MORE DETAILS - 10/15 SLK & SLR Meet & Drive
To All Northern California SLK and SLR Enthusiasts
There will be another adventure trip for SLKs Saturday, October 15. This trip will be from San Jose east to the tip-top of and over Mount Hamilton in the Diablo Range into San Antonio Valley. There is nothing in that valley except cattle, well nothing else except cows, cowboys, cowgirls, horses, horsemen, horse ladies, rural mail carriers, one resident deputy sheriff, deer, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, wild pigs, eagles, hawks, little rattlesnakes, medium sized rattlesnakes, large rattlesnakes, one elementary school, one bar, one CDF fire station, one volunteer fire unit, handguns, rifles, many motorcycles, some with two people, some with one person, and for the first time ever a covey or flock or herd or swarm or group of tenderfoots driving beautiful Mercedes-Benz SLK retractable hardtop convertible roadsters.
The Meet and Grand Display of SLKs
For a drastic change let's meet at 10:30. The rendezvous and display of Mercedes-Benz SLKs will be at Capital Square Mall, N. Capitol Ave and McKee Road, San Jose. You can use 320 North Capitol Ave, San Jose, for your computerized mapping programs.
Directions to Capitol Square Mall, 320 N. Capitol Ave at McKee Rd, San Jose
The best freeway would be 680 but 101 will suffice. Exit at McKee Road to the east/mountains. The first street east/mountain side of 680 is North Capitol Avenue. (Be careful. There is also a Capitol Expressway in San Jose's Eastside. We want North Capitol Avenue today, not Capitol Expressway.) Turn left onto North Capitol Ave. Then turn right into Capitol Square Mall. We will meet in front of Albertson's Food and Drug but all the way toward the front which again is North Capitol Avenue.
Get Gas First
There are three service stations at that intersection: Shell, Union 76 and a Chevron as large as Pleasanton's airport. Get a full tank of gas before you park at the SLK display area, before you get coffee, before you visit the washroom.
Stores at Capitol Square Shopping Center
Starbucks Coffee on the corner for washroom and...and....and, I can not remember what else people use Starbucks for. Wells Fargo Bank for cash. Albertson's Food and Drug for deli sandwiches and deli goodies and for washrooms. Togo's Eatery for sandwiches and salads opens 10:30 and washroom. Walgreen's Drug Store. Target. And so forth.
Have your food and drink ready to travel. Have your full tank of gas. Turn your family radio/two-way radio to Channel 2, Code 2. Turn your light switch two clicks to the right and pull it out one click, not two clicks. Your headlights and front fog lights will be on. We leave on McKee Road at 11:30 and continue east/towards the mountains. We are climbing immediately.
The Buddhist Society of America, 2946 McKee Road, about one block east.
In about one block look on the right at 2946 McKee Road at a fabulous Buddhist complex of about four buildings. We cannot all drive in because there is not room, but if you did you can even smell the incense. I last scouted this area Sept 28 and I was immediately transported to such complexes at Tibet and Bhutan and in other countries. If you arrive at the rendezvous point early you should drive up here, roll down your car windows and turn in and drive to the back of the parking lot.
Continuing the Drive
We will reach a T-intersection at Toyon. After this we are in an older wealthy area of San Jose. McKee curves 90 degrees to the right. We reach a dead-end at Alum Rock Avenue. We turn left and go a few blocks than turn right on Mt. Hamilton Road/California Highway 130 towards Mount Hamilton. Curves & hills & birds & chills.
Grant Ranch County Park with washroom $5, 18405 Mt. Hamilton Road (408) 274-6121
We arrive at Grant Ranch County Park. This used to be a large cattle ranch. We do not turn right into the park because it is $5 a car. We turn left into a small parking lot. It is also $5 a car but we are not going to do anything. If anyone needs to use the washroom, we can do a small caravan into the park on the other side of the road at $5 a car to the washroom. I doubt if anyone will need the washroom if they had handled it properly back at Starbucks and Albertson's and Togo's. As information my Hong Kong Chinese daughter and I got lost hiking way up off the left side of the road. I honestly expected to die. But by going cross country downhill we eventually reached the road we are driving on now. The cross country part was very difficult. On a later occasion I spotted a bob-cat while hiking off the right side of the road. Whenever it snows further up, this is where the CHP closes this road.
