A Perfect Day for a Road Trip

Have you ever had one of those days when all your plans start to fall apart……………and you are faced with making a new plan or just throwing in the  towel………… well we didn’t throw in the towel and it turned out to be a perfect day for a road trip!!

A Perfect Day for a Road Trip – Route

I’ve been wanting to do a review of a Porsche 911, one of the most iconic sports cars of our generation. I had the opportunity to drive a 2019 911 with a manual transmission a couple of weeks back at a local dealership………… though it was just a short trip around the block………… it was just enough to get a taste and want more. We were scheduled to rent a Porsche 911 from Enterprise exotic car rental three weeks prior to our road trip. The day before they called to let me know the 911 had come back from its last rental outing damaged and was not available………..now what?

The next morning was the day of our trip. I decided to try the Turo rental app and see if there was anything exciting available…….and found a Nissan GTR (Godzilla) that was available. I’ve always wanted to drive the GTR………. so I reached out and tried to book it. The owner had 90 minutes to respond and never did…………… Hey Dude, you need to do a little better than that if you what to be successful on Turo……….

The Z06 in Georgetown

Well, we had the hotel booked and dinner reservations later that night so we decided to hit the road anyway…………. oh darn….. we had to take the Z06…………..and that’s why this was a perfect day for a road trip.

The Plan

We had planned on taking a drive up to Georgetown and then heading back to Roseville for the evening. We were so looking forward to our dinner plans that night at Ruth Chris Steak House. Our county is still shut down because of COVID and does not allow for inside dining but Roseville was in Placer County which had just recently opened back up. It was amazing how excited we were to be able to eat inside at a nice restaurant.

Hwy 88

We headed up Hwy 88 and turned off toward Ione where we would take Hwy 49 to Placerville and stop for lunch. After lunch, we would head up Hwy 193 to Georgetown. Just outside of Georgetown is Wentworth Springs Road which runs 35 miles to Ice House Road, where we would turn around and head back to Georgetown.

The weather was absolutely perfect………. between 75 and 82 degrees all day with beautiful sun filled skies. This was especially nice as we hadn’t seen the sun in a couple of weeks because of all the fires and smoke here in Northern California. This truly was a perfect day for a road trip!!

The Car

Here we are again in the Corvette Z06…………. I really do love this car!! One of the things that makes the Z06 so cool is the removable targa top (OK, Porsche has a trademark on the term Targa top…… I’ll talk more about this when I do that review on the 911). Both of the cars I was trying to rent, the 911 and GTR were both hardtop coupes……..it would have been a shame not to be able to enjoy the beautiful day by taking the top off because we where in a hardtop.

I Love this Car

The combination of power, world-class handling, removable top, room for luggage and that manual transmission were all prefect for the day. When I drive with the guys “chasing twisties” we drive hard with hard braking, big acceleration and hard turns…….not exactly smooth. With the beautiful Miss Linda by my side I try to practice being smooth……. smooth shifting, braking and smooth around those corners while still driving at an aggressive pace. The word “swoopy” kept coming to mind turn after turn. I wasn’t sure if swoopy was even a word……. so I looked it up…..the definition is “having smooth flowing curves”………perfect!!

The Road

The original plan was to pick up the 911 in Roseville and then head up to Auburn and catch Hwy 49 to Georgetown. Since we didn’t have a car to pick up, we decided to head up Hwy 88 to Ione and then to Placerville for Lunch. This drive really began after lunch on Hwy 193 from Placerville to Georgetown.

Hwy 49 to Placerville

It’s about 16 miles from Placerville to Georgetown on Hwy 193. This is a great road that was just recently repaved and is super smooth……. The road has plenty of nice tight turns and hills as we headed toward the mountains. The road, as I said, is nice and smooth, but it’s also a pretty narrow two lane. There were a couple of spots were the edge of the road comes up against you with a steep drop off down to the canyon below………. with no guardrail. These drop offs, which were on the passenger side gave Miss Linda a little anxiety at times………. another good reason to work on being swoopy!! Once we got to Georgetown, it was time to stop in at the Georgetown Hotel and Saloon for a shot before heading out Wentworth Springs Road to Ice house Road and back.

Hwy 193 to Georgetown

Wentworth Springs Road is a great two lane road that runs about 35 miles to Ice House Road. The first half of this road is really nice with forests and trees on both sides along with some little towns and residential areas. There are some camping spots along the way and some Logging going on in the forest. You can still get a bit aggressive here, though you need to be a little cautious and keep an eye out for the occasional logging truck.

About halfway down Wentworth Springs road, you pass Stumpy Meadows Reservoir. This is somewhat significant as the next 14 miles to Ice House Road are empty. No camping, no little towns, no logging, no little residential areas………. it is just barren out here and you are free to go………and because there is nothing here………. there are no cars up here either. It is a great place to be fast and swoopy at the same time. It’s not exactly pretty up here and even a bit eerie……….this area had previously been a logging area and they had some fires a couple of years ago as well…………which adds to the eerie barren feeling.

Wentworth Springs Road

Once you reach Ice House Road, we simply turn around and head back down Wentworth Springs Road back to Georgetown and another stop at the Georgetown Hotel and Saloon. I’m always amazed by the lack of traffic up here. I would expect all kinds of nice cars up here enjoying this great stretch of road………….. but no, they are never here. We do see some motorcycles but no other cars. What you see the most of up here are Jeeps on Trailers. About 8 miles down Wentworth Springs Road is the turn off to the “Rubicon Trail”, one of the most famous destinations for those who love to go 4-wheeling. Most of the Jeeps up here are not street legal and designed for the Rubicon Trail.

