Tour de California 1999

NSX Tour de California 1999

by MYF16

These are my notes from what I planned as a 5-day, 1700+ mile trip from
northern to southern California and back. The trip crosses and re-crosses the
coastal mountains, in a game of microclimate hopscotch, taking just about any
paved back road I can find. This is not a trip you would attempt in a Ferrari,
but it’s perfect for the highly reliable NSX.

Day One (Friday, July 2)

After more than the usual delay in getting everything organized, I finally
got on the road at 10:30AM Friday, with a full tank of gas. I meant to take the
Vasco Road exit off 580 to Tesla Road, but took the preceding exit and got lost,
finally making my way to South Livermore Avenue and Mines Road.

Mines Road is a bit too narrow and winding to be optimal for the NSX, and I
found that my Dunlop D40M2 front tires would understeer much earlier than I
expected. So I just backed off and enjoyed the drive. Del Puerto Canyon Road was
a bit more open, except for one spot. A sign warned me of a rough road ahead,
then suddenly around a turn the road was *entirely blocked* with a huge detour
sign directing me into the dirt. I didn’t have time to fully stop on the
suddenly debris-laden road, so I went off-roading on a very bumpy, very dirty
detour. Fortunately it was only 50 feet or so long.

The lower part of Del Puerto Canyon Road is superb, with plenty of little
crests that become blind as you approach them. They’re more fun if you trust
your memory of the road beyond them and don’t back off. I chickened out and
backed off.

South on I-5 I decided to check out Billy Wright Road. The scenery was
promising, but the pavement ends 2 miles from the freeway.

Little Panoche Road was a delight. It’s deserted, reasonably scenic, and
definitely rally quality. There are plenty of little dips and rises that
threaten to make your passenger lose his lunch. (I didn’t have a passenger.)

Panoche Road was more scenic and wider (with some one-lane sections, too, as
I recall). As you approach its northern end, there’s a long straight section. I
would have done a high-speed burst had I not been down to 1/4 tank indicated,
with 50 miles or so to go to the next gas at King City.

Highway 25 was beautiful, as usual, and patrol-free, which was not usual. I
spotted some motorcyclist coming north and I waved at them. Then there were a
few more. And more. And more. At the gas station in King City, another
motorcyclist told me that this was the annual biker’s get-together in Hollister.
That explained the bikes, and maybe the lack of patrols, if everyone’s in

On the way down the hill (Bitterwater Road) into King City, I encountered a
tractor-trailer driver starting to pass another tractor-trailer uphill on this
two-lane road. Perhaps he was on drugs. If so, it is fortunate that I had
installed my StonedShield(TM), and he rapidly abandoned the attempt before
forcing me off the road.

I bought maps and an Adventure Pass (camping permit) at the Forest Service
office in King City. The map revealed that Milpitas Road, which I planned to
check out, was both gated and unpaved. After stopping at the grocery store deli
for food, I took the normal route to Nacimiento Road, which had a detour of its
own. This was serendipitous, since I got to drive another fine paved road
through Fort Hunter Liggett.

I discovered the reason I think Stony Valley, at the center of the Fort, is
the prettiest in California: it shows no sign of human presence other than the
road itself. There are no fences, wires, farm animals, or anything of the other
signs that are ubiquitous even in fertile rural areas.

I got a fine campsite next Nacimiento Creek, and was thankful that I
remembered the bug repellant. I set up the tent (a North Face VE24 for
backpacking), washed the car, and covered it. I inspected my rear valence where
the RS*R tips get very close to it, and saw some incipient heat damage. So I
installed the heat-blocking wrap that Karl Zimmermann was kind enough to send me
just in time for the trip. That should prevent any problem with the rear
valence. Thanks Karl!

After marking up the maps for the next day, I went to sleep. The sound of the
stream did a good job of masking the inevitable campground noise.

Elapsed miles: 311.

Day Two (Saturday, July 3)

I woke at 6:15 and was on the road at 6:45. The campground bulletin board
mentioned that showers were available at Limekiln Creek State Park on the coast,
and I was mighty early, so I figured "why not"?

