US Road Trip Travelog: 23rd March 2005

In the morning the monsoon has stopped and though there are a few rain showers it's good day to cover some miles. The plan is to go up the I-101 for a 100 miles or so then drop off to the Pacific Coast Highway for the rest of the 150 miles up to Monterey.

The I-101 north of Santa Barbara
The I-101 north of Santa Barbara.

For an Interstate, the I-101 is quite pleasant and scenic as it curves around the hills and valleys. I'm really glad I didn't try to drive it yesterday, though, as the surface isn't all that great and there are a lot of fast corners.

The Pacific Coast Highway north of Cambria
The Pacific Coast Highway north of Cambria.

Once on the PCH (Highway 1) there are signs saying that it's closed further on. Having studied my map, though, I've seen a road off to the right that will get me to Monterey.

This is a great piece of road to drive, with views as you can see above and a long series of corners as it hugs the sides of the mountains. Somewhere in the back of my mind I can remember Clint Eastwood in the opening sequence of 'Play Misty For Me' driving a Porsche along roads like this. I've probably got that completely wrong but it's good driving country nonetheless.

Pacific Coast Highway closed
Pacific Coast Highway closed.

Game over. Not only is Highway 1 closed but the road I was planning to cut through on is also shut, I presume by landslides after the recent rain. Nothing for it, then, but to head 40 miles back the way I came and cut across to join the I-101 again. The only bonus is that the road across from Cambria to the Interstate, Highway 46, goes through vineyard country (the first I've seen in California) and is a pleasant drive.

The Interstate itself isn't so scenic and as I arrive in Salinas and then drop down into Monterey it's rush hour. With all the road closures this means that the remaining open routes are clogged with traffic. My original destination was a Best Western motel on the beach just north of town. With only 3 rooms available, however, they've decided to ask $200-249. Opportunistic thieves. After a few phone calls I find another Best Western just north of town for a third of that.

I probably ought to venture into Monterey itself but I'm knackered and I need to think about the next few days so I don't. Another place I'll have to come back to at some point then. The motel's wireless internet access actually works, though, so I can do a bit of advance planning.

US Road Trip Travelog: 24th March 2005 >