German Car Day @ The Shop

I started my Saturday morning with Cars & Coffee, German Day, at The Shop. Given that most big car shows and events have been cancelled, the small gatherings at The Shop have been a welcome diversion from the day to day malaise of COVID.

First the Porsches because…well…they are the best!

There were some awesome non-Porsches there as well:

Putting the distance in social distance

2020 is such a strange and difficult year, but there have been a few silver linings. Meg and I committed early on to giving each other real breaks from the realities of pandemic adulting. She fills her day off with dance church, yoga, SUPping or just finding a shade tree by the water, hiding in her car and reading. I’ve used my time to take long drives in the 911, find some adventure in the Jeep and develop a car photography hobby. Family time is great and the time that Meg and I get to spend alone as a couple is priceless. Covid has helped us create some space for selfish pursuits. We have found that by investing a bit in ourselves, we are in a better headspace to get even more from family and couple time. This is something we will carry forward into whatever our “new normal” becomes.

Last Saturday I drove out to the Snoqualmie Forest to find a few new routes that go past some beautiful alpine lakes. I got a late start, had to make the grocery run first, so I only had a few hours to explore. I made the most of it and got pretty deep into the woods. Deep enough and alone enough that I was wishing for some off grid communication tech if I broke down and some bear spray so I could explore on foot a bit. I can always find a good reason to buy more gear. I’m looking forward to getting back out there soon and this time I’m hiking to those other lakes…maybe 🙂

Here is my favorite shot of the day. I felt like I was being watched the whole time as I composed the shot and was really wishing I had some bear spray on me but it added to the excitement 🙂

A few other shots from a fun day exploring the outdoors:

Photoshoot with @dm.lens

I love cars. I love the way they look, how they smell, the incredible sounds they make. I love old cars, new cars, American muscle, European exotic, old gas guzzlers and modern electrics. As long as it isn’t boring, I can find a reason to love it. That being said, what really makes this materialist obsession of mine truly rewarding is the people that I get to meet and the passion for cars we share. Car people are everywhere. Blogs. Forums. Facebook. Instagram. TV shows. You can’t go anywhere in the summer without running into some car themed event…we just can’t get enough! I learn so much from the people I meet and its nice knowing that I’m not alone in my obsession.

Pre-covid, at the Lake Washington Cars & Coffee event, I happened to meet Dallas (@dm.lens on Instagram). Data Analyst by day, car photographer by night. We talked about cars we’ve owned, cars we love, car photography and then connected on Instagram. We recently had the chance to meet up (masks on, 6 feet apart) for a photoshoot of my car and it was fun to watch him work. He found a very cool spot with a great mix of direct sun and shadow to play with and the late day light was perfect. At car shows I’m typically stuck taking pictures in the harsh mid-day sun and it was such a nice change of pace to be using early evening light which is so soft by comparison.

Here are some of my favorite shots from Dallas, I love the detailed shots and how he captured the last few rays of the sunlight:

Here are a few of mine as well. I like the warmer tones in his photos and it is a good reminder that I don’t always need to crop the car to be the only thing in the frame. His use of light and incorporating more of the surrounding environment is something that I’ll work on as well:

My dream garage is done!

Okay, my real dream garage would hold dozens of beautiful cars with all of the fun toys to go along with them but those are champagne dreams on a LaCroix budget so this will have to do!

Like everyone else in the world, COVID has caused my entire family to work and school from home and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. To give each other more space, and so I can stare at my car all day, I decided to move into the garage. A very utilitarian garage with a lot of wear and tear…not the best place to spend 10 hours a day. I have always wanted to update the garage to go along with my car obsession and what better time than now!

