West Coast Dash, or How I Drove the American West Coast in 10 Days


From 10 October 2015 to 19 October 2015, I drove up and down the west coast of the United States of America between Los Angeles, California and Seattle, Washington. What follows is an account of that drive.

The idea for this trip emerged sometime around 7 October 2015. I had recently bought my first car (a 2007 Mazda Miata MX-5 named My Days of Not Taking You Seriously), I wanted to drive it, and I needed a break from work. I had friends in San Fransisco and Seattle, so a sketch of an outline of a plan for this trip was developed. It was executed entirely without the level of forethought I would normally devote to such things.

I packed some clothes and some CDs (Metric, Broken Social Scene, Of Montreal, etc.), and started driving early on Saturday, 10 October. I had a cold and felt pretty terrible.

10 October (Day 1): Pasadena, CA to San Fransisco, CA (435 miles).

I avoided the I-5 and took the 101 up. I dislike long, straight drives. Stopped outside San Luis Obispo for coffee and a cookie. Got to Stanford in time for for dinner with Rick. We ate burgers. Continued on to Sylvia and Michael’s place in the Castro neighborhood in San Fransisco. It was Fleet Week, and there were sailors everywhere.

11 October (Day 2): San Fransisco, CA to Eureka, CA (298 miles).

Departed San Fransisco after brunch with Sylvia & Co. Scratched an item off the bucket list: drove across the Golden Gate in a convertible with the top down, which was magical. Eureka was the destination partly because of the name. It sounded cool. Spent the night at the Town House Motel.

12 October (Day 3): Eureka, CA to Eugene, OR (458 miles).

Breakfast at a cute bagel place in old town Eureka. Drove up the foggy 101 until Crescent City, at which point I headed east towards Crater Lake. Stopped for amazing pie at Grants Pass, OR. Got to Crater Lake around midday. I’m holding off on describing the sensation of being at Crater Lake until I can find suitable words. This may take some time. Drove around the rim of the crater, and then headed off to Eugene. The original plan was to get to Portland, but it was late, I was tired, and the highway was dark. Slept at the Timbers Motel.

13 October (Day 4): Eugene, OR to Portland, OR (111 miles).

Got to Portland early. Spent the day buying books, drinking beer, walking around, eating ice cream. Felt at home in this city of beautiful people. Night at the Nordic Motel.

14 October (Day 5): Portland, OR to Seattle, WA (223 miles).

Fueled up with some Voodoo donuts. Put half-a-dozen of these glorious trophies of gluttony in a box for later. Drove up to Seattle, with a slight detour to Mt. Rainier. Got lost for the first time on the way to Mt. Rainier. Got a bird flip for the first time on the way to Mt. Rainier. I feel like the two were disconnected. Arrived at Jamie’s place in Kirkland (the donuts were successfully offloaded), and went out to dinner with Jamie and Sylvia. Sylvia had flown up to Seattle from San Fransisco.

15 October (Day 6): Seattle, WA (0 miles).

Stayed in Seattle. Hung out with Sylvia. Day of rest and no driving.

16 October (Day 7): Seattle, WA to San Francisco, CA (808 miles).

The big one. Drove with Sylvia straight down the 5 for 13 hours. We switched drivers every 4 hours. Coffee at Starbucks in the morning, lunch at McD’s. Dinner at Redding, CA. Got to her place at 11, just after Michael who, very sensibly, had decided to fly back from Seattle. I would like to do this sort of drive again.

17 October (Day 8): San Francisco, CA (0 miles).

Brunch with Catherine. Partied.

18 October (Day 9): San Francisco, CA (0 miles).

Recovered. Did laundry. Chilled and dined with Catherine.

19 October (Day 10): San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA (445 miles).

Left early. Visited Planet Labs in San Francisco, then drove down the 1. That’s another item off the bucket list: drive down Hwy 1 in a convertible. Dinner at a Carl’s Jr in San Luis Obispo (I was hungry). Got back late and tired, but happy. It was a good drive.

Addendum (14 January 2016): On 3 January 2016 I drove Days 140 miles south from Pasadena to San Diego. On 8 January 2016 I drove back. As such, I can say that I have driven the entire (remarkably beautiful) length of the American Pacific coast.


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