14. All tucked in for the night in the staff parking lot at The Majestic

2018 Central Coast British Car Club Mille Tour

2018 Central Coast British Car Club Mille Tour

by Joel Justin

Background and Trip Prep

After last year’s successful Central Coast British Car Club Mille, there was no doubt about having another. In fact, Neal and I started our planning in August, shortly after returning. Wanting to avoid some of the route “issues” we had last year (washed out bridges, landslides and snow covered roads), we decided to have this year’s Mille in the fall instead of spring.

Since we didn’t get to do Hwy 1 or Tioga Pass last year, we wanted to incorporate them into this year’s trip. But we didn’t want to duplicate any of the previous routes, if possible. Keeping with our goal of staying off the freeways as much as possible, our route was to head up the Coast Hwy to Carmel, then over to Yosemite Valley entering via Hwy 140.

We planned a short drive for our third day so people would have more time in Yosemite Valley before heading over Tioga Pass to Lee Vining. Knowing how hot Death Valley would be, we left Lee Vining early for a glorious sunrise drive along Mono Lake, before heading into Nevada on our way to Death Valley. On our fifth day, we headed home, but not without some unplanned detours.

Ahead of time, the group voted and decided to stay at a few higher-end hotels this year, so we stayed at The Majestic (formerly, and always in my mind, the Ahwahnee) and the Inn at Death Valley (formerly, Furnace Creek Inn). They were both over the top in terms of accommodations and dining experiences.

As the trip neared, we had a prep meeting with everyone at our house. We passed day-by-day trip kits – maps with detailed turn-by-turn directions. Last year, with 10 vehicles, we strived to stay together, but that didn’t always work. So, this year, with 15 vehicles, we said we wouldn’t try to stay together, making the detailed maps that much more important.

We also handed out trip regalia – dash plaques, door stickers, and for those who ordered them, embroidered event polo-shirts and ball caps, along with wine, beer, and high ball etched glasses.

We also had people bring tools, spare parts and anything else they couldn’t fit into their Little British Car. What were we going to do with all that? Well, we had a SAG wagon that was going to shadow us! SAG stands for Support And Gear. Terry and Dave graciously offered their Ford F-150 truck again, and our good friends – John and Jean – jumped at the chance to join our adventure (again!).

Prep Meeting in the Paddock

Prep Meeting in the Paddock

We decided to incorporate dinner and a movie night with the prep meeting this year. It gave people a chance to socialize and get to know each other better. After dinner, most of us settled down for an outdoor movie showing of Bottle Shock, complete with popcorn and candy.

We were as ready as we could be, so it was time to begin our epic journey…

Day #1 – Ventura to Carmel

On September 19th, we met at the Golden China Restaurant in Ventura at 7:30am. We wanted to meet an hour before departure to take care of any last minute questions or gear transfer to the SAG wagon. We originally had 15 cars signed up, however, Ron Butler had an issue with his eye and couldn’t get back to SoCal from Boston in time; but he was with us in spirit, and I swear he was in some of the photos too (look carefully and see if you can find Ronaldo – get it – Where’s Waldo – Ronaldo?). Maybe he was really with us in spirit! The Halpin’s MGB suffered an engine malady, so they came in a modern Jaguar chauffeuring Gary and Junie. So, we ended up being a group of 13 LBCs plus the SAG wagon. Our group consisted of:

  1. Joel and Pam – 1961 Triumph TR4
  2. Neal and Maggie – 1970 Triumph TR6
  3. Mike and Sandra – 1973 Triumph TR6
  4. Dave and Terry – 1958 Jaguar XK150
  5. Martin and Paul – 1971 Triumph GT6
  6. Leonard and Judy, and Gary and Junie – Modern Jaguar Sedan
  7. Jack and Pam – 1964 MGB
  8. Rebecca and Mitzi – 1957 Triumph TR3
  9. Craig and Kathy – 1974 Triumph TR6
  10. Mike and Margaret – 1970 Jaguar E-Type
  11. Ron and Julie – Modern Mini Cooper S
  12. Dale and Hanne – 2007 Jaguar XK
  13. Bob and Kathy – 1958 Triumph TR3A
  14. John and Jean – 2013 Ford F-150

The whole gang getting ready to leave from the Golden China Restaurant in Ventura

The whole gang getting ready to leave from the Golden China Restaurant in Ventura

