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………
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!!
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……….
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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!!
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Exotic Cars and Road Trips