Monday, November 28, 2016

Dave's Drives: The sound of the Fisker Latigo around town.

If you read my prior posts on the Fisker Latigo CS #001, you know this is a rare car. So I thought I'd share a few video clips to provide a glimpse of what it is like to hear that glorious 650HP V-10 engine. I've grown to really love driving this car for it's responsive steering, it's raw power, and it's ability to start conversations with car enthusiasts wherever I go.

I'm a firm believer in regular (almost over-the-top) maintenance, plus proper exercise of a high-strung car like this.  So the Latigo gets regular jaunts, and sometimes it needs to fully breathe up to the 8500 RPM redline. Enjoy the sounds of the Latigo around town:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Daves's Drives: Mammoth Lakes, CA via Highway 108 and Highway 120

Yes, another road trip post.  But being a "car guy" doesn't mean I just like cars for their engineering and design, I like them for the same reason most people have for a century or more: for the mobility they provide.  And so what can I say?  I like road trips!

This one is highly recommended for scenery, outdoor adventure, and just plain wow factor on some amazing, twisty, scenic roads that make Northern California a great place for any car-person.

Starting from the San Francisco Bay Area, we went East on I-580 to Highway 205 and Highway 120 through Manteca and on toward Sonora. Driving through Escalon, and Oakdale isn't very twisty or scenic, per se, but it gives you a great glimpse of why California is a great agricultural state! As you enter the Sierra Foothills around Knights Ferry, things start to get fun.  Plenty of open road if you aren't here on a holiday weekend.  Just before you get to historic towns of Jamestown and Sonora, you have a choice to make to get over the Sierras to the East side where you will eventually join Highway 395 South to Mammoth Lakes. You can either take the Northern route across the Sonora Pass and Highway 108, or you can take the Southern Route using Highway 120 through Yosemite National Park (note that this route does not take you through Yosemite Valley itself, but it does take you through Tuolumne Meadows).  Here's the good news: whichever route you take, you can take the other one on the way back!  The time difference is maybe 15 minutes, depending on traffic.  During the summer when Yosemite is crowded, Highway 1008 will be your faster route.

For our early September trip, we chose Highway 108 because I love Pinecrest Lake and the Sonora Pass! We took a short detour to check out quaint Jamestown, then stopped in Cold Springs for lunch at a place called Mia's (great sandwiches and pizza!).  Eat up here, because it's the last food you will see for a couple hours!  Highway 108 from Strawberry all the way over the Sierra's is a visual treat and has many amazing sights.

Highway 395 South past Mono Lake is an interesting visual after being in the green forest, and arriving in Mammoth Lakes after a few hours of driving, we were happy to find some great beer at the Mammoth Brewing Company in the "Village" at Mammoth

The next day, we hiked from Red Meadows to Rainbow Falls, to the Lower Falls and back to the Devil's Postpile, about a 5 mile hike at 9000 feet.  We earned our meal that day! After enjoying another evening at the Village at Mammoth Lakes, we drove up through the Lakes at Mammoth, Namely Lake Mary, Lake George, Lake Maime, Horseshoe Lake, and Twin Lakes.  Great camping spots and beautiful lakes.

We returned home via Higwhay 120, which may be slightly more picturesque than Highway 108, but not much (plus, you have to pay $30 to enter Yosemite behind a sometimes long line of cars at the entrance). Expect a slow drive in certain areas, but it is worth it.  Tenaya Lake is a popular spot, as is Tuolumne Meadows.  Lots of great day hikes here! We continued out of Yosemite via Highway 120, which also afforded us a view of the remnants of the devastating Rim Fire, which burned over 250,000 acres around Yosemite in 2013 (the third largest wildfire in California history).  It is hard to see some of the areas so hard hit, but also nice seeing some areas making a comeback! We stopped in small, charming Groveland for some extremely tasty food at a local restaurant called Cocina Michoacana. 

Then we headed back home where the car needed a good washing after a very dusty road trip.  We covered roughly 500 miles covered in a few days, and as always, the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C performed flawlessly.   Along the way, the new blue color made lots of fans, and every gas stop and photo stop was usually greeted with many questions of "what is that?"

Bottom Line: fantastic road trip for a weekend, and we were happy we picked tree first weekend after Labor Day, when things are a bit slower up in this popular part of the world! Go enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2016

I like Vinyl Wraps: 2012 McLaren 12C Turns Blue

If you've read any of my prior blog posts, you may have come across the fact that I have had two cars fully wrapped in protective vinyl film in order to make a temporary color change. (see "Green Car Movement - The Gator gets a new skin" and "Pink Mini Cooper joins the garage"). One update I should have posted (and may still do so) is that we had the vinyl wrap removed from one of those cars after 3+ years and the paint underneath was a fresh as it was when the car was new in the dealer showroom.   So, yes, I am a fan of the vinyl-wrap craze (not sure if I can all it a "craze", since many people are still unaware of the possibilities for cars and vinyl-wrapping). Anyway, here's the next chapter...

