Easter Sunday 2020

Best California Road Trips series –

It was Easter Sunday 2020………….. Things are a little different this year, with the Covid-19 adventure taking place. Here in California, the entire state is in “Shelter in Place” mode. We are only allowed to leave our homes if going to work or for an “essential” job or to go to the grocery store………. not much else is considered essential. We can’t even go to our neighborhood parks and most state parks and lakes are closed as well.

Some have embraced this situation………… I will only say that I believe the whole thing is a bit overblown and I do not believe its necessary to shut down the entire state, country or the world for that matter. With that being said, it is difficult to embrace this whole thing and we were not ready to set up a “Zoom” meeting get together for Easter Sunday.

The Route

We decided to take a little road trip instead…………….yes, it was essential as we desperately needed to get out of the house. So we decided to make a little trip to the foothills just east of our home. We were hoping the roads would be empty with everyone staying at home and this could be one of our Best California Road Trips……………. though we were very surprised by want we encountered

The Plan

We planned a short little route that would take us about two hours round trip. Traveling these days can be a little tricky, its nice that gas stations and convenience stores are open, however the public restrooms in these places are closed. With restaurants also being closed or open for take out only, you really don’t have any good options to stop for a bite to eat or to use the facilities. For guys, it’s a little easier to stop on the side of the road, however it is a little more difficult for Miss Linda……………. hence our 2 hour road trip.

Downtown Jackson

We decided that we would leave around 1:30 in the afternoon. It was a little cool with overcast skies in the morning, with the clouds breaking up and the sun shining through as our departure time approached. It would be between 65 to 70 degrees for most of our trip. We would go through the little towns of Lockeford and Clements as we headed toward Jackson on Hwy 88. As you go through Jackson, Hwy 88 turns left and heads up toward the Lake Tahoe area. For this trip we would continue straight through Jackson as the road turns to Hwy 49. This section of road lasts 16 miles until it hits Hwy 26. This 16 mile stretch of road was the motivation for this trip as it is a lovely two lane road with some nice esses, big sweeper turns and some nice elevation changes.

As we would merge onto Hwy 26 and head back toward home, we would pass through the little towns of Mokelumne Hill, Valley Springs and Wallace. We would then merge back on to Hwy 88 which, again takes us through Clements and Lockeford as we headed home. As it turned out, our plans changed and our route was slightly altered.

The Cars

Audi R8

This was a bit interesting for an Easter Afternoon…………. there were a bunch of cars out on this Sunday…….. Of course, we were in the Z06 with the top off on this beautiful sunny afternoon.

Lamborghini Huracan

As we were driving up Hwy 88 toward Jackson, we saw a bunch of cars coming in the opposite direction. It was little difficult to catch all of them as they went by……….. but we will give it a try. We see car clubs often on our road trips, they are typically a group of similar cars, like a Porsche club, or Ferrari club. We even saw a group of about 20 mini coopers cruising together on our “Need for Speed” trip on Hwy 128.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

This trip, most of the cars were different. It was difficult to tell if they were all together or just a bunch of exotic cars that were out for a drive on the same day. Let’s see if I can remember all that we saw………… two Audi R8’s, two Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s, three Alfa Romeo 4C’s, one Ferrari F430, one Lamborghini Gallardo, one Lamborghini Huracan, two Ford Shelby GT 350’s and another Z06 that was all black. Quite a collection of cars you don’t typically see on this drive, though it was pretty cool!!

The Road

As I mentioned earlier, the motivation for this trip was this 16 mile stretch of road just outside of Jackson on the Hwy 49 bypass. I have been trying to catch this section of road empty of cars for many years and have so far been unsuccessful. The only time I have ever been on this stretch of road without traffic and to be able to truly enjoy it, was when my beautiful wife Miss Linda was driving her 97 Porsche Boxter……. I was simply a passenger and extremely jealous as she got a bit aggressive and enjoyed the road.

The Road Ahead

The drive to Jackson is a nice two lane road with some long straights and some big lazy turns………… not a lot of real aggressive corners. This section of road is usually always busy with the Highway Patrol waiting to write you a ticket and today was no exception. We saw one of the a fore mentioned Alfa Romeo’s pulled over……….. we knew then this was not going to be a great aggressive driving day.

When we hit that 16 mile stretch of road we were stuck behind quite a few cars…………… unfortunately they were not some of those exotics I mentioned earlier………….. no they were your local pickup trucks and SUV’s that were not even going the speed limit…………… I was super frustrated but decided to enjoy the nice weather and enjoy the road………………. this was OK for a while, however i soon found myself aching to get a little more aggressive, at one point we even pulled over to the side of the road in hopes of letting the slow traffic get way ahead but also looking out for other slow cars coming from behind…….this helped a little, but we always seemed to catch up to those slow cars again way to fast.

