It’s one of my favorite movies and favorite drives. Back in 1963, it seems every old comedian got together with Spencer Tracy, Ethel Merman and director Stanley Kramer for It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a 153-minute romp around the Southern California countryside. And where the movie starts, where Jimmy Durante goes flying off the road in a ’57 Ford Fairlane and utters those memorable words, “it’s under the big dubbuah,” is the Palms to Pines Highway.
One of the best collections of switchbacks in the Southwest is just south of Palm Springs, heading into the San Jacinto Mountains on state Route 74. It’s all paved but certainly white-knuckle driving for most of the trip. And here’s another bit of trivia… Google Maps and several other sources call it the “Pines to Palms” … well, check out the photo of the on-the-route display that clearly calls it “Palms to Pines.” Great vistas, the town of Idylwild, desert and mountains. And look out for an aging moving van, a ’57 Ford, ’62 Plymouth wagon and a ’62 Imperial convertible, maybe with Ethel Merman’s legs sticking out of the window. Enjoy Palms to Pines»