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Willow Glen Holiday Lights Cruise - Saturday, December 16, 2023

Join host and Club President Pat Lewis on December 16 for an evening cruise through the holiday lights of the Willow Glen neighborhood in Sa...

Recap - Paso Robles Run - April 28-30, 2023

 

Friday AM Meetup in Morgan Hill
(photo by the Nyes)


Your Hosts for This Event:

Tim & Kim Nye in Magoo (2022 JCW Convertible)


Day 1 (Friday):

The 2023 Paso Robles weekend rally was organized into four runs over 3 days. We met up in Morgan Hill with nine cars and sixteen club members. Our club President, Pat Lewis, started us off with a brief club update, and host Tim Nye led the group through our driver’s briefing. The Friday run was primarily a long-distance travel run down to Paso Robles, but our hosts planned some fun motoring on backroads along the way. From the Peet’s parking lot in Morgan Hill, we drove south on US 101 for about 30 miles before getting off the freeway in Salinas, CA, and connected up on River Rd. As we passed, our convoy of nine MINIs humming in a long line on the freeway brought smiles to other travelers’ faces. We made our first stop on River Road at the Exxon Station to meet up with club members Mick and Vickie and their faithful pup Dirk in their Paddy Hopkirk Special Edition MINI Cooper S.

Mick, Vickie, and Dirk
(photo by the Nyes)


Cruising down River Rd. at the foot of the Coastal Mountain Range was incredible. The scenery combined with dips and curves elevated all of our moods as we could see other cars far in the distance slugging along on the freeway. Using our two-way radios, members shared their knowledge of the notable wineries we passed. Although we did not stop, we drove by the historic Soledad Mission. Because of the Atmospheric River flooding along the Salinas River back in March 2023, the host was concerned the Arroyo Seco Bridge near Greenfield, CA would be unpassable. Even though the Monterey County road conditions website marked it as closed, club member John had local insight that it was open, so we continued on and found it was indeed still open! It was quite a sight to see ten MINIs all on the historic green bridge.

Arroyo Seco Bridge
(photo by the Nyes)


After crossing the green bridge, we drove through green hills spotted with super blooms of wildflowers in the distance beyond the vineyards. We enjoyed this scenery all the way to King City, CA for our midday pit stop and lunch. Our lunch was slightly disrupted as we passed through Greenfield, thanks to road construction and local traffic, but we persevered and made it through. If you plan to drive past Greenfield on your way south, consider turning right onto Central Ave. from Elm Ave. to bypass Greenfield altogether.

King City is a travel hub for US 101. The main exit at Broadway Ave. has fast food and gas stations. A few club members ate at El Toro Tacos, a new taqueria. If you go, order the asada tacos and chile relleno. The gordita is also good.

With food in our bellies and fuel in our tanks, we then drove a few miles on US 101-S before taking the Paris Valley/Lockwood exit onto San Lucas Rd. for some twists and turns through a remote 10-mile stretch of country road headed toward Lockwood, CA. Our last stop as a group was the historic Pleyto Country Store where we debriefed and then drove into Paso Robles on our own. While we did not take it this trip, the route map shows another side excursion to try off of Hare Canyon and Indian Valley Roads near Valleton, CA. Something to consider checking out next year.

Last Group Stop Day 1
(photo by the Nyes)


Once we all checked into our lodging, many club members met up later in the evening at the Firestone Walker Brewery and Restaurant in Paso Robles, CA for drinks, dinner, and laughs in preparation for good drives ahead in the morning. One of the great things about weekend club events is that members can pick and choose when to meet up with the club and also have the option to explore places on their own. For example, we began the day with nine cars and ended with twelve cars meeting up in Paso Robles that evening. That’s a 33% increase in MINI frivolity from our start in Morgan Hill!

Day 2 (Saturday):

Rested and refreshed following the first day of thrills and cheers, the club met on Saturday morning at Starbucks on Golden Hill Rd. in Paso Robles for Sprint 2. Friday evening after dispersing from the final run stop, Tim and Kim did a scouting mission for the Saturday run, discovering posted orange warning signs that the 2023 Wildflower Century bicycling event was scheduled on the South side of Creston, CA on Day 2. This meant the later portion of our planned route might be a challenge, so being quick on our feet, the group made a major change to our planned route to avoid the bicyclists on Saturday.

