I-5 To Los Angeles

I-5 To Los Angeles

While spending time down in Ashland, OR for school, I abruptly came to the decision that I wanted to drive down through California to Los Angeles. With my girlfriend living down there, I had already been a couple times but have never driven. To me, driving through California was something I had always wanted to do that would not only give me the freedom of driving such a distance by myself, but would also prepare me for other future road trips I want to do.

10 Hours Too Long

When one thinks of such a journey, obviously the amount of hours it would take is taken into consideration. Nevertheless, I decided to go through with the trip in hopes it would give me the freedom I had longed for. I headed out at about 4:30am with only 5 hours of sleep and took along two 5 Hour Energy bottles and a small bag of doughnuts you’d find at a grocery store. This would not only count as my breakfast, but would also help me gain the energy to stay awake. Upon leaving, it was still very much dark outside with barely a vehicle in sight. I took the I-5 highway south to the border of California and instantly knew that this was going to require more stamina out of me than anything I had really done before.

Scenic Highway Begins

As I was driving south, I could see Mt. Shasta in the distance. The sun was barely, and I mean just barely peaking over the horizon which allowed me to see the beautiful mountain. With the sun emitting its sun rays on the mountain’s back, it gave an iridescent glow to it the closer I drove. After being in awe, I directed my focus back to driving and continued about my way. I was coming close to Lake Shasta when I could see the sun peaking out more just beyond the luscious trees that were hovering over me. As I was turning on a corner, it was like seeing nature’s version of Star Wars. I could see the darkness clash with the light right before my eyes until I eventually crossed over into the light. This moment was surreal to me as it was during golden hour of the sun rise and everything looked fresh and luminescent. It was if I had crossed over into an entirely different world and didn’t think twice about looking back. I then crossed a bridge that sat right on top of Lake Shasta. Seeing the light hit the water and looking as if it turned the lake to crystal was something mesmerizing. What seemed like an everlasting scenic drive eventually turned into your everyday on-your-way-to-work drive as I got closer to California’s capital, Sacramento. Stopping only for gas, I continued about my way with about 5 hours left to go.

Don’t Drive I-5 On 5 Hours Of Sleep

About halfway through California, I was heading into the agricultural part of the state. Let this be a lesson learned that if you’re going to drive through California, do it on I-99 instead. This was the mistake that I started to regret the most and there was no turning back at that point. Both sides of the freeway were empty with nothing but fields that seemed to stretch out for an eternity. While I must admit, it wasn’t too bad at first since I had always dreamt of driving on an open road with no reason for a speed limit, that dream unfortunately came to a crash and burn halt. It got to the point where I wasn’t just bored, but deeply fatigued. The 5-hour energy shot that I had taken earlier wasn’t helping one bit and I still had 3-ish hours left in my journey. To keep myself awake, I blasted the CD’s my dad had given me a while back in hopes of keeping myself alert. I have to thank Alice in Chains and Queens of the Stone Age for helping me with my drive or else I don’t know how I would’ve made it without going insane. My goal and inspiration at this point was to at least get to The Grapevine as that would be my only signal letting me know that I was close to my destination.

Where Old Cars Go To Die

I finally managed to reach The Grapevine after only being able to see the switchbacks from a distance away. Being in a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, I had every right to fear for my car’s life and came to terms with what the outcome could be. Nevertheless, I ventured on with the drive since there was no way that I was going to let this final uphill battle scare me off. I steadily increased my speed and kept a careful eye on my RPM’s to make sure that they didn’t exceed 4,000. As much as I wish it was just a straight road up, it wasn’t and instead turned into steep back-and-forth switchbacks that could make a car overheat whenever it wanted to. While driving, I sure enough saw cars pulled over to the side of the road where the owners had to meet their fate by popping the hood open and releasing a cloud of smoke as if a dragon had just breathed through its nostrils. Luckily enough for me, I was able to continue on without a problem and eventually made it to the peak of the hill where I could catch a glimpse of Los Angeles before heading down the hill letting gravity take me. Before I headed all the way down, I took a quick detour to a location that I had been wanting to go since a certain event happened. I headed to Valencia to pay my respects in Rye Canyon Business Park where Paul Walker met his untimely fate. Heading to the location was important to me and part of the reason on why I wanted to make the trip to Los Angeles. Ever since I watched his Fast and Furious movies as a kid, I was always inspired by his character in the film and what later on snowballed into me having a passion for cars. Going to this location meant something to me, and I was grateful enough to be able to be there in person.

The Smog Covered City Of Angels

I finally reached my destination and couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. While the drive was grueling and probably should’ve been planned more carefully, it was everything I had ever wanted it to be and more. A helpful tip for anyone wanting to make a similar journey: Get lots of sleep and take I-99. I-99 isn’t filled with as much agricultural farm land as I-5 is, so it’ll make the drive much more tolerable. Being in Los Angeles in itself was fun and defiantly a place where everyone should at least visit once in their lifetime due to the fact that it appeals to the modern tourist and has a lot to offer. For me, it wasn’t my first time being there nor will it be my last, but the road trip itself was what I was really looking forward to and made my dream come true.


Since I couldn’t take photos of the scenery as I was driving, here are some pictures that I took once I had reached the city.

Sawtelle Blvd


Firefighter Drill In Hollywood
The Light Of Santa Monica
3rd Street Promenade


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