Rise and Shine…….. Clean up those Corvettes and get ready to drive! Join us as we caravan through the scenic back country roads to Kernville. (This is an all-day run, as it is a 2 ½ hour drive one-way) Yes, we will have lunch once we arrive in the Kernville area.
Here’s what you need to know:
Meet at the Kohls/McDonalds parking lot on Golden Valley Road (this is right off the 14) 19307 Golden Valley Road, Canyon Country
San Luis Obispo (SLO) and the Central Coast make a great destination for travelers and maybe even more so for Corvette people. A road trip there offers not only many choices of sights and things to do, but also plenty of driving through beautiful countryside. The weekend of November 15 – 17 was on our calendar for a weekend trip up the 101 to SLO and points beyond, and the plan was a popular one, one with time for getting together and time for individual interests.
Thirty of our members answered the call, eager for our annual weekend run to SLO. Some of us were so eager, another day, November 14, was added for visits with friends in the area, shopping and the SLO Farmers Market held on Higuera Street every Thursday. As Thursday was going on, our hearts were, at the same time, heavy with the events at Saugus HS.
Our advance-party conveyed to the main caravan that the weather was beautiful and we were eager for their arrival. First stop, Pea Soup Andersen’s for lunch.
We all joined as planned on Friday afternoon at the Best Western on Madonna Road to officially begin our weekend. We initiated the run officially with a mass gathering at poolside with beverages and snacks to get us ready for our mass arrival for dinner at the nearby Tahoe Joe steak house.
Saturday had no official agenda, but there was no lack of things to do as we rolled to the winds in our faithful Corvettes. North and south, we found butterflies, elephant seals, cookies, farmers markets, apple farms, wineries, souvenirs, and cinnamon rolls.
There is likely even more, including rocking chairs. I must add that despite my excellent packing skills, my trunk was filled with reminders of the SLO weekend.
Saturday evening brought us all back together for an impromptu happy hour at an undisclosed room on the third floor of the BW. One more group dinner followed at the infamous Golden Gong, just south of our lodging. Service and cuisine were just as good as last year!
Before you could blink, it was already Sunday. Like the last day at camp, there were hugs and good-byes. Some left early to miss Santa Barbara Sunday traffic and some elected to enjoy even more time in SLO. It played out the same for us all in the end, we returned to our beautiful, but in shock, community with memories of a great weekend together.
P.S. I felt compelled to make a stop at Bunnin Chevrolet of Santa Paula en-route home to see what’s up. I was met by many familiar staff members there who reported they are indeed open and that virtually all of the sales and service employees were retained under the new business ownership and they are eager to see us at their Grand Opening. I noted they have two Corvettes in stock as well, a Stingray convertible and a ZO6! (Christian says he is anxious to make a deal.) I was happy to see them up and running again.
2019.10.04 to 2019.10.13 – Southwest Caravan-Albuquerque Balloon Festival & National Parks
All of a sudden, October was here and the much anticipated (by some) Southwest Caravan was a reality. The caravan was scheduled to include the 48th Annual International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque and then to continue on to enjoy National Parks and sites off the beaten track in our wonderful Corvettes. Four couples ultimately participated in the event, Jeff & Leeann Carley; Brian & Kathy de Avila; Gene & Cindy Schmidt and Mike & Judy Woodings.
The morning following our October General Meeting, our adventure began at Denny’s on Sand Canyon as we rolled east to our first “roadblock”, construction on Pearblossom Hwy in Palmdale. Ugh, but not too bad. Off again to another construction delay before we even got to Victorville. Dang. The first day continued fine where we all enjoyed a relaxing lunch at Pirate Cove on the Colorado River with our friends Greg and Pat Attl. Off again eastward for our first night at Flagstaff, we learned of another roadblock ahead when we reached the Havasu turnoff from I-40. We had to detour back through Bullhead City due to an overturned big-rig closing the Interstate and blocking our route to Kingman. We rerouted as required and “DANG again” 14 miles from Flagstaff for more construction with our forward movement slowed to 4 mph! Flagstaff was a welcome stop after all that, but wait, there is more! Jeff Carley reported to us that he believed he was having trouble with his Vette, the left rear was sagging, not from overloading. Initial parking lot diagnosis pointed to an issue with the left rear lowering bolt.