We departed the Golden China on our way to our first stop which was Solvang Park. This was a regroup stop and the perfect distance from Ventura to let people “unload” all the coffee they drank. Unfortunately, we hit hellacious traffic through Carpinteria which delayed us over 20 minutes, but things were good over San Marcos Pass. Once we arrived, Neal commented on how his car was running rough at idle. We popped the bonnet to see if anything was obvious, and it was. On his shiny new (modern) SU carbs were unplugged vacuum ports. Apparently there must have been a pressure build-up which blew the plugs off. We didn’t have any plugs with us, but we did have a length of rubber hose and two hose clamps. So, we connected the two ports together and it idled smoothly. Problem #1 identified and resolved!

We jumped onto Hwy 101 (boo) for a short distance before exiting at Los Alamos and heading north on Hwy 135 which turned into Hwy 1. Our next stop for a regroup was at a vintage mural on the side of a building in Guadalupe. We got all our cars lined up for a plethora of photos.

The group at the Guadalupe mural

As we were ready to depart, Dave’s Jaguar wouldn’t start. It clicked, but wouldn’t turn over. Battery? Starter? Solenoid? The solenoid had a push-button start on it so we tried that. Nothing. We were debating on whether we should tear into the right-front fender to get access to the battery, when someone suggested we try push-starting it first. We actually decided to try to rock it in gear before push-starting it, and when we did, we all heard a clunk. That clunk was the starter gear disengaging from the ring gear on the flywheel. When we tried to start it again, it fired right up. Problem #2 identified and resolved!

Continuing up Hwy 1, our next stop was at Dinosaur Cave Park in Pismo Beach for a quick restroom stop, then to Los Osos for gas and Morro Bay for lunch at Rose’s Bar and Grill. It was more crowded in Morro Bay than we were expecting, making parking a bit more of a challenge, but we all found spots.

I went to school at Cal Poly in SLO, and Rose’s was a favorite place to go with my fraternity brothers to lift a pint (or two, or three), so I thought it would make a nice place for lunch. While the service was a bit slow (we can’t completely blame them for that with 30 people descending on them at once), the view and food was excellent.

After lunch, we began our trek up Scenic Hwy 1. We traversed the new section of road where the landslide at Mud Creek was. It was interesting to see the “new” coastline and how they completed the road and all the retaining walls to prevent future slides.

We split the stretch between Morro Bay and Carmel with a stop at Willow Creek Beach. Since we all finished lunch at different times, half the group left ahead of the other half, so as the second half (which included me) pulled in, the first half was pulling out. We pulled down to the lower parking lot to use the restroom (no TP, so tip for next time – bring some of our own!) and enjoy a few minutes by the cobblestone beach.

Shortly after departing the Willow Creek Beach, we passed Martin and his brother Paul parked along the side of the road in beach chairs. I didn’t have time to pull over, but Neal and the SAG wagon did while the rest of us pulled over a short distance up the road at a pull-out. Using radios Martin provided, we learned that his new muffler had fallen off. Pam and I returned to the “scene” while everyone else continued to Carmel.

With a floor jack, some jack stands, a blanket and some bailing wire (no joke), Martin got his muffler secured back in place and was able to continue the journey. Problem #3 identified and resolved! Sheesh, I hoped this wasn’t going to be a trend for the whole trip – 3 problems and we hadn’t even completed our first day!

The trip up Hwy 1 was spectacular. We had stretches with no one in front of us where we could enjoy the twisties. And of course the views were fantastic.

Scenic Hwy 1 photo taken by Nick Hurst who saw our caravan, looked us up and emailed me this

We fueled up in Carmel before arriving at the Carmel Lodge for the night. We chose that hotel for several reasons. First is, it was (very) close to our dinner restaurant (246 feet according to Google Maps), but more importantly, it had on-site parking, something that can be a real challenge in Carmel.

The rooms were recently renovated and very nice. The hotel staff set up a small courtyard for us to enjoy happy hour by setting up chairs and several tables. How nice of them!

The ladies (and Ron) enjoying Happy Hour in the Courtyard!

Our dinner reservations were for 7:30 pm at The Hog’s Breath Inn. Pam and I had spent many an afternoon at the HBI while on our honeymoon in Carmel almost 35 years ago. It has a beautiful setting with a half dozen outdoor fireplaces – perfect for playing dominoes while enjoying a glass of wine. It was originally owned by Clint Eastwood during his Carmel Mayor days and is a good steakhouse, so we thought it would be a nice place for our first dinner.

