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Old 8th June 2023, 18:39   #1
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Short drive through the California Bay Area

The author was recently visiting his old stomping grounds, viz. the Bay Area of California on a business trip.

As most of us would know, public transportation is virtually non-existent in suburban America, so I rented a car to move around, and was pleasantly surprised to get a 2022 Honda Accord Sport with 252 horses (turbo 4-pot) under its hood, paddle shifters and all. Hondas have always been fun to drive in my experience, and this car was no exception. It was great fun zooming around on the freeway and city roads (while following traffic rules of course) with the window down, and after 3 months of dealing with a buggy new ScorpioN, it was also nice to drive a car where everything worked as it should. Getting to ogle other mean(er) machines like the Mustang and Challenger was an added bonus.

Short drive through the California Bay Area-mustang.jpg
Red V8 Mustang GT. Drool....

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Black Dodge Challenger (Not the Hellcat) next to my rental Accord

Side note: EV adoption is real, with what felt like every other car a Tesla, and less frequently a Mustang Mach-E (BTW this crossover has no business carrying the hallowed “Mustang” name), and California is a test case like no other. If they can pull off going to all Zero Emission Vehicle sales from 2035, with their creaky power infrastructure, then IMHO the die is cast.

Like all good things, this trip also came to an end, and it was now time to head back home.
The night before, I thought why not take the scenic route to the airport this time, and revisit some of the roads and places from the past that I loved?
Note: The strange letter-number combos below are the names of various highways, with CA: California, I: Interstate, and N, S, E, W of course being the direction of the road.

Short drive through the California Bay Area-route.jpg
Le Route from le hotel to le Airport

The next morning, putting the thought into practice, I started from San Jose on CA-237W to CA-85S, then took I-280N towards San Francisco. Exited at the beautiful town of Woodside.

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Zoomed in to the first stretch

I-280 is a pleasure to drive on, well-designed with wide lanes, and rolling hills to ease tired eyes

Since CA-84W was closed for repairs further south, Sundar aka Google maps was kind enough to reroute me via Kings Mountain Road towards CA-35 (Skyline Boulevard). This was a nice winding road and gave me a first look at some beautiful California Redwoods.

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Taking the Kings Mountain Road. Closed section of CA-84 shown on lower right in red

King's Mountain Road

Pulled over at a suitable spot and stepped out to inhale the fresh cool air, and the smell of the forest, which took me back 20 years, when many a weekend was spent hanging out in the company of these ancient giants. The ground around these trees was soft and cushioned by their fallen leaves. Memories...

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Beautiful Redwoods. One of the most magnificent creations of nature.

After some more driving, another short stopover at a trailhead to listen to the sounds of the birds, and pick up a couple of pinecones for the kids. Note the tire marks on the road - people have been having fun doing burnouts and/or drifting.

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Snapshot of how scenic the drive was

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A grove of Pine trees. It's not just Redwoods.

Trailhead with parking lot, and a LOT of tire marks. The Fast & The Furious have been visiting

Then it was back on the highway. Passing through a damp and drizzly patch, I got an amazing view of sunbeams cutting through trees and fog, and luckily was able to stop and capture the moment, although no camera can capture it as well as our eyes and our memories can.

Short drive through the California Bay Area-sunbeams.jpg
Here comes the Sun

The road widened, and the speedometer needle accordingly moved to the right. This is where the paddle shifters came into play, and it was glorious. Since I was driving an Accord, the next stop was (of course) the town of La Honda.

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Route to La Honda

The Long and Winding Road, that ended too soon

Just a 5-minute halt by the side of a pretty albeit moss-covered lake, and then back on the road. Before getting on the highway I had a sudden realization that I was now driving on the left side of the road. In almost 30 years of driving in multiple countries, it was the first time I had made this mistake. Luckily it was a side road, with no traffic, but it was a sobering reminder that age eventually does catch up with us, and we need to be extra careful when driving overseas.

