Alice’s Restaurant is about 20 miles outside of Santa Clara in Woodside California. It’s at the intersection of Skyline Blvd. and Lahonda Rd. (Hwy 84). Both of these roads are very rural and made up of back-to-back hairpin turns and switchbacks, bordered by redwoods that seem to brush the sky and snag the occassional wayward cloud in their branches.

So the first time you come to this intersection it can be a shock – not because the little collection of buildings and one-pump gas station seem to appear out of nowhere but because this is a favorite meeting spot for groups of bicyclists, motor bikers and exotic car enthusiasts. There is often 50 bikes parked outside and groups of people waiting for seats congregate outside, it makes for a sight to behold.

Driver's Log: Alice's Restaurant

B – Intersection of Skyline Blvd. and Lahonda Rd.


We decided to get up early and finally make a visit to this famous Bay area landmark – we got there at 8:15 and were just about the first customers! But as you can see it didn’t take long for the parking lot to fill up.

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Even though Alice’s has cornered the market on dining at this elevation they don’t take that as an excuse to let the quality slip: breakfast was excellent! I had some of the most delicious blueberry pancakes I’ve ever had. And the atmosphere is authentic, right down to the cow hide upholstery.

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Driver's Log: Alice's Restaurant

C – Pomponio SB


Then we took Lahonda Rd. to the coast and went to Pomponio State Beach. My wife and daughter enjoyed the beach while I checked the oil in the e30. The CEL has been coming on lately while driving (usually in 5th) and giving me a 1222 code so I’m being extra careful with the maintenance and fluids. After the Christmas break I’ll see what I can do to diagnose the issue – going to look into the fuel pump, cap and rotor and injectors I think.

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Mina loves the beach so much, even when it’s cold. We let her play for about 45 minutes before stripping off her wet and sandy clothes, snuggling her in a blanket and taking ourselves back over the mountain and home.

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December 16, 2012 driver's log

Driver's Log: Sierra Road
Driver's Log: Sierra Road

A – (via Calaveras Blvd.) Calaveras Rd. to Felter Rd.


To get to the start of the route drive through downtown Milpitas, past Town Hall and through the residential fringe of town. Suburban tract homes give way to large estates and then ranches. Watch out for wild life especially at dusk and dawn. This stretch has gentle turns but some dramatic elevation changes that create blind corners (i.e. you are turning right and going up but before you are finished the turn the elevation peaks and you’re going down again). Definitely a road to be familiar with before attempting any speed.

B – Sierra Rd.


This is the most dramatic stretch of the route: twisty roads cling to the edge of the mountain and weave back through rolling hills dotted with cows. The road fluctuates between 1 and 2 lanes constantly so take care. There are breath taking views of rolling hills with the city of Milpitas 2 miles below which is especially gorgeous at night. This morning I found a layer of clouds below me which added to the surrealism.

I recorded the drive and time lapsed it, if you don’t watch the video at least check out some of the photo captures to get a sense of how dramatic this stretch of road is. It’s definitely one of this areas hidden gems (much like McKean Rd).

The video starts out dark but the sun starts to rise after the first minute. The last minute of the video is me driving downhill.

Update:

I drove this route once more but at night on January 3rd, 2013 and saw three Milpitas Sheriff cars on Sierra Rd. Might have been a coincidence but watch out for cops up there!

December 9, 2012 driver's log, video

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A – Santa Clara to Pacifica via Hwy 280


This drive happened last Saturday. I missed the Half Moon Bay exit so we took 280 north and doubled back a little to get to Pacifica. We went to Nick’s on Rockaway Beach for lunch. The parking lot is right on the ocean and if you don’t park carefully your car will catch a lot of ocean spray! The food at Nick’s was o.k. – I had the fried oysters. Not sure it was 4 stars, but it was good enough. If we went back to Pacifica for lunch we’d probably go back.

If you want a dramatic place to take photos of your car, this is the place to go: if you get there early you could get a good spot right next to the water.

As we continued down Hwy 1 I was worried that I was holding up the cars behind me but we quickly caught up to other traffic on the road and the courteous concern left my mind. As long as I’m driving safely and not being the slowest car on the road then I’m happy.

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B – San Gregorio State Beach


This was not exactly a planned rest stop but it wouldn’t be a real trip in the e30 without a little drama. After we left Pacifica the car started misfiring. We pulled over and after a quick check in with fellow e30 drivers via Facebook I decided to pull my #5 spark plug (known to burn oil in my car) without waiting for the engine to cool completely. I was careful with my breaker bar not to put undue stress on the plugs and the engine was not red hot. I also could have burned my fingers so I was being extra careful.

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The plug wasn’t too bad but I swapped it with a spare anyways. However I found the #1 HT wire gave a little “click” when I pushed on it at the distributor cap. My mechanic buddy doesn’t think that would cause a misfire (as we discussed the last time I had a misfire) but after I did that the car ran fine.

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We hung out on the beach for an hour before heading home via La Honda, which is one of the area’s really good roads for driving. This time there were no slow pokes so I had a relaxing drive over the mountain and home.

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December 4, 2012 driver's log, repairs

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Drove to Rio Del Mar SB again. We started heading out on Hwy 17 but traffic forced us to turn back and take the back roads – my favorite back road, actually. I finally got to drive McKean road in daylight with little traffic (or a marathon) to interfere and it was the enjoyable drive I knew it would be! Great sweepers, majestic views, great visibility and lots of turns and little elevation change.

The clouds on an otherwise sunny day were thanks to CDPR who removed the fire rings sometime in the last two weeks, effectively cancelling our cook out. For future reference, beach fire season ends just before Thanksgiving.

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November 25, 2012 driver's log