PCH…the Pacific Coast Highway.  I’ve driven the Via Appia, explored Germany’s Rhine River gorge, and crossed the Arizona and New Mexico deserts.  They’re all stunningly beautiful, each in its own way.  Pacific Coast Highway, though, offers one of the most beautiful drives on Earth.

If you can bear to look down.

I’d done the PCH drive from San Diego northward, not all at once but in bits and pieces.  My cousins grew up along the coast, so I’d done the L. A. – Santa Barbara drive so often I could name the state beaches in order.  My family re-created my parents’ honeymoon one year, driving PCH between Santa Barbara and Carmel-by-the-Sea…gorgeous.  So, when my fiancé proposed we head north on PCH for our honeymoon, I agreed.

Little did I know.  North of San Francisco, California Route 1 becomes an alien life form surrounded by fabulous views.  It’s hard to imagine the up-and-down, roller-coaster feel of PCH when you look at a road map.  California hills slope right down to the ocean, and they take PCH with them.  The road twists and turns, crossing gulleys on impossibly high bridges. 

And then there are the log trucks.

Southern California natives don’t think much about industries in the northern part of the state.  Anything beyond Silicon Valley falls into the general categories of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Lake Tahoe.  When they think about trees, they imagine Marin County redwoods.

Sorry, folks, but there’s a bit more to it than that.  Logging and paper milling are still important industries in northern California.  And to get the logs from the forests to the mills, you need log trucks.  Lots and lots of them.  They’re terrifyingly large and incredibly slow.  The giant logs they carry look as though they’ll slide off the truck at any moment and bounce right through your windshield.

I’m sure I don’t need to add that I spent most of this drive – which stretched out over several days – clutching the door handle, chicken handle, and my new husband, in sheer terror.

We did see some wonderful places, such as Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Fort Ross, and the Russian River valley.  It was a great road trip.  I don’t know if I could ever do it again.