You Won’t Believe This Road Trip Is In America + 4 Getups & Travel Vlog!

You Won’t Believe This Road Trip Is In America + 4 Getups & Travel Vlog!
We hit the road for some mid-year reflection, early fall style, and unbelievable scenery.

It's September – How are your New Year’s resolutions going?  Are you making good progress? Stalled out? Or scratching your head saying, “Oh yeah, what were those again?”

As I detailed in my account of the 18 Questions I asked myself to create an amazing 2018, this year I decided to reflect on a series of prompts that would help me do more of what I found meaningful and less of what I didn’t.

I built a workcation around answering the 18 Questions, heading out to a cheap Airbnb near Joshua Tree. The results were pretty amazing. I discovered I had actually accomplished quite a lot last year. I was able to distill what about my happiest and most excited moments made them that way; and equally valuable, what I found frustrating, depressing, and anxiety-inducing about the down moments. That led to a list of goals and ideals to pursue in the new year.

While I've done a number of workcations in the past that included journaling and planning as well as putting in real work on some projects, this was the first trip that was entirely focused on where I was and where I was going.

It was such an inspiring and productive exercise that I knew I didn't want to wait until the next new years to start the reflection process. Recently, with the midpoint of 2018 in my rearview mirror, I knew it was the right time to take a look at how things are going and adjust and/or celebrate going into the rest of the year.

This road trip was the perfect opportunity. Primer reader and contributor Shane Martin, who you'll recognize from around the site, is also intensely self-growth focused, and we have a lot of thought-untangling sessions and personal strategy discussions. We also serve as accountability partners for setting habits and getting big goals done. New projects, relationships, and other life-happenings meant we were both due for some catch up time. Chevrolet reached out about the opportunity to test drive their electric Bolt on the windy roads of Northern California, and we knew the road-time would give us a chance to do a mid-year check-in.

I tossed my journal with the 18 Questions and a few potential Getups in a weekender, and hopped a flight.

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northern california

A Modest Proposal For Regional Adventures

Let me try to convince you of something: Stop insisting amazing travel requires flying long distances and start looking for adventure close to home.

Why?

For this trip, Shane and I took a regional flight from LA to SF that lasted all of 90 minutes, we grabbed a bite and picked up our ride, a new-car-smell fresh Chevy Bolt EV – an all-electric hatchback.

Approximately 2 hours after I walked out my front door that morning, we were headed south on Highway 1 and the adventure had begun. Can you have that if you’re flying to Europe, Asia, or even Hawaii?

I’m not against long-haul flights to exotic locales, but the convenience of a regional trip to an amazing location just across state lines saves both time and money you can spend on seeking out new experiences, instead of catching a transfer. If you’re like me, the thought of full day travel plus jet lag can be really hard to justify within a busy work schedule. That means I usually end up forgoing trips out of town.

If that sounds like you too, the answer is simple: Find amazing, hidden adventures closer to home.

men khaki jacket style inspiration beard

Bomber (similar): Uniqlo, $39 / Long-sleeve Raglan Shirt: Target, $15 / Jeans: Levi's, $55

The Drive: Is This America? Or Scotland?

Here’s how to escape San Francisco and be on another continent: strike west until you pick up Highway 1; proceed south.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore.

On your left are stands of eucalyptus trees rising above mossy rocks and bonzai-like shrubs. It’s a cross between James Cameron’s Avatar fever dreams and what I imagine Scotland to look like. Heck, the air smells different.

San Francisco to Carmel By The Sea

Take California State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway south from San Francisco to Carmel-By-The-Sea

On your right, sheer cliffs drop to the Pacific Ocean, bigger and wilder than anything you’ll see at the tourist beaches of southern California.

Then there’s the road. Highway 1 is not for meek drivers, with tight twisties and stretches where it drops to one-lane due to rock slides and washouts. The Bolt was agile and responsive, but the real intensity comes when you’re powering out of a turn. Because it’s all-electric, with no gears or transmission, the driving experience is all torque. Instant, aggressive, and fun to drive.