The drive down Nacimiento Road was not nearly as fun as the drive up had been
at NSXPO, because gravity amplifies, rather than attenuates, any misjudgements
on the way down. I got some good pictures of the low cloud layer from above, and
a deer waiting to see whether I looked dangerous.

[[image:Tdc1999-5.jpg|thumb|Descending Nacimiento Road
into a coastal overcast layer]]
[[image:Tdc1999-6.jpg|thumb|A wary deer on Nacimiento
Road above the coast]]

When I reached Highway 1, it was deserted. The road was wide and the pavement
great, so I blasted north right on past Limekiln to get some coastal miles into
this trip. The RS*R sounded great at speed with the window down. I turned around
at the first construction zone and blasted back, and the road was still
deserted. I started thinking: here I am at 7:30AM on Highway 1 with nobody else
around. Why don’t I just continue south instead of taking the inland route?

[[image:Tdc1999-7.jpg|thumb|View north from a turnout south of
Nacimiento Road on Highway 1]]
[[image:Tdc1999-8.jpg|thumb|Further south on Highway 1,
north of San Simeon]]

Could I really drop all my carefully made plans just like that? Could I
forget about the shower and get going right now? HELL YES!

I had my best coastal run ever, not having to pass any non-stopped cars for
the *entire length* of the half-hour run to the Hearst Castle. I stopped for
several photos, which kept my average speed down, which may have helped. About 6
miles north of the Hearst Castle is a long straight that was completely
deserted, except for a red car very briefly peaking at 140 mph.

[[image:Tdc1999-9.jpg|thumb|Looking south on Vineyard Road]] [[image:Tdc1999-10.jpg|thumb|Passing the high point of Santa Rosa
Creek Road, east of Cambria]]

At Cambria, I decided to check out Santa Rosa Creek Road, which the MR2
people have rallied on. In a word, the road stinks. Far better was Vineyard Road
north from 46 to Adelaida. This road is both superb for driving and as scenic as
any rural area you’ll find. It has elaborate houses, ranches, and wineries one
after the other. Imagine the Napa Valley with rolling hills. It’s even a bit
more scenic than any of the many roads I’ve seen in the south of France. I had
scheduled Vineyard Road for the return trip, so I felt fortunate that my Highway
1 detour caused Adelaida to be on the way to resumption of my planned Day Two

[[image:Tdc1999-11.jpg|thumb|Near western end of
Chimney Rock Road]]
[[image:Tdc1999-12.jpg|thumb|Looking east near the middle
of Chimney Rock Road]]
[[image:Tdc1999-13.jpg|thumb|Further east. The outcropping on the
horizon must be Chimney Rock]]

I continued east on Chimney Rock Road, which is almost as scenic. I kept
stopping to take pictures, especially when I saw the rocky peak ahead that was
clearly chimney-shaped. Next time you’re driving 101 near Paso Robles, make it a
point to detour to Adelaida. Regardless of what you’re driving, you won’t regret
it. Event organizers should put this on the itinerary for the next Hearst Castle
get-together. By the way, the map says I drove right by Adelaida, but I say
there wasn’t any town or village or anything there.

I drove Vineyard Canyon Road to Parkfield, where I saw the bridge distorted
by motion of the San Andreas Fault, then Cholame Valley Road to Cholame. These
are decent, but not rally quality roads. In addition, on Cholame Valley Road I
encountered the plague of grasshoppers exactly as described by Al Terpak a few
weeks ago. Fortunately, my radiator, like Al’s, was protected by the

[[image:Tdc1999-14.jpg|thumb|Cholame Valley Road, approaching
Cholame from the north.
Grasshoppers alert!]]
[[image:Tdc1999-15.jpg|thumb|PThis bridge across the
fault was once straight]]

Bitterwater Road south off Highway 46 turned out to be under construction,
and inferior in any case, according to the nice young lady at the truck stop
near Cholame. Following her advice, I ended up taking Truesdale Road and Shell
Creek Road south from Shandon, both of which are absolutely superb, with some
decent scenery, to Highway 58. At one point the road adjoins an unfenced cattle
grazing range, the first time I’ve seen so many cattle wandering freely so close
to the road. They liked the RS*R. Mooooo…..

