Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Great Darby Road Trip - Days 10 & 11

 Mike Darby, well-known British car restorer and SABCC'er is on the road his newly-restored 1959 MGA roadster with daughter Stella, undertaking the dream trip of a lifetime. The Darby duo will be traveling from their Alabama Gulf Coast home to Southern California, then up the Pacific Coast to Oregon and then back to the Heart of Dixie. 

Stella has kindly agreed to send along a daily report of their progress as well as observations of the people and places that make up our nation.

The past couple of days seem a bit like a blur – perhaps that’s the San Francisco effect.  Yesterday morning we felt especially nourished by our B&B hosts’ Chinese breakfast – including delicious homemade soy milk.

Whilst replacing the main headlight light switch, Mike discovered a burnt wire to the map-reading light.  Was this caused by manoeuvring a full-sized road atlas under an MG dash?  No more bump-starts since the disconnection of the offending wire…so far!  Maybe he’s uncovered the root cause of our electrical problems.  New developments include a serious fluid leak from the clutch slave cylinder area and increased reluctance to shift into first gear.  Stella struggled with this on a hilly exit ramp in front of a queue of traffic towards the end of today’s driving…hopefully she and Madge can kiss and make up soon.  Oil consumption continues to be mysteriously low. 

We feel fairly confident of reaching our Oregon destination before Mike must spend time rectifying these irritating (but not disastrous) issues.

From Salinas yesterday we re-joined the coast road, carrying on north.  High winds and sunshine continued.  After a coffee and cake break, we stopped briefly on the beach.  A couple of surfers braved the frigid water but we only waded!  

It was a fairly short but leisurely trip up to San Francisco, where we were able to find our way to the next beautiful B&B in time to settle in and meet Nancy as she arrived.  It was great to catch up with friends from Florida now living in the area and enjoy a fantastic sushi meal in the Mission district together.  If only these stops could be longer…but it’s treat to see old chums even for a short visit. 

This morning after picking up Nancy’s rental car we sampled the Mission’s breakfast offering, which didn’t disappoint.  A trip up Bernal Hill, thanks to friends’ kind tip, offered us great views of all of San Francisco.  Next we drove out of the city – a challenge for both navigator and driver, perhaps intensified by what I’ll call…um…‘precision teamwork’! – complete with all the joys of a vibrant metropolis including cyclists, delivery drivers’ flung-open doors, loopy pedestrians and a one-way system. 

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge felt like a welcome achievement.  We picked up Highway 1 again north of the Bay, now in convoy, for the curviest-yet sections of the road.  Spectacular vistas, warm beaches, laid-back vineyard towns and roadside fruit stands made it a great drive, but we headed inland to pick up the freeway so we could join our cousins in Ukiah at a reasonable hour. 

Leaving the MG safely garaged, we followed Dennis up the mountain road to their organic farm.  We couldn’t have been more grateful for the wonderful home-cooked meal Peggy had prepared – even including dessert. Tomorrow they’ll take products to market, so we’ll get to wake up to the roosters’ crows and see how it’s done in northern California.


  1. I am so glad everything seems to be going well...keep it out of the ditches!

    Safety Fast!!!

    Christopher Baker

  2. Enjoying hearing about all the food and hospitality (Chinese breakfast?! Sushi dinner! Peggy's home cooked dinner! - I'm so envious) just as much as updates on the car! hope you are all safe and happy - Charlotte X


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