Saturday, April 22, 2023

S is for Scenic Route


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter S

When my husband and I got married, my husband planned the entire honeymoon. We were living In Los Angeles, but we got married in my hometown in southwest Missouri, so we started our honeymoon by spending a couple of days in Kansas City before flying back to LA.

Once we got to our home in Ventura, we loaded my husband's Jeep Cherokee (and it's important you know that it was NOT the kind with 4-wheel drive) with our suitcases, hung our bicycles on the bike rack on the back, and headed north.

My husband's plan was to drive as far as San Luis Obispo for the first night, then drive on up Highway 1 through Big Sur before arriving at our destination in Carmel, where we would visit the Mission, stay in an inn, eat wonderful food, drive on 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach, and bike ride around Monterey. I was very impressed with all the work he had done to plan the trip (note this 30 years ago and pre-internet).

As we were driving, my husband told me that Jay Oliver, one of the clients at the artist management company where he worked (you can Google him), had stopped by the office a few weeks earlier and told him about this wonderful scenic drive we should take as we get to Big Sur. "It's called Old Coast Road, and it's very secluded and you will be surrounded by redwood trees!" he told my husband, so I agreed that it would be fun to see the redwoods and we should try it.

Our night at the Apple Farm Inn in San Luis Obispo was delightful; our room had a fireplace and the food in the restaurant was delicious. I was the trip navigator, and as we neared Big Sur, with its breathtaking views of the ocean coupled with a terrifying feeling you're going to plunge off the road and into it, I watched for the sign for Old Coast Road, and when we came to it, my husband turned off Highway 1 and onto the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY JAY OLIVER scenic route.

The first .2 miles of the road was great, and the view was terrific, and then we were on the rest of the 10 miles, and I truly thought we were going to die.

First, it isn't paved. Jay didn't mention this. Nor did he mention that it was one lane wide, had hairpin turns WITH NO GUARDRAILS, was rutted, and if you don't have 4-wheel drive, WHICH WE DIDN'T, your car might (DID) slide on those hairpin turns. 

My husband was white-knuckled as we went down, down, down into a valley, then up, up, up again. We stopped briefly at the top of the mountain because he insisted we needed a picture, and, no lie, I began to wonder if his plan was actually to off me and throw my body off the road into a ravine, never to be found, but he was as petrified as I was, We went down, down, down again, sliding on the hairpin turns, never seeing another car, which was good, given the road was only one lane but bad if something happened to the car LIKE IT FELL OFF THE ROAD AND PLUNGED US TO OUR DEATHS. We did drive through redwood trees, but I thought redwoods meant sequoias, so I was disappointed to find they were just really big pine trees. After two hours of terror, we came to the intersection of Highway 1 and had pavement and a center line again. We survived.

The rest of our honeymoon was uneventful, and that's a GOOD thing. We stayed in a quaint inn in the heart of Carmel. We did visit the Mission and ride our bikes and walk to the beach and eat delicious food and wander through art galleries and see Pebble Beach, and it was so very normal and NOT life threatening and perfectly perfect.

We did not take Old Coast Road on the way back home again. I never want to SEE Old Coast Road again, and luckily for Jay Oliver, I never saw HIM after the trip, either, although the next time he stopped in my husband's office, he did ask how we liked the drive. My husband's response? 

"You probably should stay away from my wife. She wants to kill you." 

And you know how you look back at an event and say, oh, it wasn't that bad; we were overreacting? 

Not. This. Time.

Some fun (and not so fun) facts about Old Coast Road, courtesy of Wikipedia:

It's a public road through private land.

It was originally a trail created by Native Americans. The first improvements on it (and apparently, the last from what I could tell) were made in 1853, and it became a public road in 1855.

The road was 26 miles long, and it took a wagon pulled by 4 horses 13 hours to make the trip.

In 1921, construction was begun on what became Highway 1.

The road is sometimes known as Coast Ridge Trail. TRAIL. NOT EVEN A REAL ROAD.

Clutching a souvenir teddy bear and
trying not to vomit or pass out from fear.

He's acting cool but was actually just
as scared as I was.

At the Carmel Mission Basilica. It was not our choice
to dress up; the guide made us do it


  1. That road sounds terrifying. I'm glad you didn't slide off.

    1. I still get a feeling deep inside when I think about how the car slid on that road!

  2. In a way it's good to have the really bad travel experience on your first road trip as husband and wife. Get it out of the way. We've had some bad ones, but not like that. Alana

    1. Yeah, kind of an if we survived this, we can survive anything!

  3. S is also for scary, and survival!

  4. Thanks for the tip to never, ever, ever take that road under any circumstance.