Rains Wash Out Pacific Coast HighwayFri, 18 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0700
California's scenic Highway 1 is closed down for at least a month after a landslide washed out a 40-foot section of the famous road just north of Big Sur. The closure is in effect from 12 miles north of Big Sur State Park at the Bixby Creek Bridge to 10 miles miles south of the Carmel River Bridge "due to a slip-out," according to the California Dept. of Transportation. A slip-out in this case means 40 feet of the southbound lane is now in the ocean and the remaining northbound lane is not stable enough to drive, bicyle or even walk across, according to Caltrans.
The highway, which is 91 years old, is stapled and scotch-taped to the stunning cliffs that drop precipitously into the Pacific. Washouts and closures happen semi-regularly for any number of reasons. Three years ago wildfires closed it down. El Nino storms and subsequent landslides caused extensive damage and closures 12 years ago. A whopper of a washout in 1983, not far from the current slide, shut the highway down for more than a year.
"Motorists are advised to use an alternate route," was all Caltrans said.
Well, we are here to help. Often, the road less traveled has better apexes. If you are driving anything of normal size north on Hwy. 1 (i.e. no Winnebagos), you can cut east on Nacimiento Rd. toward Ft. Hunter Liggett. This is a very narrow but fun road that you might find yourself returning to just to drive on. Once you cross onto the actual military reservation, obey all posted speed limits, as the local MPs are extremely efficient at handing out tickets. Be sure to stop in at Mission San Antonio for a glimpse of living California history. Maybe pray for Caltrans to fix Hwy. 1. Then keep an eye peeled as there are often real Army tanks firing really big guns at all kinds of targets. We've seen C-130s landing and taking off right next to the roadway. It's almost always entertaining.
From there head east to Jolon, check out the historic Jolon Store, which, last we saw it was just a building but maybe there's more there now, and go north on G14 to Hwy. 101. On 101 go north and exit at Greenfield and then go west on the very narrow, very curvy County Road G16. Watch out for mountain lions and please slow down when you come upon ranches, houses or wild turkeys. G16 puts you back on PCH via Carmel Valley. To get back, go the same route in reverse. Send us a postcard.
By Mark Vaughn