Highway 58 was great, especially the descent into Santa Margarita. I
encountered zero cars in my direction almost all the way from Shandon to Santa
Margarita. This on the busiest travel weekend in years, according to the media.

From Santa Maria, I took 166 east, which was crowded and frustrating. I
exited south on Tepusquet Road, which is far too narrow for rally use. Foxen
Canyon Road is good, but it carries a fair amount of auto traffic. "Highway" 192
across the upper end of Santa Barbara is crowded at first, but gets better after
passing south of town.

right|thumb|Unfenced cattle on Shell Creek Road

Highway 150 to Ojai is far better, and only road in the bunch that comes
close to 58 in driving enjoyment. Climbing this hill I spotted a motorcyclist
stopped before a turn, with his back toward me. To show that I wasn’t a
gold-chain dilettante, I executed a rev-matching downshift to second and powered
around the turn at 5 or 6 k rpm. This road is wide and fast.

I had planned to drive north from Ojai to camp in Angeles National Forest,
but I stopped first at the ranger station in Ojai. They told me that all the
pavement-accessible sites were full, so I switched to a county campground in
Ojai. It was there that I discovered that my NSX indeed has "character": the
inside edges of my front tires were nearly worn out! At this point I might have
a day or two of use, but I probably need to change them before returning to
northern California. I sent an SOS to the Southwest mailing list to see if I
could find a set of front 15" tires over the weekend, preferably partly used to
match the rears.

I washed the car again, covered it, got a hot shower (wow!), and the nice
campground lady even let me use a phone jack for my 800 number Internet
connection to send my request for tire help to the Southwest email list. So I
was a pretty happy camper. 🙂

I plan to run the canyons on Day Three, and check the front tires at the end
of each of the loops as I approach civilization. If I see cords, I’ll likely cut
the drive short and head to Redondo Beach.

Elapsed miles at end of Day Two: 690

Day Three (Sunday, July 4)

left|thumb|Unfenced cattle on Shell Creek Road I left Ojai heading north on 33, I thought about how the front tires could
have worn out so quickly. Then I realized that when I put them on the car, they
had been worn slightly more on the outside than the inside, due to previous
track use. This meant that the inside wear was rapid indeed, and that I was
likely to see cords well before the end of the day. It was time for an executive

I turned around and headed back to Ojai, where the fellows at a gas station
dismounted the front tires and flipped them for me, so that the worn insides
were now on the outside. My hope was to drive one or two days before seeing
cords, or long enough to get new tires one way or another.

[[image:Tdc1999-18.jpg|right|thumb|Lake Hughes Road heading
southwest toward Santa Clarita]]

Back on the road, I enjoyed an excellent climb over a pass on Highway 33,
with very little other traffic. Lockwood Valley Road east passed through
semi-arid farmland, punctuated by many bridgeless stream crossings that must get
quite interesting after a rain. Lockwood has plenty of passing opportunities and
light traffic, so is excellent for rallying.

Next was a loop from 138 and N2 (Pine Canyon Road) east to Lake Hughes Road
south to Castaic. The southern section of Lake Hughes Road is WIDE and fast, if
you’re not terrified of 100 mph sweepers as I am. I kept my speed down, telling
myself that it was really because of possible patrols or the state of the tires
or the phase of the moon…

In this section, I encountered three identical-appearing red compact
Pontiacs, followed by a Celica with large TOYOTA lettering at the top of the
windshield. Perhaps some Toyota engineers were evaluating the competition? I
waved to the Pontiacs (if that’s what they were), and the driver of the chase
car waved back.

left|thumb|Little Tujunga Road

As a general principle, I waved to anyone driving anything special on the
road. Car and motorcycle enthusiasts share a common bond, and almost all of them
wave back. Besides, it helps dispel any preconception that NSX drivers are

After completing this loop, I drove to Kendall Pond’s house and got some
excellent route advice. Since I had a hint of cord showing, and since I was
feeling a bit tired, we deleted the more congested and less interesting
sections, leaving the heart of the Canyonball.

