Tag Archives: San Francisco

Visit to Canepa Classic Cars & Motorsport Museum in Scotts Valley, California

What to do in Northern California between two fantastic events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? Visit the Bruce Canepa Classic Cars & Motorsports Museum in Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz of course…

Who’s Bruce Canepa?

I did not know before this trip, even though I’ve been to this part of California many times… but when it comes to Motorsport legends I’m still an obvious newb… Apparently Bruce was a car designer and a professional race car driver. But to me he’s a hero because of an amazing place he’s got in Scotts Valley that I was able to visit and enjoy for over an hour… roaming around gawking, and taking lots of pictures to share here.

The dealership downstairs has some gems. The free museum upstairs is fantastic and I had the whole place to myself when I visited on a weekday in late morning. And the garage area had some unique cars being worked on as well, which you can watch from a bird’s eye view without interfering with the mechanics.

What a place! Go visit now… if you can. I wish I knew about it sooner.

(I learned about it during the Miata’s dinner when people mentioned Canepa hosts regular Cars & Coffee events in this region of Cali)

Level 1: The Classic Car Dealership

Wanna buy a Porsche Carrera GT Prototype? apparently you can…

Level 2: Canepa Motorsports Museum

And my favorite Racing Porsche’s: the 962

And the other Porsche… the baby blue Gulf-Porsche

A Porsche powered Pikes Peak racer

Shop View

And even on my way out of the museum I couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery and take some more pix:

What an amazing place!

Seriously, if you live in California or are visiting the area near Monterey or San Francisco, do stop by and visit Canepa!

Great place to visit is nearby Santa Cruz too…

This is the fifth or sixth Holden badged Commodore I’ve been seeing on the roads in the US.

Oh and while I’m on the subject of visiting California be sure to hang out at In n Out… get an animal style fry with your double-double, and I’m a big fan of the shakes too, especially when you mix flavors.

Gnarly California Trip 2017

Another radical trip in the books… this time I spent nearly two weeks on Monterey Peninsula in Northern California enjoying myself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This post will act as a glossary of all of my activities and adventures, which included:

I’ll be writing the individual posts over the next few days so please stay tuned…

The trip went absolutely wonderfully. It’s been a while since the last event so I was well rested and enjoyed the experience very much. Instead of paying for a cheap flight I broke down and burned some frequent flyer miles to get to California. Which meant I could do some crazy routing to finally fly directly into Monterey. On the way over I used my Alaska miles that I got by converting Virgin America points (which Alaska bought out)… luckily two out of the three legs of the trip were actually on VX which was super enjoyable. I love their Airbus A320’s. I flew New York to San Francisco. Instead of getting off the plane and driving two hours, I spent the next four hours in the air over California. First taking another VX flight to San Diego where I connected to an Alaska Air operated by Horizon prop-plane Bombardier Q400 to fly back up to Monterey. My goal was to fly over Laguna Seca and take some shots, but 7:30pm this time of year meant complete darkness… so the only visual I have of the track is what I saw… it’ll stay in my mind instead of captured on a cell phone camera.

Car rentals at MRY weren’t cheap… as expected. But instead of paying $400-500’s for convenience I instead booked a car from Hertz Local Edition in Seaside (and Salinas as a backup)… it was only $162 which is a great deal for a two week rental. Got a Hyundai Accent which got a solid 33mpg! And because I’m so broke I tried not to do too many California road trips… ironically when I returned the car I had put 805 miles on it, which surprised me!

The two events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were fantastic!

I got a chance to get a ride in all versions of the NC Miata… the early years NC1 – my buddy Daniel from Gerogia who drove his 2008 all the way cross-country for this event. Then hopped into the same NC2 I drove around the track last year (the owner let me drive it again which was awesome!) And finally my host in Prunedale owns an awesome looking NC3 which I was lucky to ride in again. We met at the Miata’s at Laguna Seca event last year and him hosting me for the duration of the trip was probably the only thing that made this all possible.

I can’t say enough positive things about my Cali visit this year. It’ll probably be a while before I get a chance to go again, so I’m going to savor the memories and share them on this blog along with many pictures.

Mazda5: 1,000+ mile California Road Trip along the Pacific Coast

Another incredible road trip in the books, this time driving a Mazda5 rental along the Pacific Coast of California (cue in the theme song from the OC).

I have such incredible admiration for this state and feel truly blessed and fortunate to have had this opportunity to explore one of my favorite places in the world… The main reason for the road trip of which there were several actually, was to kill some time between events at Laguna Seca. So Monday after Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca I headed south for a few hour and several hundred mile drive to San Luis Obispo along California 1 Freeway which zig zags along the Pacific Coast… Tuesday I headed north to Half Moon Bay in the opposite direction, and Monday of the trip home I took that road again all the way to San Francisco instead of taking the more direct route along Highway 101.

The first trip south to SLO was awesome. I got to drive along the Monterey Peninsula past Pebble Beach, through Big Sur and along some amazingly scenic overlooks… visited the elephant seal beach. Had some tasty food in San Luis Obispo and also visited the dealership where my MX-5 Miata was originally sold. It was great! The only snag was realizing there’s absolutely no bathrooms along the coastal route, so I nearly exploded by the time I reached a souvenir shop/restaurant and started waiting in line behind ten antsy people like me, eager to Go!

