So I’m not really a car fanatic but I’ve always enjoyed my cars since playing Gran Turismo on the PlayStation and watching Top Gear, so driving Route One was one of the things I was looking forward to most on our US leg of the trip. A lot of my friends from the UK have done this the last few years and really whet my appetite for the journey.
I’ve seen most people drive it in a soft top but as we were turning up in December that wasn’t really going to be feasible. We were scheduled to have a Chrysler 300, the same car we had in Napa/Sonoma, but due to a mess up in the booking (which was all my fault) we got upgraded to a 3.6L Black Cadillac SRX SUV. For people like Henry, Baxter and Tom that care about this type of stuff it packs a 308 BHP engine, gets a measly 17 city/24 highway mpg and really takes off when you floor it. It had a full panoramic sunroof so you can let the breeze in when its warm and seat warmers (Katie’s highlight) for the frosty mornings. It’s a pretty sweet ride!
So, we set Songza to the Beverly Hills 90210 Slumber Party mix and off we go…
You can pick up Route One north of San Francisco, and there are some crazy turns around there on the way to the Muir Woods, but the famous part of the road begins after the 17 Mile Drive in Carmel, goes through Big Sur and ends around San Simeon/Cambria. The best tip we got from someone was to do the drive from North to South because, as you’re driving on the right hand side of the road, you’ll a) be right next water at all times, making it a lot more exciting, and b) you can pull over easily and don’t have to cross the road to get a picture.
The scenery in front of you and behind you is just stunning; the photos really don’t do it justice. There are pull over points ever few hundred metres and proper vista points every few miles.
The most famous part of the drive is probably the Bixby bridge and here are our mandatory snaps of it. We saw some historic pictures in a restaurant of how it was built in 1932 – they built a huge wooden arching frame in the gorge beneath it and poured concrete over the frame, then pulled away the frame – it was an incredible feat.
Due to the roads twists and turns with sections ranging in speed from 15 mph virtual U-turns to 50 mph “fast” sections you probably only average about 30 mph on the whole road. I was loving it and singing “weeeeeee” on all of the down hill really tight turns (much to Katie’s annoyance). We made sure we were off the road by dark and stayed a night at the Ripplewood Cabins in Big Sur to split up the drive.
We had a superb two days on the road, really recommend it to anyone and Katie will follow up with info on what else we did during the days.