Early morning follow-up at Marxen Chevrolet in Flagstaff confirmed a broken lowering bolt and the prognosis was the car was ok to drive to Albuquerque where parts were ordered for delivery on Monday. The remainder of Arizona on Day 2 was scenic but uneventful. We found downtown Winslow crowded with a classic car show so on we went to Gallup, NM and the Hotel El Rancho for our first taste of New Mexico “red or green” cuisine. After arriving in Albuquerque, it was a short day in preparation for Day 3 and an EARLY start for the Balloon Fiesta.
The crowds were huge at 5:30 AM as we arrived at the Fiesta Park and Ride for our bus trip to the Balloon Park on the north side of Albuquerque. The mass of people was even larger as we entered the park as hundreds of hot-air balloons were in various stages of inflation in preparation for the 7 AM mass ascension. Jeff, you remember Jeff, didn’t even think about bolts that morning with all of the balloon excitement! We found Old Town full of balloon fiesta tourists at mid-day and opted for a drive through the Bosque and visit to Los Poblanos Historic Inn and a drive through the Village of Corrales. The early start of Day 3 called for some relaxation in the afternoon before dinner at the famous Frontier Restaurant on old Route 66, across from UNM.
On Monday, Day 4, Jeff and Leeann broke away for their needed bolt repair at Bruce’s Corvette & Auto Service and were happily good to go for the rest of the trip as well as for a visit to an Albuquerque quilt shop while the remainder of us made our way to Santa Fe. We drove east of the Sandias through Madrid up NM-14, the Turquoise Trail. Despite missing Santa Fe, the Carleys still smiled their way through Day 4! Santa Fe was founded in 1610 (before the Pilgrims landed ay Plymouth) and is the oldest state capital. It’s old and scenic with plenty of choices of places to eat or spend your money, from high end art to the native jewelry in Palace of the Governors. As we returned to Albuquerque, the Schmidts’ status changed slightly with Cindy flying back to LA for an overnighter to appear on local television leaving Gene with us until her return. Meanwhile, Judy, with not only New Mexico roots, but New Mexico connections as well, arranged for those remaining to enjoy an afternoon wine and cheese get-together at her cousin Katie Santiannes’ home prior to our dinner with local family at El Pinto in the North Valley.
Day 5 was an easy day as we headed north to Durango, CO. We departed from Albuquerque without Gene as he awaited Cindy’s return flight but he continued to enjoy Albuquerque for another day with a trip up the Sandia Tram and a hook-up with cousin Katie for more Armijo family visiting. Our 3-Corvette caravan visited the Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec, NM, to walk the grounds of a 1,000 year old Pueblo settlement. We then rolled into Durango, still with time for Leeann and Judy to take in a visit to the Stitch A Quilt Shop. Gene and Cindy followed us as darkness fell and our caravan was back together again.
Day 6 was our day for the narrow gauge railroad ride to Silverton through the amazing canyon along the Animas River. The scenery was beautiful with the changing seasons and the temperatures were chilly and the air was thin at 9,300 feet in Silverton. The Durango-Silverton RR was a kick and made for a fun day.
Day 7 was a little longer with us ending back in Arizona at day’s end. Enroute, we covered a lot of backroad miles too. Our first stop of the day was at Mesa Verde National Park outside Cortez, CO. Mesa Verde is famous for over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people, quite a sight. It was then off to Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. The Navajos have the corner (or 4 corners) on the market there with $5.00 a head to see a survey monument afixed to the red earth there. Off again to our lodging in the woods in Jacob Lake, AZ took us by Monument Valley and through a Hopi Pow-wow in Kayenta, AZ. A great caravan day.
Day 8 had North Rim Grand Canyon on our calendar. The views are much different than those typically seen from the South Rim and the canyon is more up close and personal. Another cool day with club jackets a must at over 8,000 feet elevation. With less that 10% of Grand Canyon visitors coing to the North Rim, it is worthwhile trip for those who enjoy the road less traveled. Brian and Kathy missed the Grand Canyon visit as they peeled off from the caravan to visit relatives and take in the Prescott Corvette Car Show, hooking up with SCVCC alumni for a quick “howdy”. Day 7 then took our remaining Vettes to Kanab, UT for the night.