The second trip was a bit quicker in nature, the road towards San Francisco is better and higher speed, with fewer twisties. But there’s still a lot to see especially when the waves are big and there’s surfers all along the coast doing their thing.

These trips also doubled as Foodie Tours because I used every opportunity to stuff my face with local cuisine. And I don’t just mean In-n-Out Burger which I visited a whole bunch of times on this trip. But also Phil’s seafood in Moss Landing, the Giant Artichoke in Castroville, and Sam’s Chowder Store in Half Moon Bay among others. What a pleasant experience that was.

I could go on and on babbling how awesome it was but instead I’ll just share some pix:

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Most of my trips started at In-n-Out in Seaside, CA with a double-double:

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The In-n-Out is revered in California and for good reasons, I’d say it’s far more loved than McDonalds… and McDee’s knows it!

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The beauty of the Road Trip was the fact that you got spectacular views along the entire trip… there wasn’t much waiting to see things while driving, you just saw amazing stuff

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And I took full advantage of the pull off areas to take some pix of the Mazda… Zoom Zooming along…

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Oh yeah, and plenty of Selfies too…

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Luckily I didn’t get stuck in traffic most of the time I was driving, and when I was following someone it usually was cool cars instead of slow poke RV’s chugging along

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I did check out the local wildlife also, it was so cool

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Lunch stops were the best… and I tried to go for sampler platters to taste more things on the menu

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Everything was super fresh… albeit a big pricey

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Love the Bears Crossing sign on the highway

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This place was pretty spectacular and I was very surprised to see a Hostel situated just outside of a historic lighthouse, there were several of these along the coast driving north from Monterey

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Sometimes I ordered food to go, pulled over in a scenic area and ate

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I have to say that the New England clam chowder in New Jersey is better than what I typically find, in California they seem to love adding sour dough bread to the meal, which tastes a bit weird for me

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I keep forgetting how exotic San Francisco is with all of their beautiful palm trees everywhere. This time I explored a part of SF I hadn’t visited before, mainly along the Pacific Coast, under the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually returned to one of my favorite spots: to drive down the crooked Lombard Street.

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Lunch in SF was delicious too, although I wish I had gone for some Asian food instead…

Can’t wait to come back soon!

Foodie Tour of California

The crazy day trip to San Francisco turned out to be a great success and a much needed distraction in my life right now.

Was it worth the cheap price and all the effort? Absolutely! Let me tell you how it all went, and why I’d highly recommend doing something like this every once in a while in anyone’s own busy lives.

I could not sleep at all the night before the early morning flight. But thankfully the flight was long enough (6 hours) that I managed to take a bunch of naps in the process. The weather in San Francisco was perfect. Sunny, warm and much better than the freezing cold in the Northeast. I met up with a fellow CouchSurfer visiting from Japan, and we embarked on a foodie experience of the city. The first day though we kind of failed at public transport waiting ridiculously long for an F-car along Market Street to take us to Fisherman’s Wharf so we resorted to walking. And the one trip up hill on the way back towards Chinatown kicked my ass. Later we discovered it was possible to walk around the hill by following the main street diagonally away from the Pier 39 area, but the workout was great even though it was tiring. Especially since the views from the steep steps leading uphill were stunning and we saw a beautiful hummingbird along the way, pretty close.

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I did get to do In-n-Out burger animal style with a chocolate/strawberry shake at the Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco
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Duck tongues and fish hot pot at Hong Kong Hot Pot, Chinatown San Francisco
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apparently that’s how you say “ROSS” in Mandarin… I found a shorter nickname while I lived in Singapore: Da Xiong Mao 😉
and that’s how you say “Laguna” in Japanese… apparently the last character out of the four is a Chinese character used in Japanese language to describe a “town” … it was nice to have a Japanese companion explaining these things
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delicious tacos in the Mission section of San Francisco, a place full of awesome Mexican joints
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the obligatory visit to Ghirardelli’s especially in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day… turns out in Japan girls give guys gifts, not the other way around

The next morning we decided to take full advantage of the $17 day pass for the Cable Cars, by far my favorite activity in SF. To our surprise though Obama was in town so they were only running the  until 2pm which made us hustle a little. In reality though the California Street Cable Car stopped running closer to 11am, and the Hyde Street line stopped running even sooner because the cable went down. So instead we used other public transport to first visit the Cable Car museum, Chinatown, then head over to Ghirrardeli’s, then to Japantown and finally to Mission for some amazing Mexican food. While in Chinatown we tried my favorite Hong Kong Hot Pot, then bubble tea and I also took advantage of the opportunity to buy my nephew a cool traditional Chinese costume just in time for Chinese New Year. For the price I paid it was well worth it, cheaper than a onesie or a t-shirt I’ve bought in other parts of this country (Savannah for example). After Mission and a little walk around there that found us at a farmer’s market with a live performance by a young musician that sounded really good, we headed back to Ghirrardeli’s via the Hyde Street Cable Car that was surprisingly running, for some hot chocolate. Then back to Fisherman’s Wharf for delicious crabmeat and at that point I started worrying about making my flight. So another F-car ride down the Embarcadero we headed back towards the BART system.

