From the October 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
Malibu, California, is famous for its beaches and surfers, but for us car lovers, it’s all about the roads. There are more than 80 miles of zigzag, zigzag asphalt that runs along the coast and through the Santa Monica Mountains, like a Daedalus maze of sage trees and steep cliffs.
This maze drive can be done with carefully mapped turns to reach the highest peaks with the least traffic, or it can be done completely in the opposite direction — turn West. when possible and eventually you will reach the sea. Both ways are good, and both are dangerous. In the first, one has to watch out for potholes, and in the second, the deep time-stealing pleasure of falling down a rabbit hole.
Sure, the view while driving in Malibu can attract attention. A wall of golden grass and pink sandstone is occasionally broken by the valleys that surround the sapphire Pacific Ocean. Castles lurk in long, ivory-colored driveways guarded by tall, polished gates. Who lives there? Someone famous? Ability. Someone rich? Sure. It took me a few hours to browse through Zillow after driving. Recently, however, I lost an entire weekend following a 97-year-old cowboy in a battle for a 120-year-old property. And it’s all about the roads.
This begins about halfway down Yerba Buena, where a lone watermelon vine stretches across an abandoned field surrounded by antique tractors, feathery pepper plants and a few brave old rose bushes. looks like it’s been gnawed by a deer. Far in the background is a modest 50s farmhouse behind an iron sign that says “Peacock Paradise”. I stopped to take a closer look, and José Sanchez greeted me from a lawn chair in the shade of a tree.
Sanchez (“Call me Pepe, everyone”) came to Malibu as a child in 1925, when his father worked on the Chamberlain farm. Pepe grew up in the saddle, riding a mule on dirt roads to a one-room school, riding cattle and working on farmland. From a high point on his land – which the Sanchez family bought in 1951 and where they have lived ever since – he came only to a winding road at the bottom of the hill, at the last turn he could see visible by Yerba Buena. “This whole road was dirt until the mid-40s,” he told me. “If it rains, you just stay home.”
Pepe knows all the roads and when they were paved, not only because he watched it happen, but because he graduated from horseback riding to Caterpillars, and he sorted many. Trails and trails stretch from the famous Highway 1—starting just a few years before Pepe arrived in the vicinity—to connect the ocean with the valleys. Pepe regaled me with his stories of tracking outlaws and taming coyotes, and as I leave, I can’t stop thinking about Malibu where he grew up. How it stays wild and secluded when nearby Santa Monica has a pier with an amusement park and mountains inland that sprout mansions and street racers above Sunset Boulevard twinkle?
Blame, or thank, Frederick and May Rindge. They bought land along the coast of what is now Malibu in 1892 and fiercely protected it from owners and developers. It turned into a battle, with trespassers cutting paths through Rindge’s farm and Rindges destroying roads and even sinking two giant portals in the ocean to prevent anyone from going up to the shore. their. Frederick died in 1905. May pulled and fought with everyone from settlers to railroad owners to the Supreme Court in an attempt to block any public roads or railways. across rancho. Due to litigation, her estate was destroyed, and in 1940 she lost the rest due to unpaid taxes. The Malibu has opened up to new buyers and new roads — lucky for Pepe who helped build them and all of us who love to drive them.
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