Day 9 had Bryce Canyon National Park as our visit of the day. Once again, a beautiful but cool day with ice in the puddles at 8,800 feet elevation. The sights were glorious and easily accessible, except for Bryce Point with limited parking. Parking attendants were less than cooperative about us trying to save parking space for one another and that will just remain a story for another day. We went on to caravan to St. George, UT, where yet another quilt shop was visited briefly before we rolled back to Pacific Daylight time and entry into Nevada. The Schmidts continued to Las Vegas for personal and show time on the Strip while the Carleys and Woodings opted for Mesquite. Rested and ready to roll on Day 10, the Carleys headed home to Parker, AZ where Jeff will re-address the lowering bolt issue and the Woodings made a stop at Cracker Barrel in North Las Vegas, having passed by six others during the caravan. Love those biscuits.
The International Balloon Fiesta is the first week of October every year and we are already looking forward to another caravan including the Fiesta then along in another route to the south next time for more Southwest attractions.
A sense of fun was the air as eighteen members with ten cars gathered on a pleasant Monday morning at the Newhall IHOP for our pre-trip breakfast.
Once we were well-nourished, we held our customary drivers meeting, and immediately after that the cars rumbled to life. Following the usual radio check, we lined up for the trip that would take us several hours south on the 15 freeway to our first destination, Old Town Temecula.
In Temecula we arrived with some extra time for some pre-lunch shopping before gathering around the table at The Bank of Mexican Food restaurant for some of our south of the border favorites.
After lunch a we took a short stroll along Main Street where, wouldn’t you know it, we found an ice cream shop! After everyone was well stocked on sweets and treats, we headed back to our cars for the next leg of our journey, our hotel near Alpine, California.
Predictably, as we got closer to San Diego, we ran into some heavy traffic due to a couple of accidents, but our road captains, Dave and Karen, did a great job keeping us on track.
During the drive we also ran into more than a couple of idiots who were doing their best to generate some road rage, but it didn’t work because we are superior drivers with superior automobiles. We win!
Before we knew it, we arrived at our destination, the very impressive, Viejas Hotel and Casino. Parking was easy and check-in was a breeze. After a short break to freshen up, we gathered in the lounge before heading to the Café Restaurant in the casino for dinner.
Our first dinner at the hotel was a lot of fun, and as is usually the case, it was not without its share of entertainment. It all got started when our waitress informed us that if anyone had a Bronze Card, we would receive a substantial percentage off of our meals. So, Ed Shaver was quick stand up for the group and start digging for his, only to learn that he had misunderstood, and that she wanted a Bronze card, not a Vons card! In Ed’s defense, others in the noisy din of the restaurant also heard her to say Vons card, but hey, an “A” for effort!
It was right after that we learned they also offered a substantial discount for veterans, of which we have several, and the discount extended to everyone at the table. So, through our service members we were able to get our official Vons card discount anyway! All was good.
Other dinner highlights included Steve Hilton who ordered a tall glass of salad that arrived cleverly disguised as a Bloody Mary, and Jo Ayers who ordered apple pie alamode as her entree. Who doesn’t love these people!
As for the rest of us it was mostly salads and sandwiches, with a few potpies thrown in for good measure.
At the end of the meal, everyone was pleasantly surprised when Dave and Karen Jewett announced that they were picking up the check for dinner! Such unexpected generosity, and their actions further prove we that we have the most amazing people in our club! Thanks again to both of you, it was very much appreciated by all.
Before calling it a night, many of us stopped at the cashier’s kiosk in the casino to get our official Bronze card, as we didn’t want to make that mistake again.
The next morning, we awoke to overcast skies, light drizzle, cool temps, and the promise of wind and rain later in the day. Undaunted, we gathered in the Café Restaurant again, this time for coffee and a hot breakfast ahead of our day’s adventure.
After a quick stop to give our cars a fresh drink of T-Rex juice, we ascended up into the clouds along Hwy 79, through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park for the short, yet amazingly beautiful, thirty-five-mile trip to the little town of Julian.
