Note: This story was written many years ago when there was a only single M.G. in my garage, and many roads that I had not yet driven. Although I had traveled tens of thousands of miles in this car already, I was rarely more than one hundred miles from home. The thrill of a first real adventure and the awe of unexpected discoveries are experiences never forgotten, and things which can change a person forever. I encourage everyone to take a blind leap at least once in their lifetime, and experience a journey unplanned and without any purpose beyond simply doing it. I pray your efforts will reward you as they did me on this day…..

“A Sunday Drive”

My day started with getting kicked out of the house for a bridal shower. I had no plans and nothing to do, so I hopped in the MGB and drove off, top down, in search of some form of entertainment. A couple ideas crossed my mind as I drove north up the 101 freeway but they didn’t take so I kept on driving. Soon I was dropping out of the city to the beaches of Ventura County. Mile after mile of scenic beaches passed by. The sun was warm, the breeze cool – it was a perfect day.

Approaching Santa Barbara I decided to take a route less traveled. Turning onto highway 150 I began driving a beautiful stretch of road around Lake Casitas, eventually arriving in the quaint town of Ojai. The junction of 150 and 33 in Ojai has always beckoned to me to make the turn north. I had already come this far, why not make a truly epic drive out of this fine day? No sooner than I reasoned as much I made the turn. What was in store for me was beyond my greatest hopes!

The road, which I can only describe as magical, immediately narrowed and began a climb into Los Padres National Forest. Wonderful twisty roads with incredible views were abundant, almost unreal in their perfection. Massive pine-covered mountains surrounded the route and the road seemed to defy the very laws of physics as it quickly yet elegantly climbed them. Looking across a vast canyon of rock and pine I was surprised to see by chance a landmark I had heard about but never seen – a giant arrow-shaped patch of rock, hundreds of feet high, surrounded by pine on a steep mountain face. The natives in this area considered it a holy place and believed it pointed to the hot springs below.

After an eternity (albeit a welcome one!) of climbing, the road crested the ridge of the mountains and I entered a plateau-like area. The road wound its way through trees and meadows with mountain peaks on both sides, not much higher than I. A glance up at the blue skies offered an awe-inspiring site – a group up horsetail clouds whisking across just below the sun, lit up brilliantly in all the colors of the rainbow. It was like flames in the sky, shooting across what seemed like a mile. Looking back I very much regret not stopping for a photograph.

Climbing again, I finally crested one final sharp ridge near the northern side of these mountains and was awarded a spectacular view of a strange and beautiful landscape. It cannot really be described in words but it looked like something made for cinema. Ridges, canyons, strange rock formations and rivers as far as the eye could see. The road descended into the heart of it all as quickly as it had previously climbed. During the decent the occasional waterfall was seen and only added to the experience.

Having covered 100 miles already and still heading away from home I decided to begin a loop back. A right turn onto Cuddy Valley Road brought more abrupt changes in geology. Mother Nature ruled this place and even the road was forced to surrender to the rapidly changing landscape. No bridges were built on the unstable ground but instead the broad streams were allowed to cross the road itself!

Driving along with the purr of the engine in my ears and the wind in my hair I suddenly realized how alone I was. There were no people, no buildings, nothing. It continued this way for quite some time through beautiful Cuddy and Lockwood Valleys and all the way to Frazier Park. Here I fueled the car and myself before heading back out with no less than 150 miles behind me. I was surprised to get almost 25 miles per gallon even with the steep climbs and fast speeds, and also estimated approximately 200 miles per sandwich.

The return to people was abrupt as I entered traffic on Interstate 5. Cruising along at 85 miles per hour was pleasant but also a letdown after what I had just been through during the past 150 miles. Thinking back at where I had been and what I had experienced, it was hard to believe it was real. Highway 138 caught my eye and even though it headed away from home, I could not resist it. Never having traveled this stretch of highway before made it all the better as I passed through beautiful meadows and open spaces. Gradually the trees grew spiny and the grass turned to sand. In less than 50 miles the geology had changed once again from pine trees and grasslands to desert… the Mojave Desert to be precise.

I was suddenly facing one of the most unforgiving landscapes in the western hemisphere. Dust storms, cactus and blazing sun were my companions now. I felt strangely out of place, as if this car and I did not belong here. We could have been on Mars and it would have felt no more foreign. Perhaps it was the extreme change in ecosystem or simply that I had never driven my MGB to such a hostile environment. But for some unexplained reason it was not only a bit unsettling but also to a certain extent exhilarating, all at the same time.

This land belonged to large sedans and pickup trucks with bad paint jobs and good air conditioners. Still I continued on unphased and dedicated to the task at hand, which was to reach Highway 14. After what seemed an eternity I reached this unremarkable stretch of highway and turned south, once again toward home. In the distance I could barely make out the massive San Gabriel Mountains through the dust. I would have to cross through a low pass near these mountains to get home. Eventually the scenery began to turn greener as I climbed out of the desert and into the hills. Many miles and ridges later I was back to civilization. The drive home from here was rewarding. The people in their Toyotas and Fords had no idea the epic adventure I had just experienced but that made it even better.

Finally home, some 265 miles later, I recalled the beaches, the mountains, the little towns in the middle of nowhere, the wilderness, countless valleys and passes and even the desolation of the Mojave Desert. This diversity is truly the magic of Southern California and I felt blessed to have experienced so much of it. I decided to write down a small part of the experience so I would remember it and be able to share it with others. Sitting at the computer I began to type…..