We had a group reservation, and they set aside half the restaurant for us, which worked perfectly. After ordering and before dinner arrived, we did a small group raffle. Unlike last year, we had real JULIE time this year. Jean, Craig and John won bottles of 1,000 Mile wine. Martin won a Mille engraved Yeti cup. Gary won a Mille engraved wine glass and Terry won a $25 Rock Auto gift certificate. After dinner, some went back to the courtyard at the hotel to continue Happy Hour while others went to bed after a long, but fun day.

Day #2 – Carmel to Yosemite

Our plan was to meet at 8:00am and leave at 8:15am. When we checked in the afternoon before, we gave them our room service breakfast order which Neal had scheduled for 7:30am. It was a delicious assortment of fresh fruits and pastries, along with juice and coffee. Pam and I enjoyed ours on a bench outside our room. We were on the road right on schedule and encountered no traffic on our way to our first stop in Gilroy.

Morning meeting at the Carmel Lodge

We headed up Hwy 1 to Watsonville, then jumped on Hwy 152 over Hecker Pass. What a wonderful road – nice and twisty with both high and slow speed corners, and lots of trees providing for a beautiful drive. And best of all – no one in front of us to slow us down! Our first stop was at Christmas Hill Park which is the site of Gilroy’s annual Garlic Festival. It was a nice place with lots of big trees around to provide shade and plenty of space for us to park. This was a regroup and restroom break (gotta get rid of that coffee!), but is was also a good spot to hang out for a bit and take photos.

Regroup at Christmas Hill Park

We continued east on Hwy 152 as we wound our way through beautiful golden hills spotted with live oaks. We went by last year’s lunch spot at Casa de Fruta and on to the Romero Visitor Center on San Luis Reservoir. It wasn’t as windy as last year and we enjoyed another break while taking in the lake views. While we were enjoying the views, someone came up and said a shield was hanging down on the F-150. We expected issues on the British cars, but not the SAG wagon! After a quick inspection, it was a simple fix. The quarter-turn screw that held the shield up had come loose. It took more time to get the mat out to lay on than it did to fix it. Problem #4 identified and resolved!

Our next stop was fuel and lunch in Chowchilla. There weren’t a lot of restaurant choices in Chowchilla, so we selected Pedro’s Mexican Grill. Neal called ahead and they were ready for us. They had tables set up and servers ready. They were fast, efficient, and the food was plentiful and GOOD. As we were getting ready to leave, I went to put my seatbelt on and noticed it was loose. When I tightened it, the belt pulled out of the floor. The outside nut had come loose and fallen off. Bob had a nut and I had it tightened (and the other side checked) in no time. Problem #5 identified and resolved!

After lunch, we continued east across the San Joaquin Valley. There was no one but us on the road. As we went through Daulton, we started climbing into the Sierra foothills. We headed north through Raymond and Ben Hur before arriving in Mariposa for fuel and a regroup stop. There was a 10 mile stretch of road between Raymond and Ben Hur that was extremely rough. At the regroup stop, everyone was checking their fillings. That’s when we got the call from Neal about another breakdown.

This one wasn’t good. Mike’s E-Type had dropped to a full stop on the driver’s side front suspension and was dragging the exhaust system over bumps. Fortunately, Martin was familiar with E-Types and knew the front suspension was a torsion bar. His thought was that the tensioner at the rear of the torsion bar had broken or fallen off. But the only way to check it was to get the car up on a lift.

There weren’t a lot of repair shops in Mariposa and being late on a Friday afternoon didn’t help. The first shop we called, we got an answering machine. The second said we could bring it over and they’d put it up on their lift to see what we could determine.

Mike limped his car the 10 miles to the shop with Neal and the SAG wagon following closely. Martin and I met them when they arrived. The guys at Lou’s Speedie Lube were great. They immediately stopped what they were working on and got the Jag on the lift. They had no problems with us looking things over with them. We quickly concluded that Martin’s guess was spot on. The bracket that held the torsion bar under load was missing – likely “shaken” off on that rough road. At that point, we figured the E-Type’s trip was over, but that’s where the ingenuity came in.

