The kids are away at Ballet and Writing school for the summer, so I thought I'd take my wife on a small road trip. Of course I always love to drive the Elise, but in this situation it was chosen more for its convertible nature rather than its ability to hug the curves. My wife wasn't really interested in an E-ticket ride.
Day 1: West Sacramento to Gualala, CA
I did some research on the forum regarding packing and picked up a new duffel. After removing the bootie there ended up being PLENTY of room in the boot for the soft top, duffel, camera bag, and car accessories (bungies, detailer, etc). We also dropped by Ikea on the way out of town and picked up some of those fabric boxes that fit behind the seats. These made it much easier to store thing we might need while driving like sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottles and the GoPro.
We didn't leave until around 10am, so by the time we got near Lake Berryessa, there was already some traffic, especially truck pulling boats. But, since we weren't looking to set a land speed record, we just accepted it and kept going.
The drive through the Napa Valley was nice. We must have seen 50+ wineries. As someone who doesn't drink wine I am always amazed at how many different wineries there are. It seems like every single family in the valley has their own label. The scenery was beautiful, though, and having the top off really helps you get a feel that you're experiencing the countryside rather than just driving past it.
We stopped in St. Helena to do a bit of shopping. Unfortunately, almost the entire town is wine themed, so we didn't have a whole lot of luck. I did however manage to pick up a Namiki Vanishing-point pen that I've been lusting after for a few years. And it matches the Elise, always a selling point.
About the time we crossed Highway 101, I realized my first mistake. If you're driving a convertible, either wear long pants, or put sunscreen on your legs. I burnt the $&!# out of the tops of my knees before I realized it.
A couple of friends with motorcycles had mentioned Skaggs Springs Road, and said they would be curious to hear what I thought of it in the Elise.
While this road has a lot of twisties it devolves into a tiny one-laner that is not very well kept up. We met a panel van at one point and he had to stop and pull over so we could get past. Finally just as you begin to think you can hear the banjo music, you top a rise and see the ocean.
The best part of the trip was the fact that it was 30 degrees cooler on the coast than back in W. Sac. It's a nice way to avoid 100+ weather.
WARNING: Clicking the thumbnail below will take you to a 3Mb wallpaper size image.
By the time we got into Gualala, the shops were all closed so we checked into the B&B, hit a restaurant for some seafood and retired for the evening.
Day 2: Gualala to Myers Flat, CA
After some breakfast and a bit of shopping we headed up the coast to Fort Bragg.
My wife had always wanted to see Glass Beach
, so we stopped in there. I was also getting sore feet from wearing my loafers with no socks, so I picked up a new pair of shoes and wool socks. Very few of my shoes will fit between the brake pedal and the center console so I have been on the lookout for pairs that will work. I bought some at a surf and skate shop that work very well (Daewon 12'ers from DVS). I also upgraded my hat from a baseball cap to an Australian outback hat to keep from blistering my ears.
The section of Highway 1 between the coast and Highway 101 was about the best section of road we saw, except for the traffic. The scenery is gorgeous through the redwoods and the road is wide and well maintained with lots of corners. Maybe a drive early in the morning would avoid the slower cars. Unfortunately, the GoPro battery was dead by this point so I couldn't get any video.
Once we hit Highway 101, we were well and truly into the redwoods, so we decided to drive through a tree. For $5 you get access to the park where you can drive through the base of a redwood tree while everyone points and takes pictures. Or maybe thats only if you're driving a Lotus. I can say that my wife was definitely not the only one taking pictures of the Elise at that point.
After that we headed up 101 to Miranda where we had some dinner, took a quick scouting trip north on the Avenue of the Giants, and checked into the inn at Myers flat.
Day 3: Myers Flat to West Sacramento
First thing the next morning we attached the GoPro and headed up the Avenue of the Giants. This is a fun road. It's not too curvy, but the scenery is great and early in the morning or in the evening there is almost no traffic. During the day however, watch out for extremely slow sightseers (25 in a 55!) and bicyclists.
We stopped at Founder's Grove and took a short hike around the loop trail to get some photos. One of the nice things about the 170 degree field of view of the GoPro is that you can capture an entire giant sequoia in a single shot.
While we were loading everything back into the car, an SUV pulled up next to us. The 12 year old boy in the back seat hadn't been paying much attention, but as they pulled into the parking space, he spotted the Elise and
his jaw literally dropped. It actually made my wife laugh out loud. She is really getting an idea of how much attention this car gets (esp. from 12YO boys...).
At this point we were pretty tired and wanted to get home as quickly as possible. The drive down 101 was an uneventful 70 MPH drone, and the traffic on Hwy 20 appeared to be deliberately trying to slow us down. I-5 is about the hottest and most boring road ever, so we were very relieved to finally get home and drink a couple of beers while soaking in the pool.