Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nightmare Drive

The first day of our fourth week on the road did not go well.  The next place we wanted to go was Muir Woods. Since we have had such good luck with shorter drives, I decided it would be best to go only half of the 300 or so miles in one day.  We would only go as far as Fort Bragg.  (The town in CA, not the base in NC.)

Good plan.

What was not a good plan was the route I choose.  If you have ever been to the California coast you know the road along the coast is called Hwy 1.  It is beautiful, but narrow and winding. Definitely not the way for a 36' Class A motor home to go.

So, of course we did.

All I can say is the 23 miles from Hwy 101 west, over a mountain range, to the coast on Hwy 1 was a nightmare. A two lane road, no shoulder, many spots that were quite narrow. Turn after turn marked 20 mph, 15 mph, and even 10 mph.  Throw in a 6% grade from time to time,  fast moving oncoming traffic, and a few bicycles, and you have a white knuckle drive to rival any you can imagine. 

This picture is from the web,
 I was hanging on for dear life, not taking pictures!
Many of the curves were tighter than this and were
doubles or triples.
We did have one small mishap.

Nothing serious, just a little scrape along the bottom edge of the passenger side, but if Craig hadn't pulled to the right we might have had a "head-on" with the car that was  over the yellow line going around a tight curve!  

I really hope that driver had "full pants" because he was the one over the line and the scrape sure scared us, and now the Alfa has a new owie.

We made it to the coast, but the road did not improve very much.  The mountain and hairpin curves were replaced by more tight curves and sheer cliffs down to the ocean, areas with rock falls, and of course no shoulders. 

Because it was Sunday there was a lot of beach traffic and amazingly some of it was large pickups and huge fifth wheels. 

I was trying to be more "spontaneous" and planned to look for an RV park when we were ready to stop.  That was not a good plan for Hwy 1.  We missed at least one park that I had seen in Woodalls, and ended up at the more expensive alternative.  

When I was checking to see if they had a spot for us there was the driver of a large fifth wheel also in the office.  When he and the lady at the desk heard we had come down Hwy 1 from the North, they both said "it is almost impossible to drive a class A thru there."  I agreed.  They also said that we should not go any further south on Hwy 1, and to take Hwy 20 back to Hwy 101. It  also winds but it is slightly wider. If we wanted to go to Muir Woods we could leave the Alfa at a campground off 101 and drive back to the coast.

After we got set up, I drank a half bottle of wine and took a short nap!  We then had dinner and went out in search of a beach for an evening walk.  The weather was a bit blustery, and sunset was nothing to write about.

Monday morning my nerves were still a bit frazzled, but Hwy 20 was not nearly as bad as Hwy 1 had been.

If we were full-timers, we would have found a nice park to hunker down in for a few days to relax and recover.  Instead we cut our trip short and headed for home. We can regroup there. Even though we encountered some heavy traffic, the interstate was a welcome drive.

We were glad we did not have to deal with parking the Alfa on our home spot.  While we were on the trip the last part from the recent back end repair had come in so we were able to leave it at the service place in town.

Craig also wants them to check the brakes because one is squeaking quite loudly. We know air brakes sometimes squeak, but this is new and louder than before.

The awkward thing is that I only unloaded the most essential "stuff" from the Alfa. Now some of the "stuff" we need is not here! 

It's in the Alfa.

So ... now I'll spend the next few days doing chores around the house. 

Then I'll start thinking about our next trip!  


  1. I drove Highway 1 in a car once upon a time and that was enough. Glad you guys made it with only one scratch.

  2. You are QUACKING us up! I vote that you NOT repair this particular owie, because you'll want to be able to point it out as your Hwy 1 scar. You guys are animals rocking that open road!

  3. Can't imagine doing that road in anything as large as a Class A. Glad there wasn't more damage.

  4. Although harrowing, this will become a great memory for you & will end up being an RV drive you will not forget. After a drive like that, everything else just gets a little easier:))

  5. We did the same thing in 2010, it is a scary ride, between 101 and 1. The bicycles were scary too because they didn't move over.

  6. I have not so fond memories of driving 101 in December, 2006, in my first class A. Almost had a head on collision with a logging truck. :(

  7. Whew! reading your post and all the comments makes me appreciate my little 26 footer! we have driven those roads a lot, and yes, they are scary! Glad you are home safe and sound with more to come. Al is right, you will love the memories! and I like the Duck's idea of keeping the battle scar. Ha!

  8. I remember that road, too. It's scary even with a car. Glad you made it almost unscathed.

  9. enjoy being at home planning for the next adventure!!!

  10. Glad you made it with only a minor scratch. I was on the edge of my seat just reading it. We bought a truckers atlas a few years ago and have found it very helpful. Routes approved for semis are highlighted in orange on the map. We try to stay on those roads to avoid roads we shouldn't be on. I looked and Hwy 1 is not orange. Glad you're not giving up and planning your next trip.

  11. I too have driven that road in a car and it is tough that way. We have a truckers atlas and when we are towing I try to stay on roads that are considered truck routes and I haven't looked but I doubt Hwy 1 would qualify. We too have been on roads we shouldn't have been on and that's why now I plan the rip on Google maps and then check the atlas to make sure the roads are acceptable. I think most FTers have a system that is developed because of mistakes made along the way. Think of this as a good lesson in trip planning.


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