Along the way the clouds had settled low into the valleys, and misted out across the lakes and into trees to make for an incredibly beautiful trip. The steep, winding road was a pleasure to drive, and felt like it was designed specifically for our Corvettes.
Once in Julian, we found it to be a charming, turn of the century gold mining town from the 1800s. Normally a busy southern California destination, it was not very crowded. Of course, it was the middle of the week, and in the off-season, and with the drizzle and unexpectedly cold wind, the weather felt like a scene right out of the movie, Ice Station Zebra. Maybe I exaggerate a little on that point, but it was darn chilly. But still undaunted, we braved the elements to make our way on foot along Main Street where many of the shops had their wood stoves going, so the warmth of the fires was very welcoming.
Lunch was at the Miner’s Dinner, a 50’s themed café located in one of the town’s many historic buildings, this one dating back 1886 when it was first opened as a general store. The food was good, plentiful, and included an old-fashioned soda fountain. They did not take Vons cards.
After lunch the plan was to go someplace and enjoy a slice of the famous apple pie that Julian is known for. But we had discovered there were many choices in which to get apple pie in Julian, and that caused what we might call some inde-slice-iveness about where we should get our pie! But in the end, we all had a piece of the pie – some had their pie at the restaurant, while others had at this place or that one, but none of the pie lovers went away pieless. Some of us even got pie to take home – yum!
Once lunch and pie-time were over, and with the forecasted rain approaching, we didn’t hang around to let any grass grow under our cars. It was a really nice ride “home”, and everyone agreed that it seemed much faster going down the mountain, then going up. Perhaps it was because we were going faster going down the mountain, then going up, just saying.
Anyway, back at the Viejas Resort, we had some time to relax and unwind before dinner at the highly touted, Grove Steakhouse located inside the casino. But wait, what’s this? Closed on Tuesdays? Okay, who does that? This a major resort, and they close their marque steakhouse on the very evening that we planned to dine there. Honestly, who does that? The other restaurants don’t close. The steakhouses in Vegas don’t close. So why this one? The audacity of these people.
On the plus side, The Buffet at Viejas was open, and provided a wide selection of items, including slow roasted beef, tacos, chicken parmesan, crab legs, and the best dessert bar this side of the reservation. Sadly, they didn’t take Vons cards. But the remainder of the evening was spent roaming the casino, enjoying some drinks, and relaxing before a good night’s sleep before the trip home the next day.
On our third and final morning, the clouds and rain had set in as we met for a pre-trip breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast most caravanned home together, while a few used the opportunity to stop and see friends, or take a short side trip. Regardless of the route home, it was a great end to a fun, enjoyable, and well-planned trip.
Fourteen Corvettes gathered early on a Saturday morning at our pre-launch site in the parking lot of the Copperhill Walmart in preparation for what turned out to be a beautiful day for the drive north to Buellton, CA.
The trip up was great, and as usual it required some experienced coordination between Mark Ware in the lead car and the tail gunners, Tom and Elke Couples, to keep everyone in formation as we made our way through some coastal traffic along the Ventura and Santa Barbara stretch of the 101. But once we cleared the traffic it was time to set the cruise control and enjoy the ride.
The museum, for those that have never there, is an amazing private petroliana collection of gas pumps, signs, and racing related memorabilia, much of it from the central California region. It is also home the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame.
The museum was gracious enough to let us park inside, where we spent the next couple of hours getting a private tour by our hostess, Misty, the daughter of the owners, Mark and Vicki Mendenhall. She was not only very knowledgeable about the collections on display, but she shared many family memories related to growing up around the museum that was originally started by her grandfather, a Buellton gas station owner, and himself a land speed record holder.
After our visit to the museum, we took the short drive to Morrell’s Farm Fresh Dining where twenty-seven of us descended on the restaurant for brunch. Parking had been pre-arranged in front of the restaurant, and our tables were ready and waiting.
The relaxed brunch was excellent and offered a wide range of menu choices from traditional breakfast items to locally selected specialties – either way, we could not go wrong.
