Lotus Elan

California dreamin'

PostPost by: spridget » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:35 pm

Hi all

Well, I?m planning to make a road trip on next summer with the wife and the kids from San Francisco to Los Angeles to visit the national parks and the west of America. We will make a ?classic? trip : San Francisco, Las Vegas, Death valley, Yosemite, Los Angeles ?. Then I wonder if American members would have some advices to give ?
I would also to visit one or two automotive places, race track or museum ? or anything else regarding classic cars. Is there something about Shelby to be visited ?
Any thought ?

Many thanks
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PostPost by: casalunge » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:11 pm

Franck

Not from America but I covered this route in 2011, consider timing it to coincide with the historic racing at Laguna Seca/Pebble Beach weekend.

The other thing you may find of interest is drop South from Vegas, join the Route 66 and follow it into LA ending at Santa Monica and stay a night or 2 at Shutters on The Beach.

Look up Mike Ostrov in the Bay Area,Lotus Elite specialist and fascinating workshop.
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PostPost by: PBrown60 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:56 pm

I would highly recommend visiting the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar (Near Los Angeles).
They have a truly awesome collection of vintage and classic cars.

http://www.nethercuttcollection.org/End ... grandsalon

There is also the Carroll Shelby Museum in Las Vegas.

http://www.shelbyamerican.com/vehicles.asp

Enjoy your road trip! :D


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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:46 pm

Don't underestimate the distances, nor the heat out there. :wink:
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PostPost by: spridget » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:13 pm

Many thanks my friends for your replies, I will study to include those a few of these places in the trip.
Of course, we will rent a car and it is not a Lotus :D then, what kind of car would you advice for such a trip with 2 adults and 2 teenagers and probably a lot of luggage (wife and daugther inside :lol: ).
About heat, yes Death Valley seams to be very hot, do you think a sedan is good enough to hit the road or SUV (not my favourite) would be better ?
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PostPost by: casalunge » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:41 pm

Franck

Don't be put off by the distances or heat.
In 2011 we covered 11,000 miles in a 6.2Litre Camaro, we flew our 40 kilo dog with us from the UK.
Unfortunately the above car may be a little impractical for teenagers, try a Mustang convertible for size and travel light.
Death Valley is superb, awesome enough to divert for a second time when back out there in 2011.
Start looking now if you want a half decent hire car, we are flying back out this year to San Francisco for another 8,000 miler over 6 weeks covering the Rockies top to bottom, this time a 6.2 Corvette Stingray. The availability of decent cars was not good.

Yes we will fly the dog out again.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:21 pm

Not sure how much further east you want to go but I understand this Shelby musuem is superior to the Las Vegas one. Not been to either myself.

http://shelbyamericancollection.org/collection.html
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PostPost by: DeanG » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:47 pm

A wonderful trip only limited by time and finances. We have toured that area in our M100 on three occasions. Always in the late fall.

Driving from Yosemite to Death Valley is wild. Beautiful roads and scenery. We went from rain to snow to 100+ degrees in that one day of driving. One thing that confuses everyone who isn't from the west is how big the national parks can be. Death valley is huge. Very subtle colors. Crowds in Yosemite can be overwhelming during the peak seasons. Depending on your level of fitness hiking can be challenging due to the altitude and heat. Sun protection is critical!

My favorite national parks are Death valley, Arches and the Grand Canyon. The scenery is spectacular. Colors are wonderful. It pays to stay a while at each to see the colors shift over the course of the day. The Grand Canyon is so big that the first viewing doesn't register in your mind. It takes a while to comprehend something so big. Stay in the park to see the changes in the light over the course of the day. Ride around the park Rt 87 along the north rim is a great drive.

Rt 66 is interesting if only to say you have driven a bit of it.

On the way to Las Vegas there is Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, NV. The USA Lotus driver's school used to be based there.

Take a look at the National Scenic Byways web site for route ideas.

Rent a fun car whatever you consider fun. In your case a big American sedan like the Buick LaCrosse, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion, Chrysler 300 which populate rental fleets. All rental companies have an off road exclusion. So watch unpaved roads are your enemy.

In LA visit the Petersen Automotive Museum. It is close to the La Brea Tar Pits which is fun for an hour or two and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art... They are within easy walking distance along Wilshire Blvd even though nobody walks in LA.

In SF consider visiting an old mission, the Steinhart Aquarium and the Golden Gate bridge.