The Destination

We did have a place to stay the night and dinner reservations at the end of the day………….. but the road is always the destination along with the unexpected places you find along the way.

Old Town Grill

We planned on stopping in Placerville for lunch. We always enjoy finding a cool little place for a good sandwich or Burger and a beer. Placerville was pretty busy on this gorgeous sunny Friday afternoon. We did find a little hole in the wall place on the main drag called the Old Town Grill and we’re fortunate to find a place to park close by. The burgers were great, however this place did not serve alcohol, so we had to go without our beer.

After leaving Placerville we decided to stop at the Historic Georgetown Hotel and Saloon. Georgetown was considered the Hub of the great California Gold Rush. The first minors looking for gold arrived in early 1848, with the town of Georgetown being established in August 1849. The Georgetown Hotel and Saloon was established in 1856 and is still open today.

Georgetown Hotel and Saloon

The Hotel has a cool vibe as you walk through the swinging Saloon doors and walk across the old hardwood floor. Miss Linda and I shared a “shot” of tequila and headed out to Wentworth Springs Road. On the way back we stopped in again and finally had our beer.

Ruth Chris Steak House

We had dinner that night at the Ruth Chris Steakhouse in Roseville. This is a great steak house that serves USDA Prime steaks. Only 2% of all steaks are rated as USDA Prime. We brought a bottle of Justin Wine with us, it was their Isosceles Reserve, which is absolutely my favorite bottle of wine. You may remember my post on our road trip to Justin Winery. Nothing better than a nice steak dinner and a great bottle of Wine.

Conclusion

We had thought about canceling this trip when the 911 wasn’t available, luckily we already had a hotel booked and dinner reservation which helped motivate us to head out anyway. The car, the weather, the road and great food and drinks……. what could be better!! This was indeed a perfect day for road trip!!

Please leave comments below and enjoy the road!!

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

Chasing Twisties – Marin County

It had been almost two years since our epic road trip the “Next 140 Miles“. Mike, Jonathan, Alex and myself had not been able to get our schedules together for another road trip for almost two years now. Alex and I had a plan for a short drive a couple of months ago which fell through as the Alfa had a bad day.

Marin County Route

Now, the beautiful Miss Linda and I have obviously had a couple of road trips since then which I have written about here. What I mean by an epic road trip is one that has no real destination, does not include passengers and is all about the road and the drive…………….. and we drive hard………. trust me when I say, if we had passengers, they would want out.

Chasing Twisties is what we love to do. I guess its almost like hunting………… we are always scouting for new two lane twisty mountain roads to truly enjoy the power and handling our cars are made for. Every once in a while we will end up on a bad road, but for the most part the roads we find are great!! The real problem is how much traffic are we going to run into. One of the things that made the “Next 140 Miles” so great was the lack of traffic on that day and the few we found, politely pulled over and got out of the way……………. today would be different.

Mike, Alex and I were early……. Jonathan’s car (not shown)… was on time

Covid has made all of us adjust how we do things and where we go. Here in California, most everything is closed. You cannot go to a concert, a sporting event, a movie or play, any motor sports events like a race or car show…………and have you heard about all the fires………. about the only thing left to do in California is to go camping or go to the beach if you can avoid the fires……………… EEEEK! Where do you think all the good “twisties” are? Yes, by the beach or in the mountains where everybody is right now………. or not, depending on the fires. This would be one of those days of finding great “twisties”, though we would end up finding more traffic and some fires.

The Plan

The plan came together pretty quick. Alex reached out to the group about mid August and we were on the road September 4th. The plan started when Alex had sent us a picture of his Alfa’s tire showing a flat spot, saying he needed a drive to “even out” the flat spot……….. my initial thought was the flat spot was caused from the car sitting to long……………. well, that was not exactly correct, though we will leave that story for another day. The bottom line, we started making a plan.

Mike and I live in the Central Valley and Alex and Jonathan live on the eastern side of the Bay Area, about an hour and half to two hours apart depending on the day and traffic. We needed to find a good road close enough for all of us to get to and get home by the early evening. This was going to be a one-day trip as some of us had commitments that evening.

Our Meeting Place in Vallejo

Jonathan came up with the route, with Alex adding some revisions. Mike chimed in with a place for us to meet and it was set. This was nice for me as I left all the plans to the others and I literally just went along for the ride!!

We agreed to meet in Vallejo Ca and then head to Petaluma Ca where we would stop for gas before beginning our adventure. After Jonathan and Alex double-checked a couple things about the route and we were off.

The Cars

Two years after our last trip we all showed up with the same cars……….. they are all great!! We are all car guys who love our cars, though we are always talking about the new cars coming up and the next car we might get……….though we are all pretty happy with what we have. I for one have said many times, there are a lot of cars I want in addition to mine…….. just not in place of mine.

Mike and Jonathan both have a Porsche Cayman S. Mike has a 2015 model while Jonathan has a 2014 model. They both have a naturally aspirated 6 cylinder engine that make that amazing Porsche sound!! Both have about 325 HP and 273 ft lb of torque. These cars are amazing as they seem to just float through the twisty’s so smooth and clean………. it amazing to watch. I had the opportunity to drive a 2019 Cayman GTS and experience the handling of these cars. The way the car pivots around you as you go around a corner is magical.

The Alfa

Alex had his 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I am completely fascinated with this car. Its looks, handling and power are amazing. It has a 2.9L twin turbo 6 cylinder engine made by Ferrari, making 505 hp and 443 ft lb torque. I spent a fair amount of time following the Alfa today………. the presence this car has is so cool, the stance is just awesome. To realize that you are following a 4 door sedan does not seem possible. I keep thinking I need to get one………….

