We decided to drive from San Francisco (where I was attending a work-related conference) to LA (to hang out for the weekend) via Highway 1, instead of on the much quicker but far less interesting I-5. It was a magical day. Here’s how it went.
6:00 am: Defying logic and our usual tendency to get up at a decent hour, we spring out of bed and speed off towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We wanted to reach LA that night, and Highway 1 beckoned – but I’d never seen the bridge before, so that was a must.
7:00 am: Quick coffee-and-breakfast-burrito run at Arlequin, gazing enviously at the beautiful, snobby-looking people who live in this elegant neighbourhood.
7:30 am: Hit Highway 1 with the Eagles on the radio.
8:30 am: Pit stop (hehe) for sweet cherries sold alongside the road by a smiling, faded California girl who has never heard of Montreal.
9:00 am: Veer off the highway, enticed by a sign advertising 10 avocados for $1 at a farmer’s market. Blissfully devour two of a slightly higher-priced variety of avocado while sitting on the boot of the car.
10:30 am: Roll on down the 1, stopping periodically to take obnoxious selfies in front of the breathtaking scenery.
11:30 am: Breeze right past the Henry Miller Library, a hippy-dippy haven of art, books, peace and good vibes. Turn around and head back to check it out.
12:30 pm: Break for a sunny lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur.
2:00 pm: Spot the kooky resort Riccardo’s friend Jessica told us about – Treebones, where you can literally sleep in a nest overlooking the ocean. The nest was occupied so we couldn’t visit, but it was a lovely place for a glass of wine and a rest.
4:00 pm: Routine scenery gazing stop made vastly more interesting by the sudden sight of thousands upon thousands of elephant seals lazing around on the beach, occasionally engaging in chest-bumping displays of aggression. Eventually forced back into the car due to the overwhelming stench of raw seal energy.
5:30 pm: Fuel up in the sleepy surfer town of Cayucos, which retains some charm from its heyday in the 50s and 60s.
7:00 pm: Come across a small-town farmer’s market just as it’s closing up for the day, but in time to pick up some brownies for our host in LA (after sampling each and every flavour).
8:00 pm: Cruise through Santa Barbara; stay just long enough to buy a tank top in anticipation of the LA heat.
10:30 pm: Arrive at the beautiful home of Riccardo’s friend from Montreal. Appreciate the stellar skyline from his verandah before walking down the hills for a snack and a bottle of wine. Marvel at being the only human beings walking, at all, anywhere. Head home and fall asleep wishing Montreal was more like California.
* All photos in this post, except the two crappiest, are courtesy of brilliant Montreal photographer Riccardo Cellere.
Bonus musical selection – Joni Mitchell longing for California on the Johnny Cash Show in 1970: