Driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. True story

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Easy access to California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway or PCH. A stretch of road traversing the continental west coast. To call it road is understatement, really it’s the stuff of legend

Built in the 1930s, the mostly two-lane, Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most popular road trips in the U.S. as it runs from San Diego to San Francisco. This rugged road is over 650 miles (~1000 kilometers) long, which, to put that distance into context, is about the length of the United Kingdom

If there’s a recipe for pure driving bliss, once upon a time (… in Hollywood) I was blessed with three of the best ingredients a motorhead could ask for

The first was a light and agile roadster in the form of the celebrated Mazda Miata.

In my case, a second hand ‘99 NB with a Torsen rear diff. Had about as much spent on performance upgrades as the vehicle’s purchase price. 

The second was freiheit on weekends. To an emancipated younger audience not caught up in the joys and responsibilities of parenthood, my advice to you is go out and enjoy you some nice road. While you can! 

The third? Well, I saved the best for last

Easy access to California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway or PCH. A stretch of road traversing the continental west coast. To call it road is understatement, really it’s the stuff of legend. 

Now please do me a favor and picture one of those west coast sunsets.

Conjure all the color gradients between aquamarine by zenith and orange fire with a tinge of green by the horizon. Skies that blend in most literally with their companion body of water and your mellow mood.

You’re crusin’ along taking in the sights of the Pacific Riviera. North of Malibu the traffic tends to lighten. Your right foot gets an itch. You downshift into 3rd and mash it down to the floor. Gaining momentum all the way to redline


The little devil on your shoulder whispers in your ear, “Let’s do that again!” With senses overwhelmed you comply. For a moment your foot is commanded by way of reptilian impulse rather than mammalian logic. Blasting past limit and consequence. Goosebumps on tap. Rejoice, for the Gods of motoring are content

And so my routine went a little bit like this

Sunday mornings I would wake up refreshed and ready to get far away from the LA craze.

Never opted for I-10 to Santa Monica. Always took Sunset through the Hills, past UCLA, got spit out north of Palisades.

Quick stop for gas and coffee. Used to nestle the plastic cup in the little opening created by the three sides of passenger seat bolster, armrest, and rear wall. Old school Miata owners (pre-NC cupholder era) had some tricks up their sleeves

When I didn’t feel like carving Topanga, I would go as far north as Oxnard and Ventura.

Other times I’d grab a southerly route. All the way down to Oceanside, Del Mar, and La Jolla. Haciendas and palm trees galore on one side, all zipping by me at speed. And on the other ocean, nothing but ocean. 

On occasion I’d bring along a long-legged hottie who I wanted to impress upon. Although really this was distraction. All I wanted was to drive.    

Like any good Greek “Yia-yia,” I’d like to pass the knowledge of this simple yet “knock-your-socks off” recipe onward for the next generation to enjoy. It’s been years since I’ve been back. Miles and miles away in the dirty South these days, I still catch myself daydreaming of my PCH rides

Told my six-year old the other day when she’s old enough to appreciate, we’re flyin’ out to Cali.

Maybe for a week or two. Rent a two-seater convertible and do the thing. See it in her eyes, like I saw it with mine.

And that’s a promise!

Porsche Carrera GT Interstate driving

Photo: Ioannis Ioannou / Flickr

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