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You Can Keep Yer Damn Nacimiento...and Yer Fergusson Too!

by Chris Minnick

February, 2003

If I never see Nacimiento-Fergusson road again, it will be too soon. Let me explain.

Times being as they are, Margaret and I decided that we would have a low-key, low-cost getaway for our fifth aniversary. An easy drive to a quite ocean-side getaway sounded like the perfect break from the madness of our everyday lives. And it was perfect—except for one thing...Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.

Margaret pretends to be perfectly happy while standing on the side of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.

We should have known better. The definition of Nacimiento, as anyone who's taken a semester of Spanish knows, is:

Nacimiento
Pronunciation: Na cee mee en toe
Function: verb
1 a : to descend freely by the force of gravity b : to hang freely
2 a : to plummet to one's death, esp. by driving off a cliff.
3 a : to regurgitate upon viewing a several thousand foot drop only 3 feet away from oneself.

It all started calmly enough. We left home on Saturday morning, and got stuck in traffic on southbound I-5. After about an hour and a half, we were finally 20 miles from home and feeling good. We stopped to pee.

Having had enough of I-5, we decided to head west early and see some of California's less traveled roads. Casa de Fruta is always a treat, and we stopped there to sample a lot of really sweet wine, followed by some pie and coffee. We've written about Casa de Fruta somewhere else, but for those of you who aren't in the know...Casa de Fruta is this strange road-side land in central California where there are a dozen or so shops that are all named "Casa de (something)". The "something" is whatever that store sells. So, there's Casa de Wine, Casa de Gifts, Casa de Bakery, Casa de Deli, Casa de Coffee, etc. It's corny, but they've got the best damn pie in the world.

Hopped up on Pie and Coffee, we drove on over the rolling hills and dales. Eventually, we found ourselves outside of Fort Hunter Liggett...which is an actual military base, but it has a motel sort of thing on it...the Hacienda, which Margaret's sister and brother-in-law told us about. This place used to be W.R. Hearst's hunting cabin in the 1930s, and it hasn't been upgraded much since then. We got their last room, then went to the bar. That's where the trouble started.

The Hacienda. Cheap, friendly, no-frills place to stay. Watch out for that guy in the bar!

We were enjoying ourselves, drinking beer, playing darts. Then, this nice truck driver started talking to us. He asked us where we're from and where we're going. We, foolishly, told him. He then devised a devious plan to ruin the next morning by giving us a "hot tip" on a 10 mile (or so) road that barely exists and that twists and turns its way from Fort Hunter Ligget to California's coastal highway (Hwy 1). In between Fort Hunter Ligget and the ocean are some big ass mountains.

Margaret and I are both afraid of heights. This trucker, however, sounded so calm about this road. He said, "I do it all the time in my truck". We figured that since he drove a truck for a living, it was probably a big truck, and so the road couldn't be all that bad, even though it's not on our map.

So, the next morning, we set out on our happy way. For the first few miles, the Nacimiento-Fergusson road was very nice. It took us through some fields, then we wound our way through the woods. But then, all of the sudden, we were climbing a cliff, the road got more narrow, and I lost my mind. I was shaking, driving 10 mile per hour, and basically behaving like a lunatic. They don't have mountains like that in Detroit! Fortunately, Margaret is a little cooler than I am and she ordered me to stop at a scenic viewing spot and she took over. We got a few pictures from this drive, but mostly, we were both completely freaked out. The road was too narrow for us to turn around, and it just kept getting scarier ahead. Eventually, however, we made it to the coast without Nacimientoing and we had one of the best breakfasts I've ever had.

The beautiful, sea-level, ocean.
I attempted to take a picture of Hearst castle through the telescope at the visitor's center. You can sort of make it out here...very mysterious place.

Apparently, some people like the Nacimiento-Fergusson road. Other people ride their bikes over it! So, if you're the type that can look out an airplane window or admire the view from atop a tall building without getting queasy, you might like this road.

The rest of our long weekend was very nice. We stopped briefly at Hearst Castle on our way down the coast. Our hotel room in Pismo Beach had a hot tub on the balcony. We walked on the beach. We ate some buritos. We took a different route home.

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