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Pretty lake. Ideal spot for meditation

Back on the highway heading towards the coast, passed by some beautiful rolling hills and meadows, with picture-perfect farms and wildflowers growing by the roadside. This spring, when the rains caused a huge number of California poppies to germinate, resulting in one of the most spectacular wildflower seasons of the past few years. Too bad I missed it.

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Final stretch of hilly road going to the coast

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Picture-perfect farm.

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Finally, CA-84 came to an end and merged with CA-1, right by San Gregorio beach.

Entering the beach. Can see cars driving on CA-1 in the distance

Stepping out of the car and feeling the cold California coastal wind blowing on my bald pate, I once again realized the need to be more cognizant of my age, as I had forgotten to bring a cap. Having come this far, I (literally) threw caution to the winds and tramped onto the beach, to be greeted by seaside cliffs, flowers and a host of seagulls and pelicans that come to the beach to feast on the fish that stay in its lagoon. The beach was pristine, with nary a bottle or wrapper to be found. If only we could take care of our beaches in India the same way.

Pelicans but no Pelicants. Can also see gulls

Watching the pelicans gracefully take flight, with the sounds of the gulls and crashing of waves in the background against the beautiful coastline, the immensity and beauty of nature makes you aware of how small we and our problems are in the grand scheme of the universe, to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, stopping along the way to take in sights, sounds and tastes.

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As our Punjabi buddies would say, "Key Gull hai, birdie"?

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More flowers

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The circle of life. How fragile it is

Philosophical ruminations done, it was now time to prioritize the destination (home) and the means to get there (the flight) which was not going to wait for me to soak in the beauty of the golden state. With a sigh, the car was restarted, and we (yes, the Honda and I were in Accord) headed up CA-1 towards the airport.

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CA-1 up to Half Moon Bay

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This is one of the most scenic highways in the world, hugging the beautiful California coastline.

We did stop along the way to check out some beautiful yellow lupine-like flowers, and the cliffside of Tunitas Creek Beach, where the sign with the loooong list of prohibited activities reminded of my days in Singapore.

Short drive through the California Bay Area-tunitas-creek-beach-cliffside.jpg
Too cold, too old and too little time to go down to the beach

Can see the cliffs along the beach. The ones up north beyond San Francisco and the ones south of Monterey are even more spectacular

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Even more blooms

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We CAN walk on the beach, right?

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Brilliant yellow lupine on the side of the road

From here it was a few more miles up north to the town of Half Moon Bay, taking the exit to CA-92, which was again a nice winding drive up the hills, back to I-280 and then to the airport to return the car, and hop into the steel tube that brought me back home.

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The final stretch. Some beautiful scenery and flora here too, but the clock was ticking, so no pics

A short but sweet drive, and highly highly recommended to anyone who visits California. If you enjoy driving or nature, you will love the state highways and side roads, especially in the hills and along the coast.

My (over)use of the words "beautiful", "spectacular" and "lovely" in this post might also give it away.

As the Beach Boys said: “I wish they all could be California roads”.

Last edited by Aditya : 9th June 2023 at 05:14. Reason: Spacing
Mustang Sammy is offline   (24) Thanks
Old 9th June 2023, 05:16   #2
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Re: Short drive through the California Bay Area

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th June 2023, 08:57   #3
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Re: Short drive through the California Bay Area

Excellent thread ! A solo drive in the middle of nature does relax and rejuvenates the mind. It made the morning even better to go though, read and view the wonderful pics and videos with a cup of coffee. Sir, you have an excellent descriptive writing style with a sprinkle of wit and humor ! Hope to do this route one day and witness the natural beauty, its so nice to see the natural heritage preserved and maintained so well.
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Old 11th June 2023, 08:27   #4
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Re: Short drive through the California Bay Area

Damn, man! I was just reminiscing with my kids today about when (25 years ago), their mom & me hired a convertible and spent 2 weeks just cruising the California back country roads (used highways only on the way back to Frisco). Went to lake Tahoe and hired a boat for a day, wine tasting at random wineries, watched fields of corn/wheat? that reminded me of “Fields of Gold” song…

Was really a trip to remember. Hope your trip too was great enough for you to remember it decades later…
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