Feb. 12: Hi-Way Drive-In, Santa Maria CA

It’s Day 43 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I left suburban Santa Barbara and got back on Highway 101 for a one-hour drive to the Hi-Way Drive-In in Santa Maria CA.

An article in the Santa Maria Times said that the Hi-Way was opened in 1959 and bought by current owner Bob Gran in 1979. My 1972 Motion Picture Almanac show only one drive-in in Santa Maria, the Park Aire which opened in 1949 and closed in the 1990s. I guess no directory is perfect.

I got here early enough for the Sunday-only flea market. None of those special protective roofs like they had in Florida and Arizona, but the temperature here never even grazed 70 degrees. Glad I had something warm to wear to watch the movie while drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn.

The Lego Batman Movie was so good that I really didn’t mind watching it for the second night in a row, since that’s what the Hi-Way had for its early movie.

Miles Today / Total:  64 / 5091 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Lego Batman Movie / 32

Nearby Restaurant: I don’t get many chances to sample Hawaiian food, so I drove up Santa Maria Way to Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ. I had a mixed plate with teriyaki beef, chicken katsu, and mahi mahi, plus rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. Zoe’s also had Spam on the menu, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The closest hotel to the Hi-Way may be the best in Santa Maria. The Radisson Hotel is three miles from the drive-in, and it sits between a park and an airstrip. I felt pampered with a robe and slippers in my room; I never get that at the Hampton Inn.

Mother with three children at a migrant campOnly in Santa Maria: One of the most famous photos of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in the 1930s was taken by Dorothea Lange at a former migrant labor camp along US 101 just north of Santa Maria. Lange was concluding a month’s trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. The photo’s subject, then unnamed, was Florence Thompson. Her identity was discovered in 1978 when Modesto Bee reporter Emmett Corrigan located Thompson at her mobile home and recognized her from the 40-year-old photograph. According to Roadside America, a California professor tracked down the site of that photo in 2013. “The professor hopes to erect a marker at the spot, but for now it’s just a weedy field.”

Next Stop: Sunset Drive-In Theater, San Luis Obispo CA.