 

waiting for traffic

 

Our plans changed as we approached the main section of Hwy 49 to head home. We decided to turn around and head back the way we came in hopes of a chance of less traffic and a chance to enjoy the road. We definitely had better luck and we were able to enjoy the road a little more, though we did end up behind slower cars again.

The Destination

The original plan was to make a big circle and get home in about 2 hours. This is one of those rare trips that we did not have an actual destination or a cool dive bar to be found along the way…………. they were are all closed.

As we had mentioned we ended up turning around and going back the way we came. Our route home was just the opposite of the drive there.

Conclusion

Any road trip is a good trip. Just the joy of the drive, the feel of the wind and the perfect temperature for a great drive. We did not have the same adventure or opportunity to see or do new things, however the car and drive still reminded us of the true value of a road trip and the freedom it provides!!

Please leave comments below

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

NEXT 140 MILES

Best California Road Trips series –

So, you’ve probably been wondering where the picture of my car and the sign “NEXT 140 MILES” was taken…… well, this is the road trip behind the sign.

The Route

My next door neighbor Mike, who has a Porsche Cayman S had told me about Hwy 36 in Northern California. He had traveled this road many times as his wife had family in the area. He had told me what a great driving road this was. Mike was a car guy like myself and enjoyed a good driving road. We had talked about taking this trip together one day.

This turned out to be one of my favorite road trips ever. When we hit the road there were four of us in 4 different cars. This was one of my most aggressive driving road trips ever…………… we had no passengers on this trip which was a good thing. In fact, this road trip was better than most of the track days I’ve had and is why this is another in our series of Best California Road Trips.

The Plan

My neighbor Mike had reached out to me in late October and asked if I would be interested in making a run to Hwy 36. The plan was to hit the road about two weeks later on Friday November 9th.

Mike had also invited a couple friends who were also car guys that I had not met. Jonathan, who has a Porsche Cayman S and Alex who has an Alfa Romea Giulia Quadrifoglio. They were all great guys and this was one “EPIC” road trip!!

The plan was to all meet up at a gas station just north of Sacramento, Ca off I-5. We would then head north about another hour to Willows, Ca were we would stop for lunch and then head a little farther north to Red Bluff, Ca where we would catch Hwy 36 and head west to Fortuna, Ca.

Mike’s Cayman

Little did we know at the time what devastation the fire that broke out just the day before on Thursday in Paradise, Ca would become. It was the deadliest fire in California history and the entire town of Paradise was essentially destroyed. We could see the smoke to the east of us as we headed north on I-5 Friday morning, however once we headed west on Hwy 36 it was behind us and out of sight. It did hit home how bad it was the following day as we were driving back on Hwy 36 heading east and could see the amount of smoke ahead of us.

This would be just a two-day trip. The plan was to hit Hwy 36 for the “NEXT 140 MILES” on Friday, stay the night in Fortuna, have some dinner and wine and then hit Hwy 36 again for the next day all over again as we headed home.

 

Jonathan’s Cayman

 

The Cars

This time we have a cool collection of cars to talk about. Mike has 2015 Cayman S 981 with a 3.4L naturally aspirated 6 cylinder that makes that sweet Porsche sound. This was just before Porsche switched to the turbo charged 4 cylinders for the Cayman. Though the performance of the new turbo charged 4 cylinder is similar to the 6 cylinder version……….. the engine sound does not come close to that of the 6 cylinder engine………………..and yes, the sound of the engine is important!!

Z06

Jonathan also has a Porsche Cayman S 981. This Cayman is very similar to Mike’s though it is a 2014 model. It has the same basic engine as Mike with a 3.4L 6 cylinder making about 325 hp and 273 ft lb of torque (torque is basically your low end power, with the hp being your top end power). Both Mike and Jonathan’s Porsche had the famous Porsche PDK automatic transmission which is considered the best in the world………….and it is!! It is absolutely amazing how quickly they shift gears without ever having to lift off the gas.

Alex has a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. This car was a surprise to me as a 4 door sedan. It has a 2.9L twin turbo 6 cylinder engine making 505 hp and 443 ft lb torque. The engine is basically a Ferrari 8 cylinder engine minus two cylinders. Alex had no issues keeping up with us and in fact might get the award for the most aggressive driver on this trip. You can always tell the difference between a Standard Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Quadrifoglio as the Quadrifoglio has the 4 leaf clover on the fender where the standard Giulia does not. The Alfa has a ZF automatic transmission which is also rated a great automatic transmission and of course faster than a manual.

