Driving Experience of the El Camino Real Group

Photo for Driving Experience of the El Camino Real Group

Diary of the members of the Canadian Classic MG Club and others.

Day 1 – Wednesday, June 14th

OE White eh! met up at the designated place (Rest Area on I-5 at Custer, WA) and time (8.30am) with others in the group – Green eh!, Tyrolite eh!, Iris eh!, and Green Super B. Unfortunately, Red Queen B was being strip searched at the border, and called us to report the delay, so we started off without her. Traffic was light, and we made the 11am ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsen. The rest of the journey to Astoria, Oregon, was uneventful and we spent the night at the sixties styled Atomic Hotel. Red Queen B joined us at the hotel that evening. 

Photo by Anne Tilbury

Day 2 – Thursday, June 15th

We awoke to heavy rain, so it was roofs up and side curtains in! Second Green B joined the group from the Columbia Gorge MG Club, and we picked up the Silver A enroute, also from CGMGC. The rain was horizontal, and winds were gusting to 50mph. As we stopped for road works near Reedsport, the battery on Silver A died. A replacement battery was fitted, and the group continued in the wind and rain to Gold Beach. OE White eh! suffered 3 or 4 times from a misfire caused by water on the distributor, but this cleared itself.

RainPhoto by Rob McMillin

Both OE White eh! and Silver A experienced lack of brakes due to water getting into the drum brakes (both 1500 models). Drivers and co-drivers were all soaked by the day long heavy rain. Tyrolite eh! had driven without side curtains, and needed the hotel’s industrial dryer to get their clothes dry!

In the rainPhoto by Blake Cowan

Day 3 – Friday, June 16th

Photo by Anne Tilbury

The group of now 8 cars left the motel early, and stopped in Brookings, OR, for breakfast. At this point, smoke started to come out from under the bonnet of Iris eh! The regulator points had stuck shut when the engine was switched off, and the result was a burnt out regulator, generator, and some wiring. Iris eh!’s owner was carrying a spare regulator and a spare generator so we left him in the car park of the café as he set to changing them.

The morning mist persisted for a long while, so we saw little of the Oregon coast. We arrived in Ukiah and the warmer weather allowed carpets, etc to dry out. Along the way, we came upon the earlier CCMGC group which included Blue eh! and Red eh!. 

Day 4 – Saturday, June 17th

We left Ukiah, and within a couple of hours we had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and negotiated the 101 through the centre of San Francisco. After our first potty break near San Jose, Iris eh! would not start. The battery was dead as the replacement regulator was not adjusted correctly. The driver bought a new battery at Costco, but it was oversize so it was jammed in, and the battery cover put on the boot rack. Later that afternoon, Green Super B and Iris eh! got caught up in a traffic jam on the 101. They traveled 8 miles in one hour! OE White eh! had found an alternative route on the 25, and had a ball on the twisty road with little traffic. Red Queen B had left the group in San Francisco, so 5 cars spent the night in King City. Green eh! had started back to BC that morning, and Tyrolite eh! had headed to Fort Bragg on the California coast. 

Golden Gate BridgePhoto by Bonnie Smith

Day 5 – Sunday June 18th

A short drive meant we arrived at the Corque Hotel in Solvang, the host hotel for GT-42, around noon. Total distance driven to this point was about 1,425 miles.

Over the next few days Iris eh! developed a creeping clutch, so the owner installed a clutch kit in the master cylinder which Tyrolite eh! was carrying! We all enjoyed many events during GT-42, including the tech talks, the car show, and a steak barbeque. John Twist was just amazing with his rolling tech session. We were joined by Blue eh!, Red eh!, and Second Blue eh! in Solvang.

John TwistPhoto by Peter Tilbury

Day 10 – Friday June 23rd

Tyrolite eh!, Red eh!, and the two Blue eh!s left to follow their own route and schedule for the return trip. So OE White eh! and Iris eh! set off south through Santa Barbara to join route 33. Unfortunately, the clutch pressure plate on Iris eh! failed, and it had to be transported on a AAA flat bed truck to a nearby repair shop. Route 33 climbed to over 5,000 feet, and it was over 105F (42C). OE White eh! continued to Atascadero without any issues, and met up there with Red eh!. 

Day 11 – Saturday, June 24th

OE White eh! and Red eh! continued to Rohnert Park for the night, having crossed the Golden Gate Bridge northbound that afternoon.

Day 12 – Sunday, June 25th

As OE White eh! and Red eh! were packing to leave Rohnert Park around 7am, they were joined once again by Iris eh!. The driver and co-driver had slept that night in the car by the roadside, as all the hotels had no vacancies. The 3 car group drove up the California coast on Highway 1, and then through the Avenue of Giants to Fortuna. Here they were joined by Tyrolite eh!. 

Day 13 – Monday, June 26th

A loop on the 36 was dropped from the route, which meant a leisurely drive to Crescent City of just 160 miles. Tyrolite eh! decided to go on to Florence where they met Blue eh!. 

Day 14 – Tuesday, June 27th

Three cars continued up the Oregon coast to Tillamook without incident. 

Photo by Bonnie Smith

Day 15 – Wednesday, June 28th

The final morning saw the three cars split up – OE White eh! left early to catch the 11am ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville, and arrived in Surrey, BC, late that afternoon. Iris eh! drove to Port Angeles to catch the 5pm ferry to Victoria, BC. Red eh! stayed in the area for a few days and arrived back in Richmond on Friday.

The round trip was just short of 3,000 miles, and great fun for all.

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Last updated on July 7, 2017.

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