I am now entering the fun part of my road trip. Down the Pacific coast from Seattle to LA. If you missed my first 2 installments, see here and here. As discussed in my previous article, I spent about 10 days in Seattle with my son’s family and also touring Washington state with my wife to visit her family. Finally it was time to head south.
I considered and rejected a route that would take me out to the far west coast of Washington, an area known as the Olympic peninsula. I had been to that area before. It is quite scenic but when you look at the map, there is very little actual coastline driving available. And as it turned out, my first stop headed south from Seattle was quite interesting. I had a visit with “Duckrancher” Steve. I had met Steve when we consulted about his pending purchase of an Etype. He has subsequently purchased a pretty Cottswald Blue Series 2 OTS. To go along with his Baltic Blue Porsche 911! Steve lives on the waterfront in the lower reaches of the Puget Sound. And his current day job is raising Pacific Geoduck clams. I arrived knowing absolutely nothing about this form of aquiculture. Steve gave me a great tour. Basically, the tiny baby geoducks are inserted into the tidal flat sands. They spend an average of 7 years growing to full size. At they time they are harvested. The biggest market for them is in Japan and China. Quite interesting.
Next I proceeded 2 hours south to Portland. First I met Mark, who is the fellow I bought the Cayman from about 1 year ago. We had drinks at the Chart House, which has a beautiful view of the Portland city center. Then I drove a short distance south for an evening visiting with Tom. Many of you will know Tom as a regular contributor to Jag-Lovers and BringaTrailer Etype auctions. Tom has a lovely BRG Etype OTS. Tom treated me with giant martinis, steaks, and a most excellent bottle of Oregon red wine.
The next day, I drove a short distance south to Salem, where I dropped in on Paul, who is the chief cook and bottle washer at Performance Oriented. Paul is a master craftsman, with his speciality being the restoration of Webber carburators from early 911s. Working on any carburator is becoming a lost art. Paul stays very busy with the early 911 crowd. I received a fascinating tour of his shop and his personal long hood 911. Guys with the Paul’s skills are becoming rare. It was a treat to visit him.
Now it was finally time to go check out the Pacific Ocean. I set my Google map to take me directly to the coast, arriving at Newport. From there, I made my way south along the coast. It’s a hard choice to make but I would say in restropsect that the Oregon coast was just a tad more spectacular than the California coast. There is something about the rocky ruins of where eons of waves have carved away the coastline that I found to be amazing.
While I was in Seattle, I had used the online reservation systems to reserve a campsite in an Oregon SP and a CA SP. Midweek slots were available. Just don’t plan on finding a spot on a weekend in June! I spent my first night camping at Humbug Mountain SP in Oregon. Beach access was a short walk from the campsite. It was a deal at $20 a night with free hot showers. Being Oregon, it rained during the night but I was cozy in my tent, although I had to pack up all my gear wet into the frunk of the Cayman when I moved on in the morning.
I noted as I drove south that Oregon has provided a lot of beach access. Nice to see, in comparison to the east coast. Being an engineer with a structural background, another thing I appreciate is cool old bridges. I crossed more than I could count during my trip. Here is a good one in Oregon.
Eventually I left Oregon and moved into Northern California. At some point, the coast highway leaves the coast and moves inland. I had picked my second nights campsite to be in the Humbolt Redwoods SP in CA. If you get off the 4 lane highway as you enter the park, you can take the Avenue of the Giants road. This road weaves through some truely massive old growth redwood trees. My photography cannot do justice to the these trees.
Although these were the only 2 tent camping nights on my trip, I’m going to spend a minute discussing my gear. I had developed my equipment when I went to the 24 Hours of Lemans in 2018. The goal was to take everything I needed for “car camping” in a single large rollerbag that would meet airline checked baggage limits, typically limited to 50 pounds. I purchased a lot of the light weight and compact furniture from REI. I have been a member of REI since the late 70’s. They are my go to for equipment and gear. Shown below are my 2 man Mountain Hardware tent (rain fly not installed), Helinox cot, Helinox chair, Big Agnes Q-Core airmattress (insulated), sleeping bag, table, and MSR gas stove and cookset. It may not come as a total surprise to those that know me that I sewed up both summer weight and winter weight sleeping bags from scratch a few decades ago when I started backpacking with my then teenage children. Anyway, the gear makes for comfortable car camping, with my days of lugging 50 pound packs into the wilderness being long over. All of this gear, plus a 5 gallon water jug and a small cooler, fit comfortably into the frunk of the Cayman.