After brunch some of the group headed off to the casino to try their luck, which I understand went well, while others went shopping in Solvang, and a few of us caravanned home along the Chumash route through Ojai, bringing a close to another great run.
With all of the rain that we’ve had we’re looking forward to a green spring. Let’s take advantage and make a run up the 101 to Buellton to visit the famous Mendenhall Museum! After that, we’ll have lunch and then it’s all up to you! Wine tasting! Casino! Solvang!
Here’s what you need to know…
Meet at the Walmart at the corner of Newhall Ranch Road and Copperhill.
Join up with Simi Valley Corvettes for an All-day event on the base where our Corvettes will be one of the main attractions! Sign-up at the SCVCC November 1st meeting!
Edwards Air Force Base Winterfest ~ SCVCC will be meeting at Kohl’s parking lot on Golden Valley Dr. at 8:15am on sign waivers and go to 2nd meeting spot (Costco, 1141 West Avenue L, Lancaster) to meet caravan at 9:30am. On base, you will take a shuttle to the tour stops along the way. Sign-ups at the November Business Meeting must be done to inform our guide of our attendance numbers.
The open road is where we want to be and when it leads to the Central Coast for a weekend away, even better. November included severe fires throughout the Calabasas and Malibu area, fortunately not in our area this time and our scheduled getaway to San Luis Obispo on November 9 to 11 allowed a great number of our members to observe the tremendous cloud of smoke streaming out across Ventura County and west to the ocean as we traveled on Friday morning in our caravan on CA 126 and north on US 101.
Our route bypasses the fire and resulting congestion and included a lunch stop in Buellton at Morrell’s Farm Fresh Dining on McMurray Road. It’s an American food place with excellent ratings where we were all welcomed and well taken care of. The restaurant staff was excited to have us all pour into their place and photo’d us leaving. We apparently were the guests of the day. Our caravan of 23 Corvettes was spectacular as we headed north and all the way into SLO and took over the Best Western Plus on Madonna Road for the weekend. Naomi, the manager, was gracious and she and her staff all treated us as longtime family friends, like her buddy Don Ceo.
Besides getting to SLO all together, there was no set agenda for the weekend, but despite that we all dined together at Tahoe Joe’s nearby to end our day. Our club is one that likes to stick together, and this getaway was no different. After Saturday’s leisurely breakfast, most of us lined up for another caravan, outbound on Los Osos Road to Morro Bay, then north on CA-1 to Cambria where one of our own, Chuck Negri suggested a stop at the little known Nitt Witt Ridge house. It was at least worth a drive-by.
With the Nitt Witt detour in our rear-view mirrors, we continued north on Highway 1 past San Simeon and on to the gateway to Big Sur, Ragged Point. There were plenty of photo ops there and the fresh ocean air was a welcome change from our hot summer’s end.
The caravan then continued, back south to Sebastian’s in San Simeon for lunch. The Corvettes rolling in all together were an added attraction for the many tourists at the café and my chili burger was especially good.
Onward south to Cayucos was next for a mandatory stop at the Brown Butter Cookie Co. for our favorite cookie selections and for some a look at the other spots of interest in the great little beach town.
Our caravan splintered into several smaller groups through the day, but we all made it back to SLO in good order in time to once again assemble for another “group meal”. This time the location was the nearby and infamous Golden Gong Chinese Restaurant. It was a close walk from the Best Western.
The hotel lobby lounge transitioned after dinner into the SCVCC Acey Ducey casino where some were lucky and some, not so much. The words of Kenny Rogers seemed to echo through the room saying, “You got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run.” For some, if it wasn’t for bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck any all!
Then, almost as quick as the weekend started, it drew to a close. For some, Sunday morning had an early drive home in store and others had local stores to visit. With the ongoing fire situation in our home area, the route home was a consideration for all and there were several options discussed and taken, but we were all in the same accord, the Central Coast Getaway was another great event for the SCVCC!
Several of our Santa Clarita Valley Corvette Club members have attended the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School in Pahrump, NV, while many more have not. General Motors picks up the majority of the tuition for new owners of C7 Corvettes to attend the two-day Corvette Owners School during the first year of their ownership.
