This was our first road trip. We used to drive a lot when we lived in London. I drove every summer from London to Zakopane (to enjoy the German motorways and to be more independent while spending summer in my home town), we did short day or weekend trips to specific locations in the UK but these were never really road trips. When we discussed our California holiday, a road trip was a must. It was supposed to be easy as we were planning to go with Lukasz & Ania. My brother loves driving wherever he goes so we all agreed that he would be the one behind the wheel most of the time. Unfortunately, they cancelled on us and we were initially worried about driving by ourselves might be a bit of a problem as we hadn’t driven since selling our car back in April 2010. We were also worried about driving an automatic – we had never driven one. Not even once! Always manual. I was very anxious about that part of the trip. We discussed it and decided to deal with it in the same way we deal with a break in diving. What do you do? You do a refresher course.
Before leaving HK I emailed the highest recommended driving school in San Francisco (Ann’s Driving School) and booked each of us for a 2 hour driving lesson on our first day in the city. If we needed any more practice we could just take more lessons in the following days. I spent my two hours driving around busy San Francisco and asking tons of questions regarding not only driving rules in USA but customs as well. It was such simple, easy thing to do and it made us so much more confident on the road. And yes, it is just like people say about riding a bike, you don’t forget.
We didn’t rent a Mustang in the end. We were tempted but a more sensible (read: boring) car won over.
We had time and no plan. 12 full days until having to fly out of Los Angeles airport. No plan, no booked accommodation. I loved the freedom to do only whatever we wanted, when we wanted to and no rushing.
And driving! Automatic cars are too easy to drive. It made me feel like a lazy driver. I definitely prefer manual, I like to be in charge..
On our first day we left San Francisco and drove north on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). Passed the Golden Gate bridge and made a stop at the foggy, very cold and wild-looking Muir beach. We went slowly and stopped whenever we saw anything interesting or pretty. We stopped on random beaches, roadsides with great views of the ocean and the odd bohemian cafe we spotted. There was hardly any traffic. Mostly a few cars here and there at the parking spots, their drivers doing the same thing we were.
It was a perfect first day on the road. Husband next to me, empty roads, blue sky, wild cliffs, small towns and stunning scenery all around.