The Z06

Of course, I was in the Z06. I still love this car!! With its supercharged V-8 engine making 650 HP and 650 ft lb of torque, it is part supercar and part muscle car!! It is also the only car here with a manual transmission, which makes the drive a little more challenging, but mostly just more engaging and fun for me!!!

The Road

It was Friday September 4th………. the beginning of Labor Day weekend and we were headed toward the coast and the mountains. I was expecting traffic, but hoping for the best. After stopping for gas in Petaluma, we headed southwest to reach Sir Francis Drake Blvd to begin our drive. It is the main thoroughfare through the communities of Inverness, Point Reyes Station, Olema, Lagunitas-Forest Knolls, San Geronimo, Woodacre, Fairfax (where we stop for lunch), San Anselmo, Ross, Kentfield, Greenbrae, and Lakespur. The road overlaps State Route 1 between Point Reyes Station and Olema.

Sir Francis Drake Blvd

We would take Sir Francis Drake Blvd, cutting over to San Rafael where we would catch Hwy 101 for just a bit before turning off to take the famous Hwy 1 North through Point Reyes Ca and Stinson Beach as we make our way up to Tomales Petaluma Rd were we would head east back to Petaluma. This would be about a 90-mile loop.

We all have two-way radio’s for these trips, so we can stay in contact. We are able to let each know how the road is ahead, if it’s safe to pass…………or hassle Alex about the Alfa’s bad day. As we start out leaving Petaluma, Mike comes on the radio and says I don’t think that’s fog above the trees………… no….. it was smoke coming from the top of the forest covered mountain in front of us……… and then we could smell the smoke. As we drive past a big open field, we notice about 50 tents…… it was the firefighters base camp. I had a brief moment of concern, being this close to a fire. If you recall from our previous trip, the “Next 140 Miles”, that was the beginning of the Paradise fires in Northern California which were some of the worst ever. Not sure if this is bad timing or just life in California.

Sir Francis Drake Blvd was a great two lane road for driving. It is a beautiful drive through a mountainous Redwood forest on either side. The road did have some rough patches and as I had mentioned earlier, a lot of little towns along the way which you have to be mindful of…………other than that it was great. We had some great elevation changes, some nice tight corners and some big sweepers too. We even had a couple of sweet banked corners that we all hit really hard!!

As we transitioned to Hwy 1, it started out with some great tight corners and elevation changes before straightening out as we headed along the coast with the Pacific Ocean in view and later by the Bolinas Lagoon as we veered inland.

Shoreline – Highway 1

The road was great, the company was great, the weather was great, the scenery was great………….. the traffic……… well there was a lot of it. This was Labor day weekend and we were in the bay area. This would be one of those days were we ended up behind a lot of slow traffic and no one would pull over………… apparently people don’t understand what a “turn out” is.

Panoramic Highway – Highway 1

This would be one of those days when we would get about a 2 to 3 mile stretch of open road before hitting traffic and slowing down or get behind a bicycle. I understand about the bike riders as I ride myself almost every day……….. though I would never ride on these roads. You have no shoulder, tons of blind corners and no where to go if you have traffic in both directions………… just crazy. I heard on the radio more than a few times to watch out for the bikes ahead.

My Dailey Driver

Still, a great day!! While we were waiting for the road to open up, there was some casual chatter on the radios and then dead silence when the road would open as we had a couple of miles of hard driving before hitting traffic again.

The Destination

As I mentioned earlier, this trip did not have a destination other than chasing twisties. The only real destination we had was where to eat lunch.

We stopped in a little town called Fairfax. I had never been there before or even heard of it before. Fairfax is a town of about 7500 people and covers an area of 2.2 square miles. It was originally occupied by the Miwok Indians.

Amelie Fairfax

We had lunch at a little place called the Amelia Cafe. It has an organic farm to table menu including fresh salads, sandwiches, quiches…and their delicious French pastries and viennoiseries. In California, you are not allowed to eat inside, so most places have had to make due with some outside seating. Many towns and city’s have gone to blocking off streets to allow the restaurants to set up outside seating as we had to do here. The service and food was great!!

Conclusion

Chasing Twisties is a great way to spend the day or a couple of days!! How’s that go……… a bad day of Chasing Twisties is better than a good day at work. Today we found some great roads, awesome scenery and great friends to spend the day. Even though this day was a little short on the actual hard aggressive driving we were looking for, it was still an awesome day. Hangen out with the guys, talking cars, in search of a great roads……………… Perfect!!

Please leave comments below,

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

C7 Corvette Z06

Well, it’s about time I do a review on my own car, the 2016 C7 Corvette Z06. I absolutely love this car!! The power, the handling, the ease of the manual transmission and the practicality of this car cannot be matched.

My C7 Corvette Z06

This is my 5th Vette. My first was a 1993 C4 Anniversary edition, then a 1997 C5 and then a 2003 C5 Anniversary Edition. The 2003 was my experiment car………….as I made some modifications. The car had 350 HP when new and we got it up to 625 HP. We added headers, a new exhaust, a “procharger” supercharger, rebuilt the rearend and beefed up the automatic transmission (yes, I had an automatic at one time) and a few other things. After a couple of track days and when things started to break, I got a 2006 C6 Z06 with a manual transmission.

My C5 on Track Day

The C6 Z06 really changed things for the Corvette and for me. It had been a number of years since I had driven a manual transmission. The extra level of engagement while driving truly made you appreciate the car that much more. I soon found myself searching for great driving roads and additional track days. The only mod I did to this car was to put on new wheels and tires………. that’s it. With it’s 6 speed Manual, 7.0 liter pushing 505 HP, I was not lacking on performance and I just wanted to drive it every day.