Then of course there is me in my 2016 Corvette Z06 with a 6.2L 650 hp and 650 ft lb torque. Though I have more power than the other cars in the group, there was some concern of whether I would be able to keep up with manual transmission against the quick shifting automatics…… lets just say I did OK.

The Road

Wow!! Hwy 36 was definelty an epic drive. The “NEXT 140 MILES” of two lane road was amazing with long straights, tight switchbacks, roller coaster hills, big sweepers and great elevation changes.

Hwy 36

Alex had a great set up with camera’s in his car. He had one showing the road ahead, one for the road behind and one to show the side. He also had a camera inside as he described the road and the drive along with a drone that he used a couple of times to get some great shots from above. Alex put together a great video of our trip, you can view it here. It runs about 31 minutes.

All four of had walkie-talkies that we were able to communicate with each other. This was great as we were able to take turns leading, following and making passes so we could share with each other whether or not it was safe to pass. This really added a level a safety for all of us and I would highly recommend using walkie-talkies when doing road trips like this.

As with most road trips of this type there is the occasional slow car that you get behind and passing is not always an option. For the most part, all the cars that we got behind would pull over at their earliest opportunity and let us pass. There were two vehicles that stand out as not wanting to move over. The 1st was a little red car (not sure what make). It was trying desperately to stay ahead of us. The car was driving a little to fast for what it could handle, though it hung in there for as long as it could and eventually pulled over. The other was a large white dually pick up truck. This truck was amazing as it was really moving. We did have to slow just a bit behind this truck……………. but not much. This truck was moving so quickly that we really didn’t mind being behind it for a while. It eventually pulled over as we passed through a small town.

Why was this road trip better than a track day? If you have ever been to a track day, you typically do not spend more than 20 to 30 minutes on the track at a time. You will be on the track for about 20 minutes and then off and wait around for an hour or so and then back on the track for another 20 to 30 minutes. On this trip we were driving hard for over an hour. I had never been able to drive that aggressively for that amount of time before. About an hour into our drive we all pulled over to the side of the road for about a 10-minute break. My adrenalin was going and my palms were sweaty…………… this was amazing. After our brief break we headed out again on our way to Fortuna. In the end we made the run in about 2 hours. We had averaged about 85 mph on this epic 140 mile drive!!

The Destination

The road once again was the destination…………….. though we did need to find some lunch on the way up and a place to stay and eat dinner so we could make the drive again the next day on our way home.

Nancy’s Airport Cafe

On the way up to Red Bluff we all stopped in Willows at Nancy’s Airport Cafe at the exit for Hwy 162. This is small local airport with two runways. This is also the same exit that you would take to go to Thunderhill Raceway………. I hope to have a post soon about a track day at Thunderhill!! The food and service were great!!

When we arrived we stayed at the Bear River Casino, just north of Fortuna. We each had brought a bottle of wine with us (amazing we did not break any bottles with the crazy driving we were doing). After checking into our rooms we all met in Mikes room and shared a couple of bottles of wine while we talked about the day and cars and the drive.

We then headed out to dinner. This was another great aspect of Alex’s Alfa Romeo as it was a 4 door, 4 passenger sedan that we were all able to ride together in for dinner. We ate at Angelina Woodfired Kitchen. This was a locally owned farm to table type of place as they had their own farm right next door.

Angelina Woodfired Kitchen

The following morning we all headed down to the Ocean as we were on the coast. Alex got a great shot of this with his drone that you can see in his video. After that we stopped for gas and hit Hwy 36 again for the “NEXT 140 MILES” for another epic drive on our way home.

Another Great Road Trip

This was one of the best road trips I’ve had to date. What could be better, a great road, great cars and great friend!!

I would like to take this trip again with Miss Linda………. at a slightly slower pace and enjoy the scenery a little more.

This was another great road trip in our series of Best California Road Trips.

Please leave comment below.

Enjoy the Road!!

Wes

Day Trip Georgetown, CA

Best California Road Trips series –

This was just a quick little 1 day trip up to Georgetown Ca. It was a Sunday morning in mid February, the sun was out and the sky’s were clear……. a beautiful day. The temperature was in the mid to high 50s, so it was still a little nippy out. A little ice on the road would make for bit of a nervous and cautious adventure. We planned on leaving around 10:00 AM that morning and getting to Georgetown around lunchtime as it would take between about two hours to get there. With that we were off to another in our series of Best California Road Trips.

The Route

The Plan

A day trip does not require a lot of planning. So this plan came together Sunday morning and a little later we were on the road. We would leave at about 10:00 AM and get to Georgetown about noon and find a place to eat. After that, we would head out to Wentworth Springs Rd. This starts out as Main Street in Georgetown and heads east. As you are leaving Georgetown it becomes Wentworth Springs Rd.

