erik lundegaard

California 1

Take a long drive with me
On California 1, California 1...
--The Decemberists, “California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade”

This past week, driving along California 1, the state route begun in 1934 that winds down the California coast, as Patricia and I traveled from Seattle to Bodega Bay for a friend's 50th birthday celebration, I kept thinking of baseball and pitching.

California 1I know. Apologies, and bear with me.

Most roads, certainly most highways, are like fastballs down the pike. They may have some bend in them but nothing you can't handle. California 1, in contrast, is like the craziest pitch thrown by the greatest pitcher ever. It twists and swoops and dips and soars and bends and keeps bending and keeps bending further until you're almost heading in the opposite direction—north when you want south, south when you want north—until, at last, it finally breaks the other way, your way, and the whole damn thing begins again.

And the speeds! A good freeway may vary its speeds a bit, like a good pitcher will vary his speeds between the 95-mph fastball, the 85-mph splitter and the 75-mph change-up. These differences are nothing on California 1. There, you'll be spotted 55 mph. Then with hardly a warning it'll cut back to 15 mph. Back up to 45. Down to 25. Then 15 again. Then back up to 55. All on these swooping, dipping, winding roads, with incredible views of sky and ocean, cliffs and haystack rocks, and you're so distracted by it all, by the beauty and the winding roads, you find yourself going 55 in the 15 zone, 15 in the 55 zone.

But worth it. We can't wait to go back.

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Posted at 06:15 PM on Wed. Jun 08, 2011 in category Travels  

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