As mentioned in my previous post called the “The Compass”, I mentioned that I wanted travel on eleven of the old back road of the United States. Once I have warmed up in Baja after the unusually cold front at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ, I headed up Highway One also known as the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Pacific Coast Highway starts at northwest tip of the United States at Olympic National Park, and remaining within sight of the ocean almost all the way south to the Mexican border, a total of 1,650 miles. I started at the bottom and worked my way up north. Below is a list of the top five places I visited on the way up.
1. Solvang – Even though it is not on Highway One but it is worth the small detour to stop and visit the town. The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the façades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style. It is also the home of the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The collection includes a supercharged Vincent Black Lightning, and a rare Vincent Grey Flash one of four Isle of Man TT racing specials.
2. Elephant Seal Rookery – Elephant Seals can be seen at a rookery near the Piedras Blancas Light Station (piedrasblancas.org) in San Simeon. More than 7,000 elephant seals live at the rookery, which is open daily. Piedras Blancas is roughly 50 miles north of San Luis Obispo, CA. Bluffs to the north and south of the parking lot are the recommended vistas for viewing the seals.
3. Avenue of the Giants – It’s a thirty-one miles road that runs along the side of Highway 101 (which merges with Highway 1 every now and then) in Northern California. Avenue of the Giants features three trees in Northern California that visitors can drive through. The southernmost of these trees, Chandelier Tree, is located in Drive-Thru Tree Park in the town of Leggett. Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is near the town of Myers Flat and Klamath Tour Thru Tree, the northernmost of the three trees, is located in the town of Klamath, California. Each tree is privately owned and charges $5 or more to drive through.
4. Lost Coast – The Lost Coast is a mostly natural and development-free area of the California North Coast in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, which includes the King Range. It was named the “Lost Coast” after the area experienced depopulation in the 1930s. In addition, the steepness and related geo-technical challenges of the coastal mountains made this stretch of coastline too costly for state highway or county road builders to establish routes through the area, leaving it the most undeveloped and remote portion of the California coast. (source is wikipedia).
5. Trees of Mystery – I didn’t stop here for the trees but for the real star of the show. Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe, there is no escaping them. They stand tall outside the entrance, in full view of the 101 Highway, beckoning all to stop and visit. Babe reminded me of Russ’ fascination of the anatomically correct Trigger in Apple Valley, CA that I had to do a pose with it as the way Russ would have done it.
If I had to do this trip all over again, I would highly recommend doing this trip from the North to the South for a couple of reasons; one is when heading north, all of the vista are on the west side of the road and during high seasons, you’re fighting with all of the RV’er to turn left into the vista or back onto the highway. Secondly, when heading north, you’re getting the head wind and not the tail wind. So by mid-afternoon, the major winds kick up and you’re fighting with it. So I when I got to Gold Beach, OR, I decided to detoured onto the Coastal Bear Camp road to head inland for the rest of my journey. Glad I did, I got to see Crater Lake which is another must see places to visit.
One down and ten more of the old back roads of the United States to go. For more information about the eleven back roads, you can go to https://roadtripusa.com