Wentworth Springs Rd is Approximately 35 miles until you reach a fork in the road that is Ice House Rd. Our plan was to drive to Ice House Rd and then turn around and come back. Today our trip was more about the driving than the destination.

 

The Car

Of course we are in the Z06 again. We were able to take the top off the car today as it was a beautiful clear sunny day. We did have sweatshirts and the heater on as it was only about 58 degrees outside. It was so nice to feel the cool crisp air, the rumble of the car as we enjoyed the nice mountain road.

As much as I love this car, it and I are “fair weather” road trippers. My wife and I try to avoid rain, ice and snow. On this day we would find some ice on the road.

The car has many driving modes, one of them being a weather mode. I was able to try out weather mode on a track day when they were showing us driving skills. They put us out on a wide open patch of pavement covered in water. They had us try to maintain control as we made high speed turns on the wet surface………… needless to say it was difficult to maintain control of the car and most of us were doing donuts. The instructors had us put the car in “weather mode” and we tried again. It was completely impossible to make the car spin out or do a donut…………….. so it does work. Even with that great feature we still try to avoid those days when the weather is not great.

Stumpy Meadow Lake

The Road

The road of course is the reason for the trip. Wentworth Springs Rd is about 35 miles from Georgetown to Ice House Rd. Wentworth Springs Rd does continue on after Ice House Rd, though our plan was to turn around at Ice House Rd and enjoy the road some more on the return trip.

As you know by now I really hate driving on the freeway. I always get nervous and uptight as all the cars are weaving in and out traffic trying to get somewhere………….. I just slow down and watch. It is somewhat strange to some that as I find those nice two lane winding roads, I start driving faster with an aggressive intent, that I actually start to relax and enjoy the road.

We did have about an hour of freeway driving on this trip until we got off of Hwy 50 at the Ponderosa exit which took us to Hwy 193, which is a nice two lane winding road to Georgetown.

Wentworth Springs Rd is a nice two lane mountain road. It is a nice wide well maintained Rd that has some nice tight turns, big sweepers and some nice hills and drops. As we were about 15 miles along we passed by Stumpy Meadow Lake. Then as we get to the higher elevations we can also see the remains of a California forest fire. There is a lot of evidence of fire with some barren land and burnt remains of the trees that stood in the distance.

On this day our trip was cut short. Though the weather was great, it was still the middle of February. There had not been any snow in the area for over a month and we did not expect any issues. We did notice about 5 miles into our drive that there were a lot of wet patches in the shade and then about 15 miles in we saw some ice on the shoulder of the road. This of course caused us to slow down a bit and not be as aggressive with our driving, though we would continue on. Then about 20 miles in we came to a section of the road were about three quarters of the road was covered with ice………….. this made us a little more cautious. In fact at this point we decided it would be best to turn around and not press our luck.

The Divide

The destination

Well, the destination was Georgetown where Wentworth Springs Rd begins. My lovely wife Miss Linda as she usually does was checking out Yelp as we drove to Georgetown. She found a nice little place called “The Divide”. This turned out to be a great little local favorite. They served an array of burgers and sandwiches. My wife had a BLT with parmesan crusted sour dough bread that was great. I had a grilled cheese with bacon also on the parmesan crusted sourdough bread that was also great. One of the joys of our road trips are these little places that we find that you would never know about.

Conclusion

Such a great day!!! A trip such as this is so nice as it does not take a lot of planning and is a great way to spend a day. The joy of the road, the beautiful weather, my lovely wife Miss Linda and the wind blowing through our hair……… or across my shiny head………….Even with the drive being cut short because of some ice in the road, it was still a great way to spend the day. Always enjoy the road!!

Please leave comments below!!

Wes

Justin Winery

Best California Road Trips series –

This is an annual trip we have been taking since about 2010. It has turned into one of our favorite “Road Trips”. It was around 2016 when a friend told us about Hwy 198, that is when every thing changed.

Route

My wife had discovered Justin Wines on a girls weekend get-a-way to the Paso Robles wine region. She liked it so much she became a wine club member which has led to our annual trips for a variety of Justin Wine Events. Justin Wine’s Isosceles has become my very favorite wine!!

When our friend told us about Hwy 198 and how much she thought I would enjoy the road, we had to incorporate this road on our annual trip. Since the discovery of Hwy 198, this has become one of our favorite Best California Road Trips.

The Plan

This year we decided to go down for Justin Wine’s “Vineyard View Dinner”. This was going to be in August. We asked our friends Mike and Jill if they would like join us this year (Mike’s a “car guy”). They agreed and we made our plans. Our trip would begin in Monterey Ca. Once again we will not talk about the 2 to 3 hours of traffic on the interstate to get to Monterey.

