I had a few days off from the office since my assistant had the week off for vacation. I told Jim that I wanted to at least get out of town for a couple of days, if not take a for real trip. With Jim's work schedule, it ended up a couple of days out of town. After much discussion and looking at maps, we decided on a road trip in the Pantera. This would be the first non-car club related trip for #7114. We started out on a Wednesday morning. We headed for the North Coast of California. It had been a long time since we had been to the Mendocino area. It had been so warm in our area, that the thought of cool weather seemed very inviting. We drove Highway 12 westbound, then I-80 to 37 then to 101 north. Yes, we know this is not the most exciting route to drive, but it gets us quickly north to our goal. Traffic was very light; after all it was a weekday.
Our first stop was lunch at the old Chateau Souverian in Geyserville. Francis Ford Coppola now owns the facility. The place does not yet have an official name. The restaurant is currently called "The Moving On Cafe". We arrived too early for lunch by about 20 minutes; our map program speed estimate was way off for the Pantera. So we were off to the tasting room to kill a little time. Tasting is free if you have lunch in the restaurant. So for lunch, we were seated on the patio with a beautiful view of the mountains and the vineyards. With the warm weather it made for a wonderful sitting. Jim had the salumi plate and I had the smoked salmon plate. Both were perfect for a lighter lunch.
Midweek travel is nice with no crowds
After the meal, some shopping at the gift shop, and a rest stop, it we were back on the road northward. We were headed for a second Italian winery, Pedrocelli's. We arrived to an empty tasting room! What a pleasant change from a weekend. The hostess heard us drive up and commented on the sound of the car. We tasted and bought a couple of wines. The Port was especially good. By the time we were ready to leave another group had arrived. We ended up with everyone in the tasting room, including the hostess, going out to look at the Pantera!
Out on the road again it was my turn to give Jim a break with the driving. I drove up 101 to Willits. This was the longest stretch that I had ever driven in the Pantera. I know driving 101 is not a big deal to most of you, but for me driving 101 in very light traffic in the rolling hills of Northern California was a very pleasant activity. We filled up the tank in Willits, knowing there was no gas for the next 35 miles.
Jim took over the driving duties for the drive to Fort Bragg on Highway 20. This route parallels the famous Skunk Train. I had always wanted to take that train ride, but now I feel that I had an even better ride through the redwoods. It was only about 35 miles, but it is a very twisty road (2nd & 3rd gear the whole way). The most interesting thing about the drive was the fact that at least five of the cars that we caught up to in the course of the drive actually used the turnouts to let us pass! At one point we were behind an empty logging truck. We thought wouldn't it be nice if he too pulled over to let us pass, but then he took a look in his rear view mirror, saw us, then took off big time. This guy must have done autocross in his spare time! The way he handled that big rig was amazing! We followed him for about 10 miles before he pulled over to let us pass. During that stint, the Z rated Michelins were making squealing noises in the turns, but the logging truck was still pushing hard! I bet he had a great story that evening about road racing a Pantera in his Peterbuilt!
The road racing Peterbuilt leading the way!
We arrived in Fort Bragg in late afternoon. We had no reservations, but there were plenty of vacancy signs to select from. We decided on a Best Western that was up on a hill over looking the Pacific Ocean. We even got a AAA discount! We checked in and again had to explain what kind of car we were driving. They too heard us drive in and knew we were there before we walked through the door. We unpacked the car, reviewed a tour book and the headed out to check out a couple unusual specialty stores on our way to our selected restaurant for the evening. We stopped to get truffles at the Mendocino Chocolate Factory to go with the Port that we bought earlier in the day. The other specialty stores were closed, so it was time to go to the restaurant.
We had researched the area and came up with Mendo Bistro. www.mendobistro.com It is located upstairs in a restored old building on Main Street, Fort Bragg. We think that it might have been a turn of the century department store. The restaurant is on the mezzanine floor, open to the first floor. We enjoyed a wonderful meal. The service was very good. They brought extra chilled water to the table in a white wine bottle. Our first course was a shared half order of Caesar salad with fried polenta croutons. Jim’s entrée was grilled pork loin with a mustard-tarragon sauce and mine was the pine nut encrusted halibut. We finished with a shared desert of "coffee and cigarettes." It was a mocha crème Brule with meringue sticks. That meant that the port and truffles would have to wait until we got home. It's too bad this restaurant is so far away or we would be there on a weekly basis.
We got to sleep in a bit the next morning. After all, this is a mini-vacation road trip with no real time table or itinerary. We had our complimentary continental breakfast at the motel then headed south on Highway 1. We planned to drive south along the coast to Bodega Bay then head east to home. But we didn’t even get out of Fort Bragg without having to stop. The first stop was at a NAPA store to buy and apply some Rain-X, since there was a wet fog in the air. Jim had forgotten to pack the Castrol Accuvision. The second stop was to put on the windshield wipers because the Rain-X really didn’t work very well in light misting conditions. Now we were on the road for real. The traffic was fairly light and some of the cars did use the turnouts.