The flight back to the East Coast was also uneventful. Sleeping was easier on the red-eye but instead of heading home to NYC I actually went via Fort Lauderdale. Though that visit was far less exciting than California even though I genuinely like South Florida much more. Ft. Lauderdale in the morning was freezing cold. I took public transport to Las Olas Blvd for some breakfast, but few places were open. The Floridian which seemed to be buzzing didn’t really have good customer service, or at least I could not find a table near an outlet to charge my phone and the staff was a bit rude about helping me with my request, so I walked out. A few blocks later I found an awesome cafeteria that made an exception to the rule (while serving breakfast) and made me a Cubano sandwich to go. Another short bus back to the airport and a quick trip through security saw me eating my sandwich at the gate just before take off.

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an authentic Cubano sandwich in South Florida… a must!
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wasn’t too excited to be back in snow covered New York City, but the amazing classic cars left buried in snow and ice was a random and a welcome sight to see

Back in New York I once again hopped on the Subway to Long Island City to pick up my Jeep at the transmission shop. They called to tell me it was ready while in San Francisco and in typical New York style tried to explain it was going to cost more because of a bunch of parts they had to replace. $1650 bux lighter on the pocket I decided to hit Chinatown in New York as it was close to 5pm rush hour and I figured I’d be sitting in traffic heading back to New Jersey anyway. Before going to Pell Street to my favorite soup dumpling place I made a quick visit to a canolli shop on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, another one of my favorites. And at that moment I realized that I take NYC for granted living in NJ. The only time I get to visit is when I fly to places like San Francisco on a day trip. So my Chinese New Year resolution is to visit NYC more often! Waiting out traffic in the city didn’t really work, I was still stuck for over an hour trying to get to the tunnel, changed my mind and went for the bridge, and was stuck in gridlock again. When I got home I discovered my credit card was being used at a bunch of locations in Houston while I was in SF. So my journey ended by me cancelling my credit card. It’s amazing to see how nonchalant the credit card companies are towards fraud in this day and age, I should be considered lucky I guess, as my charges at Popeyes and Wendy’s in downtown Houston were minimal compared to what they could have been.

Anyway, the trip was great! As I said before, a much needed distraction to the problems of everyday life. Cold winter weather, hospital visits, broken cars, and other everyday bullshit. I wish I could travel more in the future… it’s one of my favorite hobbies.

Day trip to San Francisco & quick layover in Fort Lauderdale on the way back to NYC

There’s not much to be excited about these days. While 2011 in Singapore was the best time of my life, 2015 is shaping to be the most depressing, for sure. At home, my dad has lost half his weight since last year and doctors say he doesn’t have much longer to live. Ukraine – my homeland is under vicious attack from Russia. My Jeep finally broke down and an expensive repair is in progress to fix the blown transmission, and to top it all off my marshal license is in question because of ridiculous complaints. So how can one cope with the feeling of the world caving in?

Fly… away!

Flying is by far one of my favorite hobbies. Since I started flying frequently in 2006 I’ve logged over half a million miles and 50+ days up in the air, flying around the globe several times (three times in 2013 alone with trips to the Australian, Singapore and Korean Grand Prix). That was cool as hell and I really miss flying more often.

So when an opportunity popped up to fly to one of 32 different destination JetBlue flies for just $32 dollars each way, I jumped on it. And while a trip to Barbados, Turks and Caicos or the Cayman Islands would have been incredible for that kind of price. The dates of travel fell on the same week that I was already travelling to beautiful Saint Lucia. And after discovering how expensive that place was for even the most budget conscious traveler, I’m glad I booked an “In-n-Out” run to San Francisco instead.

Why “In-n-Out” run? Because initially it was supposed to be just that. I was to fly in later in the afternoon, grab a delicious burger and fries animal style and a shake, turn around and fly back home. But with the winter weather hitting the Northeast hard, I was forced to reschedule. The new flights gave me an extra day to spend exploring the Bay area, and the return flight from California introduced a new dimension: grabbing brunch in South Florida with a four to five hour layover in Fort Lauderdale (one of my favorite places on earth!)

Anyway, all this is pending my actually waking up in the morning for the very early flight, while using the NY/NJ public transport system.

Will this trip make any of my troubles go away? Probably not. But it will be an excellent distraction. I’m most looking forward to the experience of flying itself. But equally as important will be having a delicious and authentic Mexican meal in Cali, followed by a visit to In-n-Out. A little bit of sightseeing. A few more authentic Bay area meals like the sourdough chowder on Fisherman’s Wharf, and a great Cuban dish in downtown Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood Florida, depending on how much time I actually have there.

Can’t wait!

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PS. the last two times I volunteered at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca I flew JetBlue with their amazing $120 round trip offer from Boston to San Franscisco. I didn’t think that deal could be beat, until now of course. It always pays to shop around for flight deals, and with crazy travel offers like this popping up, remember to book first and think about it later. Whatever you do, don’t miss out!