Jaguar E-Type on the lift

They flattened the end of a piece of galvanized fence post pipe and used a floor jack to put tension on the torsion bar. Fortunately, there was a bolt hole that held the bracket and by putting a bolt through the hole backed by a nut, the torsion bar would rest on the nut and keep the front suspension up. They used a chisel to deform the threads so the nut wouldn’t come off, and when the car was lowered back on its suspension, it was almost perfectly level! Problem #6 identified and resolved!

Mike tried to pay them, but Lou said it was no charge. He tried again, but to no avail. Regardless, a nice tip was left as well as an order from Omaha Steaks on their way. If you ever find yourself with car troubles near Mariposa, give Lou’s a call.

We got the TR6, E-Type and SAG wagon filled with gas, and headed on our final leg to Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately, right out of Mariposa, they had road construction with one-lane traffic. We waited 15 minutes until it was our turn to go. The three cars in front of us turned off shortly, and we were able to enjoy the twisty roads to Yosemite as they should be driven.

We arrived at the Majestic at 6:45pm and because of Dale’s forethought, had no problem with parking as they had reserved spots for our cars in the employee lot right next to the hotel. Since a group dinner at the Majestic Dining Room was complicated and there were numerous dining choices, we decided to let everyone do their own thing for dinner.

Neal, Maggie, Mike, Sandra, John, Jean, Pam and I had reservations for the dining room at 7:45pm. So we quickly unpacked and showered before heading down to dinner (which was fabulous by the way). We all brought our favorite bottle of wine and by the time dinner was over, all four bottles were emptied. After a filling dinner and another long day, we headed off to our rooms and fell promptly asleep.

All tucked in for the night in the staff parking lot at The Majestic

Day #3 – Yosemite to Lee Vining

We planned today’s drive to be short to allow people time to explore Yosemite Valley on their own. The only requirement was to be at the Lake View Lodge in Lee Vining by 5:00pm to have time to unpack and shower before our group dinner. That meant we had to sleep in!

After we got up, we headed to the lobby to figure out what we were going to do for breakfast. We found they had a Continental-type breakfast in the bar. We found Neal and Maggie, and John and Jean there so we had breakfast with them as we discussed the morning’s plans. We decided to take a walk around the valley heading toward Curry Village, but thought it made sense to check-out first so we didn’t feel rushed to get back.

After packing our cars, we met on the outdoor patio. We were joined by Mike and Sandra, and Martin and Paul. We wandered through the woods and fields, and along the Merced River until we finally made it to Curry Village. The only lunch option there was pizza which we didn’t really want, so we all wandered back to the Majestic and ate lunch in the bar (again). The food was excellent.

Hanging out on the Patio

Bridge Over the River Kwai Merced

We all finally got in our cars at 2:00pm and headed out of the Valley and got on Hwy 120 to head over Tioga Pass. I had changed the jets on my Webers (125 mains down from 130s) and others leaned out their SUs by a flat. Our first stop was Olmstead Point for scenic views of Half Dome from the north. We met up with Ron and Julie there and took lots of photos.

Heading out of Yosemite Valley

Next we stopped at the Lembert Dome Picnic Area in Tuolumne Meadows for a bathroom break. We then continued up towards the Pass. As we were leaving, my car started hissing and sputtering, and finally died. There wasn’t much of a pull-out, but Mike and the SAG wagon stopped behind me while we waved everyone else on. I popped the bonnet and had Pam try to start the car. It started but ran rough. I noticed the fuel pressure was very low, so I thought my fuel pump had failed. The car died, so we started it again. It ran rough for a few seconds then started running smoothly. We jumped in and took off and it ran perfectly into Lee Vining. I think it may have been vapor lock, but it will require more investigation when I get home. Problem #7 identified and resolved (sort of)!

We topped off the tanks in Lee Vining and got to the hotel at about 4:30pm. They had a nice wooden deck among some trees that was centrally located which made for the perfect Happy Hour spot. So, after unpacking and grabbing our favorite liquid refreshment, that’s where everyone congregated.

Happy Hour at the Lake View Lodge

As it got close to dinner time, everyone headed to their rooms to get ready. We had made special arrangements with the Mono Inn for dinner. It was about 5 miles north of town on the shores of Mono Lake. It’s a small restaurant and they had closed to the public early to accommodate our group. Pam and I got there a bit early to help them set up and to get out everyone’s placard with their name and entrée choice on it.

