It’s been about ten years now that I have been driving, wow time really flies when you put it into perspective, but that is beside the point. To me having a license was an escape from reality. I can just pick up and go wherever and whenever my heart felt like having an adventure. That being said it goes without saying that I do adore my long scenic drive with no real end destination in sight.
Enter California’s Route 1 (here’s a quick wiki on it.) Ever since getting my license I have always dreamt about just packing my camera gear, filling the tank to the brim with gasoline and make my way to it. I had a chance two summers ago when I road tripped across America, but in the end time was of the essence and it was fated that I would not get a chance, until now.
I had to plot some way, some how, to my travel companions that this drive, over 150 miles each way, was well worth it. I had to up sell, side sell, all around sell the crap out of its majesty. In the end my persistence won and we set aside an entire day for just this trip. Luck would have it than my companions are also aficionados of scenic, adventure drives.
To prep for this I simply looked up the many things to see during the drive, did a couple of screen shots with my phone of locations and where to expect them during the trip and of course lastly my travel mates along with every conceivable piece of kit I have in my camera arsenal. We stayed in Hayward which meant it would only be about two hours and 45 minutes to get to the very end of where we deemed worthy to stop but I wanted ALL OF ROUTE 1 so this meant some ingenuity were to be had. We opted instead to travel via Half Moon Bay, which comprise about 40 more miles of Route 1 than had if we went directly from out place of stay.
There’s not much I can describe into words the exacting emotions one would get when driving down this particular stretch of Americana. You really HAVE TO DO IT to believe me. It’s long, winding, twisting and full of ups and downs. In all honesty a rollercoaster of a ride with a view as breathtaking as any da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. There are endless vista points and just random places you can stop by on your cruise.
I will attest to pulling over at a caution as the road is only one way in each direction at any given time, add this to its winding nature and being careful is a must. Once safely stopped head out of your car to bask in that fresh, Pacific Ocean air. Let the sun hit your face each and every time to let you know if its warmth against the cool ocean breeze. Listen to the waves break against the many rocks littering the sandy beach. Wander with safety to the cliff’s edge and let your soul escape your body for a brief moment. You really feel alive just standing there looking out to way yonder.
We stopped at various places but we also had certainties in mind as they were Pebble Beach, Point Lobos, Bixby Creek Bridge & McWay Falls. Each of these places really represented a part of each of my companion. I am sure that each place represented something that all of us can take away from, from the experience, from the trip.
Pebble Beach is the stuff I only ever saw on T.V. Where the rich and famous go to play golf as well as their famous Car Show. There was something intriguing here as to why we stopped, the Lone Cypress Tree. Yes I stopped for a tree. It sounds funny, weird and lame all at the same time but once you are there, actually there, seeing this one, lonely tree perched up against the edge of a cliff, it makes sense. It’s over 250 years ago so it’s seen its fair share of things over the centuries. Navigating to it was horrendous as the location is really just one giant seventeen-mile circle road you just drive around.
Point Lobos, our next stop, was just a few minutes drive from Pebble Beach and it made for an awesome vista of rock formations on the beach. I couldn’t figure how to capture the grandeur of this place simply because it was just immense. Luckily I had the super wide Nikkor 10.5 in my kit and it made for an easier job at hand. Once snapped onto my D7K body though I seldom shot it off, mainly because it was just so nice listening to the crest of the waves break against the rocks as it rushed pass me. You can see the strength of the ocean when she broke loose. Needless to say I got a little wet shooting off some of my photos.
I remember seeing Bixby Creek Bridge numerous times in commercials as a kid but it wasn’t until I was older that I had actually noticed it more on a scale of wanting to actually see it. I am a sucker for architecture if you haven’t noticed in my shooting by now. Having to see the most snapped bridge of the west coast was a no brainer. Let me tell you it is large. The arches stretch from the base and makes for a beautiful fixture against the setting sun. Boy when that sun hits just the right angle everything in view becomes bathed in that golden brown color.
McWay Falls was by far the furthest on our destination and it was why I chose to keep it last, right when the sun was about to set. It was my most anticipated stop on my adventure and I will not deny that I made the right choice. It’s somewhat a cove hidden away by the side of a mountain, it seems hard to make it to the bottom of the mountain but from afar I did see some footsteps in the sand, impossible is now possible for a return visit.
With 15 minutes before the sun was about to set I snapped away at my heart’s content, making sure I got at least two or three images I was happy with. Once this was finished I simply put everything away and focused on the sun setting. Picturesque doesn’t even compare to this. Everything was perfect from the cloudless sky, the mid ground fixtures of California trees, to the slow setting nature of the sun. I just clocked out of my thoughts and into the moment, sometime I often don’t get to do much these days and it was amazing. As the sun slowly dropped the sky changed from orange to a fire red and ultimately a smooth pink & purple combination that just eased away into pure darkness. It was a great moment I got to witness.
The drive back to Hayward was long and tiring but I drove back knowing another huge checklist off of that of my Bucket List was done. Everyone needs to do this drive. You don’t have to be adventurous or the sorts to just enjoy it. It really feels like life has meaning when you are able to witness such beauty that still exists in a world we live in today. If you are able to then I commend with all earnest that you seek out and treat yourself to one of the natural world’s most breathe taking experiences.