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DOROTHY CLENDENIN WASN’T yet Wife Dottie in 1988 when she celebrated the 50th anniversary of California Route 1. She traveled this fabled route down the coast from Monterey to Morro Bay with notebook handy and camera filled with film. (“What’s ‘film,’ Grandpa?”) Here are tidbits of her adventure gleaned from R&T, January 1988.
The Route. Dorothy wrote that this route “is the best manifestation of paradoxes…. It challenges the driver to be the best partner this car will ever have, swirling through and up and down and on and on.”
“Yet,” she wrote, “the spectacular land and ocean eventually gain control and require introspection…. At a proper place between billions of tons of mountain shoulder and a fleeting nameless wildflower.”
Monterey, Pebble Beach, and Carmel. “There is often something exciting happening,” Dorothy wrote, “such as the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a golf tournament, the jazz festival or a Bach festival.”
Pandemic-pending (see Google), each of these is now scheduled for later in 2021.
Point Lobos. “Point Lobos State Reserve is four miles south [of Carmel] and not to be missed: Some say it is the most beautiful of all the California state parks. There is stunning scenery everywhere you look, including Monterey cypress, cormorants, sea otters, and sea lions.”
“Soon,” Dorothy said, “we see the first of 32 bridges… and remember the sign near Point Lobos that promised ‘Hills, Curves Next 74 Miles.’ ”
Along the Way. Motoring south, Dorothy reported passing a super luxury hideaway (Ventana: “rates listed in the hundreds, ‘children not encouraged’ ”), Nepenthe (“a popular restaurant that clings to a cliff”), and the Henry Miller Memorial Library. All three are still there, pandemic-pending.
Cyclists. Dorothy was not into bicycles when as a kid she pushed hers into an Imperial Valley canal, but later enjoyed the town game of Cowboys and Indians on bikes. Having moved to cars, she sure wasn’t a bicycle enthusiast by 1988: “Lord, the itinerant bicyclists. They manage to convey the idea that they just wheeled out of The Cyclists’ Expensive Tog Shop one-tenth of a mile back while wearing the expression and muscles that say they pedaled 100 miles before breakfast and they have God’s Own Assurance no one (including all you ecology perverts) is going to 4-wheel drift into their backsides.”
“You’re likely to find them,” she reported, “making manifestations in blind corners.”
On the other hand, Dorothy said, “More predictable behavior can be counted on from dawdlers in campers who are more in tune with the centuries’ evolution of natural beauty than the sinuous and sometimes fragile road.”
The Five-Car Rule. “But good Californians,” Dorothy observed, “know the rule: If five cars are restlessly awaiting freedom, it is the lead vehicle’s obligation to pull over graciously, and it is surprising how often this happens. Psychic power, patience, and common sense are also helpful.”
Approaching Hearst Castle. “Pretty soon,” Dorothy said, “we notice the ocean isn’t quite so far below. The drive is decidedly less demanding, the views are softer…. Finally we reach the town of San Simeon, about 100 miles from Carmel.”
“The gathering place for Hearst Castle visitors is on the left and, as with any grand house, you don’t just drop in unexpectedly,” Dorothy advised. “Reservations need to be made…. If you must press on, then look for the zebras, members of the Hearst Estate, on the left side of the road.”
“We’re definitely out of hair-raising classic Route 1,” she said, “so it is on to Cayucos and finally Morro Bay and its demon rock….”
Concluding Thoughts. “If you drive straight through from Monterey to Morro Bay and stop only at six or eight view points,” Dorothy concluded, “the trip should take around three hours. But you can see there is room for vast variation. It is hard to believe Route 1 is 50 years old. It could be the edge of Atlantis or the last bit of old California.”
Today, Route 1 is 83 years old, and still a delight. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021