THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
California steaming

My California is in their California


Your humble blogger on Route 101
Speranza by the Pacific Ocean
Speranza on Route 101
We arrived in the great State of California (with my California in a great state) about an hour ago. The young guys I asked for directions at a gas station enthused about Speranza and said they had never seen a Ferrari before; even here in my model's namesake state. I am beginning to think all of America's Ferraris live idle lives as mere trophies. Enzo would not be amused. He said his customers came in three categories; the sportsmen, the show-offs and the men in their fifties. I am trying, by this ambitious venture, to add myself to the first category as well as the third. Speranza is a Gran Turismo so I am attempting a grand tour. I seem to be doing more to promote the marque in America than the company itself.

Right now, she is parked outside the door of my first ever motel room. It's disturbingly like the ones the good guys hole up in when the bad guys in their thriller are hunting them down to kill them. I don't think I have ever seen a motel room in the movies without something seedy or violent ensuing within minutes but the other guests seem relaxed so perhaps that's just Hollywood. The room is clean and pleasant and the service includes as standard what I have tried to negotiate at numerous hotels - a room with a view of my car. At the other end of my accomodation is a view of the Pacific Ocean, so it's "Azzurro California" in all directions.

My run down from Astoria, OR was great. No Insterstates this time, although Oregon has designated its section of the tedious I-5 as the official "Pacific Highway," This, though it has no better view of that great ocean than the M6 in England. I much preferred the "scenic byway" I took instead, Highway 101. The Pacific Ocean was to my right at regular intervals throughout, which was always my cunning plan. By driving an RHD car north to south, I get to sit on the right side (in both senses). Everybody loves a good ocean view. There have certainly been some spectacular ones today. I particularly enjoyed the wonderful old bridges I crossed, mostly long and some at great altitude.

Part of my enjoyment of today was due to the relaxation conferred by the arrangements now agreed for Speranza's return to England. I will finish the tour on Sunday 23rd June at Liberty Park in New Jersey - near to the warehouse where she will be packed and shipped. My East Coast support team is organising a "chequered flag" to greet me as I cross the finish line and we will then have a celebratory brunch. Speranza will either be dropped off with the shipping company that afternoon or early the next morning. This should get her back in time for her repairs to be done under warranty. If not, my service guys think Ferrari will authorise it on a "goodwill" basis given that the fault occurred - indeed re-occurred three times - during the warranty period.

I set off in high spirits with the trip back on course and knowing that, while I will still have to shave off most of the California section, I can go back to my maps and put other things back. I am particularly glad to have the option - if my timings now suit them - to meet American friends en route in Atlanta GA, on the North/South Carolina borders, in Virginia and in Washington DC.

The motel for the night happened by accident. Crescent City, CA is not well provided with hotels of my usual kind so I thought I would try the B&B route again. I have had some good B&B experiences on this trip, but the model doesn't usually sit well with my modus operandi. I like to have the option of driving as far as l like and then booking something when it's clear where I will be when my energy runs out. Most B&B owners need more notice than that and are understandably less flexible than the hotel chains about cancellations if my assumption about the day's destination proves to have been optimistic.

Sure enough, the promising-sounding B&B I called was unable to assist me. I asked the polite lady there to recommend somewhere and she named an "inn". Rather than being her kind of "inn" however, it proved to be this classic, if not classy, motel. Maybe she was making a point about my arrogant assumption that anywhere nicer would be available on an hours's notice?

So far it's exceeding my (admittedly limited) expectations. The internet is fast, if nothing else. If Speranza and I are in one piece each in the morning, and if the matrimonial dispute the other side of my wall calms down enough for me to sleep, I shall just call this an "on tour" experience!

As for the movie at the head of this post, welcome to my life. It's less than thirty seconds of a drive that took rather longer, but it may give you an idea.