LIFE IS A HIGHWAY
For some, driving is simply a way to get from points A to B; for others it’s a job and way of life. Some have grease permanently embedded under their fingernails; and many claim octane in their veins. Karl Benz’s 1886 Patent-Motorwagen led not only to automobiles as we know them; but would also turn wagon trails to expressways, and make getting there half the fun of going there.
The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. However, unless you’re drag racing, it isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to get where you’re going. Those seeking the ultimate driving experience talk of the Schwarzwaldhochstraße in the Black Forest or the Autobahn, and seek out picturesque back roads, winding mountain passes and canyons to carve. If you’re last name is Hamilton, Vettel, or Alonso; you can tear up a track like Circuit de la Sarthe, Circuit de Monaco or Laguna Seca. Wish you could be like them? Then try track days at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, Silverstone Circuit and Autodromo Nazionale Monza; or race flat out on the salt at Bonneville.
Competitive racing events such as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and World Championship Rallying look fun, but are among the most difficult of disciplines. The Targa Newfoundland mixes sport and scenery, but the Cabot Trail and Viking Trail also bring plenty of Maritime scenery to enjoy. Can the Icefields Parkway or Crowsnest, Okanagan, Sea-To-Sky and Pacific Rim Highways of the Canadian Rockies compare with Col de la Bonnette, Grossglockner, Klausen Pass, Hahntennjoch or Furka Pass of the Alps?
Clarkson, Hammond & May drove Ruta 40 and rave about Trollstigen, Stelvio & Transfăgărășan or the Amalfi Coast, Col de Turini and Route Napoleon; but it’s N-222 from Peso da Régua to Pinhão in Portugal’s wine region that took the top honor for 2015 – depending on who you ask. Dadès Gorges, Sani Pass and The Atlantic Road amp up the exotic factor and can take your breath away in more ways than one. Drifting was born on the Touge Roads of Mount Fuji, the Guoliang Tunnel Road and Karakoram Highway traverse China; while the Karamea Highway and Arthur’s Pass navigate New Zealand. Can you think of a more succinct name than Australia’s Great Ocean Road?
Speed might not be the point of Quebec Route 132 – Le Tour de Gaspésie, the Road to Hana, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway or even the Natchez Trace Highway, but you can’t ask for prettier places to putt along… except maybe U.S. Route 101 & California State Route 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. Tail of the Dragon, Twisted Sisters, Going-to-the-Sun-Road and White Rim Road win best name awards, while U.S. 212, UT 163 and UT 80 tie for the "overwhelming roads with underwhelming names" title hands down.
Have all the time in the world? Then check out the Pan American Highway – the world's longest, connecting more than 20 countries; it stretches from Buenos Aries to Edmonton! Australia’s Highway 1 is the longest national highway, followed by the Trans-Siberian and of course our very own Trans-Canada Highway, which runs from Victoria to St John’s.
Wherever you decide to go, I just have one question: can I hitch a ride?
– CDJ –