Cars lined up ready to go to dinner at The Mono Inn

As people arrived, we gave them their placards and asked them to sit at a table with someone they hadn’t eaten dinner with or spent much time with on this trip. I think that worked out well, at least for us, as Pam and I got to sit with Jack and Pam, and Dale and Hanne, and thoroughly enjoyed their company over dinner.

The Mono Inn

And speaking of dinner, it was outstanding. Entrées ranged from Filet Mignon to bison to pork to chicken to fusilli, and probably a few others I’m forgetting. Everyone I talked to raved on how good the food and service was! Two sisters took over the place a couple of years ago and if you’re ever in the area looking for a good dinner – The Mono Inn…

After dinner (and dessert), we all headed back to the hotel and to bed as the next day was going to be an early and interesting day.

Day #4 – Lee Vining to Death Valley

I think the name “Death” Valley had some members of our group spooked. Or maybe it was the forecasted high temperatures. Regardless, several of our group members had decided they were going to head home today instead of going to our last destination – The Inn at Death Valley.

Our LBCs experienced lots of firsts on this trip. Yesterday, they attained their highest elevation (9,945 ft.) when summiting Tioga Pass. Today, they experienced their lowest elevation (-100 ft.) as well as their hottest temperature (107 degrees).

We decided we wanted to get an early start to try to get to the hotel before the peak temperatures in the late afternoon, so up at 6am with a 6:30am departure. We planned for a breakfast stop in Big Pine, but we didn’t want to head straight down Hwy 396, so we took the “scenic” route.

After saying our goodbyes to Leonard, Judy, Gary, Junie, Jack, Pam, Dale, Hanne, Rebecca and Mitzi, we continued east on Hwy 120 along the south shores of Mono Lake. The sun hadn’t risen yet but the sky was lightening. The temperatures were a crisp 43 degrees so most of us had our hoods (tops in US English speak) up and (meager) heaters on.

Sunrise over Mono Lake

The drive was beautiful. The lake was like a sheet of glass with the tufas rising out of the water. We skirted in and out of the pines as we wound our way on a well paved and deserted road. As we swung to the south, we saw a sign that said “Dips”. That means speed up, right? Well, we did and what a roller coaster ride that was. I could watch cars in my rear view mirror all of a sudden disappear, then pop back up again. And I swear we were almost weightless on a couple of them. I’d go to Mono Lake just to drive that stretch of road again.

Our first stop was Benton Station for a restroom and regroup stop, although with no traffic or stop lights, we were all grouped together anyway. We all got a chuckle at the pay phone on the wall with a sign that said “Local Calls 25₵”. After everyone rid themselves of their morning coffee, we headed south on Hwy 6 towards Bishop.

Bundled up for a chilly morning at Benton Station

A few days earlier, I had received a short email from a “Bill Snyder” asking if we were going through Bishop. Since I didn’t know who he was and wasn’t sure why he was asking, I ignored the email. Then, I got a second email saying he owned a 1957 MG Magnette and was with the news media and would like to do a story on our trip for TV and radio. This time, I replied and told him our plans. He said he would film us heading into Bishop, then meet us in Big Pine for breakfast to get our story and more shots of our cars.

As we were just about to cross the Inyo-Mono County line near Chalfont, we saw him parked at the crest of a hill with his video camera on a tripod. We slowed as we passed him, then watched him pass us at the stop lights in Bishop and film us again as we left town. We met him at The Country Kitchen in Big Pine where we chatted a bit before he joined us for breakfast.

Jack and Pam, and Dale and Hanne met us for breakfast too, coming straight down Hwy 395, before splitting with the group on their way home. We all had a good and hearty breakfast, since we weren’t stopping for lunch before reaching the Inn. After breakfast, Bill filmed us as we turned north, out the restaurant parking lot to catch Hwy 168 east over Westgard Pass. Here’s a link to the story Bill did for local Bishop TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prnoPcbSjkY&feature=youtu.be&t=60

Breakfast in Big Pine being interviewed by Bill Snyder

After Big Pine, we went from 30 to 20 participants and 14 to 10 cars. The drive over Westgard pass was another wonderful trip. Some steep walled “slots” with plenty of twisty roads. We passed the turnoff to Schulman Grove and the Bristlecone pines – the oldest living trees on the planet. We then headed down into Deep Springs Valley and into the metropolis of Oasis, before turning east on Hwy 266. Shortly after that, we entered the state of Nevada, and shortly after that, our next stop at the Palmetto Post Office.