I drove up San Francisquito Canyon, across Elizabeth Lake Road, and down
Bouquet Canyon. I used Vasquez Canyon Road, where a yellow motorcycle with a
fast rider dusted me, to cut over to Sand Canyon Road, which becomes Little
Tujunga Road. This is the single most enthralling section of these canyon
routes, so much so that I made a U-turn near the southern end and ran it back up
to 14.

[[image:Tdc1999-20.jpg|right|thumb|About 300 dead grasshoppers on my
StoneShield, Dali Racing’s aftermarket
product which protects the radiator
from this and other flying debris]]

I was getting tired, and a spot of cord was showing as I returned to
Kendall’s house. Kendall let me check my email, where I found that the NSX list
had come to my rescue! Specifically, Thuan Le had some front tires for me, since
he was upgrading his wheels. Not only that, but Thuan was only 20 minutes from
Kendall’s house and could give me the tires immediately. Wow! Is this a great
list or what?

I drove right over and Thuan tried without success to find a shop that was
open and could swap the tires onto my rims. So Thuan went the extra mile and
lent me his wheels with the tires on them until I could get them swapped onto my
rims. I’ll return them on my way north next Saturday. My San Diego County trip
(set for Day Four) was saved, thanks to the speedy generosity of list member
Thuan Le!

On reaching my father’s house in Redondo Beach, I made an effort to remove
the hundreds of grasshoppers from the radiator fins and from under the corners
of the nose cover. This looked quite difficult, until I realized that I could
simply remove my StoneShield(TM), a five-minute job, and clean it outside the
car. I did so, and took a photo of a fully populated GrasshopperShield, even
though many of the hoppers fell off before I took the photo. With the shield
removed, I could easily spray off the remaining grasshopper parts.

The cleaning results were excellent, but I hope it was not such a good job
that Murphy’s Law will cause another grasshopper encounter on my return trip to
northern California.

Elapsed miles at end of Day Three: 1020

Day Four (San Diego county run, with substantial route planning help from
Dan Tackett)

Redondo Beach is surrounded by that urban wasteland known as the Los Angeles
basin, meaning that all the interesting roads are far away. Leaving my father’s
house at 7:30 AM, I drove about an hour on the freeway before reaching Ortega
Highway (74), which eventually opened up, with several kamikaze motorcyclists
vanishing up the hill in seconds. Highway 74 is, however, too crowded for
serious enjoyment. It’s also heavily patrolled, due to the revenue-enhancing
"double fine zone", although I didn’t see any patrol cars this time.

Another half-hour of freeway driving (south on I-15) brought me to Highway
76, the route to Mount Palomar. As I approached, I saw the road cut into the
side of the mountain. Uncharacteristically, I felt a bit of fear at the sight.
Was this an omen, or just one of those thousands of instances of false

The road up Mount Palomar climbs 5000 feet in 6 miles, with plenty of
switchbacks, excellent pavement, and very little traffic at 9:30 AM. The one
passing zone at the bottom of the hill was all I needed to have clear sailing.
The steep road is relatively safe on the ascent, but it could be hazardous to
descend at speed.

Despite my enthusiastic run up the hill, the NSX’s temperature guage never
budged from its normal mid-range position. Good thing I removed all those
grasshoppers. At the top of Palomar, I stopped to check out the dinosaur
200-inch telescope. It is huge and impressive, a marvel of pre-computer

I descended East Grade Road, which is 14 miles long and much more gently
sloped. It also has great views all the way to the ocean. Farther down the hill
there are views to the north and east as well. In that area, I encountered a
Ferrari 308 ascending, the only exotic of any kind I’ve yet encountered on the
back roads of this trip. I’ll bet he wasn’t 500 miles from home, though. We
smiled and waved at each other as we passed.

