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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!!