Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Who says you can't rely on a 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL500 to take you about 3,000 miles from LA to Portland to Bend to Crater Lake to Lake Tahoe and back? Worked just fine for me and mrs500benz back in July; here's how it started.
The top photo was technically taken on the morning of Day 2 (henceforth "Day 1"), when we set off from San Francisco. We'd driven up the 5 Freeway from LA the day before. It was 111 degrees for a while—a new 500 Benz outside-temperature record. The car seemed to dig it, judging by the consistently adequate A/C and buttery upshifts from the piping-hot transmission.
Fun fact: unlike most modern cars, the 500 Benz has an accurate coolant temperature gauge, as opposed to a "dummy gauge" that indicates the same fully warm temperature all the time unless overheating is imminent. (Tangential fun fact: more and more cars these days don't even have temperature gauges at all.) That means the needle moves quite a bit as driving conditions change, ranging from below 80 degrees Celsius on a downhill grade at speed to 95 degrees Celsius at the upper limit. It's at 95 in the photo; I've never seen it go higher. A pair of hefty cooling fans behind the grille (you'll see them plastered with bugs on Day 9) have thus far made sure of that.
It's hard to squeeze 3,000 miles out of the West Coast without utilizing Highway 1, so after crossing this thing we headed toward Stinson Beach, where the 1 gets underway north of San Francisco.
Approaching Stinson Beach. Nice place to live, right? As we like to say here at 500Benz.com, "Bring money." I checked Trulia later; it's obscene. Marin County real estate is bonkers.
Evidently the mean streets of Stinson Beach demand an intense set of pickup basketball rules. Who plays to 12, anyway?
Unfriendly play seems rather unlikely in this town.
That's a Bill's Breakfast Enchilada from Breakers Cafe. If you're ever passing through, be sure to consume one.
Al's shop is across the street from Breakers Cafe.
The 500 Benz received a full 21-gallon top-off for the trip ahead.
The first of many Somewhere North of San Franciscos.
SNSF. Hey there, new license-plate frame.
SNSF. I like this one. I confess that I made it my desktop background for a time. Okay, it's still the background on my laptop.
Hey, Mendocino! A specific location north of SF. It wasn't as charming as expected. I'd rather be in Gualala.
This, friends, is the 101 Freeway somewhere north of Leggett, CA, where it turns into a windy two-lane. Speed limit's 45 mph in places. How about that.
Avenue of the Giants is a road in Phillipsville, CA (population 140) lined with some exceptionally large redwoods.
Giant redwoods in driving photos may be larger than they appear.
Back on the 101 and approaching Ferndale, CA, our destination for the night. Note that the trees have begun to look like Oregon. About 150 miles to the border from here.
That's where we stayed in Ferndale. It's a 500Benz.com Top Travel Value. You should stay there, too.
Our balcony overlooked Ferndale's main drag, which cleared out around 10pm so that the 500 Benz could be by itself. Note the cockeyed headlight wiper—it ends up like that every time the windshield wiper (there's only one; more on that on Day 10) is activated when the headlights are on. Takes another ignition cycle or two before it settles down. I asked a mechanic to disconnect the headlight wipers once. We see how that turned out.
For the record, the driver-side headlight wiper works perfectly.
Like I said, you should stay there, too.
Day 2 Forecast: more redwoods, and a closed-course acceleration video featuring the spoken words "slowly dying of tuberculosis."
posted in: Road Trips
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