Le Grand Détour

Highway 101

10 July 2017

They say Americans want three things out of a road: No traffic, no nonsense and no bends. It is just unfortunate that a lot of their primary routes (which they may refer to as 'highways') fulfils none of these requirements.

Driving down the West Coast of the mainland United States, you will note the lack of these three aspects. While you have a decent chance of finding several kilometres of no other traffic on these roads, some slow moving camper van or mobile home will eventually be in your way.


Looking through my windscreen on Highway 101. The satnav hanging in the windscreen has its UI appropriately in Danish, and you may notice that it tells me that the local speed limit is 89 km/h.

But in a sense, that is OK, because the view from this road is something you want to enjoy. So rather than looking for a way to overtake these slow moving vehicles, just find the nearest appropriate spot and pull over. There will likely be an excellent view.


Look at these houses on the Oregon Coast. They too have a great view, maybe even a view of me taking a picture of them.

The problem with the second requirement - no nonsense - is that none of their roads fulfils this aspect. There is always some nonsense to US roads, as I have discovered. It is hard to a finger on, but they never seem quite as sensible as European roads. But I may just be biased because of my belief in European supremacy when it comes to infrastructure. And we have had a lot of infrastructural challenges to overcome in Europe.


My Xantia looking at me as I am taking a picture of it. Always maintaining the same expression.

Some primary routes in the United States will to a significant degree confir with the American motorist's third and last desire: No bends. However, a coastal road - like US 101 - does not. The topography of the area forces the route designers' hands and - even though they really want to just built straight roads - they are forced to add bends.

Which is a problem, because this is why these roads also violate the first requirement. US motorists are not keen on bends. Particularly not if they are driving a larger vehicle, which most of them are.


The southern part of the Oregon Coast is known for its dunes, seen here being upstaged by a sign.

Of course, my car was built for roads like this. These are the kind of roads my car long for, which is why I always end up catching up to other vehicles on my travels on these roads. I recognise that these roads are American roads, but it is a shame that the same people - who I will consider the owners of these roads - are not able to fully experience them. For that, they will need a foreign car.