Now we are rolling. We will pass Smith Creek CDF Fire Station, 22805 Mt. Hamilton Rd, (408) 274-0766. There will be another later today when we are in San Antonio Valley driving towards Livermore.
Lick Observatory, www.ucolick.org, (408) 274-5061, Maintenance 274-5062, nights 274-4100, email firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also reach the ham cam through the website.
The highway was built in 1876, 129 years ago. The observatory was built in 1888, 117 years ago. The stars were built maybe two billion years ago.
Several times a year we can see snow up here from the valley floor. Mt. Hamilton is at 4209 feet. The observatory is operated by UC Santa Cruz. It is still fully operational and astronomers schedule nights here to do their work. After that ride up the hill there are wonderfully refreshing washrooms here. And a great gift shop/book store that will appeal to the child in you and to the scientist in you. Typically there is an interesting tour by a docent every 30 minutes by a docent. They are expecting us at 1:00 p.m. Road signs at Lick Observatory say Patterson 47 miles, Livermore 41 miles and San Jose 21 miles. Strange, I have a newspaper picture of some signs saying Patterson 50 miles, Livermore 50 miles, San Jose 24 miles.
Depending on the situation, before we leave here, we might eat whatever we each brought for our stand-up picnic. There is no food or drink for sale here, nor really anywhere else until you reach Livermore, Patterson or return to San Jose. We might also eat our lunch or second lunch later during the drive.
We go down the east side of the mountain into San Antonio Valley. When we reach the junction/T-intersection in 19 miles we will see The Junction Cafe. And we will see motorcycles parked at it. There are small restrooms here but you can not expect them to work. They serve food here but we do not have the time for them to feed our group. We might however eat the lunch we brought here in this lot. This is a point someone might want to return the 19 miles to Lick Observatory and then 22 miles to I-680 in San Jose, or go out 38 miles to Patterson on I-5. The official drive will go on Mines Road for 31 miles to Livermore.
Northeast of The Junction is 3593 foot Mt. Boardman, a point touched by four counties: Alameda, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus.
Mines Road to Livermore
Soon we will pass the CDF Sweetwater Fire Station # 25 and the Harney School, est.1912, an elementary school at 53208 Mines Road. To help you understand where you are, the school's sign shows a cowboy on a bucking horse. Another sign shows the San Antonio Valley Volunteer Fire Department meets here.
Maps can change names, but for this area I use AAA Sectional Series----Coast and Valley-Bay Area to Southern California. I also use AAA California Regional Series----San Francisco Bay. For Yahoo Maps on your computer you can check Del Puerto Canyon, Patterson, CA., or 53280 Mines Road, Livermore. Due to the scarcity of roads, I do not think you will need a map.
Things to remember
1. Cell phones probably will not have reception.
2. Start the drive with a full tank of gas.
3. Bring your stand-up picnic lunch and drink.
4. Visit the washroom at Starbucks or Albertson's or Togo's before we leave.
5. Drive with your headlights and front fog lights on.
6. If you have a family radio/two-way radio, then bring it. Set it ahead of time to Channel 2, Code 2. "Sam" Curtis will provide a few radios. If you use one of "Sam's" radios, you must agree to go to extreme trouble to return the radio to her before you leave the drive.
7. Bring a coat. Lick Observatory is at about 4000 feet and can be windy. You will appreciate that coat if it is needed.
8. Bring an umbrella in case.
California Highway Information website for Hwy 130 to Mt. Hamilton: www.dot.a.gov/hq/roadinfo.