After Palomar, it was on to the real desert, County Highway S2 south to
Ocotillo. This is not your typical flat-and-straight desert highway; there are
plenty of turns and undulations as the road follows the terrain. If you’re so
inclined, you can get your car airborne at well over 100 mph. I didn’t. (My
license plate says MY F16, but that’s a reference to styling, not aerobatic
capabilities.) As with the impromptu off-road excursion on Day One, I was
grateful to have the stock suspension, without lowering or stiffening. This road
is so deserted that help would be a long, hot time in coming.

Another half-hour of freeway (east on I-8) brought me to S1, a terrific road
heading back north. It has spectacular vistas both east and west, and the
traffic was very light and cooperative.

I worked my way back north on 79, encountering the finest speed trap I’ve
ever seen a few miles north of Santa Ysabel. My co-pilot Mike Valentine warned
me of intermittently bursting radar ahead on a long straight. I scanned the
approaching traffic for the police car, when finally I saw it parked in the very
dark shade on the opposite shoulder only 100 feet ahead. What a great hiding
place! The straightaway had no driveways or other signs of danger. Two minutes
earlier and he might have had me.

I have to admit that it’s humbling to think that the road can hold a hazard,
in this case a totally concealed car able to enter the road with no warning,
where even experienced drivers would never expect it.

It was still only early afternoon, and I couldn’t resist re-running Palomar,
this time encountering a bit more traffic. My "premonition" was just the usual

I had enough gas left to follow 79 north to its end. This is a superb road
and quite pretty. Other than the Palomar run, Highway 79 was my favorite of
these roads. Since I was a bit tired, I drove much of this at 55 mph or so. In
this relaxed mode, I was feeling thankful for life and very much at one with the
car. I imagined Mr. Uehara and the other designers driving the car on roads just
like this one, getting everything tuned just right.

The NSX is just as willing to be driven smoothly at 55 mph as at any other
speed. It’s as if, when you ask the NSX to speed up, it says, "I can do that".
When you ask it to just cruise gently, it says, "I can do that, too." And it
does your bidding eagerly and superbly.

As the author of the first Motor Trend review said, the NSX is like a golden
retriever (in its overwhelming desire to please) with really good table manners
(precise handling and luxurious surroundings). It’s a car for all moods, rather
than a car with its own attitude.

I’ve said it before, but there’s no other car better for this kind of trip
than the NSX. I need not fear any road surface or mechanical failure, so I am
free to range as far as my tires will take me. 🙂 The fuel range is pretty
good, too.

To those who want more power, I had more than enough to pass a
tractor-trailer that was holding back several other cars on Highway 79. In two
safe passes I cleared all 6 vehicles ahead, zipping by the truck at more than
double his speed. Although I’d never turn it down, more power would have been of
no real advantage at any point of this trip. It might, however, have caused me
to run out of gas or it might have gotten me the ticket that I’ve avoided so

Elapsed miles: 1532

This is shaping up to be a nearly 2000-mile trip, including the long return
to the Bay Area on Saturday. I think I’ll add a detour through Little Tujunga
Canyon to the start of my return. Just for the extra miles to put me over 2000,
you understand…

Day Five (Los Angeles to San Jose)

Before leaving Los Angeles, I followed Doug Hayashi’s example and drove the
tunnel under the south runway at LAX, running to redline with my window down to
hear the sound of the exhaust. It was indeed quite LOUD, but I prefer the sound
out in the open. Also on the way out of LA, I returned Tuan Le’s rims that he
had lent me, now that his tires were on my old rims. Next stop: canyons!

On the way over the Sepulveda Pass on 405, I saw my first RUF Porsche ever,
in an attractive light blue/gray color.

Despite not having the proper map, I found Little Tujunga Road (118 to 210
east one exit to Osborne Street and follow signs for the Ranger Station. From
Little Tujunga, I took Vasquez to Bouquet Canyon Road northeast. On Bouquet, I
decided to check out Spunky Canyon Road, which crosses the mountains to San

The first thing I noticed about Spunky Canyon Road was that the pavement was
brand new and perfect. But once I started the climb over the mountain, it was
clear that this was the best canyon road of them all, with great switchbacks and
turns, and a lovely view of the reservoir below. I couldn’t resist turning
around and re-running it south, then north again.

