I'd never heard of California's Lost Coast before someone mentioned it over brunch. "You have to go. There's nothing there."
Route 1 runs along much of the California coast but turns inland just south of Whitehorn, leaving a coastal region with only a few roads in and out, and small communities like Petrolia and Honeydew secluded. The extreme hills and complex geology have made much development impossible, which is probably fine by the locals. The region is home to some of California's marijuana growing operations, and the twisty roads are lined with "Keep Out" signs, high fences and greenhouses.
"You have to go. There's nothing there."
When you've got no place to be, just having a destination helps. So I coaxed the minivan up and down crazy hills, across one-lane bridges along winding roads. The loop back to the highway is maybe 50 miles, but it takes hours.
A side road is marked "beach access," and though it's not completely paved I cautiously took it to Matolle Beach, a part of the BLM's King Range Conservation Area. Miles of deserted, wilderness, black-pebble beach. It was s a cloudy day but the water still seemed clear.
There really was nothing there. I'm glad I saw it.