As I arrived at this park early in the afternoon, I took a short 7 mile hike, where I took this selfie with me and burned out redwood.
The next morning I broke camp and continued to drive south on CA Rt 101. After a while I came to the turnoff for CA Rt 1. This road heads due west over the coastal range to the coast from Leggett to Rockport. Wow, what an intense stretch of road that is. There are sections where you are continuously turning back and forth. Great fun in the Cayman. Maybe not so much for the logging trucks that I met coming the other way! Here is a map view.
Once you get onto CA Rt 1 along the northern coast, you start to see a trend. Long fairly straight stretches across the headlands, separated by twisty dives into the rivers and creeks that drain the watershed along the coastal mountain range. I met a lot of motorhomes and towed travel trailers. I am very glad I was driving my Porsche. When you are driving and/or towing a rig that is sized to be just slightly narrower than the legal limit (8 ft. in most places) you have to spend a lot of time making sure you stay in your lane and don’t drop a wheel off the side of the road. I have done it and it is very nerve wracking. Not conducive to relaxing Road Tripping!
My goal for the day was to reach San Franciso. I had gotten in the habit when driving out west to fill up my tank when it reached half full. The Cayman has a range on a full tank of a little over 400 miles. Back east, you are never far from a gas station. Out west, the distances spread way out. Just north of SF, I found peak gasoline at a station in Bodega Bay where I paid $7.30 / gallon.
The road also gets very technical as Rt. 1 approaches the northern approaches of the Golden Gate. It is wall to wall vehicles there in Marin County so my progess was slow. Finally I reached the Golden Gate. I made a short side trip to a viewing point for the Golden Gate Bridge.
My goal in reaching SF was actually to visit an old friend who lives in Oakland. I lived in SF for one year right after I graduated college. I took the 101 right across the GG bridge and through town to the Oakland Bay bridge. Boy, that brought back a lot of memories!
I had a hour to kill so I stopped in at Fantasy Junction in Emeryville. They had a very eclectic collection of cars to peruse.
After drinking a few beers with my old friend Chuck (not a car guy in any shape or fashion) I got a room at a nearby motel and crashed for the night. The next morning, bright and early, I set out for the Monterey area to visit David. David also posts a lot to Jag-Lovers and Bring a Trailer. He has a lovely home with a balcony view of the back straight of the Leguna Seca racetrack. He also has a sweet XK-140.
I had a pleasant visit with David but I had to keep moving. My goal for the day was to reach Santa Barbara before the end of the day, driving down CA Rt 1 via the Big Sur. I had made this trip several times before, more than not with fog present. This time I rewarded with totally clear weather. As a matter of fact, my entire trip from Oregon to LA was basically fog free. And no forest fire smoke either. Rather remarkable really. This section of road is very scenic and much less technical than in northern CA. I have always commented that you see a lot of convertable Mustangs on this route. I can only surmise that all the tourists that fly into LAX or SFO rent them for their grand tour of the coast.
Ok, one more bridge picture. This is the Bixby Bridge, built in 1932.
Another favorite stopping off point for me is the beach where a large number of elephant seals congregate, near San Simeon. Quite the sight!
Once you get this far, the really great scenary is about over. CA Rt 1 rejoins CA Rt 101 at San Luis Obispo, a town where I worked for several years, so that brought back memories. From there it is a pleasant drive down to my destination for the night, Santa Barbara. There I met John, a Jag-Lovers friend who has been a great help with me in the restoration of my 1963 FHC. We forgot to take a selfie with his car but suffice it to say his Etype is very nice. Santa Barbara is also very nice. And motels are very expensive. I decided to risk going downscale at a small place near John. It was easily 50 years old but the owners lived on the property and were obviously very attentive to their little place, with lots of plants, fruit trees, and clean rooms.
The next morning I was up early and headed south to LA. I have been to LA several times and like it, in small doses. This trip I was fortunate to be passing through on Sunday morning. Certainly the first time I have ever been there and did not run into a traffic jam! I will recap my LA to Raleigh run in a final article.