Late night drives through the city are so much fun. Empty roads replace traffic jams and the city never looks more beautiful than when it is all lit up. There’s something therapeutic about driving alone at night, listening to some great music and chasing the green lights. Here are a few photos from a late night escape a while back where I unintentionally did some light painting. I wanted to grab some photos from Kerry Park in Queen Anne, but it was still a bit busy. The passing cars made for some fun photos. These also happen to be the last photos of the car when it was still all white…more on that in the next post.
PNWR.org runs a lot of great driving programs. From social tours, to track events and everything in between. One event that I recommend to all drivers, young or old, newbie or experienced, Porsche or Toyota, is Driver Skills. These all-day classes happen 7 or 8 times a year and cover the fundamentals of high performance driving. They let you see how you and your car will respond close to the edge of performance, or beyond, in a very safe, closed course where the only thing you really risk hitting are some orange cones. The instructors are patient and give you expert advice throughout the day as you move from course to course, practicing various high performance driving skills.
Throughout the day you move between the following exercises:
- Slalom course – Can you keep your eyes well ahead of you and find the rhythm that allows you to zip cleanly through the cones at speed?
- Small and large diameter wet skid pads – Can you intentionally induce over-steer or under-steer and recover from it? What does your car feel like when you disable all of the traction control nannies and then rip around a tight circle at speed?
- Braking and accident avoidance course – It may be true that you can solve more problems with the gas than you can the brake, but here you learn to use both. Can you fly down a straight, brake hard and late, and maintain braking control through a turn? Can you respond to obstacles jumping out at you at the last second?
- Autocross – How smooth and controlled can you be making your way around a very mini-autocross setup? This is much more about car control than speed.
- Figure 8 – One of my favorites of the day because you get a sense of real speed, late braking, late apex corners and then back on the speed. I could have done this exercise all day and was finally ”dancing with the car” after two or three attempts. The backend of the Spyder is very lively but the car responds to throttle steer really well.
You don’t have to be a Porsche club member to go to Driver Skills and you don’t need a sports car to get the benefit. We had everything from a track ready Porsche GT3 to a jacked up Jeep Rubicon with a 3” lift and giant tires. That was fun to see on the skid pad!
Meg and I have always loved long drives together. It started with our epic cross-country camping roadtrip when we were just “kids” and she was moving out to Seattle after graduating from university. We packed up everything she owned in a rented SUV, and made our way from Newport to Seattle, staying mostly at campsites and national parks along the way (with a few luxury stops to clean up). We talked, listened to music and planned the rest of our life together.
Fast forward many years, and we still love jumping in the car and heading out for some adventure. I remember when our 2016 Targa arrived, we took a five hour roundtrip drive to get lunch in Leavenworth. That’s a long way to go for a hotdog….even a great hotdog.
One of my favorite ways to participate in the PCA PNWR club is to go on tours. Tours are usually one day drives, although we do have a few multi-day tours each year, where 40 to 60 cars come together and go on a beautiful drive. Plenty of stops, usually good places to eat, and always beautiful back roads with a lot of twists and turns to keep it fun. Most of our tours are in the summer, the peak sports car season, but we run winter tours as well.
Meg recently joined me for an all day ”Winter Waters” tour. It was 12 hours door-to-door and we covered over 300 miles. About half of that was highway getting there and back and the other half was some of the most beautiful back roads our area has to offer. The plan was to meet up in Snohomish, right by the downtown riverfront. Meg and I got there a bit early and went to Jake’s Cafe, a local diner, for some breakfast and coffee. We then went northwest along the Snohomish River and then to Lake Stevens. Lots of fun roads, farmlands, and typical northwest scenery. We drove the east side of Lake Samish and then we completed the trip on one of my favorite roads, Chuckanut Drive on the way to end the tour in Edison. Meg and I have done Chuckanut and Edison before as a solo trip and were excited to get back for more tacos at Mariposa. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in Edison it was more early dinner than lunch and Mariposa was closed. We grabbed some food in the Longhorn, took a few sunset photos and then started our trip home.