We planned on getting to Monterey around Lunch time and then head down Hwy 1 along the California Coast to Cambria Ca where we would stay for this two night trip. The drive home would take us east on Hwy 46 to Hwy 101 which would take us to Hwy 198, which is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… Lets Go!!

Cambria Boardwalk

The Cars

Yes, we are in the Z06 again. This trip is a perfect example of why I love this car so much. As I have said before we could have some debate on the Z06 being an “exotic car”. Exotic cars are typically rare, expensive and impractical while being great performance cars. The Z06 is not rare and it is not overly expensive. The Z06 can match almost any exotic car in performance and is more practical then most exotic cars. On this trip we were able to travel with the top roof removed and stowed in the back with two pieces of luggage and of course the shoe bag.

Cayman & Z06 at Paso Winery

Our friends, Mike and Jill were in their 2015 Porsche Cayman. I love these cars, they are so great for road trips. Mike’s Cayman has the good six cylinder engine, before the Cayman went to the turbocharged 4 cylinder version. The Cayman is also a great road trip car with storage available in the front and in the rear. If I was to have another favorite road trip car it would be a Porsche Cayman, in fact the 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 with a six speed manual is the new car I am most interested in driving. When I get my chance to drive this car I will tell you all about it.

The Road

Hwy 1 can have overcast skies and fogging days most of the summer months of June, July and August. This trip was taking place in August which means the weather could be good or bad. On this trip the weather was perfect with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine

Hwy 1

This was also Pebble Beach car week for the 2019 Concours d’Elegance. We had thoughts of checking out one of the cas shows on the way………… but after realizing that the line for the car show was taking 3 hours to get in we decided to just head down Hwy 1 to our destination. This turned out to be a great car show on its own, there were cars everywhere as we began our trip. Pretty sure we saw Clint Eastwood in a blue Ferrari as we were leaving the Monterey area. As we headed south on Hwy 1, almost every car heading north was some type of exotic or vintage car heading to Pebble Beach. The weather this day was spectacular with the ocean crashing against the jagged rocks below and blue skies above. Hwy 1 could be a spectacular driving road, however it typically does not happen, Hwy 1 is almost always busy and the views are such that it makes the most since to enjoy the views and have a safe drive.

Hwy 198 was a great discovery. This is about 50 miles of some of the best driving roads anywhere………… it is definitely one of my favorites! In fact, Motor Trend uses this road for their annual “Best Driver’s Car” competition with the track portion taking place at Laguna Seca. Motor Trend actually closes off about a 4-mile section of the road with the assistance of the California Hwy Patrol.

We take Hwy 198 on our return trip home. We leave Cambria and head East on Hwy 46 for about 20 miles to Hwy 101 and then north about 30 miles to the exit for Hwy 198. The exit for Hwy 198 off Hwy 101 has no services……. no gas station, no convenience store…….. nothing. This is fantastic because hardly anyone takes this exit. It is about 50 miles on Hwy 198 to Coalinga Ca. Coalinga is a small farming community………….. the bottom line, there are very few cars on this road. We will typically not see more than 4 cars for the entire 50 miles. Hwy 198 is a wide well maintained two lane road, with big sweeping turns, some great twisties and several elevation changes. It offers some of the best opportunities for some aggressive driving anywhere you can find!!

Hwy 198

The Destination

There are a lot of places to see and enjoy on this trip as you travel down the coast. Along the way about 6 miles north of Cambria is Hearst Castle. If you have never stopped there it is a must see! The property is over 250,000 acres and it truly is a Castle!! The view from the top is amazing. It is almost impossible to see everything in one trip. The year we stopped by they were refurbishing the “Neptune pool” so we will definitely be going back to see it again.

Neptune Pool

We stayed at the Cambria Landing Inns & Suites. This is a great place to stay right on the Ocean’s edge with great views. Right next door is the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, we’ve had a many great meals here!

There are almost 200 wineries in the Paso Robles Wine Country, you could spend days finding them all. We enjoyed some really good wine at the Tooth and Nail Winery, which has a “castle” theme with an actual mote.

The Justin Wine Dinner was an amazing event. It was one of the best wine pairing dinners we have ever had. Our wives had the Reserve Wine selection while Mike and I had the regular………. it didn’t matter as all of Justin wines are spectacular!! Though the reserve wines are just a little better.

Justin Wine

 

On the way home we typically stop for lunch at the Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant in Coalinga after our drive on Hwy 198. It always hits the spot.

After Coalinga, it is about 10 miles east to I -5 and the boring 3 hours drive on the interstate home.

Another Great Trip

As with most of our trips the road is the star and the reason, however this one is a little different as the destination was great before we discovered what a great driving road experience it could be. We look forward to this trip every year as we know how much we enjoy the road and there are so many more places along the way to discover!!