My C6 on Track Day
(It’s All Good)

The C7 Stingray was introduced in 2014 to rave reviews. Design, handling, power and performance all set new standards for the Corvette. They also introduced “rev-match” with the new 7 speed manual transmission. Rev-match is the coolest option ever……..more on that later. As much as I liked the new C7 Stingray, I knew they would offer a Z06 model within a year or two. Sure enough, the Z06 was offered as a 2015 model. The car was amazing with a 6.2 liter Supercharged V8 pushing 650 HP and 650 ft lb torque and available with a 7 speed manual transmission with “rev-match”………how cool was that!! Then I saw a picture of the C7 Z06 in a “Shark Gray” color………. it was gorgeous!! I knew I wanted one!!

C7 Z06 in Shark Gray
(What a Gorgeous Car)

The Z06 is a somewhat limited production car and a little difficult to find. Also, when they first came out, most dealers had a $10,000 to $20,000 dealer mark up over retail. I could not find one locally and did not want to pay the premium price. I ended up on a waiting list to order one from a local dealer in Rio Vista, Ca. “Abel Chevrolet” in Rio Vista is the corvette mecca in Northern California. The service manager there, Rich Willhoff, is a two time national champion in the Optima Battery Ultimate Street Car series driving a C6 Z06. You should checkout the reviews on Yelp about Abel Chevrolet and the number of Corvette owners that drive for hours to have their Vettes serviced in Rio Vista. Abel Chevrolet agreed to sell me the car for sticker price once they had the allocation to order one.

My C7 leaving New Hampshire

After a couple of months waiting to place my order, I started looking online for other Corvette dealers. I came across MacMulkin Chevrolet on the other side of the country from California in Nashua New Hampshire. They claim to be the 2nd largest Corvette dealer in the United States and consistently had over 300 corvettes for sale.

I had been looking for months when I came across MacMulkin Chevrolet. I wanted the Shark Gray color with silver wheels, black leather interior and a manual transmission……………. do you know how hard that was to find. Most Vettes had black wheels and approx 75% of them had automatic transmissions. I found the exact car I wanted to order on their lot. It had the silver wheels, a manual transmission and black nappa leather interior. It was perfect!!

My C7 Z06 arriving in California

MacMulkin Chevrolet was awesome to deal with. They have a corvette team that has been there for years and they are experienced in selling all over the US. They agreed to sale the car for $3,000 under sticker which was unheard-of in California at the time. Then they made all the arrangements to have the car shipped to me by Intercity Lines. The transportation cost was $2,000, so I still got the car for a little under sticker price.

It was super cool having the car delivered to my front door by Intercity Lines!! Over all, it was just a great experience!!

A Little History

It all started back in 1963, when the Z06 was introduced as an option package, not a model. The Z06 package was for those who wanted to use the Corvette on the track. Zora Arkus-Duntov is the legendary Corvette engineer that got the Z06 its start. Since he was also a race enthusiast, he wanted to give the Corvette a package that would allow it to perform competitively on the track. There were only 199 Z06 packages ordered in 1963. The only engine option for the Z06 was a 327 cubic in V8 producing 360 HP.

1963 Corvette Z06

We didn’t see the Z06 again until it was introduced in 2001 as an actual model, not just an option package. The fifth generation corvette (C5) was introduced in 1997 with the Z06 being offered from 2001 to 2004.

The engineers wanted to make sure the new Z06 would be the best performing one yet. One of the best ways to do this was to make the car lighter. A limited hardtop body was introduced, which had a fixed-roof design that was stiffer and lighter than the one on the coupe. It also saw the introduction of thinner glass, lighter wheels, a titanium exhaust system, and even a lighter battery.

C5 Corvette Z06

The 2001 Z06’s Gen III small block engine was able to produce 385 HP. Thanks to unique internal parts, like an improved camshaft and higher-compression pistons. In 2002, the Z06’s engine was able to put out 405 horsepower, which was a large amount at the time.

The 6th generation corvette (C6) was introduced in 2005, with the Z06 showing up in 2006. The Z06 was now able to compete with the world’s most capable supercars, with a 6:2:1 power-to-weight ratio. This power-to-weight ratio was one of the best ones in the world, and allowed it to attain 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. The C6 Z06 also saw the introduction of an aluminum frame that reduced weight by another 136 lbs.

My Old C6 Corvette Z06

The 7.0-liter LS7 small block engine was introduced to this generation of Corvette, which made it (again) the fastest Corvette ever produced during this time. This was thanks to the new lightweight frame that was produced, which worked in tandem with the small-block engine that put out 505 horsepower.

Now, we have the 7th generation (C7) Corvette Z06. The supercharged engine on it was the first offered for a Z06 and it’s the strongest engine yet. The supercharged engine on the Z06 puts out 650 horsepower with the same amount of pound-feet torque. The C7 generation was the first Z06 to be offered with an automatic transmission along with a manual, all previous Z06’s had a manual transmission only.

Some Specs

The Z06 comes with a 6.2 L (376 cu in) supercharged and inter-cooled LT4 V8 engine with Rotocast A356T6 aluminum cylinder heads and a 1.7-liter Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger, which generates 650 hp at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb⋅ft at 3,600 rpm of torque, giving the Z06 a top speed of 185 mph. The Z06 is available with a Tremec seven-speed manual with rev-matching technology (rev match is awesome!!) or a hydramatic 8l90 eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The C7 Z06

Changes to the body of the Z06 include a removable carbon fiber roof panel, a front splitter, a unique carbon fiber hood with a larger vent, larger front fender vents and unique air blades over the inlets on the rear fenders, a larger unique rear spoiler, and rear-fascia openings that are larger than that of the Stingray. The redesigned mesh pattern on the front fascia allows for maximum airflow to the supercharger’s inter-cooler heat exchanger, while dedicated brake-cooling intakes and wider grille outlets on the bottom serves as air diffusers. It rides on 19×10-inch front and 20×12-inch rear spin-cast aluminum wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport P285/30ZR19 front and 335/25ZR20 rear tires.

