I had a left over free rental day expiring this week. So I did what I love to do and took a spontaneous road trip to one of my favorite places.
The whole trip worked out perfect. I had no real plans other than show up, go for a trail run, meet with a certain oppo, and hang out with a friend for the evening.
The plan was to pick up my car (National Rental Car) at 9 AM Saturday morning, pray something fun was in the emerald aisle (I’ve had pretty good luck in the past at LAX), and head to San Luis Obispo via PCH, CA 33, and CA 58. Since I only had to pay $9 in tax, I was willing to spend ~$25 for an upgrade. I have always wanted to drive this route and I’d be dammed if I did it in a generic toaster with a CVT.
My friend drops me off right on schedule. I bypass all the lines and head to the cars. To my dismay, there are only three cars in the aisle I can choose from. All three were generic Nissans. Probably two rogues and an Altima. I honestly didn’t give them a second glance. Well, it looks like I needed to upgrade. I look to the area with the “premium” upgrade cars and nothing really looked worth the price. All luxury CUV’s with one Infiniti sedan. Shoot. So I start looking around at the all the cars in the executive asile. My status is not such that I can normally grab these cars for free. But, I figure I can talk my way into upgrading. As I look around, I spot a few v6 challengers (meh), one v6 Camaro (that would work), and then, as I was walking to the Camaro, I see it. A white Miata RF (Excitement). I walk over to the car to see if it’s unlock. It is! Typically at National, if a car is unlocked, you can normally just take it. But, this was in the “I rent 300 cars a year and know the CEO section”. I thought about just taking it, but I decide it would be best to ask the manager first. I figured if there was a fee, I could haggle with him and cut it down. If you do it while leaving, they just charge what is in the system. I grab the keys, lock the car, and go find the lot manager. I am polite and ask if he would just let me take it. Says “no problem, I’ll give you a free upgrade, have fun!” He shakes my hand and hands me the paperwork. Yes! This trip is off on the right foot.
I lowered the roof at a traffic light right when I got onto PCH in Santa Monica. The sun was shining, the air was a perfect temperature, and the little Miata was happily humming along now that I was out of the 405 traffic. A little past Malibu, a Cayman GTS with a gnarly exhaust pulled out of a canyon road and got on it. I followed him all the way to Ventura. That was a pleasure, for sure.
I hit some traffic on the 101 in Ventura so I pulled off at a Starbucks for a cold brew. Now I had my caffeine, a fun little roadster, and 4 hours of winding roads ahead of me. I exit to the 33 and there are a few cars driving slowly. Most of the traffic clears out once I get to the fun part. An old Honda civic holds me up for what seemed like an hour, passing every single turnout, but thankfully, he finally moves. (it was actually only a few miles, it just felt like forever).
I downshift with the paddles and hit the road hard. There was smooth pavement and endless tight corners. The light Miata handling it well. Every corner it seemed like I went a little faster because the car was just so easy to drive. Even climbing to the summit, I never felt like I needed more power. The road did not have many straight sections and I was able to keep the car in power in second gear. This road was perfectly suited for a Miata. It would have been challenging in the 348 with its manual steering. That car really needs faster corners.
I get through the curvy section only encountering two other cars and they both pulled off immediately. This was absolutely heaven. I’ve missed being the only one on a road. You do not get that in LA, even early in the mornings when I like to drive. The road straightened out I put the car back in auto mode, set the cruise, and turn on some music. Just the scenery passing by, the sun on my skin, and wind in my hair.
I stop for gas before I get on the 58 and put in 5 gallons of premium. I as I turn onto the 58, I’m greeted by a few of my favorite signs:
The first 15 miles or so is fresh paved blacktop and constant tight turns. I drive in second gear above 5k rpm almost exclusively. I come up on a Rav-4 rather quickly and they turnout as soon as they can. Perfect. I do not see another car until I reach the end of the road, roughly 75 miles later. I was just me, a Miata, and a winding road. In that moment, I couldn’t ask for a better combination. If any of you have the chance, I would highly recommend this route.
I arrive in SLO, go for a quick run, and meet Capt. Dale for a late lunch. We catch up and then go for a short drive in the area. I follow him and his GTO, struggling to keep up. More amazing roads, and but with an added bonus of hearing his gloriously loud V8. We pull off a few times for scenic views or just to regroup. We finally stop at a beach near his house and bullshit about cars a little longer (as Obbos do). We say bye and I head to meet my friend, just in time to watch the sunset.
We then grabbed a few beverages and head in for the night.
I head back early Sunday morning to drop off the little Miata and catch the F1 race. I was a little sad to give it back but was very grateful to have such a perfect weekend!
I’ll write up a full review of the car at a later date.