Some photos from the journey:
Before we took off, we just had to grab a few car photos with the stunning sunset:
Meg is the best co-pilot anyone could ask for, and our drives together are a constant reminder that life is about the journey and not the destination. I’m already looking forward to the next one. Maybe we’ll bring the kids along this time…but likely not 🙂
My Dad has always been one of those guys that can fix anything, build anything and if he doesn’t have the right tool for the job, he can probably make one on his lathe or forge one out of some steel he has laying around. The hands of a master craftsman, the mind of an engineer, and a constant need to learn new things made for a lot of hobbies and one hell of a well equipped garage. For example, here he is with the custom race car he built…using the dining room table for a workbench if the stories are true 😂
While I may have inherited the engineer’s mind, and I certainly got a full dose of whatever causes one to obsess about the next cool thing, I’ve never been the “do it yourself” master that my Dad is. As car obsessed as I am, I’ve always outsourced anything beyond the basics. One of my favorite memories was the time my Dad and I worked on my 78 SC Targa which was in need of some major engine work. We decided to do the work ourselves and he was going to show me how. We had an absolute blast prepping everything, dropping the engine, etc. but in the end, I chickened out on the hard stuff and got a shop to do the top-end rebuild. I regret that decision and wish I had pushed through my fear and finished the job with him. Still…we managed to have a lot of fun!
As I’ve gotten older, a bit of that DIY mindset has taken hold. Maybe my patience has increased, my fear of failure has decreased or some latent gene finally kicked in.
We have a tradition in our family where over long breaks, each person gets to pick what the whole family does for a day. I love this tradition. It’s the reason I’ve done flips at a trampoline house, enjoyed my first pedicure and why I know what a cat cafe is. When it was my turn, I asked the family to join me for a day at The Shop. I’ve been wanting to get a new exhaust installed on the Spyder and instead of paying a mechanic to do the work, my plan was to enlist the help of Gabe and Shep for the install while Meg captured the memories as only she can.
The 718 Spyder is almost a perfect car. The one area that is a small disappointment is how it sounds. It doesn’t sound bad, but for a glorious 4.0 liter engine and the exotic looks, the exhaust note is just a bit anemic. Porsche does what they can, and they even give you a button to make it a bit sportier, but with noise restrictions around the world and cost considerations, I think the exhaust is a compromise. After a ton of research and countless hours spent learning from other owners on sites like Rennlist, I looked to Kline for the solution and to Eric at Supreme Power for the best price and support. Kline makes some of the best exhaust systems for the most exotic cars in the world. Their fit and finish is perfect, they sound great without being too loud and they are half the weight of the factory exhaust which makes a big difference. For something that lives hidden away under the car, they are also a thing of beauty (this photo is taken from the Kline website):
The plan was to get there at 10, get the car up on the lift and then let the exhaust cool down while we enjoyed brunch at Derby. It’s pretty sweet to have a car club with lifts, all the tools you need and an on-site restaurant! After brunch, we got to work. Gabe and Shep were a big help and Gabe was by my side, doing at least half the work if not more, for the entire day. We had fun with power tools, pretended we were a F1 pit crew with the impact wrench, bloodied some knuckles, laughed, sweat, swore and worked through challenge after challenge. It’s pretty simple job if you have the skills and you know what you ‘re doing. We had neither of those advantages and I was reminded of a joke my Dad says a lot, “I’m slow, but I make a lot of mistakes”. In a few cases we had to phone a friend and ask some of the other folks in the shop for some advice. Thankfully we got a few pointers along the way. With a crew of three and a professional photographer onsite, we managed to take a 2-3 hour job for one pro and turn it into a 5-6 hour job. It was a perfect day.
All of the photos below were taken by the wonderfully talented Meghan Jones. A photojournalist and artist that we are lucky enough to have capturing all the wonderful moments in our lives! I can’t thank you enough love for spending all day taking photos of three wannabe grease monkeys 🐒 .
Some other cool photos Meg took while at The Shop:
I can’t thank my family enough for being willing to spend an entire day working their butts off helping me customize the car. Having you there helped give me the confidence to tackle the project and made it 1000% more fun. Dad…I don’t think you have to worry about me challenging your status as the King of DIY…but I’m starting to work my way towards Prince 🤴
Updated 1/21/2022 – In our original install, I skipped an important step of removing the exhaust mounting bracket from the Porsche muffler and re-using it on the Kline muffler. Oops! I returned a few days later and fixed it all up. I really just wanted to excuse to go back to The Shop and keep working on the car!
For reference, here is the step by step process we created for installing the exhaust – Kline Exhaust Guide
Here’s a quick video after the install on the way home. Low quality but it gives you an idea of what this sounds like.
Cold, wet, and gray are words that most commonly come to mind when describing winter in the Northwest. Okay, it can also be quite beautiful and we have world class skiing in our backyard but that doesn’t help me make my point at the moment. We don’t get very many sunny and dry winter days around here and when they come, you have to make the most of them.