You can also choose the Z07 performance package (I don’t have this on mine as it is really designed for track time)) which includes Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 P285/30ZR19 front and 335/25ZR20 rear tires, carbon ceramic brakes, larger winglets on the front splitter, more pronounced side skirts, and an adjustable transparent center section on the rear spoiler.

C7 Corvette Z06 with Z07 Package

The optional carbon-fiber aero package (in either black or a visible carbon-fiber finish) adds a carbon fiber front splitter with aviation-style winglets, carbon fiber rocker panels, and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed wickerbill – a small, vertical tab at the edge of the spoiler that significantly increases downforce.

Comfort and Practicality

I have read so many reviews about the C7 Z06 not being a practical car………. but they are wrong. The Z06 has 5 driving modes, from “economy”, I’ve never used it, “weather” which I have used and is great in the rain, “tour” which really makes the car run relatively soft over rough surfaces, “sport” which stiffens the suspension, tightens up the steering and increases throttle response and “track” which is best for the track as the stiffer suspension can be rough on anything other than a smooth track surface. We primarily use “tour” and “sport”.

Luggage and Shoe Bag

The combination of power, sound, ease of driving, the ability to remove the top and still have plenty of room for luggage for an overnight get away or a week-long adventure!! We can literally get our luggage fitted in the back and still have room to take the top off and stow it in the back (the new C8 can’t make than claim as the top takes up the whole trunk in the back).

Removable Top Covering Luggage

Conclusion

I am in search of a car that is a better road trip car than the C7 Corvette Z06…………. I haven’t found it yet. This car is so much fun to drive. If we are on the freeway we typically put it in “tour” mode and when we find our nice two lane twisties we switch to “sport” and get going.

There’s nothing quite like driving this car on a nice windy two lane mountain road. The sound of the big V-8, the feeling of the crisp air, the blue sky above and the beautiful green forest on the mountains in the distance. The feeling you get as you prepare for the corner ahead, hitting the brakes, down shifting while hearing the incredible sound the engine makes as the “rev-match” blips the RPM’s up while the exhaust roars in the background. As you begin the turn you are stunned by the amount of grip, as the front tires seem to pull you through the corner ………….. The way the Z06 turns in is like no other car I have ever driven and it doesn’t know the word “understeer” as your confidence builds as the car continues to bite hard through the corner. All this with the top and luggage in the back.

Z06
My Z06

I have had the opportunity to drive quite a few cars of late in search of a car I might like better than the C7 Corvette Z06………..nothing yet. I have driven a Ferrari 430, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a 2020 Audi R8, a 2019 Cayman GTS with a manual transmission and a 2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S with a manual transmission. I am never disappointed to get back in the Vette. Though I would like to have all the cars I mentioned, I would not give up the Vette for any of them!!

Our Audi R8 for the Day

The C7 Corvette Z06 is that good and that much fun!!! I Love This Car!!

Enjoy the Road!!

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

South Lake Tahoe

This has been a tough year to plan a road trip. With the Covid pandemic and living in California, it has been especially difficult to plan a road trip…………………..where would we go, what is open………… is there a good place to stay, where would we eat, will there be restrooms open to use along the drive………

Our Route

Well, lucky for me my beautiful wife Miss Linda was going stir-crazy and decided to make her own plan. She started to put a trip together that would take us to South Lake Tahoe……………… I immediately thought Hwy 88…………. you know I always have to plan a trip around the road. We did it a little backward this time with Miss Linda picking the location then me picking the route. Either way, we had a road trip planned and I was getting excited to be headed to South Lake Tahoe!!

The Plan

This was going to be just a quick overnight stay. If you take the freeway you can get to South Lake in about two hours, if you take Hwy 88, a nice windy, two lane mountain road, it will add about 30 minutes to the drive. If you do not have much traffic on Hwy 88 you can make it in less than two hours………… but typically there is usually a bit of traffic.

The Road to Tahoe

Miss Linda booked us a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and made reservations for lunch that day at the Riva Grill. That was it as far as plans…………. the rest would have to work itself out.

The Car

Of course we are in the Z06 again. This is the perfect road trip car. It is comfortable and easy to drive………. even with the manual transmission. With its hatchback design and 15 cubic feet of cargo space we never run out room for our luggage……. for an overnight stay or a week-long trip. The best part is even with our luggage we still had room in the back to remove and stow the roof so we could enjoy the beautiful weather.

Luggage and Shoe Bag
Removable Top Covering Luggage

It was going to be a 100 degrees in the valley where we live and only a high of 82 degrees in South Lake Tahoe, looks like we timed it perfectly. We left our house at about 9:30 AM and it was already about 70 degrees. As we headed out, it was perfect weather to have the top off. We have learned that when it gets above 85 degrees and if you are stuck in traffic, it gets really hot…………. as long as you’re moving it’s OK. When it gets above 90 degrees headed toward 100 degrees, it just gets too hot and we are better off putting the top back on and turning on the air conditioner.

As I said, the weather was perfect on this day. When we left, it was about 70 degrees. About an hour into the drive, the weather was at 80 degrees and in the valley it was on its way to a 100 degrees already. We had perfect timing as we were getting closer to Tahoe with its cooler air and leaving the valley as it was getting hot. We were able to maintain a constant temperature of about 80 degrees for the entire drive………….perfect!!