On the southward run, I had the second scare of my trip when a motorcyclist
appeared in a blind hairpin right in front of me, in the center of my lane. Good
thing I was taking it easy. He managed to leave my lane without losing control,
and I had my car nearly stopped. It was a yellow motorcycle, so I suppose it
could have been the same guy I saw on Day Three. Whoever he is, he won’t last
long unless he gets more careful.

Speaking of kamikaze motorcyclists, this was two days after the news of Pete
Conrad’s fatal motorcycle accident, on a great road that I ran on Day Two. The
news reports all mentioned that he was within the 55 mph speed limit.
Unfortunately on those Highway 150 turns, the limits of physics are set somewhat

If you drive Spunky Canyon, watch for the decreasing radius downhill
left-hander above the reservoir, with no guardrail. It pays to take it easy on
unfamiliar roads!

After a quick gas and breakfast stop, I started west through Frazier Park. At
one point, I made a wrong turn and drove up Mt. Pinos. (If you ever ask your
wife or girlfriend to go to Mt. Pinos, be careful with your pronunciation! It’s
peen-yose.) This detour was terrific, so I felt lucky to have made the wrong
turn. The road through Frazier Park to Highway 33 was excellent, too, as those
who drove this route to NSXPO ’99 know.

After a short run up 33, I turned west on 58. The road was wide open, but the
fact that it was uphill reduced my top speeds on the deserted straights. The
hill climb on 58 was spectacular, and I was able to use my Yokohamas to full
effect. I approached the car’s limits on a few of the hairpins, but never broke
into a drift. You almost have to be a wild man to break the NSX loose on the
open road, unless you count power oversteer with the TCS off. I always drive
with the TCS on, since it can save me from road surface surprises.

Highway 58 is perhaps the single best driver’s road in California, in that it
is scenic, largely deserted, and exciting to drive. A few miles east of Seven
Mile Road, Highway 58 has a small, abrupt hump that you are guaranteed to feel
in your stomach. I ran it three times (westbound) at progressively higher
speeds. On the last run, the car landed with authority, perhaps indicating that
MY F16 finally earned its wings.

Scenic back roads (La Panza, Cripple Creek, El Pomar) took me from Highway 58
to Templeton, where I picked up Vineyard Road northwest. West of Paso Robles, I
zigzagged to compare the three east-west back roads. Chimney Rock is still my
favorite, as it is the best driving road and at least as scenic as Adelaida
Road, which earns second place, and Peachy Canyon Road, which gets third due
primarily to its narrowness. One could make a nice day-trip from San Luis Obispo
or San Simeon by going up Vineyard, east on Chimney Rock Road and back west on
Adelaida Road. The whole area surrounding Templeton is beautiful.

From Chimney Rock Road, I headed north on G14, which is a great road for its
entire length. I noticed that it carries an official "scenic highway"
designation, at least for the southern section. That section includes a
spectacular climb up from Lake Nacimiento, which is a reservoir that
accommodates watercraft. It was difficult to believe that that small stream I
camped next to on Day One feeds this huge reservoir; there must be more water
coming from somewhere else.

If you are planning to drive Highway 101 and you have even just one extra
hour, you should take G14 instead between King City and Paso Robles. In fact, if
you’re driving your NSX you might not need the extra hour. 🙂 Paso Robles
provides convenient back road access to Highway 58, as well. Now that I’ve
driven them, I’d never consider driving the NSX to southern California without
including 58 and G14, unless I could find a way to be on Highway 1 at 7AM.

At Jolon, I took a side trip off G14 to drive most of the paved roads in Fort
Hunter Liggett. They were fantastic, as always. For a few minutes, I led a
playful motorcyclist through these roads at speed. I could gain significant
ground in the turns, but he made it back on the straights, as expected,
especially since I’m not one to abuse the car with race-track style hard
acceleration and braking.

