Davenport Run - Saturday July 13, 2024

Join the Norcal Minis club for an epic drive from San Jose through the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains! Enjoy stunning vistas and wine tasting a...

July 2020 Almaden Valley Run Recap

Your Hosts for the Run:

Dave and Anne Sitter

Our July run was originally scheduled to be a drive to the beautiful Gold Country in the California hills. But, as with everything “COVID19” in 2020, that idea had to be modified because of regulations ensuring the health and safety of our members and the community. We changed the run to a local run from Hollister up through the backroads of Almaden and New Almaden ending in San Jose for lunch options.

We met at the Target in Hollister and headed out to Highway 101 North where we went through back neighborhoods through Gilroy until we hopped onto the official “run” backroads. We had 23 cars and about 40 people. We drove about 40 miles on the backroads through Gilroy, Morgan Hill and on into the beautiful Almaden Valley via Watsonville Road, Uvas Road and McKean. 

We were able to stop briefly for a photo op and a break out of our cars before heading down to the backroads of historic New Almaden, a small mining community from the 1800’s.

On our way into New Almaden we were greeted by the most adorable kids who were holding up their handmade “We Love Minis” signs. In a group thank you they were greeted with the warmest honks and waves as we drove by! 

We drove through New Almaden and then out, continuing past Guadalupe Reservoir and past Mt. Umunhum where we dropped down into the backroads between Almaden Valley and Los Gatos.

We came out on surface streets and headed to the Bass Pro Shops parking lot to end the run and allow people to grab something to eat if they desired.

We wanted to throw a special shout out to Directors, Gordon and Alison Lee. It was Gordon’s birthday on Saturday, a fact we found out post run so, a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Gordon on behalf of his NorCal Mini family and a warm thank you to Alison who so generously sews and gives out awesome masks for everyone who wants one.

On behalf of the NorCal Minis Officers and Directors, thanks to everyone who attended and we are looking forward to seeing you all on the road on another run really soon!

Anne and Dave Sitter

Check out the link below for more pictures from the beautiful day!

June 2020 Calaveras Road Run Recap

Your Hosts For The Event - Nikki and Simon Tildesley

It has been some time since we were last able to do a blog post for the club due to the Shelter in Place requirements from the Coronavirus. However, with the slow a gradual opening up of the State – the club was finally in a position to hold an event after 14 weeks absence of MINI driving.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning for the run and the meeting point had been arranged to enable those attending to observe social distancing. Our meet point was the parking lot opposite the old train station in Sunol. Shortly after arriving and setting up the club flag – the first of the MINI’s started to appear. Everyone turning up was super excited to be back on the road again and out with his or her MINI friends. My thanks go to all of those who attended and observed the club requirement to use face masks.

During the drivers meeting – I introduced a few new members to the club – one who had signed up specifically for this event. After the drivers meeting – with social distancing – we jumped in our cars and headed out. Some of the locals from Pleasanton seeing us off and sharing their own excitement at seeing 28 MINI’s all together for a drive. Thanks to Brian Pastor for videoing the cars leaving and for him and Melissa offering to do the job of caboose.

Our route took us out of Sunol, taking Foothill Rd north towards Castlewood Country Club. We stopped just south of the country club to allow the back end of the caravan to catch us up. From here we made a right turn on Castlewood Drive past the golf course and onto Pleasanton Sunol Road. This gave a chance for people to open up their cars a little more as the road is very straight and wide. After making a left onto Paloma Way – we made another quick regroup. The gravel on the side of the road though giving a challenge to a couple of people as it was much looser than anticipated. However, no harm done and we headed out as a group again.

From here – we went under Highway 680 and picked up Calaveras Road. Some 15 mins later we made a short detour into Little Yosemite. Luckily, due to the pandemic – entrance was free and there was enough free parking for the entire group. This was only going to be a short stop for a quick bathroom break and people to grab a drink & snack and socialize a little more. Many of the group commented on how beautiful the park is and that they had never been here before. I think many people would definitely return to spend longer.

After our short break at Little Yosemite we headed back out towards Calaveras Road. This is quite a challenging road to drive, many twists & tight turns and not very wide. The pace was set sensibly and many got to appreciate that great handling on their cars. The scenery was amazing and we were not held up too much by bikes either. After about 15 miles – we made a left turn on Felter Road, which would subsequently lead us to Sierra Rd and take us into the Upper Sierra area of San Jose. I was hoping to be able to get the group into the view point which looks down over San Jose – but sadly the parking lot couldn’t handle the number of cars. It did turn out though that one of our group had got separated from us and had waited at the view point to rejoin us.

Our final stretch of the drive took us down from hills into the Upper Sierra district. The group finished at the Olivera Egg Ranch to have some final socializing and a few of us bought eggs (which were so cheap compared to supermarkets). Shortly after, people started to disperse to make their own arrangements for some lunch.

Even though this was not the longest drive due to lack of bathroom breaks and lunch locations – those who attended and drove the route had fun. People had definitely missed attending club events. We hope to be able to continue to have a monthly drive for the remainder of the year – but drives have to be adjusted and tailored to the requirements given to use from the State.

As President of the club – I am super happy that we are back motoring again and looking forward to our next drive on July 11th. Hope to see some of you there


Simon and Nikki Tildesley

Christine & Michael Toibin - Member Profile

Christine & Michael Toibin

Toibin Trio (Abby, Malcolm & Zera)

We took a long route to our MINIs.  As a teenager, back in the 70's, I loved Hot Rods especially a Ford 32 Coupe.  In the summers visiting my sister and her family, I would attend Rod Runs.  The group always had a great time gathering together and just enjoying their cars. 

