On The Ridge Of The Santa Cruz Mountains

Time to go home. The weather has turned bad again and it’s cool and overcast, and I feel rain in the air as I walk across the parking lot to my car. Checkout completed and I’m on the road by 10.30 am. I search in vain downtown for a gas station and end up going here and there for a while before finding one. I need to fill up here because where I’m going this morning I doubt there will be any gas stations. Plus I figure it will be cheaper here than at the airport when I can just do a dash-and-splash to return the car full.

After this little diversion I find my way onto Hwy 17 S towards Santa Cruz. A few miles later I turn right onto Summit Road, aka Hwy 35 – or Skyline Boulevard, which runs along the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There’s supposed to be great views of the Pacific and SF Bay, this is the only road from where you can see both. But with today’s weather that prospect is looking decidedly unlikely, unless there’s a dramatic change soon. Well you never know in San Francisco…

The road winds its way through the trees and there’s a few houses here and there, but the road… OMG! It’s a single track road cut into the hillside with very tight, completely blind bends, with drops down the hillside and no safety barriers… and very, very few passing places! God help me if there’s car coming the other way. It strikes me as extremely dangerous actually and I cannot fathom why anyone would build a house on a death trap road like this. Sure, it’s got asphalt on it – but it’s a bit rough in places – but I’m crawling along at 15-20 mph because it’s not safe to go any faster. I do pass two cars coming the other way on about the only section of the road where I notice a passing place.

It is an incredible drive at one level but I’m not sure I’m enjoying it because it’s the trickiest and most dangerous road I think I’ve ever driven. At least Mt Hamilton had two lanes, albeit narrow ones. The weather is not helping as it’s raining lightly now but the trees and vegetation are very dense so there is no view to speak of. What I can see through the canopy is a grey and gloomy sky and low cloud.

After a few miles I seriously wonder if doing this road was a mistake because at the speed I’m going I won’t be at the airport until midnight. If the road doesn’t improve soon I might be stuffed and miss my flight. And then after what seems like ages there’s a side road to the right and after this Skyline Blvd becomes 2 lanes. Hurray!

Silicon Valley from Skyline Blvd

Silicon Valley from Skyline Blvd

Soon I’m doing 40-50 mph most of the time, with a few bends to slow for, but this section of highway is a proper road again. It’s still very quiet traffic-wise and as the trees thin out I can’t see any distant scenery because of the mist and cloud. I stop at one vista point to look out across the South Bay but I can’t make anything out in the gloom and rain, other than the Bay in the distance and some urban sprawl of Silicon Valley.

Skyline BoulevardThe drive on this section is good, with sweeping bends and an open road – just a shame about the weather. I arrive at the junction with Hwy 92 and swing right, heading towards the airport. I’m retracing part of my route out of Half Moon Bay here, but I soon turn left towards I-280 and then onto I-380, and finally pull off for the airport.

I know where I need to go for gas from last year and boy, is it expensive! Only to be expected near the airport of course but I’m glad I filled up this morning. I drive out of the gas station and a short way up the road I pull into the Rental Car Return. I drop the car off, get on the monorail and go into the terminal. Through passport control and security without too much delay, and I settle down at the gate to await the flight.

The plane is on time thankfully, a coffee passes some time and then boarding commences, and I’m on my way home.

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