This trip began as, all of our trips do, with optimism. Some say we are extremely late for everything. We prefer to think that we’re just extremely optimistic about what can be accomplished in a given amount of time. We’re not hanging around early, waiting for things to start, like a bunch of pessimists.
Despite initial gestures toward proper planning and efficiency, such as registering the Range Rover a week ahead of time and packing 2 days ahead of time, I managed to thrust us into panic mode on day one by scheduling our car to the airport on optimist time, rather than on Greater Toronto Area rush-hour reality time. We managed to make the flight, though I’m not sure we deserved to. Optimists: 1 Pessimists: 0
The flight from Toronto to San Francisco was delightfully unmemorable. No delays, no unacceptably precocious children, no chatty Cathy in the next seat. I watched “Vacation” and wrote my first automotive review piece, on the 2016 Mini Clubman. We arrived in San Francisco with plenty of time to kill, since the Range Rover wouldn’t be ready for another 48 hours.
I booked us the cheapest possible rental car, hoping we’d get a total shitbox that I could tear to shreds in my review. Unfortunately, they did not have a Mitsubishi Mirage. Instead, we were “upgraded” to a bronze 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe. He might has well have said, “I’ve upgraded you to a Dodge Grand Caravan!” It’s not that the Santa Fe is a bad car, it’s just that it ranks pretty low on the sex-o-meter.
We actually warmed quickly to the Santa Fe. It’s an easy-driving, practical, transportation appliance. It’s lovely, in the way that a metallic grey LG washer/dryer pair is lovely. We loaded it up with our stuff, and set off for our first stop: Chipotle. We will eat at Chipotle a lot on this trip, as Chipotles are scarce in southern Ontario. It is a delicacy of the highest order, on par with beluga caviar and Ferrero Rocher truffles.
Our faux-mex craving sated, we dropped in to visit Harry Hayashi, our trusty mechanic, for an update on Mr. Barry White’s condition. In typical fashion, he was brief, and we could tell that he wanted us to leave. He’s actually a pretty friendly guy; he’s just not burdened with a need for pleasantries. I asked him about the 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500E sitting in his shop. His face lit up, and he told us about how they were built by Porsche back then, and how one of his customers once had him install a Porsche horn in his 500E, because the Mercedes horn was too weak.
Anyway, the Rover was up on the lift, and pretty well taken apart underneath. Dave and I walked around under the truck and marveled at the robustness of its construction. The reasons for the Range Rover’s off road prowess became apparent. I’ve seen Range Rovers up on ramps, demonstrating wheel articulation and approach angles, but I’d never really gotten a close look at how it’s possible. The Classic used soft steel coil springs, paired with a Boge self-leveling strut attached to a central “A” frame suspension link. It’s an impressive balancing act.
That night, we visited with old friends VA and Kip in Novato. We played with their adorable baby, Vesper, and caught up over a couple bottles of local red wine. When it was time to turn in, we spent the night in their spare room, which does triple duty as guest room, home office, and horror-film memorabilia collection. Dave and I each used reassuring self-talk to keep the scary slashers out of our dreams.