Our first stop was the Point Arena Light Station, which was built in 1870. www.pointarenalighthouse.com It was partly destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. We toured their museum and took the tour. That meant we climbed the 145 steps to the top of the lighthouse. That is equal to a six-story building. The original first order Fresnel lens, which stands over six feet in diameter and weighs more than six tons, is still there. The lens will be removed and placed in their museum some time this winter. So it you want to see the lighthouse completely in tact, you need to visit Point Arena very soon. By the time we reached Gualala, it was time for another gas stop. Once again the Pantera created a lot of interest. Jim is a one-man promotion team for the marque. We continued down the road to our next historic stop, Fort Ross. We toured the site and learned that the Fort had been established by Russia in 1812. It lost money from the first year and continued to do so until 1841, when it was closed. When it closed, John Sutter, of Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, bought much of it’s operating equipment! The United States bought Alaska and the California land in 1860.
The church in Fort Ross
By now our continental breakfast had worn off, or should I say we walked it off touring. The next town south of Fort Ross was Jenner. We parked at the first restaurant that we saw. It turned out to be the best place in town. We had stumbled onto “The River’s End”. www.ilovesunsets.com We were seated at a table with a great view of the Pacific Ocean and had a very good lunch. The only weak spot was the service. It was very leisurely, bordering on inept. We finally got the manager/owner(?) to help us at the end. The odd thing was that this restaurant has won several Wine Spectator awards. I guess that service must not have been one of the criteria for the awards.
After lunch we were back on the road, heading south again. By the time we got to Bodega Bay we had had enough of scenic Highway 1 and the gloomy cold weather. We happily turned eastward toward home. The sky begin to clear to a bright blue. The layers of sweaters and coats had to be peeled off. We went to Petaluma from the coast. From there we tried to take less traveled roads home, because it was commute home time for everyone else and the traffic congestion was getting very nasty. It was good to be back home from our 450 mile two day road trip. The cool weather that we had hoped for turned too cold and foggy. The blue sky of home was very welcoming.
Our first non car club road trip in the Pantera was a good one. The car preformed well. It was comfortable and had plenty of room for luggage and stuff that we picked up alone the way. We encourage everyone to get out and drive their Panteras. You’ll have a good time and the public really enjoys seeing them on the road.
Meeting Notes - January 9, 2007
For the first meeting of 2007, we had a good attendance. Those present were: Tom & Kathy Vona, John Worseley, Grant & John McNamee, Henry Kirk, Jeff Budelli, Rick Carlile, Mike Drew, Jim & Emilia Seiferling, Lamar Fairchild, Dennis Gacutan, Rick Moseley, George Potiris, Ken Montgomery.
A raffle was held, netting the club $25. The winner of the gift card for Kragens was ???.
Rick Moseley is still a member of the Automobile Club de Monaco, so he can assist in getting tickets for the F-1 race there.
The Club voted to renew CP membership in the Association of California Car Clubs, Inc. and to become a member of the Towe Auto Museum. There are benefits to CP members at the Towe, such as free admission to museum during regular hours.
Autorama will have two cars from the Capitol Panteras. John McNamee and Jeff Budelli will have their Panteras in the show. We need some one to take photos and write up an article for the newsletter. Let's not miss seeing these beauties in person or in the newsletter! (Jim and I have other plans for that weekend,so we will not be attending.
The CP Events Calendar for 2007 was reviewed. The calendar below reflects the current planned events. We thank those members who stepped forward to chair the events. We are in the process of getting a date for a Fall joint Brunch Run with the Reno/Tahoe Panteras. It appears that those who attend the Euro Sunday gathering enjoy going to Brunch afterward. That will continue for those who show up. This will continue to be very informal and depending on who and how many can attend. If there is an event that you feel the CP would enjoy, please bring it up at a meeting.
Dates were set for 1) the Tech session at Rick Carlile's shop - Sunday April 15 at 9 AM
2) Lunch Run to Placerville - Saturday May 12 - Lamar to firm up details
3) Thunder Valley Brunch - June date to be set - John Worseley in charge
4) Festa Italiana car display on Sunday August 5 - Jeff Bundelli in charge
5) Rio Vista Car display with lunch at Foster's Big Horn - Sat Oct 13
Jim Seiferling in charge
Mike Drew is again an associate CP member in good standing. That means that he gave Treasurer John some money.
Dennis announced that he has Port from TooGood Winery for $20 a bottle. He bought the port futures while on the CP Foothill wine Run last year. Contact Dennis if you would like a bottle. Act quickly before Patty and Dennis drink them. Dennis will deliver the port at the next CP meeting.