Enjoy The Road!!

Wes

Need for Speed (Almost)

Best California Road Trips series –

We actually did this road trip in May 2019. It was inspired by the movie “Need For Speed”. At the end of the movie was an epic race through the majestic Redwood Forrest and the Northern California coast. The road and the scenery looked amazing and something we needed to try. Ever since the movie came out in 2014 I had wanted to drive this road and now was our opportunity.

Route

This should be an excellent addition to our series of Best California Road Trips as with most of our trips the places we find along the way and the destination were more than we expected.

The Plan

As it happens with most of our trips, it starts with the Road. I did some research to find out which roads were used in the movie for that final race scene. It turned out that it was in Northern California not to far from where we live in the Central Valley. The final race scene in the movie actually starts on Hwy 253 just south of Ukiah, California heading southwest were it ends at Hwy 128. You then take Hwy 128 northwest where it runs into Hwy 1 were you turn south and head down Hwy 1 to the Point Arena Lighthouse where the race ends.

As with most of our road trips, I have picked the road and Miss Linda finds places to stay along the way. Sometimes our trip will vary just a bit depending on the places we find on the way. This is the Need for Speed (almost) part. We missed Ukiah and Hwy 253 on this trip and we did not make it to the Point Arena Lighthouse were the race ended until day 2 of our trip.

With our trip now planned we headed out for what would be one of our favorite adventures!

The Cars

We are in our C7 Corvette Z06 again on this trip as I am daydreaming about the cars that were in the movie. The weather for this trip was excellent. It was bright and sunny around 80 degrees when we left the valley and around 65 when we reached the coast. We had the top off the car for most of the trip which is always nice.

It was pretty amazing to watch the cars in the movie as they flew down Hwy 128 as the sun was streaking through the big Redwoods trees as the sounds filled the air. There were six cars in the final race of the movie. The combined value of these six cars was just under $9,000,000. The cars, A Saleen S7 Twin Turbo V-8 with 750 HP, A Lamborghini Sesto Elemento V-10 with 570 HP, A McLaren P-1 Twin Turbo V-8 Hybrid with 903 HP, A GTA Spano V-10 with 900 HP, A Begatti Veyron Super Sport W-16 with 1200 HP and a Koenigsegg Agera Twin Turbo V-8 with 950 HP. In this final race of the movie, five of the six cars were basically destroyed with one lone winner. If you haven’t seen the movie I recommend it as a fun and entertaining movie especially if you like exotic cars. If you have already seen it, great, if not watch to find out who wins

Koenigsegg Agera
Koenigsegg Agera

The Road

Hwy 128 was the road for the race in the movie. They pick up Hwy 128 from Hwy 253 in the movie. Hwy 128 actually goes right through the Napa Valley in the Heart of wine country. It took us about an hour and half to get to Winters, California from our house where Hwy 128 begins. The road is a nice two lane twisty road that goes around Lake Berryessa which is the largest lake in Napa County, California. This reservoir in the Vaca Mountains was formed following the construction of the Monticello Dam on Putah Creek in the 1950s. Since the early 1960s, this reservoir has provided water and hydroelectricity to the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area.

As you come down out of the Vaca mountains Hwy 128 comes to Hwy 29 which is also known as the Silverado Trail which is home to some amazing Napa Winery’s just south of St Helena. This was not a wine tasting trip, so we continued on to Calistoga where Hwy 29 meets up with Hwy 128 again. We continued on 128 toward Healsburg where we stopped for Lunch. We then hit Hwy 101 North for a few miles to find 128 as we head NorthWest toward Hwy 1 and our destination,

Hwy 128
Hwy 128

The Destination

Where will the Road take us this time…………. as Linda did her research she found a place called the Little River Inn which was just a couple miles north of where Hwy 128 meets with Hwy 1. We decided to head north to the Little River Inn and decided to head South on Hwy 1 to the Point Arena Light House on the drive home. The Little River Inn was an amazing place with incredible views of the Pacifc Ocean with a great restaurant and Bar. We decided to stay at the bar for dinner as going to the dinning room would end our view of the Ocean. We had a good time at the bar as their are a lot of locals that hang out their as well. It was a great evening, though felt a little tired the next morning………

Little River Inn
View from our room at the Little River Inn

The next day we headed about 15 miles north to Ft Bragg were we had lunch down on the warf. We actually watched as fisherman came in to clean and drop off their catch. We had some of the freshest fish and chips we have ever tasted.

