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Appreciating California Highway 1 in the good old days

I grew up in idyllic Sonoma County that nature graced with beauty and interest in every direction from border to border. Lightly traveled mountain roads, river roads and Highway 1 skirting the rugged coastline were perfect for 20-something sports car and bike aficionados.

Running solo more often than not, I gloried in the capabilities of my series of old-school Porsches and a sweet-handling BSA 650. Rarely did the destination have any significance; the journey was everything.

I was leading a sports car tour to the Big Sur campground for a weekend of watching premium sports car racing at Laguna Seca. This group of young couples had shoehorned our gear into 50s and 60s topless cars with similar luggage capacity to modern touring motorcycles.

It was a Friday afternoon with plenty of time to make camp, share dinner, breakfast and off to the races. I was leading the train between San Francisco and Big Sur at a reasonable pace insuring the cars were together as we motored down the highway the way man, nature and the god of con brio intended.

We were comfortably on schedule and In The Zone until we came upon the white-knuckled Little Old Lady In Tennis Shoes (LOLITS – a phrase from that era) and about twenty five of her faithful followers.

On most of Hwy 1, the curves are so frequent and straightaways too short for overtaking. We pulled into the back of this parade running at a pace not only enabling viewing of the beautiful scenery in intimate detail, heck, we could paint the pictures as we drove along. Setting up camp before nightfall began to fade from the realm of possibilities.

Then man, nature and the god of con brio intervened. After a sharp left turn I was presented with a glorious sweeping right-hand turn skirting a coastal inlet. Visibility around this gentle curve was a good mile ahead. I pulled into the unused lane telling my passenger to “Watch for cars”.

She was saying, “Ted don’t – Ted don’t” as the Speedster came into song through second and into third gear. There were no northbound cars in the area. While I also watched for oncoming cars, I concentrated primarily on watching those we were quickly overtaking for the slightest sign of movement outside their creepy-crawly parade formation.

The Fiat 124 Spyder driver behind was saying, “Watch for cars” and hearing “Jeff don’t – Jeff don’t”. Behind him was an MGB driver saying “Watch for cars” and hearing “Steve don’t…”. This repeated in the Datsun 2000 roadster and I think one more sports car behind that.

Less than a third of the way around this sweeper, we finished overtaking LOLITS and her merry band, regained our rightful, liberated place and pace, making camp well ahead of the crowd and nightfall.

She had gathered together darn-near every southbound car on that entire stretch of road.

From there on, WE OWNED IT.



This website is a gift to my community from a pensioner dedicating a bit of his life attempting to help preserve humanity, integrity, honor and liberty – a world under attack. If I help one person find our side of the rampart, or help the resolve of one who found it via another path, my time and money have been well spent.

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Thank you, Ted Dunlap