It's hard not to feel like I'm in an old action movie car chase on these roads – especially since this area has been used as a stand-in for Scotland, Ireland, and other parts of Europe in movies for decades. Even Return of the Jedi was shot in the nearby Redwood parks.

men's fall style gray and olive

Cotton Bomber (similar): Amazon, $39 / Faded Henley (similar): AE, $10 / Jeans: Levi's $66 Also featured in our Minimalist Fashion guide / Watch: MVMT, $180 /  Olive Suede Boots: Thursday Boots, $199

men's fashion outfit ideas bomber jacket light wash jeans nike killshot

Bomber (similar): Uniqlo, $39 / Long-sleeve Raglan Shirt: Target, $15 / Jeans: Levi's, $55 / Sneakers: Nike for J.Crew, $90 (alts)

The Stay: Grape-Based Booze And A Garden-To-Table Meal

Shane and I had a chance to catch up on the two and a half hour drive south and east to Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA, but after shuttling over to Folktale Winery and starting a wine tasting the good ideas (and times) started to flow.

winery

Wine tasting at Folktale Winery – Sunglasses: MVMT, $70

Over dinner, Shane and I had a chance to really assess where we were at for the year. The questions are familiar to anyone who cares about their personal development: Am I happy with the progress I’m making on my goals this year? Are my habits helping or hurting what I'm trying to achieve ? Is my energy going to the right projects?

And perhaps the most important question: I made a plan… is it working?

The biggest place people get in trouble with setting goals (and New Year resolutions) is they fail to account for two things. And both require an acknowledgement in advance that you may need to alter the original plan. First, the biggest, you have to recognize that any change in habit, routine, or thinking will require an adjustment period. For many folks, at the first realization that they haven't met their new diet or novel-writing goals they consider the whole thing a failure and give up.

The second place is not taking time once you've started your new plan to assess if you're still pointing in the right direction. For many goals – losing weight, starting a business, improving your marriage – the most important thing is starting. It's not until the engine is humming that you should step back and assess whether the engine is driving you on the best and most efficient path. Or, more importantly, now that you're on this path, are you sure that's still the best place for you to go?

Analyzing the results of the mission so far and determining a change is needed or something isn't working doesn't make you a failure, it makes you an effective leader.

You may recognize Shane's outfit, we featured it in our explanation of Garden Casual – Blazer: Target, $20 / Floral shirt (similar): Amazon, $19 / Sunglasses: Fossil, $76 / Jeans: Levi's, $55 / Watch: Brathwait, $145 / Loafers (similar): Kurt Geiger, $86

Men shawl collar sweater white jeans suede boots linen shirt

At Bernardus Lodge, where we stayed – Shawl collar sweater (similar): J.Crew Factory, $60 / Linen shirt (similar): Amazon, $29 / Jeans: Levi's 511, $56 / Chukka boot: Thursday Boots, $149

Since my New Year’s workcation, I’ve been thinking a lot about Time Ferriss’s slogan, “What would this look like if it were easy?” It's a strategy for envisioning simpler, more effective processes and getting rid of a lot bloat we've come to assume is necessary. As a perfectionist, I often find myself doing things the hard way in search of the ideal outcome I see in my head. Evaluating my workflows with “What would this look like if it were easy” in mind has allowed me to let go of some of my internal limitations and be more effective at clearing projects.

Bit by bit, I’m learning the age old principle of, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Or done!

I’ve always done this exercise solo before, but having Shane there as a sounding board was extremely productive. As two guys who try to be thoughtful about our time and energy, it was great to run down what’s been going well… and what needs improvement.

The Value of a Great Drive And A Mid-Year Check-in

The next day it was back in the Bolt and another brain-meltingly gorgeous drive on the famous 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach. Rugged rocks and a hazy coastline make it feel even more like some remote Irish Isle. Or a Speyside crag where old craftsmen make single malt.

17 mile drive sign

The famous 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach with the Chevy Bolt EV

We even stopped and had a golf lesson from a golf pro at Pebble Beach, America's #1 public golf course. I'm still terrible, but it was a lot of fun.