We started the route as originally planned, and this section was one of the highlights of the weekend. Turning right onto CA 41-S from CA-46-E began a 12-mile stretch of road nirvana. Dips and hills, twists and turns with yellow road warning signs ranging from 30 MPH limit down to 15 MPH. Seriously though, CA 41 is one of the best driving roads in the area, so if you’re down there, you’ve got to drive it!

CA 41
(photo by the Nyes)


Due to the bicycling event over on CA 58, we did not drive La Panza Rd. and instead stayed on CA 41 into Atascadero, CA. Tim attested to the group though that on his previous day’s scouting mission, it is an absolutely fun route. Club member, Steve, who coordinated the club’s recent 2022 Paso Robles Holiday Run also confirmed these are some of the best roads in the area. In Atascadero, we all merged onto US 101-S where many of us got split up. But all cars made it to the Oceano Dunes Nature Preserve area where many of us had lunch at Fin’s Bar and Grill right on Pismo Beach. The Kraken (see picture) felt right at home.😀

Kraken at Fin's
(photo by the Nyes)


After lunch, nine cars left the Pismo Beach area for a two-hour backcountry drive beginning on the historic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) / CA 1-S. This scenic byway meanders through green agriculture fields leading us to the Los Alamos, CA Chevron Station where we made a pit stop. Here the club reconnected with the one and only electric MINI SE in the group. Club member Clive had driven ahead of the group to get a full charge for the second part of the run. That dedication exemplifies the MINI-driving spirit. The MINI brand is ever-evolving, and while the newer models may look and be powered differently from the earlier generations, the driver experience and enthusiasm continue to be excellent.

Driving out of Los Alamos, we jumped back on US 101-S where we followed a local tractor for a bit before executing a group merge into the number 1 lane. Our club President, Pat, led from the rear of the pack and merged first. From there, each MINI merged one at a time until our leader, Tim, merged last. It was a well-executed maneuver that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) would approve. We then made a Left exit onto Alisos Canyon Rd. across the divided freeway, where we motored joyfully along winding roads through wine country before stopping for a group picture in Santa Maria, CA. Although the original plan was to drive to Frank’s Famous Hot Dogs in San Luis Obispo, we decided to end the club day here. Club members Mick and Vickie went by themselves though, and said it was a nice spot.

Santa Maria Photo Opp
(photo by the Nyes)


Saturday evening was open for members to do what they wanted. Many attended the Sensorio light show in Paso Robles, which they said was awesome! Others went wine tasting at notable wineries in the region.

Day 3 (Sunday):

Eight cars made it for the final Sprint 4 on Sunday morning. The day began with an easy Sunday drive through the countryside filled with oak trees, vineyards, and wildflowers on Adelaida Rd. to the traffic circle on CA 46, where we turned west toward the Pacific Ocean.  This cruise through Adelaida and Peachy Canyon roads felt a bit like driving through the Hundred Acre Wood😆. With the sun shining through the iridescent green foliage, and brownish leaves rustling along the side of the road as MINIs 1 through 8 roared by, it was a surreal experience.

At our morning driver’s briefing, the group decided to go to Harmony, CA for our final stop. This tiny town of glass and ceramic artists has a population of 18 people. One of the glass artists was working and happily showed the group how they make their beautiful glass sculptures. Although the drive to Harmony was smooth, we did not stop at a planned scenic vista due to the heavy marine fog obstructing our views of the ocean early in the day. Consequently, we arrived too early before the Ice Cream shop opened, which is what we had all planned for. From Harmony, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Some drove to Cambria, some to Cayucos for fish tacos, and others began the long drive home.

MINIs in Harmony, CA
(photo by the Nyes)


It was a wonderful weekend driving with other NorCal MINI club members. Planning for the 2023 Paso Robles weekend rally began back in February with a 17-hour round trip drive to check out the roads. Many people helped by providing tips from past runs and other support. A big thank you to Pat Lewis, Rick Sanchez, Steve Sandke, Duane Caldwell, and Eddie Vergara for providing tips and helping to coordinate and communicate run details. We enjoyed the weekend very much with all those we motored with. Happy driving!

