Looking for Wine on College Tours—Driving up Route One

This is another article in the series about my travels with my son, Nathan, and visiting prospective colleges. He applied to thirteen schools, only three of which he had actually visited (and those were three of the the five where he was rejected or wait-listed). He was accepted at eight of those schools and I insisted that he could not actually attend a school that he had not physically visited.

Thus, we had a scant few weeks to visit six schools (he eliminated two of the schools he applied to right away). We visited University of Texas-Austin a few weeks prior two weeks ago, I posted about the first couple of days in California with a visit to UCLA, our ever so brief “visit” to the University of California at Santa Barbara, and last week our tour of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The plan was to leave San Luis Obispo and head north on Route 1 (The Pacific Coast Highway) all the way to San Ramon, where we would spend the night with Tammy’s brother’s family.

The planned route.


When mapping out the route, however, I discovered that there was a slight problem with our plan: In January, there was a big winter storm and a fairly large section of Route 1 fell into the ocean. Yikes. Normally, although much slower, the route would hug the coast, pass through Big Sur, and then on to Monterey. I have driven the route a few times and it is stunning, a bucket list kind of drive. But. Due to that pesky little mud slide, we had to take the 101, essentially all the way to Monterey part of what makes the drive spectacular are the mountains just to the east of the coast—they also make building roads inland practically impossible).

Yeah. Oops.  (From The Mercury News, Jonathan Rivas/AIO Filmz)

Thus, my GPS was proposing a different route, that simply took 101 North from San Luis Obispo all the way to San Ramon. Now, the 101 is a fine highway, much more picturesque than say, I-10 here in Houston or the Jersey Turnpike, but it is certainly no Route 1.

So I asked my 18-year old son what he wanted to do. Those of you with teenagers can probably imagine the response: “I dunno.” Trying to get this kid to make a decision is one of the bigger challenges I have faced in my life (but I also hoped that his chronic indecisiveness would result in him going to Cal Poly, which would be a win for me).

I suggested that we take the 101 up to just south of Monterey, then double back and head south on Route 1 and drive along the coast through Big Sur until we reached the breach, so to speak, and then turn around and head back the way we just came. I asked him what he thought.

“Sure, I guess.”


While I am not quite sure if he enjoyed the frivolous drive down the coast, we did see some rather spectacular scenery.

My son proclaims that he “hates the beach.” Well, we found this little stretch of sand and I made him get out and walk along it with me.

The only photo I was able to get of him actually on a beach with something approaching a smile.

It took considerable convincing to get him to remove his shoes and socks and actually step foot in the Pacific Ocean, which he had never done before. These are actually my feet, but I can attest he did the same.

He seemed happier here, probably due to the fact that there was no beach.

HE was happy to know that this beach was inaccessible.

Thanks for the heads-up.

One of the more photographed spots in Big Sur.

We made it down to Big Sur and back, tooled around Monterey a bit (a lot more traffic there than I remember), and up to his cousins’ house without much of an issue. We chatted a bit about where his college choice thought process was and I was delighted to hear that Cal Poly was “in the lead at this point.”

As I left him in San Ramon to head up to Healdsburg for a few days, I was feeling rather confident that my trips to visit my son over the next few years would include visits to wineries and cycling along some gorgeous stretches of road.

I mean, the only two colleges left to visit were in Cleveland, Ohio and Saint Louis, Missouri. What could possibly go wrong?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Family, Travel, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Looking for Wine on College Tours—Driving up Route One

  1. wineismylife says:

    What could possibly go wrong? Everything. 😉


  2. ncenvoyage says:

    Sorry, Jeff. Case is a pretty good school, and Cleveland far surpasses its reputation. I could have warned you… a boy born in Philadelphia might still have some of the “urban” in him…


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