Happy New Year folks. Drove down the stunning Ruta 1 to Ensenada for the holiday, and it got me thinking about what the best drives I’ve taken(so far).
I love a long drive. You’d be hard pressed to get me in the car for a trip to the grocery store down the street, but put me on an open road for 6 hours on a sunny day and you’ll have one happy man. I’ve put in quite a few hours behind the wheel, but of course I have a lot of new ground to cover. Be that as it may, these are my top 3 drives in the world.
Might as well start with my most recent. La Cuota, Ruta 1, will take you from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas in about 2 days. I’ve only done about half, but last weeks trip reminded me how beautiful a highway it is. It takes about 10 minutes to get through the windy, pocked Tijuana roads, and before you know it, you are cresting the western mountains and the Pacific ocean is spread out to your right. The road undulates and curves along the coastal cliffs. On one side are rolling mountains with a cobalt blue ocean below you on the other. While there are jarring attempts at luxury high-rises toward the north(mainly stalled due to lack of tourism south of the border lately), to the American the majority of the landscape is pleasantly desolate. A bonus for some might be that you can pretty much go as fast as you want, but I don’t like to rush it. The scenery through the windshield makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road. I know you’re not supposed to drive in Mexico after dark, but if you are lucky enough to be cruising this road around a sunset, it is especially spectacular.
**if you are too much of a pussy to drive into Mexico, the US extension of La Cuota would be the 5 South between San Juan Capistrano and San Diego. At sunset its pretty dope too.
A few years ago I drove a rented van around Australia with Wiggy and Tracy Chaplin. The entire trip took over a month of driving, all of which was enjoyable and exciting. My personal favorite part was the stretch from the western coast, along the north toward Darwin. We’d stop periodically for a day or two, but the hours spent in the van never got monotonous. With camera in hand and earphones spewing tunes, whether driving or in the back, the alien landscape was always exciting and new. Western Australia is empty. Almost completely devoid of “civilization”. About every 100 kilometers or so you get a roadhouse, each with its own personality, buts thats pretty much it for human interaction. Every bend in the road had natural beauty completely new to my eyes. Exotic eucalyptus trees, rusted mesas, 6 foot anthill neighborhoods. Gorgeous country to explore and contemplate.
I couldn’t decide which specific road I should pick last, but if you ever get a chance, get off the US super highway and hop on one of the state roads that parallel it. I’ve driven across the USA a bunch of times now and I love checking out the map each night and picking detour/shortcut off the 10, 40, 70, 80, onto one of the forgotten “highways” that follow the same routes. The Colorado 64, New Mexico 53, Arizona 180, all open roads through wonderfully empty expanses which remind you that the States aren’t all strip malls and suburbs. Nothing better than filling up the tank at the exit and driving 3 hours without seeing another car, gas station or town. How could you not prefer a scenic, empty byway to the 4 lane monotony of an interstate? Ok, maybe the speed limit is technically lower, but the road is yours and you usually can at least go 80, using both lanes as you tear through the wild west. Take a chance. Go trailblazing. I guarantee it’s more fun.
Rt. 64, CO
Rt. 180, AZ
Somewhere in AZ
Rio Grande Bridge pull off, NM
Maybe top five; Laurel Canyon Dr., the 70 in Utah, Denver to NM mountain pass.