This was the garage when we first moved into the house 10 years ago. The smallest space (19’x19′) that can legally be considered a 2 car garage but it was my first garage and I loved every inch of it:

This was the garage after 8 years of abuse and during a “small” project to add a Jeep top lift that is still in use and works great (details on that project here):

Now the big reveal and a total transformation! I used a rubberized tile product from Garage Flooring Inc,. some rubberized trim, canvas prints from my car photo hobby and fun Porsche accessories that I found on Etsy. I had the painters use a gray that is close to the interior of the 911 and a yellow accent stripe that matches the yellow on the car to pull it all together. I totally love the way that this came out. It makes me smile every time I see it…and I see it a lot 🙂

Cars & Coffee, the COVID edition

Summer brings so many wonderful things. Beach days…vacations…boating…BBQs or just lazy sunny days with the family. We have a pretty short summer in Seattle so we try to cram as much fun in as possible between July and mid-September. For me, summer is also car show season! Exotics at RTC, Lake Washington Cars & Coffee, PCA driving tours, XXX Root Beer Jeep day. There are usually so many car events that it can be hard to pick which ones to attend. This summer, not so much. Cancelled is the theme of 2020 for so many things (we should be in Africa right now) and car events are no exception.

I feel very fortunate that The Shop is still hosting small car events with Cocktails and Cars on Thursday nights and Cars and Coffee on Saturday mornings. Sure, they can’t actually give out free coffee anymore and we have to keep our distance from each other but car talk works just fine through a mask and I’m just happy to have a few events to get out and meet fellow gear heads. Stay safe and be smart out there everyone, we want to have a full return to normal in 2021!

Cars & Coffee – Exotics Day

Cars & Coffee – Porsche Day (bright day, not great for photos)

Cars & Coffee – Japanese Day

Bath & a Nighttime Photoshoot

It was bath time after that fun charity drive to the mountains which went through a few major rain storms. I was excited to see how the C.Quartz ceramic coating that Metropolitan Detail applied would simplify things for me. I also bought their shampoo AND I bought the AmmoNYC FOAMe product for some extra lubrication to help avoid any swirl marks. It all worked great and made clean up a breeze!

All foamed up at The Shop:

Look at the water fly off the paint…I didn’t have to use a drying towel except in a few spots…ceramic coating for the win!

With the car so freshly cleaned, I was sitting at home and when everyone was going to bed, I decided it was the right time to try my hand at some more night photography. I have so much to learn and I had to take hundreds of photos just to get a few usable ones, but for my second attempt I was pretty happy with the results.

Exploring the Snoqualmie Forest

The boys and I love exploring the woods in the Jeep, or at least I make them come with me and they don’t complain much. We have had a hard time finding open forest service roads but I recently heard about a private access area with thousands of acres of explorable forest. Campbell Global offers motorized recreation passes to the Snoqualmie Forest and for a small fee, we get a key, a map, a big ass waiver to sign and the right to explore away! Endless miles of gravel forest roads and rougher side roads to explore. Lakes, waterfalls, hunting/fishing if that is your thing and apparently tons of bears and cougars…I think we will stay in the Jeep most of the time 🙂

I finally made it up there today for a scouting trip and hope to take the boys back with me tomorrow. The weather was ugly today but the views were still beautiful.

I finally used the pass and made it inside the gate!

Day 2 – Now with the boys!

The scouting trip was successful so I decided to drag the kids along for another trip in the forest. We loaded up on Arby’s, explored the forest and I spent some time teaching Gabe to drive…he needs some off-road experience too right 🙂

Charity Drive with The Shop supporting

The Shop organized a small charity drive from Seattle to Crystal Mountain with registration proceeds going to support, a fantastic organization that supports kids experiencing homelessness. Even with heavy rain in the forecast, we had a great turnout of folks and a wide range of cool cars. The group size had to be kept low due to COVID social distancing and gathering rules but I think we had 12 cars in total. We found some great backroads up to Crystal, ate our sack lunches at the base of the mountain and then drove home individually at our own pace. Heavy rain on the way home kept me out of any speeding tickets 🙂