Fortunately, no one was looking to mail a letter or postcard as the “Post Office” was a ruin from the mid-1800s. The town was established in 1866 when silver was discovered. It died and boomed several times, like many mining towns do. It was named Palmetto because it was thought that Joshua Trees were related to Palm Trees (which they’re not). It finally died for the last time in the 1920s.

Palmetto Post Office

We had fun poking around several old ruins before saddling up and moving out. We continued east on Hwy 266 through the booming town of Lida before turning south on Hwy 95. This was our first “major” highway since leaving Hwy 101 in San Luis Obispo. Now by “major”, there was still very little traffic and it was only one lane in each direction, but it was a 70 MPH highway.

Somewhere just before we got to Hwy 95, we learned that Martin blew a rear tire. Apparently, his parking brake was on slightly which caused his brakes to overheat, and likely caused the tire to bubble out. They performed a NASCAR-like pit stop and had it changed in no time such that they were only a few minutes behind us when we got to Beatty. Problem #8 identified and resolved!

We stopped for fuel and a restroom stop at Eddie’s World in Beatty. The digital thermometer in my car wasn’t working, but I guessed it was in the low 90s – hot but certainly not unbearable. But we were at 3,300 ft., so we still had the wrath of Death Valley ahead of us. The good news was everyone’s cars were behaving. It was all downhill to the hotel, and we only had about 30 minutes of high heat driving.

Out of Beatty, we continued southwest on Hwy 374 and back into California. We passed the ghost town of Rhyolite, headed up over Daylight Pass and began our long gradual descent into Live-Forever Valley (as Dale liked to call it).

As we descended, the temperatures rose. We turned onto Hwy 190 heading southeast. The temperatures were north of 100 degrees as we passed the Chevron station in Furnace Creek (gas prices were above $5.50 per gallon) and continued the few remaining miles to the Inn. Just before the Inn, we passed a “100 feet Below Sea Level” sign, but we rose up to the Inn so we were at or just above sea level by a few feet, which was good as it would be a LOT cooler at higher elevation (haha).

The valet showed us where to park our cars in spots they’d reserved for our group. By the time we hauled our suitcases through the tunnel to the lobby, we were all dripping. But for the first time, we got to the hotel early (2pm) and had time to enjoy the accommodations.

Most of our rooms were together and after settling in, most of us met in the bar for a cold beer. We then heard that several others were down at the pool, which also had a bar, so off to our rooms we went to get into our swimsuits.

We met John and Jean, and Mike and Sandra there. They had a great spot in the shade with several couches and chairs around. Pam and I immediately hit the pool which was pretty warm too, but when we got out, the breeze across our wet skin was very refreshing.

Neal and Maggie, Ron and Julie and Martin and Paul joined us soon after and we spent the rest of the afternoon in and out of the pool enjoying snacks and being served cold drinks by Tucker, who “happily” brought us anything we asked for.

Cooling down in the pool

We had to split the dinner group in two, so six couples ate at 7:30pm and the remaining eight of us at 8pm. Pam and I were in the late group with Neal and Maggie, Martin and Paul, and Mike and Margaret. Mike purchased wine for the table to thank us for all the help getting his Jaguar back on the road. Our waiter was fantastic and the food excellent, but I guess that’s to be expected at a four diamond hotel.

After dinner, tired and full, we retired to our rooms and fell asleep quickly.

Day #5 – Death Valley to Ventura (Home)

We woke up late (like 7:00am) and decided we’d grab a quick breakfast in the dining room. We met Neal, Maggie, John and Jean there and we ate together. We decided to have our driver’s meeting in the lobby since it was already quite warm outside. After getting our final bags into the cars, we were off by 8:30am.

Checking out of The Inn at Death Valley

We backtracked a bit, but stayed on Hwy 190 as we drove by the sand dunes and through Stovepipe Wells. We now had a long uphill climb to get out of Death Valley, and while the temperatures were a lot cooler (probably in the upper 80s), our LBCs were working harder.

Our first stop was Panamint Springs. Martin’s car was running a little warm, so he topped off his radiator before we continued. We headed south on Panamint Valley Road as we passed the ghost town of Ballarat before entering Trona on the shores of Searles Dry Lake.