Not knowing how the weather would be, I actually overpacked a bit. The Bolt’s cargo space was surprisingly roomy for what is technically a compact car, and the driver controls made it easy to stow water bottles, phones, and morning coffee up front.

The integration of Apple CarPlay, which allows the large center console screen to mirror the music, messaging, and map apps from your iPhone is a welcome fusion of our daily carry tech and our daily driver.

And while I've driven electric hybrids a number of times, the all-electric Bolt EV made me realize the notion that electric cars are somehow low-performance and impractical was completely antiquated. They're fast off the line, get the equivalent of 120 miles to the gallon, and the infrastructure has expanded impressively. Similar to the introspective questions I was asking myself that weekend, I realized people would no longer be asking if an electric car was right for them, but why am I specifically choosing to buy a gasoline-powered one?

chevrolet bolt

Bolt EV in Carmel-By-The-Sea

Once again on the twisties, tunes rocking, I was amazed at how a simple change of scenery can lend perspective to things. Before I left, I was feeling frustrated about my mid-year progress – the list of projects to complete… and then another long list to begin made it seem like I was spinning my wheels.

monterey bay

On the road and in a remarkably scenic place, I counted up my wins: exciting projects for Primer, a new entrepreneur collective I joined to get mentoring on how to take things to the next level, and quality maintenance on my most important relationships.

This trip reinforced a valuable lesson I’ve been slowly learning over the last couple years: You don’t have to go to Hong Kong or Paris to have an amazing, productive adventure.

verve coffee santa cruz

At the original Verve Coffee in Santa Cruz – Hat (similar): Banana Republic, $48 /  Shawl Collar Cardigan (similar): Vince Camuto, $104 / Henley: Buck Mason, $45 / Shorts: Target, $18 / Sneakers: Nike for J.Crew, $90

Hop a regional flight, get a car, and for a modest amount of money have a compelling experience to help re-guide you for the rest of the year. Call up your buds and hit the road. No need to plan anything exotic or elaborate.

As Shane and I headed back up the coast north to San Francisco, we flipped a coin for who would drive the last two hours.

Shane won, so I got to pick the jams. Old school Tenacious D all the way home.

See more of the crazy scenery from this trip in our travel vlog

What Is Your Favorite Close-To-Home Roadtrip? Share It In The Comments Below.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • Daniel

    This was a cool mix of fashion & travel. Looks like an enviable trip!

  • Tom

    Spent my honeymoon in Carmel. Best trip of my life. Hope you hit up Dametra’s for dinner and got to experience the nightly celebration with the owner and the staff. And take in the “edge of the world sunset” on the beach. And head down to Bixby Bridge for some great scenery too.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      What an amazing honeymoon! Bixby Bridge and that part of the PCH is breathtaking!

      • Tom

        Oh Andrew! It was the most experience of my life! Fell in love with wine at Folktale (never drank it before that), put the top down in our rental convertible mustang and drove the most pristine highway in the country, hiked Big Sur and Point Lobos for hours, dined at the most memorable restaurants I have ever been to, and the list goes on!

        • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

          Wow, so awesome. Did you have to travel far to get there?

          • Tom

            From Minnesota – flew into San Francisco, got our rental, put the top down and enjoyed the state for a few hours. Then we stayed in Carmel for a week and did day trips a few days, while we got lost in the downtown Carmel alleyway shops and wine rooms on the other days.

            Best kept secret in the country!

  • Zac Silk

    Some great style and places to go featured here. Andrew do you happen to know any details about the getup with you in sunglasses? The blue chambray and jeans work really well together.

    As for road trips here in the U.K it’s relatively similar. I’m not too sure I have a favourite. But just getting out for a drive in the countryside always does wonders to clear my head.

  • dcjakel

    Andrew, thanks for another fine post. I drive a Chevy Bolt EV and it’s all that you say and more. While it’s speed and cruising range is impressive, the one-peddle driving feature makes enduring LA traffic jams a little more bearable. Keep up the great work!