This area is home to the Alexander Valley which is another great California wine region. We had received many recommendations for wineries in the area, however we have so many wineries were we live we where looking for something different. When we were having lunch in Ft Bragg, I simply typed in “wineries close by” and three popped up. One looked to be about 13 miles north of Ft Bragg on Hwy 1. No one had told us about this place…… but we decided to check it out. This was the find of the trip. As we headed north on Hwy 1 along the coast we saw the winery. No big signs and not a lot of people

Pacific Star Winery
Relaxing at Pacific Star Winery

as we turned in.

The owner who is a Napa Valley wine maker transplant started the winery in 1998. She does not grow her own grapes but buys then from the surrounding Alexander Valley. She makes the wine right their on the property overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The owner was the one who was pouring our wine as we tasted as she told the story of how the winery sits right on the San Andreas Fault.

This was an unforgettable experience. The weather this day in May was perfect. It was 65 degrees with little to no breeze and clear blue skies. We bought a bottle of Red Wine and took at seat in the adirondack chairs sitting right on the cliffs with the waves crashing below our feet. It was one of the best bottles of wine we have ever had even though I don’t remember exactly which wine we had. The weather, the views and the wine caused us to stay for over 3 hours just enjoying the entire experience……….. it must have been the location. You have got to check this place out.

The following day on our way home we headed south on Hwy 1 to Point Arena Lighthouse. This is where the race from the movie ended. We parked the Vette next to the lighthouse. This lighthouse was originally built in 1870 and was damaged by an earthquake in 1906 as it sits along the a fore mentioned San Andrea Fault. It was rebuilt in 1908 and still stands today.

Point Arena
Point Arena Lighthouse

You Never Know what you will find

This is definitely a trip we will probably take every year. The drive was great, the food was great, the unexpected find of a winery sitting right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean will be hard to top.

Wes

Santa Cruz

Best California Road Trips series –

So it was Thursday morning January 2nd and I was back at the office after the New Years day holiday. I did not have a lot on my calendar for the day and Friday was not busy either due to the holiday. I checked with my wife, Linda (we do work together) and her calendar was slow as well. Hey, lets go on a road trip!! I said. She looked at me funny and rolled her eyes a bit and said sure………. and with that one of our best California road trips was about to begin.

Route

In this blog I am going to share with you how a plan comes together, in this case last minute and leaving the next day, the car, which is a big part of the motivation for the trip, along with the road we will be driving. Of course, we will also talk about the destination which is actually secondary to the decision as the “Road” dictates the reason for the trip and the destination as a result of where the road takes us. In almost every case we find something special and unique about the destination that makes the trip that much better.

How a plan comes together

When my wife had finished rolling her eyes she finally asked me where we were going. A friend of mine, who is an avid surfer in the Santa Cruz area, had told me about this nice two lane winding road between Saratoga, Ca and Santa, Cruz Ca. I am always looking for nicely paved, winding road for a great driving experience and my wife is a great co-pilot who also enjoys the adventure and destination. Santa Cruz is close enough to where we live that we decided to make it a two-day one night trip

With route and destination determined, Linda did her thing. She got online and started checking for a place to stay in Santa Cruz for our one night stay along with some cool places to eat………… our own little Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives adventure.

The Car

Yes, that is my car on the Home page. It is a 2016 Corvette Z06. I absolutely love this car and it is so much fun to drive as well as being a great road trip car. It has 650 HP and a 7 speed manual transmission. There is nothing I enjoy more then flying into a corner, hitting the brakes hard, down shifting, hitting the corner and then getting back on the gas hard upshifting as we head to the next corner and then braking hard to do it all over again. Linda is great as a passenger and enjoys the aggressive driving as long as I don’t do something

Z06
Z06

stupid…………

The car is also extremely practical in how comfortable it is and easy to drive. It has plenty of room for luggage which a lot of exotic cars don’t have. In our Z06 we can even remove the roof panel for the open air experience and we are still able to store two suit cases and a shoe bag (yes, we must always have the shoe bag) in the back.

The Road

Highway 9 was the reason for this road trip. We hope to have a series of the best California road trips in future blogs. Highway 9 is a little over 30 miles of nicely paved and maintained road winding through the Santa Cruz mountains taking you near redwood forests and many small towns, such as Boulder  Creek, Ben Lamond and Felton.

Hwy 9 to Santa Cruz
Hwy 9 to Santa Cruz

We live in the Central Valley of California where it is so flat that the only hills we have are the freeway overpasses. The nice thing about the Central Valley is that we are less then the 2 hours from the Sierra Mountains to the east or the Pacific Ocean to the West. We won’t spend any time talking about our boring drive on I-5, 205, 580, 680 and 880 and the typical crowded bay area traffic to get us to our starting point of Saratoga Ca.

