Posts tagged Pacific Coast Highway

As February comes to an end, I wanted to conclude our month dedicated to getting around Los Angeles focused upon my favorite gateways around the city.


Photo via Amtrak blog.

Union Station
Los Angeles’ expanding public transit system has garnered a lot of recent attention, including from our own team here at AHBE Lab. Although I commute into Downtown L.A. on the Metro Expo line, I envy those people who enter the city through Union Station. Whenever I find myself walking through this architectural gem, I feel a rush of nostalgia as I think back to my first visit and being greeted by friends who walked me through the station’s striking waiting room and garden patios, and then out into the streets toward the city’s historic center, the El Pueblo de Los Angeles. That welcoming experience has stayed with me all these years.

Creative Commons photos by Eric Salard

Creative Commons photos by Eric Salard

LAX Theme Building
I’ve occasionally made fun of the LAX Theme Building. Opened in 1961, the building was part of a post-war expansion of the airport, designed to portray Los Angeles as a city of the future. Today, the architecture looks outdated rather than futuristic—a gateway to a Hollywood theme park comes to mind. Do you remember George Jetson’s home in the animated series “The Jetsons” by Hanna-Barbera? Can you guess what was the inspiration for the Googie-style residence of the Jetson household? The spaceship-like structure can be seen from a distance and has become a L.A. landmark as significant as the Hollywood sign. Over the years, I have grown fond of this odd looking building.

When I see it at the end of a trip, I know I am home.


Image: Susan Haskell

Image: Susan Haskell

Pacific Coast Highway
When we moved to L.A. from Boston, we decided to make it a cross-country road trip. We entered L.A. along the coast from Northern California. The last miles along PCH were as exciting as the start of our road trip. As we crossed the county line from Ventura, the coastal landscape views were just as we imagined for Southern California living. It was August; we could feel the warm air; and miles of beach were ahead of us. I imagine that many people have experienced PCH in much the same way. The drive continues to be a part of my life. I can feel myself relax as I drive the short curve out of the McClure Tunnel and see the beach ahead of me — literally the light at the end of the tunnel telling me I’ve returned home

Favorite Stops along PCH
As the summer begins there is one road trip that always calls to my soul. It’s the Pacific Coast Highway trip between Morro Bay to Monterey. If you never traveled this route before you are truly missing one of the most beautiful natural wonders of California. However, you can’t rush because there are so many things to stop and see including sea lions, birds, wildflowers, rugged coastlines, streams and waterfalls, native Redwood forests and the vast ocean vistas.

Favorite Stops along PCH-2

In my youth back in 1976 I made this trip for the first time driving a 1975 Toyota Corolla with manual transmission. When you’re 22 years old its a thrill to drive this route, especially when the cliff-hugging highway is next to a 500 foot drop to the ocean. From Monterey you can make it to Morro Bay near San Luis Obispo in a leisurely 5 hours. Today, I much prefer to take two to three days, with stops in Morro Bay, Garrapata State Park, and Big Sur.

Favorite Stops along PCH-5

Favorite Stops along PCH-6

I usually drive in middle of the day, leaving the mornings and early evenings to catch the wonderful light to photograph. I love stopping along the road, taking casual and relaxing hikes, especially when I reach the Coastal Redwoods canyons. The dappled light in the forest is beautiful. This weekend I am considering doing the drive again if my schedule allows. Wish me luck.

Here are some more colorful moments from my trip last year…

Favorite Stops along PCH-3

Favorite Stops along PCH-7

Favorite Stops along PCH-10

Favorite Stops along PCH-11