The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
If you opt to follow US-101 rather than coastal Hwy-1 into Los Angeles, be sure to check out the somnolent suburb of Simi Valley, 30 miles east of Ventura, where the hilltop Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (40 Presidential Dr., 805/522-2977, daily, $21 adults) fills 150,000 square feet of Spanish-style stucco with a fascinating array of exhibits and artifacts, most famously a chunk of the Berlin Wall, set in a Cold War-era tableau. Also here, housed in a 200-foot-long glass-walled pavilion, is the actual Boeing 707 used as presidential Air Force One by Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. The “Great Communicator” was interred here following his death in 2004. To get to the library, take US-101 to Hwy-23 North (a.k.a. the Ronald Reagan Freeway), exit at Olsen Road, and follow the signs.
The other Simi Valley sight to see is Grandma Prisbey’s Bottle Village (4595 Cochran St., 805/231-2497, $10), a complex of small buildings and sculptures built out of glass bottles, TV sets, hubcaps, and assorted other recycled refuse. The late Tressa Prisbey started building it in 1956. Subject of an ongoing battle between folk-art preservationists and those who think it’s a pile of junk, the “village” can be viewed less than a mile south of the Hwy-118/210 freeway between the Tapo Street and Stearns Street exits.