In my road survey, I determined that a loop shown as paved on the Forest
Service map was in fact mostly dirt or gravel. Then I drove Del Ventura Road
north and found it to be a wonderful drive. At one point there is a bridgeless
stream crossing (essentially just a cement slab) that acts as a dam to create a
pond. From the photo, it almost looks as if the NSX is in the water. Del Ventura
eventually becomes a dirt road, but I had to turn around before that, due to
limited time and fuel. I was about to test Don Gallo’s theory that the tank
holds 2.5 gallons after the low fuel light stays on steadily.

At King City, the car took only 16.5 gallons (until the pump shut off), so it
looks as if Don was correct. I had driven about 20 miles on a steady low fuel
warning. King City is a great place to stop, refuel, and refresh oneself. I had
a 3:15PM lunch, arriving just in time to watch the US Women’s Soccer team win
the shootout with the Chinese team. What timing!

Leaving King City, I decided to drive 198 to Coalinga, since I had never
before driven the eastern part of 198. About a mile into it, I rounded a turn at
about 55 mph and saw a Highway Patrolman who had just pulled over a large sedan.
Even though I wasn’t speeding, I think I saw him shake his head at the big fish
that got away. Judging from my lack of subsequent encounters, he may have been
the only patrolman assigned to Highway 198.

I drove Highway 5 north to Little Panoche Road, after verifying that Panoche
Road is not paved. Little Panoche Road was a bit bumpier than I remembered, but
nothing that the stock NSX suspension couldn’t easily handle. It feeds into
Panoche Road, which starts bumpy but gets progressively more smooth and scenic.
By the time you approach Highway 25, it’s really a blast: Just west of Browns
Valley Road is a long straight that provides a great run in third and fourth

Highway 25 runs north to Hollister. On the way is the village of Tres Pinos.
(There must be a lot of Pinoses in California.) I passed a sign that had the
word Bluegrass, which is a musical genre I like to listen to now and then, so I
stopped to ask. They were having a Bluegrass Festival (multi-band concert). I
tried to get in for just the 30 minutes or so my schedule would allow, but no
dice. It was only later that I realized I could have set up my tent alongside
the many others there and perhaps stayed the night, since by 10 PM I’d have been
far too sleepy to drive. An opportunity missed.

Speaking of missed opportunities, I realized belatedly that I had omitted
driving Mesa Grande Road on Day Four. Some other year, perhaps, for both
bluegrass and Mesa Grande. I can’t complain, since I had a great time both days.

As I got to the freeway, the CD was playing Jim Croce’s "I’ve Got a Name",
which you may recall from the intro to the early Jeff Bridges movie Hard Driver.
It’s too bad the CD doesn’t include the big-block V8 engine sounds from the

When people ask me why I set the cruise control at 6 mph over the limit on
the freeway, I usually respond that when I get a ticket, I want it to be for
doing something really fun. Well, in the last 2000 miles I’ve had enough fun to
balance out the next ticket, whenever and however it comes.

Day Five ended up as a 700-mile day, in which my NSX kept me cool and
comfortable the whole time, despite the 90+ degree temperatures outside. No back
aches or any other problems; the NSX is just about as comfortable as a luxury
sedan for a long drive, and it’s a helluva lot more fun.

Elapsed miles to Santa Clara: 2239

Day Six

Day Six was merely a short drive home from my friend’s house in Santa Clara.
To spice things up a bit, I pre-ran the Tour de East Bay back roads route from
Milpitas to Concord. I recorded the mileage at each turn for later comparison to
my existing route plan.

After reaching the terminus of that scenic route at Concord Acura, I gassed
up (with the fuel warning light showing again) and went home. There I checked
the nose cover and radiator, and found a smattering (splattering?) of
grasshoppers, several dozen in all. If this had been Mike Niday’s car, he would
have been apoplectic, but I know how to clean it up quickly by removing the

My NSX is now sitting in the garage, covered and tucked in, ready for another
adventure whenever I am…

Total elapsed miles: 2340

P.S. Photos and some text from this trip can be viewed at

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Tour de California
Great NSX Drives!