Highway 9 is a little known road even by the locals in Saratoga. We had stopped for Lunch at the Big Bison Burger Barn in Saratoga which was on Big Bison Way. As road signage was vague and we were not a 100% sure where Hwy 9 was, we asked two workers at the restaurant. One had no idea and the other directed us to take 880 to Santa Cruz………….eeek, 880 is a terrible congested bay area freeway. As it turns our, Big Bison Way where the restaurant was located, is in fact Hwy 9.

When we headed our after lunch on Hwy 9, it was about 1:00 PM. It was beautiful sunny day, about 60 degrees. The road was great!! It was a nice wide two lane road and our first 4 to 5 miles we had no traffic and I was able to get in some nice aggressive driving in the “twistys”!! The redwood forest added to the beauty of the road, however it also provided some shady areas to the road that had some moisture from the morning fog, so you need to be a little careful.

We did run into some traffic after our first 4 to 5 miles. It was not super crowed even then, just a couple of cars, however there are not a lot of places to pass. The road is a little more populated then I would have thought, with various residences (some really beautiful and big homes) along with some of those other small towns I mentioned. We did not stop at any of those small towns on this trip but have plans to go back and check them our. Probably the best time to take this road would be in the spring or summer early in the morning.

We had not even given any thought to the drive home at this point as our trip was all about getting there. We thought about going back the same way on Hwy 9 and checking our some those small towns but after looking at the map (I still like pulling our the old paper map and spreading it our over the table) it hit me that we were right at Hwy 1 which runs most of the length of the state right on the coast. So we decided to take Hwy 1 north from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay Ca and then take Hwy 92 East back to the Central Valley.

Hwy 1 near Santa Cruz

Saturday was another beautiful day as we headed our with sunny skies and a high temperature for the day of 63. We have driven most of Hwy 1 in the state, however we had not driven this particular section before. Hwy 1 is always beautiful and winding with amazing scenery of the ocean and cliffs. I don’t know if there is ever a good time to take this road to avoid traffic………. traffic is always there so we just slow down and enjoy the view. It is a little over 40 miles from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay and this section of Hwy 1 was mostly a straight road with a few winding sections, however the views of the ocean and cliffs were amazing.

After leaving Half Moon Bay we headed east on Hwy 92 for about 14 miles toward San Mateo where we would find all of our crowded Bay Area freeways to begin the boring part of our trip home. Hwy 92 turns our to be another nice well maintained two lane twisty road through the Bay Area mountain forests. It would be one of the best driving roads our there, though it is hard to say when that would be as it was super crowed and hard to imagine a time when it’s not.

The Destination

Highway 9 was the reason for the trip which took us to Santa Cruz, however sometimes the best part of the road trip is the destination or the places along the way. Our first stop along the way was the Big Bison Burger Barn in Saratoga which I mentioned previously. It is nice place with an extensive craft beer selection and of course burgers. It was a great place to stop for lunch

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz

before heading off on Hwy 9.

We arrived in Santa Cruz in the mid-afternoon, again the weather was great at about 60 degrees and sunny. We checked in at the “Dream Inn” which is the only beach front hotel in Santa Cruz. The four star hotel offers great views from the room’s balcony of ocean sunsets and the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk which has been in existence since 1907 along with the historic “Big Dipper” roller coaster which was built in 1924 and is a National Historical landmark. It is one of the most popular wooden roller coasters in the world. Linda and I enjoyed a nice walk along the boardwalk.

For dinner, Linda had found a place called the Water Street Grill in Santa Cruz. This may have been the find of the trip. When our Uber driver dropped us off our front we were a little worried as we thought it looked like a take our place. As we walked in the door we saw a nice small dinning area off to the side which helped us relax. The Water Street Grill is a local family owned farm to table restaurant. This was a 5 star experience from the service, the presentation and the food. We highly recommend this place if you are in the area.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Beach Street Cafe. This is a local breakfast and lunch only cafe just across the street from the Boardwalk. This was within walking distance of our room at the Dream Inn.

As we headed home on Hwy 1 we noticed a lighthouse ahead which was unexpected treat because we love lighthouse’s!! They are always set our on a point on a cliff to protect the ships from getting to close to shore and crashing on the rocky reefs. The scenery at a lighthouse is always full of jagged cliffs and gorgeous views. This was the Pigeon Point Light Station which is one of

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

the tallest in the country, built in 1872.

As we continued on to Hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay, we stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewery for Lunch. They had nice outdoor seating overlooking the harbor and the weather was great!! After lunch, we headed our Hwy 92 toward home.

Great Trip

This trip was a perfect example of why we love road trips. A great, enjoyable road to drive, great weather and great new places to discover and enjoy along with creating great memories!!

Stay tuned for more of California’s Best Road Trips!!

Wes