The Weekly Driver On The Road: Small Roads, Big Sights On The Way To Monterey

James Raia

One of my favorite car review testing routes is the estimated 200-mile drive from Sacramento to the Monterey Peninsula.

I’ve mentioned the high-speed trek along the congested city stretches, open agricultural farmlands and rolling fields along Interstate 5 . And I’ve written about how in Gilroy, the road changes for a short stretch onto highway 101 and then onto two mall connecting 152 and 156 routes as the peninsula and Pacific Ocean appear on the horizon.

barnIt’s these secondary roads I enjoy most. Form the hectic nature of Interstate 5, the road abruptly changes onto an oddly cambered route past San Luis Reservoir and through a winding downhill section. It snakes past ranch-style homes, old barns, fruit stands and a variety grazing animals.

Last week, I drove a 2008 Hyundai Veracruz along the route, and unlike some sport utility vehicles, the Hyundai had little difficulty accelerating or descending tight corners. I maneuvered along the technical sections almost carlike.

And on two briefs occasions, I also drove the Veracruz off-road, although just in the dirt and gravel in driveways and roadsides to take this blog’s images.

horses2Like lots of folks, I like old barns. This dilapidated example has somehow remained erect for the past 25 years I’ve driven to the Monterey Peninsula. It’s just off the road a few miles past the San Luis Reservoir.

The image of the horses almost didn’t happen. I’ve seen horses along the same route many times, but I’d never before seen a foal. But the moment I noticed it, was out of vision.

A few miles later, I couldn’t resist. Traffic was steady in both directions, but I looked for a quick opening, made an abrupt, safe U-turn and headed back to capture an image of mother and child.

Article Last Updated: April 21, 2008.

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