Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dave's Drives: Northern California Coast in the McLaren 12C

McLaren Automotive did everything right, in my opinion, when creating the MP4-12C.  It really is a superb road car that can keep you comfortable on longer trips, while being able to tear up the track when you find yourself in need of some serious speed.

So, in the spirit of its great-road-trip-car capabilities, my wife and I set out one beautiful weekend this summer to see some of our favorite spots up on the Northern California coast near Mendocino.  I'm just getting around to posting this after a short delay, but I'm already prepping to go back for another go at it. The McLaren was flawless on this trip. It makes short work of any passes necessary, feels planted at all times, and is smooth enough so your passenger doesn't feel like you should have taken a different vehicle.  And in this part of the country still untouched by time, it is almost as rare a sighting as a Starbucks cup (actually, you won't find any of those on this trip).

Here's the basic drive itinerary:

Destination / Route
Sonoma via Hwy 29 and Hwy 121
Santa Rosa via Hwy 116 and Hwy 101
Cloverdale via Hwy 101
Boonville via Hwy 128
Navarro via Hwy 128
Little River and Mendocino via Hwy 128 and Hwy 1
Elk, Gualala, Point Arena, and Bodega Bay via Hwy 1
Petaluma via Hwy 1 and Valley Ford Rd

Along the way, some terrific places to stop in Sonoma and in Anderson Valley and many amazing spots along Hwy 1:

Sonoma Square for wine tasting, breakfast or lunch.
Along Hwy 128 through the Anderson Valley:
  Boonville for the Anderson Valley Brewing Company and the Boonville Hotel
  Goldeneye (Duckhorn's Pinot Noir) wine tasting
  Navarro Vineyards (try the Chardonnay)
  Roederer Estate for sparkling wine and Chardonnay
The Little River Inn is a great place to stay on the Coast
Glass Beach in Mendocino
Point Arena feels like it probably did 50 years ago
Lighthouses (including one made famous in the movie "The Need for Speed")

And for car people: some of the most beautiful, although twisty, roads you will ever lay your tires on.  I recommend you take this trip over 2 days with about 3 hours of driving each day.  Stay overnight in Little River, Mendocino, Elk, or Gualala.  Here's why...

Cloverdale and Hwy 128, gateway to the Anderson Valley


Navarro Vineyards

GOLDENEYE Pinot Noir.  Fantastic spot.

Roederer Estates

Simple curiosity.... and a great photo op.

Curvy roads and redwoods.  Good stuff.


Glass beach, Mendocino

Headed down Hwy 1 South to Gualala

You might recognize this as the final chase scene location in "Need for Speed"

What more to say.  The pictures tell the story.  Go. 

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