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My CA north coast jaunt last weekend

16 March 2001
East Bay, CA, USA
With my wife in Florida visiting her girlfriends of 30+ years' standing, I decided to treat myself to a one-day drive in the NSX. I got up at 4:30 AM to perfect spring weather and was on the road by 5:30. It was past dawn when I left the freeway near Healdsburg.

Skagg Springs Road was entertaining after the two local pickup drivers saw the NSX and moved aside. That road narrows before approaching the coast, so I took a detour through Annapolis to see something different. That road ends at Sea Ranch, a popular resort area with many cabins. Highway 1 was busier than I had expected -- I had not realized just how many people live in this area. What they all do for a living way out here I can't imagine. Could they be mostly retirees? Why would anyone want to retire to such a remote location?

At Mendocino I drove to the headlands and took a walk along the bluffs and down near the water. A lone seal was camera shy and moved into the water when I started shooting video. It's a great walk when the weather is clear, but the wind this day was intense. So I quickly continued north. I can't remember the last time I drove the coast between Mendocino and Fort Bragg, but I'm pretty sure this was my first visit in the NSX.

After a pit stop in Fort Bragg the view turned spectacular.

North of Fort Bragg the Pacific Ocean changes from standard-issue azure to a pale turquoise, hinting at a shallow, sandy bottom. This is the same beautiful color than stunned me on the remote Mattole Road south of Fortuna in recent years. The color alone is worth the drive if the weather is good. This section of the coast is also replete with offshore outcroppings of rock. It's like a moving postcard ten miles long.

I turned inland onto Branscomb Road, a route that I'm sure I've never driven. I found the pavement to be disappointingly rough. I decided that any joy of discovery was no match for extra time spent on the glorious Highway 1. I made a quick three-point turn and continued north on Highway 1. The coastal beauty was fleeting because Highway 1 turns inland a couple miles north of Branscomb Road. I immediately made a U-turn for a second ten mile long postcard heading south.

Just south of Mendocino I turned inland again on Comptche-Ukiah road. Wow, that is a really great one! Winding, smooth, fast, and empty, with redwood trees everywhere. I continued south on Flynn Creek Road where I was shocked to see a Tesla heading north. An electric car with approximately 120 miles of range out here in the middle of friggin' nowhere? Maybe it was a Sea Ranch resident out for a fun run, but I had to wonder how you could even get a Tesla into this area of California without putting it on a flatbed. Maybe if you had the patience to use the slow, slow 110 volt charger in Healdsburg or somewhere along the coast...

At Highway 128 I turned back toward the coast. This is another great road, but it was not empty. No matter: I was driving an NSX! On this day every vehicle I encountered moved to the side within a couple minutes. Every single one, all day long. As is my habit, I would approach quickly but then maintain a polite distance and wait. When drivers see a low, wide, screaming bright red car, they don't know what it is but they know it's much faster than their vehicle. I pass quickly so they are only delayed a second or two.

Continuing south on Highway 1 I turned toward home on Mountain View Road, a route that I remembered vaguely from more than 10 years ago. Double wow. It's more than 25 miles of empty, smooth road, with uninterrupted tight turns. You can't break the 55 mph speed limit here if you try. With manual steering your arms are likely to tire before the end of it. Along the way I was thinking how lucky I am to be living in the best time in the best state in the best country on the best planet in the whole universe. And driving the best car ever made for 9 hours of driving on these roads.

Before heading home I took a short run up Highway 175 toward Clear Lake. This is a great hill climb if the local traffic does not slow you down. It's like a smaller version of the road up Mt. Palomar. The only other car on the climb this day moved aside promptly, so my run was everything it should be. As I neared the lake I noticed a long break in the opposing traffic, so I decided to turn around for an unobstructed drive back down the hill. That worked out perfectly. I was finally worn out and ready for a calm cruise home on the freeway.

Approximately 600 miles total in 11 hours, including 450 miles of non-freeway.
Wild animal sightings: two small deer, one seal
Road kill: none
awesome story, I've driven up there while going to see the redwoods, must be an amazing drive in the nsx.
Done Skaggs and Branscomb in the NSX a couple of times. Unbelievable.
Very very nice. I don't even mention my runs anymore since there are just so few NSX owners that want to drive more than 20 miles and then it's usually just to meet and stand around and look at each others cars. . But a run like this deserves mention. Thank you for sharing. You are an NSX MAN among boys. I bow down to you...........



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