A few days ago, the Social Chair of our local PCA chapter (PNWR), looked at the forecast and decided to pull together a last minute event. Just a small Cars and Coffee gathering at a parking lot in Woodinville, WA. I cleared the morning schedule and decided to make the drive over to join what I thought would be a small group of friends. Wow…we must have had 80+ cars in total and everyone was ready to shake off cabin fever, talk cars, eat donuts and of course, drink coffee. These in-person social events have become even more important given how much isolation people have endured over the last few years. See…cars are a cure-all for everything…even a pandemic!
I left early in the morning to make the hour drive but still had time to stop for a quick sunrise photo on Alki:
It’s not just the cars…it’s the people. That’s the motto of our club and events like this bring it to life. It was so much fun to spend a few hours catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Dogs are always a welcome addition to any C&C and there were a few cute ones running around today:
Okay…it’s also about the cars and there were a ton of beauties in attendance this morning. My white Spyder is parked right next to a stunning Spyder in Chalk although with the harsh sunlight…you can hardly tell them apart!
It was a fantastic event and a total surprise given the arctic weather and downpours we’ve been experiencing the last few weeks. I can only hope we get a lot more weekend weather like this all winter!
I had a few hours to kill on New Years Eve and with the Seattle deep freeze still going strong, temps in the high 20s, and plenty of snow on the ground, it was time to put my new winter tires to the test! The fact that the it was a beautifully clear day, and the sun was about to set, provided even more motivation to bring my camera along for the ride. Wow…the tires did amazing. I had zero problems backing out of my steep, icy driveway. Driving through powder, slush, packed snow and ice felt like I was in my Jeep…very confidence inspiring. With a little extra gas the rear tires would break loose but in the controlled fun way…a very fun way 🙂
I had a moment of hesitation as I pondered taking my low riding convertible Porsche out in the snow, but thankfully it passed quickly:
I backed out without slipping at all…a confident start! The snow in my alley was still pretty high so I turned my Spyder into a snow plow a few times, but nothing too bad.
As usual, I drove straight down to Alki to capture some beautiful pre-sunset colors.
I made it there to capture the last Alki sunset of 2021 and it sure went out with a bang!
The Spyder always turns my head, but when the temps are below freezing and there is snow on the ground, driving around with the top down seems to turn all the heads 😂
This was my favorite photo of the day. The father and son stopped to check out the car and chatted briefly before continuing their new years eve walk. The whole scene just feels beautiful and nostalgic to me. Perhaps I’ve just seen that Chevrolet car commercial too many times! I’m not crying, you’re crying!
The sun had completely set, but there was still enough light reflecting off the snow for me to hand-hold a few last photos before heading home to continue our family New Years Eve celebration! Happy New Year everyone! I wish us all a happy and healthy 2022!
I’ve written about past driving tours when the temps drop or it gets cold and wet and I feel nervous driving with my summer tires. My Michelin PS4S tires are the best spring to early fall tire you can run in the Northwest. They handle exceptionally well and stick to the road in the dry or the wet, as long as the temps are 50+ degrees. In the 40s you better take it easy and anything lower than that…stay in the garage. I want to enjoy the Spyder all year round, so it was time for some dedicated winter tires. What do you do when your car is trapped in the garage, you have 6+ inches of new snow and you want winter tires…you call Blake at Right Away Tire. He helped me select the perfect winter tire for my car, a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin 4 and he came over with his crew to get me all set up. They showed up on time, despite a packed schedule and terrible working conditions and did the job in record time. They have all of the equipment in their vans which is incredibly convenient and they do a ton of business at the various racetracks in the area swapping folks over from street to track tires. Maybe someday I’ll need that but for now, I just want to go play in the snow.
2021 wasn’t a breeze, but with the kids back in school it was certainly a hell of a lot easier than 2020 was! We are still dealing with Covid, social distancing, masks, friends and family getting sick but we have been very fortunate all things considered. I’ve been able to enjoy cars and car culture all year and managed to squeeze in one last cars and coffee into 2021. It was a rare, beautifully dry and clear day in December, so I drove down to Lake Washington Cars and Coffee to meet up with some friends, drink coffee, eat donuts and have some fun.
I was there to socialize so I didn’t take many photos, but I did manage to grab a few shots of my favorites, starting with mine of course 😍 The yellow 911 GT3 (992 series) at the bottom was my other favorite. The perfect track car to compliment my road-focused Spyder…hey, a guy can dream!
Okay, so Lake Washington Cars and Coffee actually happened the next week as well, but I didn’t have my snow tires put on in time to join for this kind of fun, otherwise I would have been there for sure!!