Theres something that feels heroic about blasting thousands of miles of highway in a weekend. Its like we get to live out our own personalized versions of Gone in 60 Seconds or Vanishing Point or maybe even for the newer generation Need For Speed, yea that didn’t feel right to say. Sans all the criminal activity and destruction of property its like we are writing a script on the asphalt with our radials. Leaving gives a sense of task and motivation to get to the next destination and conquer the open road. I remember the first time I drove to California it was like taking off into space. I had never driven in the USA or any farther than a few hours for that matter. The unknown map of the interstates and county roads that spider web across the countryside was all a fresh and gave an exciting notion of exploration and wonder. Thats something I always try to capture with my photography and portray exactly as I see it. I recently read something about cars and photography evolving at a similar rate from their inception in the late 1800s . I think there is a correlation between them because in a way they allow you to capture time and space together. Each and every time I take a ride with my camera handy I try to do just that. The trip home from Phoenix gave me plenty of opportunities to capture moments with my beloved hot rod and I was damned if I was gonna let any pass by.
After the Ziptie drags I headed north out of Tucson into the desert plains that separate it and Phoenix. It only took about an hour and a half total behind the wheel and I actually arrived in Mesa just in time to meet my mom and aunt for breakfast. After a quick visit and faster food we headed into Mesa to kick off a couple days of relaxing and exploring a couple of local tourist traps.
The trip into Mesa made for a great bit of fun with my parents as we explored places like Superstition Mountain, Gold Field, Tortilla Flats and the CAF Air Museum. We even visited a pizza place where the house music is a guy playing a 1920s organ hooked up to half the building playing all the hits with nothing but keys and pedals! We also got to spend a day in old Scottsdale taking full advantage of Taco Tuesday at the local eateries!
After some gold panning in Gold Field, delicious Mexican food in Tortilla Flats and stepping inside a b17 Bomber at the Air Museum the time came to head back home. I hadn’t driven the Mustang for the couple days staying with mom and dad due to a cranky neighbour complaining about the exhaust. I didn’t want to cause problems for my parents at the resort so I resisted the urge to fire up the unruly beast.
Until Wednesday which was 1 day after my projected departure from the Mesa/Phoenix area. At 10:00am I fired the coyote up and said my goodbyes before rolling out to the interstate to hit warp speed to Los Angeles. A quick gas up at ridiculously low prices and a load of road snacks in hand I pulled onto the I-10 west to the city of angels!
The ride was nothing but a walk in the park compared to some of my previous rolls across the west. The weather was incredible and the car was running great, it even allowed me to run 500k at a time on a single tank. Yea thats a 450 plus horsepower V8 cranking out the same mileage as some 4 banger cars that claim to be “efficient”. After a couple hours the highway went from the dry desert of Arizona to the rocky foothills of Southern California. Somewhere east of Palm Springs near Chiriaco Summit I happened to spot an abandoned service station just off the highway. A quick cut across two lanes into the exit had me turned the opposite direction heading back down a quiet and mutilated ribbon of pavement to the long forgotten station.
It had not seen a customer in a very long time and an eery calm shrouded the area. Junk and garbage of all shapes and sized laid in the back of the lot as well as broken glass and empty booze containers from many roadside parties past. Bullet holes riddled the entire buildings exterior but the odd part was I found no shell casings anywhere. I guess whoever decided to use the derelict gas station for target practice wanted to cover their tracks. Its crazy to think that at one time this place was probably home to someones day job, someones weekly stop for gas or a quick hankering for a bag of chips and a pop. The pumps were all but gone but the presence of a past time remains in solitude.
From there my next stop was at Chiriaco Summit for gas and after a bit of indecisiveness I chose to finally visit the George Patton Memorial Museum right down the street from the Chevron. The first time I heard about the place was in fact on an episode of Roadkill and ever since I had made it a box to check off. As an ex history buff I was elated to stand next to the steel giants that were the M4A1 Sherman, M26 Pershing and the variety of M60 Patton Tanks. Aside form the cannon clad war machines there were a handful of support vehicles including Deuce and a halves, an Am General Humvee from the Gulf war era and even an M3 Halftrack tucked away in the hangar.
