Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 8 - to the goal line, from Tahoe to Monterey

Yup, this post is late, sorry. Day 8 was a great way to finish off our journey, as it captured the essence of the trip: scenic twisty mountain roads, highway sprints, gourmet dining and takeout pizza, broiling in the sun and hurrying to make up time. Bob Farrell, Glenn's equally crazy, fun and hilarious brother, joined us for the final day in his Ferrari Challenge Stradale, coming up from Del Mar for the fun.

The day started out with a leisurely cruise down the Eastern (Nevada) side of Lake Tahoe. We had Brian Konosoke, a photographer from LA, shooting us for Automobile magazine. He hopped from car to car, including his Audi S4 wagon driven by his assistant Eddie, but spent much of the day shooting from the passenger seat of the Ferrari 16M Scuderia convertible. It's fascinating how much the shoreline route around the lake can change in just a few miles. There are pristine mountain curves in the park area, preceded by expensive lake side mansions and followed by the pure American capitalism of the slightly-cheesy casinos.

Route 50 leading out of Tahoe was scenic and fun, allowing some good shots by Brian. I didn't take any photos that day, and Mark is still processing his shots, so pics to come later.

When we hit the flats, we proceeded to Sacramento in traffic. Dan decided that we should try a short-cut, picking up Rts 128 and 121 west of Sacramento. This added a few miles, but was a lot more fun. Especially once we made it past a convoy of three rented RVs slowly picking their way down the narrow mountain curves.

In need of a slightly more upscale repast, we stopped at E'toile at Domaine Chandon. A magnum of champagne for the table, and we feasted on everything from oysters to foie gras, tea-smoked duck to steak tartare. We slowly rolled our way back to the cars in the 95+ degree heat, and made our way to the coast, where the temps dropped by nearly 30 degrees.

Route 1 in California never fails to impress, whether slightly inland at Point Reyes National Seashore or right on the edge of the ocean at Mt Tamalpais. We bogged down a bit at Stinson Beach, due to the returning beachgoers, but our amusement was heightened by a middle-aged idiot in an early Porsche 911 Turbo. As we were approaching Stinson Beach, he was driving in the opposite direction. He saw our convoy and waved, and we returned the salute. But then as we came to a stop in the bumper-to-bumper traffic at Stinson, the Porsche came FLYING down past us - in the ONCOMING TRAFFIC LANE. Clearly, he turned around to get a better look. As he blew by us, an oncoming car forced him to lock up his wheels braking and diving into our stopped-traffic. When he realized that our line wasn't moving, he decides to make a u-turn (running his Porsche through the brush at the edge of the road), and then trying to impress us by spinning his wheels in 1st and 2nd gear. Surprisingly, this was the most idiotic thing that anyone had done in our presence in the 5000+ miles we drove, and it was a middle-aged guy in a Porsche 930, and not some teenager in a rice-mobile. Shows you what our prejudices are worth....

Once we made our way past Muir Woods, we dove towards the Golden Gate bridge. Alas, traffic from everyone trying to get back to SF on Sunday evening. Still, as we rolled through the big tunnel just North of the bridge, everyone wanted to hear the brutal sounds coming out of the 16M. Gleeful waves, thumbs-up and short horn beeps from nearby cars all called out for encores of the ripping canvas noise. Crossing the bridge, Brian shot the cars circling the 16M - suspect they'll turn out great.

In San Francisco, we debated whether to take the cars down the curvy section of Lombard street. Dan was game for it - I had done it in a Lamborghini Gallardo last year, so we knew it was possible (though it's intimidating as heck to pull up to the intersection and see nothing but sky out the windshield - no road beneath you, no pedestrians in front, nothing!).

But as we got to the 101/Lombard fork, the long line of cars awaiting their turn up then down the street dissuaded us, particularly as it was now evening and we had to make our way down to Monterey to meet up with the transporter with the McLaren, and pick up the keys for the rented house in Pebble Beach.

So we started bogeying down the 101, keenly aware of the CHP patrols and thinking about the distance covered thus far without a single police stop, much less a ticket. Coming down Rt 17, it felt like one last great run to us, with curves seemingly banked more than Daytona Speedway - folks here commute on this daily?!?

We rolled into Monterey late into the evening. We pulled the McLaren out of the truck, and all four supercars loped into the exclusive enclave that is Pebble Beach. The guard at the checkpoint just waved us through, and we finally parked at the end of our journey. Well, since it was nearly 11pm and we still didn't eat, we took the 612 out again for some take-out pizza and a 12 pack of beer. Sitting around the kitchen, eating, drinking and making toasts, we were exuberant, content and exhausted. 5000+ miles, no accidents, one minor fatality, and zero tickets. Woo-hoo!

The last post tomorrow will summarize the trip and our feelings towards it - as well as the potential major problem that faced us on Monday, and we ultimately resolved it. So stay tuned!

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