Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway
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Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway
Text by Meeta Gajjar Parker
Photography by Francis and Meeta Parker

The border of Mexico, where we are standing appears larger than life. We have just flown in from the East Coast.  The line of cars waiting to get through the check point looks just like it does in the movies.  The car rental agency states that Tijuana is dangerous and crossing the border will violate our rental agreement, so we are not going across the border today.  Checking it out, however, is a must.

Driving from San Diego in our Silver Chrysler 300, we take the last exit before Mexico.  Distances here seem much closer in reality than they appear on the map, so we are making really great progress sightseeing.  Stopping at the Hard Rock Café to buy guitar pins for our collection, we make our way to La Jolla Cove, one of the most photographed beaches in the world. We take a stroll, breathing in the salty air. The cove appears stunning from across the sandstone cliffs, with a view of clear turquoise blue water and purple and yellow flower drapery.  The warm afternoon drive through Coronado Island has us elated with all that we are seeing along the way, such as army troops exercising, and the Coronado Hotel.

We are on a one way trip up the coastal highway from south to north, with our bags packed in our car.  It will take us two weeks to get to Seattle.  Moving in and out of hotel rooms, living like we are free and on a hiatus from our jobs, we explore town after town.  During our adventure, we pack in a great deal.  Taking a scenic drive, we pass through the mountains and down into the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  Witnessing a dramatic change in scenery, we go from the lush vegetation of the mountains into the 100 degree dry desert.  Desert Hot Spring, our home for the night, appears covered in white sand and thriving desert flowers. 

Continuing to Joshua Tree National Park, we feel a strong attachment to the Joshua trees in the park. The way they grow with their branches spread out like open arms as if to say “I love you!” stirs our own emotions.  We have sensations of driving through a black and white Western. We pass through bigger and bigger clusters of these joyful looking trees in the desert park and wish all of mankind the thrill of cruising down this very same road.

Motoring along the coastline of California, we stop to admire the immense beauty and take photographs.  We decide to visit family and friends in LA, overnight in Cambria then make our way to the Hearst Castle.  “Citizen Kane”, a fascinating movie, depicts the tale of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul and his hilltop San Simeon estate known as the Hearst Castle.  He was an eccentric tycoon who collected exotic animals and art from around the world.

He housed it on his land, where he built a modern day castle and hosted Hollywood’s elite.  Standing before the long table where he presided over elaborate dinner parties stirs images in our mind. As people wore out their welcome, they would be methodically placed farther and farther from the head of the table.  He had a giant movie screening theatre where he ran first run movies and a giant indoor swimming pool where parties went on all night long.  Seeing “Citizen Kane”, helped connect the dots of this incredible castle and the man who was its king.

Moving onward up the Pacific Coast Highway, we experience perhaps the most dramatic section of the drive.  Following the road as it snakes along the oceanside like a rollercoaster in Mother Nature’s amusement park, our car climbs hundreds of feet along the edge of the cliffs.  Our hearts pound faster as we peer over the rim to take in the full effect of the jaw dropping vistas.  The thrill of this road trip is absolutely priceless.

Next: Encountering a large colony of wild elephant seals - Driving the Long and Winding Pacific Coast Highway, page 2



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