Here are a few rolling shots that I tried to take on the way up but I5 traffic made it hard to line up any great photos:

Some individual and group shots at Crystal:

Metropolitan Detail Works Their Magic

There is a saying in the car world that goes something like – “White, green, red are colors but black is a hobby”. My first color choice was white and I’ve always loved white cars. Black was my second choice but when I found the perfect spec car with some rare options and at a great price, I passed up a few other white ones and went with black. When clean, there really is nothing cooler than a wet, glossy black sports car. One day later, you have a dusty dirty mess so you have to really make the most out of washing day 🙂

My car is in great condition but it needed a professional detail. There were some swirl marks and the paint protection film (ppf) that was on the front of the car was showing its age. Metropolitan Detail (MD) to the rescue! They had worked on previous cars of mine and they always to a phenomenal job.

After 10 hours of paint correction, a full detail, new STEK ppf film for the front end and fender flares and a finish with C.Quartz Pro ceramic coating, my car looks new again. Of course, the next thing I did was take it on an all day drive and get it nice and dirty…at least it will clean up a lot easier now.

Here are my photos but I’m really looking forward to seeing MD’s photos because they had their photographer shoot the car when it was done. I’ll update this post with their photos when I get them.

A quick video with the highlights of just how spectacular this car looks now!
So fresh and so clean!

Charles Hawes is the staff photographer for MD and he sent me a number of great photos from the process and the finished product that are much better than mine. I shadowed him while he was taking his photos and he was super patient as I got in his way and pestered him with questions.

Some shots of the process including some serious paint correction that was needed to address the swirl marks:

Some cool shots of the finished product by a better photographer than myself:

The early bird gets a tour of Drivers Club!

I was having some work done by Metropolitan Detail (more to come on that in the next post) and I showed up earlier than planned to pick up my car. John, the owner and all around great guy, offered to take me next door for a tour of Drivers Club, a private car club in Redmond. Wow, what a gold mine of stunning cars. GT3RS, GT2RS, GT2RS Clubsport, 911R…they were all amazing and most looked like they got driven…not just living their life in storage! We only had a few minutes to walk around, and thankfully John let me snap a few photos, but I could have spent all day in there checking out each car. Maybe he will let me back in some day!

A true race care for the street!

“Justification for higher education”

I was that kid with car posters all over his room. I think I was that kid long after I stopped being a kid! I remember staring at the posters, usually while flipping through some new car brochure that mailed in for and imagining what it would be like to drive the cars that hung on my wall.

This was certainly one of those posters, although mine may have been even older than this one.
Of course I had to have a Lamborghini Countach hanging on my wall. Although be careful what you wish for because I have driven in one of these and it didn’t stand the test of time. One of the coolest cars to look at though for sure.

With this education theme in mind, I live close to West Seattle High School and I like to use it as a background for photos…there is something about the brick and the windows that I love. Here is my latest:

Some other shots from today and a few older ones as well.

My first attempt at evening photography

I’m married to an amazing photojournalist and art photographer (Meghan E. Jones Photography) so I know what true talent looks like. I lack the artistic instincts required to ever be a great photographer, but I enjoy the hell out of trying to suck less.

Last night I was putting Shep to bed when I looked out the window and saw the sun setting. It looked like one of those painted sky Seattle nights so I grabbed the camera, borrowed Meg’s tripod and tried to capture the last rays of light. The sky wasn’t nearly as picturesque as I hoped, but for my first time doing any nighttime photography, I got a few keepers out of it.

This is one of my favorites. I love how the last of the sunlight highlights these iconic curves!
The sun saying goodnight to the Olympic Mountains.

As I was playing with some long exposures, trying to get some light from this black car, I had a few cards drive by and ruin the shot. When I went back and looked at the photos, I actually loved the look!

A few different cars drove by during this shot.
It almost looks like the lights from my car, but it was a motorcycle.
I tried to get some Seattle skyline shots but Alki was too busy…I need to head back much later or mid-week.

