Road trip #1 – Yosemite

Since the whole point of owning and working on these cars is to be able to use them, and because I’m momentarily running out of steam on the Lancia, it was a good time to take off on a short weekend road trip. Earlier in the week, I’d booked a room at the Yosemite Rose in Groveland, CA, which is pretty much the last town on the way into Yosemite on the 120. Nice room, good breakfast, good parking, and since the water was out due to a broken valve, they comped us for the night! (As an aside, I did find a b&b that allows you to rent their Model T or A Fords to drive around, so if you’re feeling spendy check out the Tin Lizzie Inn). Anyway, we dropped the top and left Friday night. The drive went smoothly with us arriving at the inn around 10:30, where we were welcomed by their fluffy dog and cat. Driver’s note: the stretch of the 120 approaching Groveland is twisty fun and well-paved, so make sure your passenger has taken their motion sickness pills or has their wristbands on!

Kim and the spider in Yosemite


But Saturday was what we went for – after buying some sunscreen and getting out of Groveland, we passed through Sierra National Forest and made our way into Yosemite. Surprise surprise, a convertible car is great for driving into the Yosemite Valley. The sounds of the birds, smells of the forest, and views are all around you, and made the noise and wind buffeting on the drives to-and-from worthwhile. Oddly enough, they were having some thunderstorms, and a few drops came down as we approached Bridal Veil Falls. The curvy one-way two-lane going into the valley is also fun to drive on, but watch out for errant tourists and wildlife. We parked at the Ahwahnee Hotel, did a short walk up to Mirror Pond and back, and had some pricey boysenberry pie and coffee in the cafe (what do you expect when you order pie in a place that charges $450/night), by which point it had started raining heavily. Luckily the top was up, so we made our way back out of the valley and drove up to Glacier Point, where you can see the whole north side of the valley, including Half Dome, North Dome, and Basket Dome, plus Yosemite Falls. It was all incredibly impressive, and far more beautiful than I remember it from when I was a kid. Since we were nearing the end of the day, we headed down and out of the park. Our final stop was in Groveland at the Iron Door Saloon for buffalo burgers and Grizzly Brown beer, with a creamy garlic soup that had a surprising lack of evil side effects.

The car performed well on the trip, aside from a lack of heat control due to an already-broken heater valve control cable. I was able to close the hot air vents, though, so we didn’t get too hot. I also noticed the idle was quite low, down to 500-700 rpm from the normal 975 rpm, but I think that was thanks to the high altitude… the SPICA fuel injection has an altitude compensation lever on it, but for that small bit of driving it’s not worth getting your hands greasy. So when you’re planning a road trip, don’t forget to include your old car!

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2 Responses to “Road trip #1 – Yosemite”

  1. aaron Says:

    Nice trip! I’ve driven through Yosemite in two Alfas. For real altitude, head over Tioga Pass.
    In the Super:
    approaching Tioga Pass
    In the TI:
    yosemite with the giulia ti

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