Day 3 Crew in Harmony
(photo by the Nyes)


About the Event Host:

Hello, my name is Tim Nye. I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills East of Sacramento, CA with my loving wife Kim, our adult twin children, two leaping labrador retriever dogs, a killer queen cat, Tonka (2015 Toyota Tundra), and Magoo (2022 MINI JCW Convertible).  I discovered the NorCal MINI club by chance. I heard about the MINI Takes The States (MTTS) Rally in Summer 2022. Needing a good long break from daily life, I set off on a hobbit-like adventure raising money for the Best Friends Animal Society. It was on MTTS where I met club members, Pat, Michelle, Rick, Delores, Steve, and others. When I returned home, I joined the club. The twenty-one day excursion from daily life was exactly what I needed. By the end of MTTS 2022, I became one with my MINI. Hello, my name is Magoo. 😎

Tim & Magoo



Monterey County MINI Motoring Challenge - July 16, 2023

Enjoy trivia, scavenger hunts, taking pics on your phone, driving your MINI to cool places? July's club run will be much different from our usual group runs, but it will scratch that itch for fun and games. This is not a race, but a competition of wits, persistence, and MINI navigation!

Commercial Fishing Pier - Monterey
Photo by Duane Caldwell


Your Hosts for the Event:

Mick Brown & Vickie Casacca


Run Details:

First and foremost, we must be clear this event is not:

  • A typical NorCal MINIs group run
  • A RACE! It is not a timed event, it is a thinking and safe MINI navigation challenge.

If you have ever played a photo scavenger hunt like The Go Game or if you ever wanted to play a game similar to The Amazing Race (without the "race"), this is the NorCal MINIs club run for you!

Pezzini Farms


We'll meet up in the parking lot of the South Main Street Salinas Starbucks (1186 S. Main Street, Salinas, CA  93901). Note that there are other Starbucks in Salinas, including one on North Main Street, so please meet at the South Main Street location! Bring the must-have gear listed below, and a thirst for exploring beautiful Monterey County, a land of agriculture, winemaking, fishing, oil production, literature, art, tourism, and scenic parks. 

Each MINI "team" MUST have the following:

  • MINI with a full tank or charged battery
  • Mobile phone with camera and navigation app (e.g., Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.)
  • Mobile phone data plan to text your challenge pics to the Game Host 
  • Money for parking at the final destination ($1.50/hour or $10 maximum daily fee)

At the driver's briefing in the Starbucks parking lot, each MINI competitor will be given a Challenge game sheet with trivia challenges to solve leading to a destination somewhere in the county. Use your map app to navigate and drive to that destination, take a photo using your mobile phone, text it to the Game Hosts, and solve your next challenge. There will be different challenge sheets, so simply following another MINI competitor from point to point may not be the smartest strategy. 😎 

Dennis the Menace Playground


Please note the only things we'll "take" at the Challenge waypoints are photos.

The Challenge will end at Dust Bowl Brewing (Old Train Station, 290 Figueroa Street, Monterey, CA  93940) where prizes will be awarded. Parking at Dust Bowl Brewing is shared with Monterey's Old Fisherman's Wharf, and it does cost $1.50 per hour with a daily maximum of $10.00. You can enjoy lunch at Dust Bowl Brewing or check out the many dining options at the wharf or nearby in Monterey after the run.

Dust Bowl Brewing Co. & Tap Depot


You must RSVP by Thursday, July 13. Our Game Hosts need an accurate count of contestant MINIs to print up challenge sheets for each of us. If you are not a Registered Club Member and wish to participate using our $5 single run pass option, you will need to send an email to info@norcalminis.com before noon on Thursday, July 13 including your name, email, and mobile phone number.


Meet-up Time/Departure Time:

9:30 AM/10:00 AM


Meet-up Location:

Starbucks  1186 S. Main Street Salinas, CA 93901 

Nearest EV charging stations:


Wrap-up Location:

Dust Bowl Brewing Co. & Tap Depot Old Train Station 290 Figueroa Street Monterey, CA. 93940

Nearest EV charging station:
  • ChargePoint in Parking Garage 340 Tyler Street Monterey, CA 93940  (about a 2-block walk to Dust Bowl Brewing) 

Register Via MotorSport Reg:

Check out our 2023 Run Calendar for a complete list of events for the remainder of this year.

Monterey Old Fisherman's Wharf
Photo by Duane Caldwell