…but from a different angle, of course! Trust me, you won’t be taking dozens of pictures, you’ll be taking hundreds of them!
California’s coastline is infamous and synonymous with serenity, vitality and striking, out-of-this-world beauty. The best way to appreciate the sights and sounds of the coast are just to sit back, transfix yourself mind, body and soul to your surroundings which will inevitably lead to a mesmerized state of being. It’s definitely a bucket-lister.
The sunsets alone make you contemplate your very existence.