It was a great way to get a close up look at history and shoot something a little bit different. With my brain refreshed with some history and my back and legs stretched I moved on down the highway into the Los Angeles Area.
Sort of a happy accident is what landed me right smack dab downtown in LA. I missed my exit to head up the I-5 grapevine over to the central valley. The freeway wove its way toward the concrete and glass of downtown Los Angeles and I exited right towards Union Station.
I pulled over just off of 3rd street to quickly google the location of a burger joint that the internet food sensation Tasty had named one of the best burger places in LA Snuggled on the corner of west 6th and Normandie Avenue in Korea-town is Cassells Hamburgers.
They serve fresh burgers with delicious fries and shakes and all the fixins on the side so you can design your beefy indulgence the way you like it. After wolfing one down and wandering Koreatown for a few minutes I headed back to the car to get back on the road. The only thing that stood in my way was the ridiculous LA traffic that I had rolled into town just in time to slam into, hence my burger stop. The only freeway that wasn’t gridlocked to the brim was the 10 going west to Santa Monica. I’ve missed the Cali sand for quite a while so I made the run through to highway 1 and parked The Verdict sand side to snap a photo and relax for a couple minutes. After the sun dropped beneath the earths
With Santa Monica behind me I rolled through Malibu into Ventura to detour back to the I-5 by Santa Clarita. Once I hit the interstate it was warp speed all the way home……haha yea right. My eyes became heavy and wandered from side to side, it was time to pull off the freeway and rest.
After my impromptu Recaro sized hotel bed I was ready for home, the only problem was the mountain passes into Oregon had over a foot of fresh snow and more was on the way. My only choice was to detour back to the California coastline and run up Highway 101 into Oregon. So thats what I did.
I blasted into the north bay area just before 9am and then turned onto highway 101 to Eureka California. Unfortunately my bid to out maneuver the snowy weather wasn’t 100% successful. In the midst of the great Redwood Forest the route gains some serious elevation and once I had crested the highest point on highway 101 the wet weather changed to snow. Luckily it had only just started as the weather system was still moving in from the Pacific ocean and with only minor losses of traction I made it through and down to Eureka California.
After a few more hours winding my way north up the coastline I passed the state line and left California behind once again. Despite some zero visibility rain in some spots the drive went smoothly and I made it to Reedsport where the coast junctions to the I-5 near Eugene Oregon. I blasted up the Umpqua River Valley in a high of mountain dew, exhaust noise and butterfingers with the windows down, excited as ever to get back to the main route and on to home. Just after 11 pm I hit the interstate and rowed the gears with gusto and sped off into the night. Unfortunately my hopes to make it home before morning were dashed once again by my eyes fighting to stay open. The notion of self preservation made it mandatory for me to pull over at a rest stop and shut my eyes. A quick 2 hour power sleep later I was back on the road and into Seattle traffic. I pulled off in Seattle to grab a coffee and a shot of downtown. After wandering the streets for a little while (mostly lost) I made it a priority to get back to Seattle this year for a day of shooting. After departing King County I made quick work of the 2 hour drive home and crossed back into the land of moose and maple syrup.
Years ago we left on a road trip to Southern California. All the fun and new experiences that I’ve shared with my wife, my family, my friends have changed who I am for the better. Most of it has been through taking the long road and exploring our way there. Sleeping at rest stops, talking to strangers, getting silly post cards and mementos and experiencing new places has led me to where I am and I wouldn’t change any of it. Things like the Ziptie Drags, Power Tour, Donut Derelicts, and the like have given me some great friends and memories. I don’t care about borders or politics or who’s better than whom its all about the journey and who you get to share it with. We never really came back and for the most part , we are waiting for the next chance to see you on the road!
Links to Ridiculoose Automotive on:
Instagram: Ridic_u_loose Check out my story highlights to get a closer look at the ride home!
Facebook: Andrew R.