Highway 17 in California runs NE/SW between Santa Cruz and San Jose.

Since it's the only straight shot from the SC Bay to Silicon Valley, it's popular with commuters despite an apparent tendency for over-confident Volvo drivers to cause nasty, road-blocking accidents. It's curvy for the area, although it's no Highway 1.

There's not much on the way besides lovely redwoods and hills. It looms large in the local imagination, though, and there are several web pages devoted to it (listed at http://www.cruzio.com/~scva/rsward_hwy17.html ). The trail that it roughly follows across the Santa Cruz mountains dates to 1791.

California's Highway 17 is a wonderful, stress-free commute; provided you are not driving during rush hour, or have prepared, at minimum, the following:
  1. Radar detector. Passive (non-transmitting) radar detectors are legal in California, ever since a 1998 California Supreme Court decision bitchslapped the legislature. :-)
  2. Full tank. It's a good (or a terrible) 30 miles from San Jose to Santa Cruz. Fill up!
  3. Good tires, and excellent brakes.
  4. An up-to-date, notarized, Last Will and Testament, to aid your next-of-kin in divvying up what swag you can't take with you.
There is but one constant on this road: no matter how recklessly you drive, everyone on the road will be doing their damndest to outdo you. Indeed, it often seems like a contest for the title of "World's Nastiest Driver", and the competition is decidedly world-class.

The key to survival on Highway 17, is this: take Highway 9, instead.

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