Wednesday morning dawned with much better weather although the memories of the previous day's trip down the coastline were still very fresh in our memories. Everyone had managed to get dried out and there was quite a bit of money spent at the dryers in the hotel but we made it. The skies were a little overcast but the weather report called for clearing during the day. That sounded just fine to all of us.
Our morning visit took us to the beautiful Napa Valley area about one hour from Santa Rosa. It was a very pretty drive as we reached the shop and home of Dick Long. We were greeted at the shop by Dick and his shop manager Barry Gates. While Dick's shop is just is used to work on his personal collection of vehicles, it is as well equipped and organized as any commercial street rod facility I have seen. The shop was spotless and there were things to see at every turn. Barry has a complete machine shop available and keeps busy working on projects and maintaining the extensive collection. The huge murals on the wall are great with scenes that we could all relate to from our past. Most of the vehicles depicted in the murals are actually in Dick's collection.
From the shop it was a short drive up to the garage next to Dick's beautiful home. "Cindy's Diner" named after Dick's wife, is filled with even more beautiful cars and some great neon signs and automobilia. Dick's collection and tastes in vehicles range from Corvettes to street rods, muscle cars and everything in between. Every vehicle is professional built and the fit and finish on all of them is gorgeous. Zane Cullen and the Cotati Speed Shop crew are responsible for the build up of many of the vehicles in Dick's stable. Many thanks to Dick, Cindy and Barry for letting us enjoy a truly amazing collection.
By noon the skies were clear, the sun was out and we were headed for Pacific Grove in the Monterey Bay area of the coastline. The memory of the previous days storms was fading fast. When we arrived at the hotel in Pacific Grove we were given one more reminder that we had been in the worst early season storm that the Northern California coastline had seen in 50 years. The hotel where we were booked to stay had no electricity!
What had been planned as a leisurely day in the Monterey and Carmel area turned into decision time for the Typhoon Tour Road Tourians. We discussed the options with the management at the Light House Inn where we were booked. They gave us an option. They offered to upgrade all of our rooms to suites with a fire place in each room, wine and cheese was set out for our enjoyment and they put together a barbeque with plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers. There was hot water in the rooms and we were given candles. Sounded like fun so we settled in to do a little high end camping at a resort in Pacific Grove. It all worked out fine. By midnight the electricity had been restored and in the morning we were served a delicious breakfast in the beautiful dining area. Alls well that ends well!
Thursday's route took us on one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The Pacific Coast Highway follows the coastline from Monterey to Los Angeles. The views are breathtaking and the road is winding and sometimes a bit challenging for the faint of heart. We all made the two hour drive just fine and many folks stopped for lunch in Cambria near the Hearst Castle. The time had come to get to Bakersfield. It is a long straight drive from the coast inland to Bakersfield. We passed the intersection were James Dean met his untimely death in his Porsche in the 50's. We arrived at our hotel in Bakersfield by late afternoon. It had been a wild week on the road and we were ready to be in one place for three days.
The California Hot Rod Reunion was again just fantastic. Vintage race cars were everywhere at Famosa Raceway and it was like the pages of early hot rod magazine coming to life. Our Road Tour hospitality tent was in the Grove area at the end of the strip and we had a great weekend checking out the sights and sounds and recounting our week on the NHRA Wally Parks Museum Road Tour. Thanks to Tony Thacker and the museum staff for again putting together a great weekend for us.
By Sunday the NHRA Museum Tour was over and the 2009 AMSOIL / Street Rodder Road Tour had come to an end. It has been a wild and wonderful summer. The 1952 Chevy Hardtop kept me safe and comfortable all summer. We are now fine tuning our 2010 AMSOIL / Street Rodder schedule and we will be making the details public very soon. Watch the website and the pages of Street Rodder Magazine to get all the info. Make plans to join us next season as everyone is invited to "come along for the drive".