The Z06

The Road

Highway 88 (State Route 88), also known as the Carson Pass Highway, is a state hwy that goes from east to west from Stockton in the San Joaoquin Valley, crossing the Sierra Nevada at Carson Pass, and ending at the Nevada state line, where it becomes Nevada State Route 88, eventually terminating at U.S. Route 395.

Hwy 88 is a nice well maintained two lane road through the Sierra Nevada mountains with some nice elevation changes, and mostly big sweeper turns. I think the slowest posted corner speed was 30 MPH and there was only one. Every other corner was posted at 35 MPH or higher…………… so no real tight slow corners……….. a very comfortable drive with just enough corners to make it fun.

Hwy 88

The other thing that is really nice about this road is the number of passing lanes. The worst part of any road trip is getting stuck behind a pokey slow car of some type, with no where to pass………… and most of these pokey slow drivers don’t understand what a “turnout” is. Luckily for us, Hwy 88 seemed to have a passing lane about every 5 to 10 miles (I didn’t actually check the mileage…… that’s just what it felt like). Luckily, on this day there was not a ton of traffic, and the passing lanes seemed to come at the perfect times. We would have 3 to 4 miles of great driving with no traffic and then come up on some slower traffic for a mile or two and then here comes a passing lane and another 3 to 4 miles of driving fun. It went like this for most of the drive.

The Road To Tahoe

Then came the Mini’s…………… about 6 Mini Coopers pulled in behind us as they got onto Hwy 88 from a side road. It seems we see a lot of Mini’s on our road trips. We usually see a group of friends or car clubs on our road trips. We’ve seen a group of Mustangs, a Porsche club and even a group of friends in different cars like Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and McLaren’s all enjoying the roads…………… but by far we have seen more groups of Mini’s than any other group of cars.

I have always heard how much fun a Mini is to drive. Have you ever really looked at a Mini, more than any other car out there, the wheels are literally at the corners of the cars…….. no extended bumpers or overhangs………… just wheels at the corners. They look like the closest you will ever get to a go-cart on the road. I was visiting with a guy while vacuuming my car at the car wash who had a Mini, he said it was one of the funnest cars he had ever owned. He told me how he had owned and driven Porsche’s for 30 years, and how much more fun the Mini was to drive!!

Mini Cooper S

Well, those 6 Mini’s tucked in behind us and were pushing…………that’s the thing about nice winding mountain roads…… you may have a lot of horsepower or a little which can a big difference in a straight line, but those corners seem to even the playing field. So with the Mini’s pushing we had to pick up the pace a bit……. didn’t want those Mini’s to think they could be quicker than the big Vette…………..so we picked up the pace and had some fun driving. Those little Mini’s always stayed close as we went through the twistys until we hit traffic and then we had to slow and wait for the passing lane……….. The Mini’s were always close behind. Then came that passing lane that was actually a big corner with a posted speed of 45 MPH…………. we lost a few Mini’s on this corner as they could not match the speed or the handling of the big Vette!! We were doing around 90 MPH in this corner as I watched the Mini’s start to lose ground, ………………….. in all, we had the Mini’s behind us for about 20 miles before we had to turn off. They gave us hoots and hollers and big thumbs up for the fun drive………… wait, there were only 3 Minis as we turned off………….. oops, it looks like we lost a few Mini’s……….

The Destination

We were headed for South Lake Tahoe, a place we have been many times before. Not sure if I would call it a destination this time or more the place we ended up as we had a need to get out of the house. Miss Linda booked us a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. She had also made lunch reservations at the Riva Grill at 1:00 PM. This worked out well as we got to the Hotel around Noon and they were not ready for us to check in yet, so we headed over to the Riva Grill.

Wet Woody’s at Riva Grill

We arrived a little before our reservation, but we were able to get a “Wet Woody” to sip on while we waited for our table. Good thing we had a reservation as the wait for seating was an hour.

The Riva Grill is famous for their “Wet Woodys” which is a Slushy Rum drink. It goes down super easy and packs a punch. They have about 20 different variations of the drink. If you have two, don’t plan on doing much else. Once we got seated we had their lobster bisque, which by far is the best lobster bisque we have ever had anywhere!!

Riva Runabout

The Riva Grill is actually named after the Riva Runabout. Most people are familiar with wooden boat builders, like Gar Wood, Chris-Craft and Hackercraft. The Riva Runabout might be considered the top of the line for wooden boats. The company was formed back in 1860 by founder Pietro Riva on the Oglio River in Northern Italy. Riva opened its first United States showroom in 1964. You can still buy a new Riva Runabout today. The company makes about 20 per year at a cost of around $200,000. The Riva Runabout has a very exclusive clientele.

Riva Grill

Our stay at the Hard Rock was not so great. Covid does affect almost every aspect of our lives these days and is very frustrating. I am not a Covid believer and think it is way overblown……….. I will leave it at that for now.

Little things kept messing with our good time, like being yelled out by security that my mask was not covering my nose………really…… at least I had it on….. You can’t get room service and they won’t clean your room if you stay more than one night.

Hard Rock

We did make it down to the pool only to find out they don’t offer towels during Covid……can someone please explain to me some of these rules….. So I head back up to my room to get our shower towels to take back down to the pool. I decided I should call housekeeping and ask for some additional shower towels. I asked them to go ahead and let themselves into the room as we would be at the pool…………. nope, we can’t come in your room because of Covid……….. We had to wait until we were back at the room and then they brought us towels…….. though I had to walk into the hallway to get them…………..

One of things that Miss Linda and I enjoy most on our road trips are finding these little local restaurants that are far away from the tourist areas. Some places we find are not even known the locals.