I've owned my 2012 McLaren MP4-12C now for two years and about 8000 miles.  I still love this car and its capabilities on track and on road trips. And although I love the black exterior combined with the saddle/tan leather interior, I was looking to give the car a little change to create a bit more drama.  So I decided on a "wardrobe change" that would clothe the car in a vibrant blue, like the great blues of many car makers (Mexico Blue or Fistral Blue from McLaren, Sepang Blue from Audi, Adriatic Blue from Porsche, Cobalt Blue from Aston Martin, etc.).  The color chosen for mine is Gloss Intense Blue from Avery Dennison, and the car was wrapped by the guys at  Elite Auto Films in Fremont, CA.  I wasn't sure how I would like the bright blue with the saddle color interior, but  having seen a few cars done similarly, I took the plunge.  The transformation is pretty amazing, and the ability to reveal more of the car's angles and curves made it worthwhile.  Plus - I have no problem finding it in the grocery store parking lot!

As always, the great thing about a good vinyl wrap is that it gives you infinite color options, it protects the paint from chips and scratches, and it is fully reversible once you are tired of the color. Join the vinyl revolution!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Dave's Drives: Central California Coast in McLaren 12C

This year, I decided I wanted to attend the Annual Datsun Roadster Classic in Solvang California.  This annual event brings Datsun Roadster enthusiasts from all over to a small town in California known for its Danish bakeries and its feel of being in Copenhagen (or maybe a Disney-ish version of Copenhagen).

So my wife and I decided to make a road trip out of it, and although I wanted to bring my 1968 Datsun 2000 Roadster, that would limit the number of days we'd be willing to be on the road (6 days with no heat or A/C wasn't going to cut it this time around).  So we decided there would be enough Datsuns on display without ours, and we'd take the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C on a run through wine country and on to the Coastal treasures near Solvang.  Our loose itinerary shaped up like this:

Paso Robles for wine tasting
Pismo Beach for dune buggy adventure
Los Olivos for more wine tasting
Solvang for the Datsun show
Buellton for the Mendelhall auto/petrol station museum as part often Datsun gathering
Santa Barbara for more beach and good food

Even after 53 years of living in and exploring California,  I am always amazed at discovering new things I had missed in this great state. The Central Coast (basically the area between Monterey and Santa Barbara, including the inland valleys nearby) is an area you could spend week or months exploring, and I found myself wanting more and promising myself another trip soon.

So, here is a pictorial review...

Paso Robles wine country. First top: Halter Ranch Winery, which has a spectacular new tasting room, albeit across a bridge and a somewhat muddy driveway!  That's OK, as kids I used to know would say:"dirt don't hurt"

Next Stops were Justin Winery and Tablas Creek.  Wonderful people, fantastic wines of the region! Trying to find shade to park in to keep the wines from cooking in the car was a challenge!

We booked a room for the evening at the CaliPaso Winery Inn, peaceful spot in Paso Robles, a town we could have spent much more time exploring.  The roads are fun to drive: Adelaide Road, Chimney Rock Rd, and Highway 46 all provide twisty fun, rolling hills, wine growing scenery.  Highway 101 through the Paso Robles area is attractive as well, with the greenest part of the year in those rolling hills in March and April:

We did manage to sample the local beer at the Taproom, aka the brewpub at Firestone Walker  Brewing Company in Paso Robles.  Tasty beer:

The next day was a short ride over to Pismo Beach.  We went the direct route, but I suggest Highway 46 to the Coast to take part of Hwy 1 from Cambria through Morro Bay.  Of course, if you come down this way from Monterey and Big Sur, even better!! Along our inland route, we should have spent time in the terrific town of San Luis Obispo, but we were too excited to get to the coast! The weather was perfect and we loved the hotel (Inn at the Cove, Pismo Beach), and the views from our balcony!

We explored the little beachside town of Pismo Beach, which is growing like crazy with a large new hotel, but which still has a terrific surf shop, covered with vintage surfboards and skateboards (many of those skate decks were part of my mis-spent youth!). Make sure you stop into Pancho's Surf Shop if you're ever down here!  Nice people, I just had to buy something!!

We then moved on to our day's destination: Sunbuggie Rentals (again, more nice people!), so we could experience the wide open spaces of Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. the rookie buggies aren't super fast, but you can upgrade if you want.  Either way, this is a blast and should be on your bucket list.  The sand dunes go on for miles!! 

We ate at the beautiful Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach (try the blackened scallops and the Coconut Mojito!) and enjoyed the sunset, then woke the next morning to a postcard-worthy day for a walk on Shell Beach, the northern part of town:

We made our way to Solvang, CA, with a  stop in Buellton (home of the Famous Andersen's Pea Soup), where the Datsun crowd was starting the festivities at the Mendenhall Museum of Automobilia:

The next day was the Datsun Roadster event, which brought out many great cars from all over the country, some very stock cars and some very modified.  All beautiful!

The town of Solvang is known for it's danish bakeries.  For good reason... lots of butter and sugar!

We spent time in Los Olivos, doing more wine tasting and having excellent food.  Try this town out, charming is the word...

The next day we headed to our final destination, Santa Barbara.  You could spend a week right here enjoying the downtown, the up and coming restaurants in the "Funk Zone", and the many beaches.  We stopped in at the historic Mission Santa Barbara, and the McLaren 12C was right at home on the beach with other fun vehicles.

And then a 4.5 hour drive back home to the SF Bay Area. We started making plans to come back again soon, and I started to clean the bug collection from the front of the Mac. The Central California Coast is a real treasure chest of great things to do and see.  Next time I think I'll definitely take a convertible!!