Have a wonderful time.
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PostPost by: billwill » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:38 am

The coastal road in California is ideal Elan country:

"Z-bends for 72 miles"
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PostPost by: elanner » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:58 pm

Ah California!

I wrote most of this a couple of years ago for a friend in the UK who was planning much the same trip. So, after a few edits:

My views of California are simply those of a tourist or business visitor. Somebody local will be able to give better information than I.

My few observations would be:
- Agreed, don't worry about distances. The petrol is cheap and the landscape is so varied and fabulous that you can't get enough of it. But, of course, distance = time, which can be in short supply on a holiday.
- If you're going to Las Vegas, consider going to the Hoover Dam (a short drive), and trying to get to the Grand Canyon (a long drive). If you can't drive to the Grand Canyon, take a small fixed wing tourist flight there. They land on the rim and are a lot of fun. Go early or late in the day, to catch the sunrise/sunset, which enhances the shadows and makes the Canyon even more spectacular. Don't bother with the helicopter flights, which seem sexy but are simply expensive and less intimate/engaging.
- Once you've seen one casino you've seen them all (I'm not a gambler). That said, you have to see the Venetian, Caesar's, and the Bellagio fountains. I've learned that it's rarely worth walking miles or taking a cab to a "wonderful" restaurant in some other casino further along the strip. Once you get there you won't see any difference from the restaurants in the casino you just left. In other words, the quality & price is essentially the same everywhere.
- If you want to head further east then there's Monument Valley. It's still on my to-do list. I've never managed to fit it into my itinerary.
- Death Valley is considered a must, but I have to say that my visit there was diminished by trying to do it in a hurry. It was a cool day too, which I suppose defeats the whole idea of going. I need to try again.
- If you're thinking of going further north than San Francisco, consider Napa/Sonoma wine country, and Lake Tahoe. All fabulous areas.
- If you have time in San Francisco head out to nearby Muir Woods to see the Sequoia grove, especially if you don't plan to see them in the Sierras. Do Alcatraz - also still on my to-do list, supposed to be one of the best tourist attractions anywhere. Climb Telegraph Hill. Visit Chinatown. Have breakfast at a Mels Drive-in (a must do!).
- A 5 minute free thrill for the kids: When you're in Union Square (you will be at some stage) go into the Westin St Francis Hotel and walk to the lifts at the back of the hotel (in the new section). Not the old lifts at the front. Jump in one and take a ride to the top floor and back. A fun view! Also, the bar on the top floor of the nearby Marriott Marquis hotel, on Mission/4th, is good for a nice view too (but you have to buy a drink!).
- There are two main cable car routes: Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde. Take the Powell-Hyde one, which is much more spectacular. If you're getting on at the bottom of Powell Street you'll notice that the routes alternate (it's written on the side of the cable car). So skip one if you get to the head of the queue and find it's a Mason car. Or go to Fisherman's Wharf on one and return on the other.
- Try to go to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Well worth a visit.
- If San Francisco is cold and foggy, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for lunch/dinner. It'll probably be clear and has lovely views of the city. While you're at it drive up the Marin Headlands road - spectacular.
- Yosemite is probably my favourite place in the world. Try to stay in the Ahwahnee Lodge. It's expensive and probably booked already, but try. At the other end of the scale you could try Curry Village campsite, with its fixed tents. This might sound grim to European ears, but it's a classic American experience and a lot of fun. You won't forget either place. Otherwise my favourite place is the Wawona Lodge, which is 20 odd miles from the valley itself. You could try a B&B in somewhere like Fish Camp, Groveland, or Mariposa. I once stayed at http://www.lillaskogyosemite.com/ which was very nice, but there are plenty to choose from. Don't get tempted to stay somewhere cheap in the Central Valley.
- The problem with Yosemite is that it's small and can be very crowded. All the waterfalls flow in Spring, but several are dry by late Summer. There's very little snow so far this year, so who knows how long the waterfalls will run. Either way, the real way to see Yosemite is to hike up one of the trails. They are vertical and tough unless you're in good shape. The trails on the north side of the valley get full sun, so are hot. The ones on the south side are in the shade. The most obvious trail would be to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls - which flow all year round. Take water, hat, suntan stuff, wear decent shoes.
- There's whitewater rafting in the Tuolumne River - http://www.sierramac.com/ for instance. A lot of fun. Assuming there's any water this year, that is.
- Drive to Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake to get a feel for the High Sierras. If you don't fancy a vertical Yosemite Valley hike, take a horizontal one from Tuolumne. A hike in Lyell Canyon is flat, away from the crowds, and a magical experience. Take a packed lunch and head out for an hour or two! As somebody told me during a hike in the High Sierras "any day above 8,000ft is a good day." He was absolutely right.
- Sequoia National Park is magnificent, but I always find it hard to squeeze in the itinerary. I once took a road from the park down to the Central Valley (I don't remember which) which was without doubt the curviest road I've ever driven. And it went on forever.
- Back in San Francisco, don't miss the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1 between San Francisco to Los Angeles. As Bill mentioned, it'll make you miss your Elan desperately (as will the roads to/from Yosemite). Generally regarded as one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Starting in Monterey, stop in Carmel for big money; Pfeiffer Beach (the turn off is hard to find) for a wonderful beach; Napenthe for lunch overlooking the Pacific; the small beach at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for beauty (McWay Beach). None are to be missed. I don't know the south half of the road, but presumably there's plenty there too.
- Then there's Hearst Castle. Yet another on my to-do list.
- I don't know anything about Los Angeles. But Santa Monica/Venice and Muscle Beach are fun.
- Further south would take you to San Diego, which always seems like a nice city to me. While there visit the fabulous Hotel del Coronado for a sunset drink on the patio. And to think of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis filming "Some Like it Hot" there. The Zoo was great when I visited a long time ago. And the Air & Space Museum has an SR-71 Blackbird - which justifies a visit all by itself (checkout the SR-71 Wikipedia entry, it's amazing). Nearby La Jolla is a wealthy upmarket town.
- The list is endless.