Ivanos

This was the case when we found Ivanos. A small little place in a strip mall off the main drag. Our Uber driver had never heard of it and had trouble finding it. The Uber driver that picked up after dinner was late too, as they had trouble finding the place.

Ivanos offered inside seating which is something we don’t have in California at the moment. It was just two people, the Chef in the back and we believe his daughter in the front. This was true authentic artesian style Italian cooking. Everything was fresh from scratch with large portions……….. it was a great experience.

Conclusion

Any road trip is a good thing. The joy of the road, enjoying perfect weather and gorgeous scenery with the top off is so relaxing. Any cares or worries just go way…………..although trips these days do add a small level of stress with not knowing what the COVID rules will be at our chosen destination……….. have you noticed the rules are all different………why is that….

Garwoods

All in, this was a great trip and a very needed get way!! We will be heading out again in a couple of weeks to North Shore Tahoe.  Travelling to North Shore by way of Hwy 88 will add about an hour to our drive but well worth it. North Shore is a little less touristy and quiet than North Shore is yet still beautiful!! There is also Garwoods Restaurant which is the sister to the Riva Grill……….. yes, they have Wet Woodys and lobster bisque……. see you there!!

Please leave commits below,

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips

How to Drive a Manual Transmission

It dawned on me the other day that my son had never driven a car with a manual transmission. My son, Eddie, who is 23 years old and is due to graduate from nursing school later this year in December. He has lived with his Mom since he was 8 years old. I’ve always had a good relationship with my son, though our time together was limited. We had the Tuesday and Thursday evenings and every other weekend that we were together but it’s not the same as living together. Eddie was not really into cars as a kid either………more about video games. Of course about half-way through his senior year he asked to have his time to himself……………….. I understood……… what teenage boy during his senior year of high school wants to spend a bunch of time with Dad. Needless to say I did not spend a lot of time with Eddie during his early driving years……………… It was time to change that. It was time for Eddie to learn how to drive a manual transmission.

The Route

So my quest to help my son learn how to drive a manual transmission started about a year ago when I brought it up. The good news was that he wanted to learn. Now it was time to figure out when we could do it. For my son, his schedule was a little crazy. He was going to school and working at the hospital and his schedule changed every week. We also needed to decide what car we would use? Of course, I have my C7 Corvette Z06 with a manual transmission, but I didn’t think a 650 HP car was a great choice to learn in. We need a plan and a car…………

The Plan

We decided that we would just rent a car. I thought that would be easy and convenient…….. I was wrong. We quickly found out that none of the major car rental places like Enterprise and Hertz offer cars with a manual transmission……….. automatics only……….eeek, now what.

Turo to the rescue. If you are not aware, Turo is like AirBNB, where people rent out their own personal cars via an app on your smart phone. The app is super easy to use. You just punch in a location and a date and a list of cars in that surrounding area show up on the app………….. you just swipe and look. We pulled up about 80 cars within about an hour of our home. When I used the filter option to choose only manual transmissions, it left about 11 cars to choose from.

2018 Mazda Miata RF

I found a 2018 Mazda Miata RF with a six speed manual about 45 minutes from our home…………this would be perfect. The cost was $63.00 for the day. We only needed it for one day. I plugged in our date and the time we would pick it up and drop it off. I had to create and account on the Turo app and provide a copy of my drivers license and upload a picture. Of course, I had to add my credit card information for payment and then my account was set up. We then selected the Mazda and our request for rental was accepted. That is when we also found out that Turo charges and additional fee for the maintenance and upkeep for the Turo app of about $30.00. All in, the cost was about $90.00.
Once the account was set up and the confirmation of the rental we were able to communicate with the owner of the car via text message through the Turo app. I also received email notifications when the owner sent me a text in the app.

Since this was a day for my son to learn how to drive a manual and I had just rented everything in my name…………. should I tell the owner that I am going to be teaching my son how to drive a manual………….maybe not…….. however I did not want to be dishonest…….what should I do? I went back to the app and found an option to add another driver. I was able to forward a link to my sons email address that allowed him to sign up as an additional driver. Eddie had to complete an application similar to what I did and provide his driver license. It always said pending on my side, however my son confirmed that he received an approval. No additional cost or issues by adding my son as an additional driver.

The RF Targa Top

We arrived at the owners home Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. The owner met us and showed us the car. It had been cleaned inside and out and was ready to go. The owner also helped with the check-in process which is on the app. It has you take pictures of the front, back, both sides and picture of the dash to record mileage and amount of gas in the car. The owner takes the same pictures on his app and then all pictures are uploaded to the app. You can also make notes of any damage that the car might already have………….super simple and easy. That is it and then we were off. Much easier and faster than any traditional rental car company I have ever used.

The Car

I remember when the Mazda Miata first came out in mid 1989 as a 1990 model. There was nothing like it at the time. It was a small two seat convertible sports car. Similar cars like the MG B and Triumph Spitfire had long since disappeared. I was about 29 years old back then and the Mazda Miata was the 1st car I ever remember that dealers had an average mark up of over $5,000 over sticker price………….. I had never seen anything like that before. It is a lot more common today to see dealer mark-ups for cars that are in great demand or limited production.

6 Speed Manual

Though I had never driven one, I have always heard what a great car they were and how much fun they are to drive. If you ever go to a track or an autocross day you will always see a Mazda Miata’s zipping around. It’s all true, super easy to drive with a soft clutch and a shifter that locks in to each gear. This was the perfect car to teach my son how to drive a manual.