Fast-forward to the 2000's!  I saw my first R50 MINI driven by a person I worked with and I must say I was impressed as he was a very tall individual.  LOVED IT!  However, I was busy raising children driving a Ford minivan.  It was just not the time to have a MINI.

Then around 2004, one of my sister and her husband got an R52 Cabrio. Instant jealousy I tell you, but while she was tooling around in her convertible, attending runs with her local club and The Dragon a couple times, I was still raising children.  She let me borrow it for a little drive to visit a friend on back roads between Hilton Head and Beaufort, SC. Needless to say my 'want' was increased after that point.

By 2008 the children were adults and I had moved myself from Kentucky to California where for the first 6 months I didn't even have a car.  I did rent a few MINIs for day trips.  Wheeee!  Michael came into the picture at this time too.  Lucky me!  After my first 6 months in California I decided it was time for a car....and I bought a Toyota Rav4!  WHAT?  I've lusted after a MINI all this time, I wasn't raising children, I could do what I wanted right? Yeah, I just thought the Rav4 would be more practical.  

Over the years I kept telling Michael, "I want a MINI", but his reply was they're too small. To convince him they were not too small I rented a Countryman for us to take on a road trip to Jacksonville, Oregon for a weekend. He liked the Countryman and said it would be OK, but not the smaller ones.

In early 2014, it was time to replace Ravy and I went straight to East Bay MINI and test drove a 2012 Countryman.  I looked at a brand new Countrymans too.  At the end of the day I drove home with a Ford Escape!  WHAT?  Not again!  I was trying to be practical again as my son-in-law works at a Ford assembly plant making the Escapes, and Michael was going to be retiring soon and at the time his car was a company car...so, I'm thinking we need an SUV.  Hard to shake that 'practically' out of me.  However, a friend of ours in Hawaii got on the phone with me and yelled at me to get the damn MINI, it's all I've ever heard you talk about. MINI, MINI, MINI.  The Escape went back to the Ford Dealership and I brought Zera, my 2012 MINI Countryman, home on March 16, 2014.

Edited for the true story per Mel T, our friend,  "A little correction to the story...I gave Michael Toibin all kind of heat for letting his wife drive home with a Ford instead of encouraging her and giving his blessing to her getting the car she’s wanted her whole life. I’m way too scared to yell at Christine."

Zera and Ravy on the day I brought her home.

By the end of Zera's first day I had joined the club and went on my first run April 12, 2014 for Redwoods & Calaveras Big Trees Tour where the first person I met was Tara Moore-Hunter, the President of the club at that time.  From here, it's not an understatement to say I became obsessed with all things MINI.

We attended our first MINI Takes the States in 2014 which was hilarious. WE LOVED IT!  We attended the best kickoff party at MINI of San Francisco the night before. Met up with Christine Kingsley in San Ramon for the drive to Golden Gate Fields for the kick-off to #MTTS2014.  This was the year Tony Hawk skated over MINIs leaving to start the trip.

We only went 1/2 a segment, San Francisco to Sacramento.  I didn't know anything about this event and we'd already had our vacations scheduled so, we couldn't do anymore than this 1/2 segment.  We laughed, met new people, and of course got LOST in Napa.  If you've never tried to follow a route sheet provided by MINI during one of these trips you just won't understand how we got lost in our own backyard.  It was a RIGHT turn...not a LEFT turn we should have taken.  About 2 hours later than expected we finally arrived into Niello MINI in Sacramento.  As MINI's left to go to Reno for the 1st stop, we had to head home, however we'd already decided 2016 OMG we're going All the Way!

Here we are leaving Golden Gate Fields the starting point of #MTTS2014.

After #MTTS2014, I realized Zera needed some accents, so she got her strips soon afterwards.

Zera, she's black and white and Zippy like a Zebra.
Zera won MINIUSA's Photo Challenge in April 2015.


We shipped our Zera to Atlanta to start #MTTS2016 and went all the way with a fantastic group of other NorCal MINIs members as well as members from Shasta MINIs and CapCity MINIs. During the entire trip Michael kept saying he wanted a Roadster, I want a Roadster.  By the end of the trip I got it...he wanted a Roadster.  Abby, the 2013 Roadster, arrived in September 2016.

Abby, 2013 Roadster

I spent 2017 as the President of NorCal MINIs with the support of my wonderful husband, Michael. We went to some amazing places and had a great time.   I ripped off CBS's Amazing Race and created "a-MINI-zing Race" which was a huge success. We some very competitive members!

Crystal & Brian - Winners 2017 a-MINI-zing Race!
In 2018, we shipped Zera to Orlando, Florida for the Eastern Route meeting in the middle in Keystone, Colorado. 

Zera leaving Dallas Cowboys Stadium for Oklahoma City, OK.

It was during #MTTS2018, after talking with Stuart Miles, a representative from the MINI Oxford plant, that we wanted a new JCW Hardtop.  I already knew what color I wanted. Rebel Green!  We wanted him to arrive in time for us to take him on #MTTS2020 and in celebration of my 60th birthday.  We finally were able to pick him up from MINI of Portland in October of 2019.  Meet Malcolm.  He's dark and handsome!


Unfortunately, Malcolm has to wait until 2021 for MINI Takes the States and he's been waiting patiently for his first run with the club. It was suppose to be in April for the next A-MINI-zing Race, but stay-in-place orders have kept us at home.  He still has less than 2,000 miles on him.

We're crazy about our MINIs and at this time we still have all 3 of them.  We've driven across the country a few times and are always up for a road trip.  Even though we relocated to Oregon in 2018,  Michael and I remain active in the club, currently he is the Social Media Officers and I am a director who handles MotorSportReg events and emails to club members.

We can't say enough about the folks we have met, not just in the club, but across the country from owning our MINIs.  We are truly blessed.

Let's Motor, 
Christine & Michael Toibin