Regroup stop at Panamint Springs Resort

We filled up in Trona before continuing south. As we swung west, the road became Hwy 178 heading into Ridgecrest. Our plan was to turn south on Trona Road to avoid Ridgecrest and cut southwest to Hwy 14. Unfortunately, there was some kind of construction project going on that weekend, and Trona Road was closed. A quick reroute on Google Maps, and we found we’d have to head towards Ridgecrest and skirt around the main part of town before catching Hwy 395 south. We were then able to resume our planned route by turning on Garlock Road. Unfortunately, this added almost half an hour to our trip and made us late for lunch.

When we reached Hwy 14, we turned south and after a couple of miles, we turned into the Friends of Jawbone Canyon Visitor Center. It was a great spot to get into a little air conditioning after a bathroom break. Knowing we were running late, we quickly got back into our cars and continued south on Hwy 14 through Mojave and into Rosamond for a fuel stop. A few more miles on that “major” highway, we exited on Avenue G in Lancaster for a trip down a musical road – literally.

Years ago, someone had the idea of cutting grooves into the pavement at pre-determined spacing. There were tight sets of grooves, followed by a gap, then another tight set of grooves. If you drove the speed limit (55 MPH) and were in the left lane, the various spacing of the grooves played a tune. It was a bit windy making it hard to hear, but if you listened carefully, you’d hear the finale of the famous William Tell Overture. Since for most people it was our first time experiencing this, we did a U-turn and did it again. If you’re ever in the area and have an extra 10 minutes. Look up the Musical Road and turn your radio off!

The Musical Road playing the William Tell Overture

After enjoying the music, we headed to Foxy’s Landing and Restaurant at Fox Airfield. Neal had called ahead (again) and they had a section of the restaurant set aside for us. It was 1:30pm, so they were past their lunch crowd anyway. We had lunch and enjoyed each other’s company at one final meal.

We continued west on Avenue G and then turned south on 110 St. W. It turned into Johnson Rd. as it headed into the hills towards Lake Elizabeth. As we turned south on Elizabeth Lake Rd., we stopped for our final (planned) stop for a group photo and to say our goodbyes. After lots of photos and hugs, we got back into our cars for one file leg. We continued on Elizabeth Lake Rd. for a short distance, then turned south onto San Francisquito Canyon Rd. This is where we hit our second snag of the day.

Final group photo at the Lake Elizabeth Road pullout

We had heard there was an approximately 3,000 acre fire north of Castaic Lake, but we figured we were fine as we were south and there was no indication of any road closures the way we were going. Wrong on both counts. And to make things worse, we got down San Francisquito Caynon Rd. about 9 miles before we hit the police roadblock WITH NO PRIOR WARNING. After a long hot day, we were all tired and ready to get home, and this was frustrating. Being out in the middle of nowhere, no one had cell service so we couldn’t call upon the Google Map Gods to show us the way. I remembered that Google had originally directed us to turn on Spunky Canyon Rd., but I knew I wanted San Francisquito Canyon Rd., so I ignored it. But after scanning the map for a bit, I saw that would get us there, so off we went. After driving it, I see why they called it Spunky Canyon as it was definitely a “spunky” (twisty) road!

We drove around Bouquet Reservoir and turned southwest onto Bouquet Canyon Rd. This took us into Santa Clarita where we got onto Cooper Hill Rd., then Newhall Ranch Rd. which took us over Hwy 5 and turned into Hwy 126 west – the final stretch. We turned off in Fillmore onto Grimes Canyon Rd. while the rest of the group continued on into Ventura and their homes. We got home a little before 5:30pm and after unpacking, enjoyed a cold beer and homemade pizza before showers and then jumping into our own comfy bed.


We covered just under 1,200 miles in 5 days with elevations ranging from almost 10,000 ft. to -100 ft. and temperatures from the low 40s to almost 110. Despite numerous automotive problems, every car made it home under its own power. And despite all the heat, all the participants survived too.

Everyone I talked to said they had a great time and would patiently wait for the next epic journey. Neal and I agreed that this was as big a group as we would want to plan a trip like this for, so there may be limited openings for the next CCBCC Mille. But we’ve got time to figure that out. In the meantime, we’ll start thinking about what our next adventurous route will be…

'2018 Central Coast British Car Club Mille Tour' has 1 comment

  1. December 7, 2018 @ 9:19 pm Robert Emge

    Great accounting of your adventure!


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