If you can, get a convertible. Easy to do from LAX, harder from SFO. I once rented a Solara, which was fine. Not much room for luggage though. And the rear seats are not too big either. A tiny saloon is probably a false economy, get one size bigger than you think you need! An SUV is fine.

Ah California! Why the heck didn't I get a job there?

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PostPost by: cal44 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:39 pm

If it were me, I would try like heck to make it to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It's about seven hours from my house in SoCal. Trust me, you have never seen anything like it.

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PostPost by: elanner » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:04 am

Yeah - agree 100%. Especially if the alternative is to hoof it around a few casinos.

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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:33 am

Franck,

Please contact us and let us know when you will be near San Francisco and the Bay Area. We will come out and meet you and your family, hopefully have a little gathering of everyone and perhaps a meal!

Regards,
Dan Wise
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PostPost by: spridget » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:16 am

Hi my friends !

Many thanks again for those terrific replies, they are very much appreciated, I?m really amazed by such a friendship across the world
We?ve got our flying tickets and must managed (hurry now) for hotels booking.
Regarding the car, I would prefer a convertible or a Camaro or a Corvette like Casalunga. But with 2 teenagers and probably a lot of luggage, I will probably go for a Cherokee to avoid the Van or the sad SUV.
I must admit that the trip is most organized by my wife than me ? I spend more time in the garage trying to finish the +2!
Then the trip will include not only California but cities and the National parcs visits: Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Death Valley, Las V?gas, Bryce Canyon, Page, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles.
All your advices are very appreciated, they will help to make the to-do list.
I will of course let you know how the final trip is and how the Plus 2 is progressing!
Dan, it would be a pleasure to meet you
Thanks again
Franck
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PostPost by: cal44 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:55 pm

Franck,

don't short change the SUV or windowed van. You can put a bunch of stuff in them and over here it is a family mode of transportation, We don't have kids and we have two large SUV's for towing horse trailers, Lotus trailers and stowing gear. Don't forget Zion Park. If you can, stay in the bungalows over night at the main park area. In the late afternoon the deer will be on the lawns and hiking is a treat with a stream to cool those tired hiking feet. Stay away from the edges of the higher trials........the fall won't kill you....but the landing hurts.

Since you will be in the hotter climates ( I know these areas quite well) a large brimmed hat and make sure it has a stampede string so it doesn't blow off your head. Do the mule ride at Bryce. Last time we went on the ride this poor Brit had no hat and no sun screen.........at the end of the ride this poor guy was like a lobster and was in bad shape.

Or wait and get a nice cowboy hat here. There are so many things to see, you will have delightful time. I'm excited for you.

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