Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Road Trip - Palm Springs to Calgary Day 1

I've been on a few awesome journeys this year, but I was pretty excited about driving from Palm Springs to Calgary with my buddy Howard.

Tuesday, May 7th

12:08P - Leave the Sterling Estates compound to pick up Howard from the airport. I forget to pick up my putter head cover from the Mission Hills Gary Player shop. My quest to break 100 is on hiatus this week.

12:25PM - Arrive at airport. Arrive at airport EARLY. I did not see any planes land on my drive there. Howard isn’t even on the ground yet. I’m very OK with being late unless I’m excited. Today I am stoked. Today is big.

1:08PM - I call Julia and suggest Trio up the street. Its only a block away, I lie and say Howard and I were waiting in the car and just got out to check. We both know I’m busted. Howard is recently single, and a retired divorce lawyer isn’t a bad contact to have when you’re looking for a mature life partner. However this means Howard will be interrogated over lunch. I’m a fast eater and Howard is a slow eater. He’s even slower when he’s under Julia’s microscope. Suddenly time stands still, there is no urgency, I must wait. I must.

I want I want I want to get on the road. We need to drive the entire Pacific Coast Highway Route 1 so maybe this chit chat can wait? Not this time. Its a 2 hour lunch.

2:54 - Could it be? Yesss. Driving. Dana Point to Leggett. The. Entire. Highway. Many will claim to have driven it. We are driving ALL of it. Every fucking inch (except when we exit an overlapping Interstate section and need to take an exit and entrance ramp).

Once we hit the coast, all we need to do is pick the paved road closest to the coast but getting to Dana Point requires a few deft exits and toll roads. The GPS in cars blows. I want to use Google Maps. I want real time traffic factored into my route decision making process. The reflective screen I added to my phone last Christmas Eve makes it impossible to read the screen while wearing sun glasses. I will not remove this screen until I park the car in front of our house in Calgary four days later. Turns out that having kids in the car is more distracting than texting and driving. My glancing down at my iPhone while driving is wrong, especially when I have to remove my prescription sunglasses to read it.

I am willing this drive to be complete. I know it is frivolous. It is a giant time suck. It is inefficient. A car can be driven from Palm Springs to Calgary in 24 hours more or less. I can’t even get an estimate of how long our Pacific Coast Highway trip will take from Google Maps. My laptop screen real estate is too small to drag all the blue dots off of the Interstates.

Ever since Brian F. introduced me to the Beach Boys in grade 4, I’ve had a thing for Southern California. Today we are in it. The mysterious places mentioned in Surfin’ USA are showing up on the road signs!


Beaches. Laguna, Newport, Huntington, Long etc. etc. Giant oil fields were discovered along this stretch of highway. Signal Hill! Pumpjacks. The old photos of Huntington Beach (aka Surf City USA) look much different than the pretty beaches and marshlands of today. We hit traffic. Mostly a consequence of my choice to drive south to Dana Point instead of starting in Santa Monica. I will forever be asking people if they started PCH 1 at Dana Point. I’m not sure if 3 hours of heavy traffic is worth being able to forever ask people if they started PCH 1 at Dana Point.

Howard and I have noticed that in sunny California, the car pool lane is never busy. Also a high percentage (but not all) of Prius drivers near LA drive aggressively. Maybe the lack of power frustrates the driver. Just a theory.

As fortune would have it my Rolling Stone Top 50 Albums of 2012 playlist calls up Sweet Life.

Why see the world, when you've got the beach? - Frank Orange.

This tune comes up later on the trip and it makes sense. To be fair, people from California travel internationally more than most Americans.

Why would you live anywhere else?

Why would you live anywhere else?

We've got the ocean, got the babes

Got the sun, we've got the waves

This is the only place for me

Best Coast

7:36 - Malibu. Soon to be owned by Larry Ellison. The real estate is precious. Malibu is a choke point on the highway. There isn't much real estate available between the landslide zone and the coastal erosion zone. The Malibu preachy actors tend to be coastal erosion deniers. There isn’t room for a beach, a row of beach houses, and two lanes of highway never mind four. Something has to give. My bladder. We gas up in Malibu and drive the scenic curves while watching the sunset. 

We stop in Oxnard?

8:31 - Best Western. Clean, safe, cheap and open. Day one’s driving is done.

8:50 - Cabo Seafood Grill and Cantina. Howard ate local style and had a Strawberry Margarita at dinner. I didn't know that Oxnard was famous for strawberries so I feel guilty for mocking his "girlie drink". Not much going on in the section of town we were at but I think we saw a crack whore standing on the corner. You don’t often see legs skinnier than Steven Tylers.