To date, I haven’t read any reviews about the school written by our club members in our Newsletter, so I thought, why not share some of my experiences for others who have not yet attended and maybe even for those who have gone? So, here goes.
I bought our 2017 Grand Sport in August of 2017 and looked forward to attending the school and somehow, life prevented me from getting signed up right away. We all have things going on and priorities are just that too. Additionally, you might remember my torque tube bearing issues and another warning light advising me to “service rear axle.” Then there were great club events I wanted to participate in and all of a sudden, it’s August 2018!
A year of C7 ownership has almost passed and my time to claim the tuition saving GM offered (which we all probably actually paid for) was about to expire. Not wanting to miss out or to pay full price for the school, I called the reservation number for Ron Fellows hoping for a reservation but understanding the problem was on my end and not theirs. What a relief to hear after pleading my case that GM granted me an extension and that I would soon be attending the school. They even offered me a class date of November 5th, after the summer heat was over and the desert temperatures were ideal. “I’ll take it” was my response.
So, now I was scheduled and I wanted to be prepared. I have been to Las Vegas and Reno, but never to Pahrump. I really don’t even like the desert after having spent way too many National Guard training periods and “summer camps” at Fort Irwin, but this was different. I knew of no one else attending during my dates although there were other more recent C7 purchasers in the club who had not yet attended, so my own research began.
I went over my acceptance instructions and found the route to Pahrump was outbound on I-15 then left onto CA-127 in Baker and north across the desert to Shoshone and then a right on into Pahrump. Tuition includes breakfast and lunch for two days, so all I had to be concerned about was supper, but having been in the Army in the desert, I knew I could survive that.
Instructions read that attire was optional, so I opted for shorts, polo shirts and a light jacket just to be cautious. I also read about the advice to wear driving shoes during training. I own plenty of shoes and have operated many Corvettes with no problem, but I had my eye on the Piloti driving shoes that were recommended. To get me focused on the training, now that my preparations phase was fairly complete, I spent some time reviewing YouTube videos posted by several past attendees. In retrospect, I think that was time well spent.
Our November SCVCC meeting on 11-1 was the biggest distraction facing me with the Ron Fellows class date coming just 4 days later. The November meeting was my first one at the helm leading all of you fine members following our change in leadership. You told me it went well, so the following Sunday, Judy and I headed by the prescribed route in the Grand Sport to Pahrump.
The courteous and helpful staff made our check-in smooth and we moved into very nice condo accommodations for our two-night stay. The second night was an optional add-on but well worth the minimal added cost to be up and running when instruction began at 0800 hours that Monday morning. I obviously had to check out the Piloti driving shoes and did so after registration in the gift shop area. Yes, I bought a pair and found that they run a bit small, but the shop had my needed size 12½ in stock. I worried a little that I would be the dork in the class with the new Pilotis, but about half of the class was sporting them the first morning and throughout the two days.
We have all attended meetings and training where the hours are posted we experience down time and eagerness to be done, but that was definitely not the case at Ron Fellows. Both days were full days, from 0800 to 1600 hours (8 to 4 civilian time). There was time to shop for souvenirs at the gift shop after training.
Our class of 20 all received training in Corvettes matching their own, Stingray, Grand Sport and ZO6, auto and stick. Attendees were in all ages and experience levels, from novice Corvette owner just learning how to put gas in to a couple with designs on breaking the course record. I might have fallen into the top third. The training gave us all a greater confidence in ourselves as well as the capabilities of our fine automobiles as well as hopefully making us more capable drivers in a very short time. The course is not one about speed, but it is about handling with speed being an element.
Guests of attendees are welcome to participate in all classroom training sessions and are equally welcome to ride as passengers with instructors during track sessions. My co-pilot, your new First Lady, was initially a bit apprehensive about donning the helmet to experience the track but ended the training with a desire for more along with a greater appreciation for Corvettes in general and our Grand Sport in particular.
Graduation was included in the program and personally, I am proud of my certificate of completion and hope any of you who can, will find their way to Pahrump to understand your Corvette more fully and to be an improved driver. The only drawback I have found after the course is experiencing how mundane regular roadways feel and am always looking for my next apex!