Fun Car

The first thing we did when we picked up the car was to find an empty parking lot. It turns out that the parking lot we found was were my son Eddie went to school last summer. His school had a “south campus” for the nursing program which was really just a big parking lot with a lot of portable buildings……..but it was perfect for what we needed to do. We spend about and hour in the parking lot starting out and shifting gears. We then went out on the street which was a quiet residential area. Once out on the street, my son was having trouble starting from a start……… once we got going he was fine with shifting…… he was just struggling a little with take-offs. We went back to the parking lot and did nothing but start and stop. We did not take the car out of 1st gear………… It worked and all was good.

The Road

Unlike most of my road trip posts, this was not about the road. Most of our trips are determined by the road we want to drive and the places and destination get worked in. This time, the location of the rental car determined the road. We were in Tracy Ca. Not a lot of great roads here, but we would find a way.

Altamont Pass Road

After the parking lot we found a nice place to stop for lunch (more on that later). After lunch, we took off driving down what was called Grant Line Rd. As we were driving I saw a turn off to a road called Altamont Pass Rd. This turned out to be a perfect road for a new driver with a manual transmission car. It was a nice two lane road that ran about 7 miles and there was hardly any traffic …….. perfect. During the week this is a heavily traveled road as commuters heading to the San Francisco Bay area try to use this as an alternative to the major freeways…………. but today it was ours. It was a wide two lanes with mostly big sweeping turns and short straight aways. Eddie was able to enjoy some turns, with some down shifting and then up shifting and truly learning to enjoy the manual transmission. About half-way through he looked over at me and said “I understand why you wanted me to learn, you are much more engaged and focused with a manual and you can truly enjoy the drive and the road”………..he got it!!!

The Destination

Well, the destination this time was determined by where the car was………… in this case a little bedroom community called Mountain House Ca, which is about 5 miles West of Tracy Ca. This is truly a bedroom community as we did not see any stores or services. We had homes and the most beautiful Grammar School, Elementary School and High School I had ever seen………….that was it. This town was truly developed for people who work and commute to the Bay Area.

Squeeze Inn Tracy

We did find a nice place to eat in Tracy at the Squeeze Inn, Also known as the Squeeze Burger. They are famous for their “cheese skirt” on their Hamburgers. The original store is in Sacramento Ca where they only had 12 stools at the counter and you literally had to “squeeze in” to have a seat. They have expanded and now have other locations. Their expansion was fueled when they were featured on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives” You can see a video of the episode on their home page here.

They had a location here in Tracy were Eddie and I had ourselves some nice juicy burgers with a big cheesy skirt.

Conclusion

On the drive home on the I-5 freeway we saw something I could not believe. It was a Ferrari 250 GT0. The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most expensive cars in the world. They only made 36 of them between 1962 and 1964. One 250 GT0 that had a race history recently sold for $70,000,000. This could have been a replica, as those are out there……..but its impossible to say driving down the freeway. Either way, it was pretty cool to see!!

Ferrari 250 GTO

This was just an awesome day!! The whole process of renting from Turo was super easy and everything went smooth. The Mazda Miata was the perfect car to learn how to drive with a manual transmission!! The best part of all was a day spent with my son Eddie!! It is amazing how cars can bring us together and strengthen our bond!!

Please leave comments below.

Wes                                                                                                                                                                                                Exotic Cars and Road Trips                                                                                                                                                  Enjoy the Road

Exotic Car Road Trips

Hello and thank you for checking out my website. I will be creating a series of road trips that we have already taken or plan on taking in the future. Our first series will be “Best California Road Trips”. As we live in Northern California (about 30 miles south of Sacramento) most of our series so far have been in Northern California, however there are so many great driving roads in all parts of the state that we will eventually report on as well.  We will provide info on how the trip was planned, the car for the trip, the road that inspired the trip and the destination that the road took us to. Please fill free to respond with comments or tell your own story.

About Me

Hello and welcome to my website. My goal is to have a site that car enthusiasts can go to for information on great driving roads and the great experience and destinations along the way, including travel agencies that specialize in setting up these trips and exotic car rental providing great cars to drive. We will also have content on “track days” where you can go to enjoy your exotic cars as they were intended to be used and of course lots of contents on great exotic cars to enjoy on your drive.

Why Exotic cars and Road Trips

I became extremely interested in cars when I was in the 7th grade, primarily corvettes. I told myself I would have one someday. I got my first corvette in 1993 I could not believe how lucky I was that I had achieved my dream. Though I enjoyed the car and I’ve owned a couple more over the years, it was in 2006 when I got my C6 Corvette Z06. This was the first time in my opinion that the corvette could truly compete with true exotic cars from a performance standpoint. I can accept some debate on the Z06 not 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. I have had the opportunity since then to drive many exotic cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and even an Indy race car. It was then that I started enjoying track days and my wife Linda and I enjoy planning road trips based on the road taken rather than the destination. My wife and I have a great partnership……. I find the road and destination and then she finds the little nuggets along the way such as great places to eat (our own little diners, drive-ins and dives) and fun places to stay.

Wes and Linda
Wes and Linda

 

Why This Site

Though I have enjoyed many great road trips and track days, I have found it difficult at times to find good information about great road trips, track days and exotic cars in one place. There are a lot of individual sites you can go to, however there is really nothing out there that you can go to and get most of this content in one place. Most of our road trips have been pulling out an old paper map, finding what looks like a good road and heading out.

 

What we hope to provide

We hope to provide a place for car enthusiasts to go and find information on great road trips, cool destinations and great cars. We will also provide content on great track day locations and events. I am from Northern California and so as we get started we may have more content in California, however we will definetly expand as we continue. We also want to provide a place for others to share their adventures of great road trips, track days and cool exotic cars. Please check in often and see wants new as we are just getting started.

All the best,

Wesley

exoticcarsandroadtrips.com