Road trip #3 – Los Angeles via Highway One

Since I haven’t done any recent work on my cars, I’ve been re-visiting old road trips to mix things up a bit. Back in aught-six, after being offered a new job, I made some time between jobs to take a road-trip down to visit my girlfriend, who lived there at the time. To make things fun, I decided to hop in the spider and go due west from San Mateo over to Highway One. I followed the road down the coast, where I pulled over north of Santa Cruz and took this picture:

1977 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, PCH

Moving along down the road, I worked my way through a traffic jam and some construction near Santa Cruz (don’t overheat! ever since I put in that stupid electric fan…argh). I cleared all the commuter traffic and headed into Big Sur, at which point the road is a nice twisty little two-lane. Best to not think about the steep drop-off to your right, which is why I did some of this drive after dark. I actually stopped over at Nepenthe for dinner and had one of their famous Ambrosia burgers. The place itself was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and has had a succession of celebrity owners and guests, starting with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Unfortunately, the fabulous ocean view was blocked by fog, so back on the road I went. Since it was getting pretty late, I continued down to San Simeon, where I spent the night for something like $50, and even got an ocean view!

The next day, I backtracked a little bit for some pictures of the car:

1977 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce rear

And then drove back down to the beaches just north of San Simeon (parked next to a 1950s Rolls Royce which was obviously also on a road trip – cool!). The beach was absolutely covered in seals:

Not these seals, door seals!

Hopped back in the car, and picked up a sandwich at a place that was charging stupid money for gas (well, by 2006 standards… we hadn’t reached the $4 mark yet). I drove down to Morro Bay and pulled off, hoping I’d find somewhere to eat. Sure enough, I found the beach with a big rock in the water:

Spider at Morro Bay

Then did a not-quite-straight shot down all the way to Malibu. In leaving Morro Bay, I realized some of Hwy 1 going through San Luis Obispo would be boring, so I took South Bay Road to Los Osos Valley Road, and turned off at Prefumo Canyon Road, which turned into See Canyon Road. If you’re down there, this is an amazing road – well-maintained, narrow, curvy, and great views, including a small dirt section. Fortunately, that road led to the small fishing town of Port San Luis, which led me to some tasty fresh fish.

In what was news to me, the PCH actually goes away from the coast for a little while, through some rural towns and fields. No matter, though, as I soon got to the point where the 1 and 101 merge, and that follows along the sea into Malibu (wide winding roads, follow the service road instead of the 6-lane highway).

Spider at Malibu

From there, it was on into LA and away from the ocean. The drive back home was uneventful – up Highway 5 at speeds I won’t mention. The only thing worth mentioning was when I stopped to help out a fellow Alfa driver in a gold GTV, who (by last name and a bit of internet-stalking) appears to be Gavin Newsom’s brother. All in all, the drive was a great adventure. Remember to take your old car on your next road trip!


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