I’d never been to the west coast before the summer of 2018. California existed only in my imagination, a dream fabricated through tales of those who were born and raised in the Golden State (apparently the “best coast”) and too many movies starring sun-kissed celebrities falling in love to the sounds of surf rock and the sights of big, blue waves washing up on sandy shores. The Pacific Coast Highway—known to many simply as Highway 1—took part in those dreams, whether I realized it or not: impossibly attractive people coasting along in convertibles, long hair blowing in the breeze, arms thrown in the air, nothing but craggy rock, cerulean skies, and an expanse of ocean surrounding them.
When a massive landslide nearly destroyed the road in May 2017, it took with it more than just a route from Mendocino to Orange County. Without warning, away went one of the state’s greatest gems, access to iconic landmarks like Big Sur and Hearst Castle, and the ability of many residents to enter or leave their towns. After 18 months of closure and hundreds of hours of work, the road reopened in August 2018, and to no small fanfare. Symbolizing the 84 years the iconic highway has been open, 84 classic cars took to the streets for a celebration of America’s most beautiful road trip.
You would imagine that speeding down the edge of the continent might conjure up a sense of fear, but no. Riding along, watching the Pacific disappear and reappear behind mountains veiled thinly in sunlight and fog, I experienced a sense of absolute, unbridled freedom. It was the introduction to California I never expected to have and I hope for many after me to receive—a dream drive come true.
The day started early at Laguna Seca Raceway, and by 7 a.m., I felt like I was on the set of a 60’s surf film.
I was stunned by the vastness of the mountains; I didn’t expect California to look so much like Middle Earth.
Cars driving through the twists and turns of the valley first thing in the morning.
A quick stop for breakfast at Ventana, a hotel hidden in the hills off Highway 1.
Apparently, the only way to avoid California’s traffic is by escort! We were kindly guided along from the start to the finish line.
You would think speeding along the edge of the continent would make people a bit nervous, but personally, it gave me a sense of unbridled freedom.
We passed by quite a few cliffside homes. I thought our view from the highway was great, so I can only imagine how beautiful things look from inside one of these.
I thought the mist added a bit of mystery to the landscape, taking the beauty of the beaches to another, more magical level.
Driving through the endless desert, this Corvette stood out even more than usual.
I knew there would be great views in all directions, so I made sure to take a look behind me, too.
At every stop, drivers and passengers alike would take the opportunity to check out each others’ rides.
While my driving skills aren’t the best, I wouldn’t mind being driven around in vintage vehicles more often.
Every time I thought I’d seen the best of the Highway, something even more beautiful came into sight around the next corner.
Although it wasn’t a member of our caravan, this camper parked on the side of the road still screamed “classic road trip.”
You could tell that people were excited to see the highway reopened; they lined the edges of the road, waving to our caravan as we drove by.
Man, nature, and machine meeting at Morro Bay.
The combination of sun and fog gave the evening a hazy glow that epitomized the concept of the Golden State.