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March 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Personal

California 2010

So I had a pretty great weekend prior to GDC this year, thanks to having to take a trip up to Sonoma to visit my family out on the west coast. I have 4 cousins, an aunt and an uncle all living around the San Fran area and usually one of them picks me up in the city and takes me to wherever we need to go to meet up for dinner. This time however no one was able to make the trip down, and my cousin Emilie is actually pregnant (and due to pop very soon) so it was suggested I rent a car and drive up to Sonoma to meet with everyone for dinner and to see Emi and Kip’s new home in the hills.

Well, I had never rented a car before so of course it wasn’t something I wanted to be bothered with, but then I thought of a picture I saw from a slide show Introversion’ s Mark Morris and Tom Arundel gave at GDC 2007 on their success after Darwinia won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the IGF Awards. They told the audience how they blew so much money on fast cars and hot girls. Here’s the picture:

That got me to thinking about how I could actually turn this to my great advantage. So I started researching into sport rental cars, and came across several options:

Exclusive Car Rentals
Dream Car Rentals
City Rent-a-Car

However all required an actual credit card to place a deposit and rent the car, and I have a Visa check card. Plus, this was all within a week of leaving, so I was stressed out enough as it without having to add an exotic car rental on top of everything. So unfortunately I had to shelve the idea of a sports car this year. My goal next year is to rent a Lotus Elise. If I can’t get that, then my next best car would be a Porsche Boxter 6S. If I can’t get that, I’ll settle for a Pontiac Solstice. Otherwise – MEGA SAD FACE. Let me clarify my car choices though: For one, I need it to be a convertible. I’ve never driven in a convertible and the weather around this time of year in SF is usually suitable for one, so might as well take advantage (although GDC next year is two week earlier :/). Next, it can’t be a monster of a car, which is why baby Ferraris are off the list. It’s not that I fear the power, it would just be useless on the roads I travel. Finally it should be a manual transmission.

California 2010

So I ended up booking through Hertz, which had a pickup spot at the Marriott hotel directly across the street where I was staying, and getting a Pontiac G6 to drive around in. FWD, automatic tranny – blargh. But I made do. I got to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and up into the Marin Headlands, which is something I’ve been telling myself I was going to do for years. After tackling the awesome windy roads up there I started planning how best to get to Emi’s house using Streets & Trips on my laptop, which has a built-in GPS receiver. As soon as I laid eyes on Rt-1 I knew that was the way I needed to go! Luckily time-wise things worked out according to the GPS estimate, so I locked in the route and took off. Here’s an abbreviated version (on both ends)

In a word? Breathtaking. You go from town to forest to sea cliff side to bay side back to forest – all while twisting around and around. I was literally turning the wheel lock to lock in a span of a few seconds to negotiate around some of these corners. Several could almost be deemed a switchback. As long as you don’t get held up by any slow or incapable drivers, you’re good to go. They have turnouts for slower people to move aside (otherwise there’s simply no way you can pass without breaking a double yellow and having the muscle to shoot by in less than 5 seconds due to the amount of corners) but people rarely use them, I found – despite riding the bumpers of several cars. Some did get out of the way though, others didn’t seem to care.

California 2010

I made it up to my cousin’s no problem, where I helped assemble the baby furniture my uncle brought over and we had home-made sushi for dinner. Yummalicious! It was so great to have everyone together that night (especially considering my aunt and uncle are divorced, and both my younger cousins are out of home at school). I look forward to seeing my newest cousin very soon!

Coming back to the city the next day, I had to pick up Colin (furthest in the right in pic above) in San Rafael to drive him to the train station and ended up having to back-track a bit to catch Rt-1, but I picked it up well before the amazing coastal cliffs section and was actually able to run the entire length of that section completely unobstructed by traffic. It was quite fabulous!

Hopefully next year I get to rent a sports car and really upgrade the whole experience!

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Kevin

    I'd like to take my car through that area. Perhaps I should just drive cross-country to GDC next year.

  • Gaiiden

    It's an idea that I've considered too, so let's see:

    It's 2,945 mi for me (and that's only if I take the direct route GMaps suggests). My car is rated for 26mpg highway (fairly accurate based on past long highway drives) so that's roughly 113 gallons of fuel consumption. The national average for premium gasoline is now at $3.102 – so that would mean a one-way trip cost of $350.53 to drive out to SF. Which in turn equates to $701.06 for a round-trip.

    Now, my round-trip airline ticket this year cost $299.40. From quotes I've seen at the sites I visited, I can rent a Lotus Elise for $279/day. I would need one for two days (might be a requirement for weekend reservations anyways) so that's $558 (w/o tax, gas & fees like insurance). In total that would equate to $857. We'll round up to $900. (realistically might be as much as $100 extra)

    So for $200-300 dollars more, I get an exotic car to play around in*and* I don't put a whopping 5,890 miles on my car. I like.

    But, it's up to you 🙂

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