Got one clean and one dirty…a perfect weekend!

First of all, happy Mother’s Day to all of your amazing mothers out there and thank you for creating the next generation of wonderful humans! I’m grateful to have been raised by, supported by and married to the best moms that anyone could ever wish for. I love and appreciate you all so much! It may have been Mother’s Day weekend, but after the fun I had, I’m feeling pretty damn special myself!

Saturday morning was spent doing the meal planning and grocery shopping for the week. That didn’t use to be such an event but when you have to mask up, glove up and sterilize yourself upon return, it becomes a bigger deal. Then I had the afternoon to myself and I decided it was time to clear the Porsche. After a few weekend day trips, it was filthy and in need of some TLC. I was thrilled to hear that The Shop, the car club I belong to, was taking appointments for their wash bays again so I booked one and took off. I had great company at The Shop with a stunning black Vette and Red R8 getting clean at the same time.

After all that work to get it clean, it was time to drive around and take a few photos. Black cars stay clear for about 37 seconds so I had to make the most of it.

Sunday…Mother’s Day had arrived! The boys and I woke up early, prepared a quiche, some fresh croissants and some hot coffee, and served a wonderful breakfast in bed for the worlds greatest mom! Okay, so the kids just signed the cards and gave hugs, but that was enough for this year. Meg wanted some alone time on the beach which left me with needing to find a way to entertain two kids. Being a large kid myself, that comes very easy to me. We grabbed the Jeep and headed out to the woods for driving lesson #2!

He is a natural…and so careful!!

While cruising around, Gabe came across a side road and we decided to take it. Turns out we found an open forrest service road (NF-9021) which we had an absolute blast exploring. Okay, I had a blast and the kids held on for dear life while we bounced around in huge pot holes, ran through water and climbed some small rocks. Even the kids called me childish 🙂 We hit some dead ends, passed some fellow explorers that shared good advice and found a small waterfall. All easy stuff for the Jeep but super fun anyway and enough exciting for this novice!

Confession – the last thing we did was drive the Jeep to a self-carwash because as much as I love getting it dirty on the trails…I do love a clean Jeep.

The boys first driving lesson

I vividly remember my Dad teaching me to drive. I had grown up “driving” whatever I could get my hands on. Motorcycles, riding mowers, tractors…if it had wheels. I wanted a turn.

As much as I wanted to drive, I didn’t actually get my license until I was 17. I spent most of high school in New Delhi, India and didn’t need to drive, we took rickshaws or taxis everywhere. I finished high school in the US and wanted my license the minute I was stateside. I was forced to take driver’s ed, but my Dad had already taught me more than any instructor could.

We had spent quite a bit of time that summer in Upstate New York, visiting family. We had the old manual blue Ford Escort station wagon, that would later become my first car, and endless miles of country roads to learn on. I learned parallel parking, threshold breaking, hill starts and some accidental drifting on those loose gravel roads. I remember my Dad stopping me on a steep gravel hill and making me master the hill start with what was left of that old car’s clutch. I stopped, he put me in gear and then I stalled. I must have stalled 10 times before we realized that he had put me in third gear instead of first. It was a great lesson.

Today was my turn. My boys are still young but it won’t be long before Gabe, almost 13, is getting his learners permit. When Gabe was about 4, he said that when he grew up he wanted to drive a car and play with sharp knives. Today he got to check one of those off his list 🙂

We drove way out East to find some empty back roads and the boys took turns with the Jeep. Shep in my lap, just steering, but Gabe all by himself in the drivers seat. They both did awesome and by the end, Gabe could have driven us home! There wasn’t a big hill around, but one day I’ll teach them hill starts in a manual and you can bet I’m putting it in third by mistake.

My Other Car Is a Jeep

I fell in love with Porsches long before I could ever drive. The 911, with its timeliness lines, has to be one of the most iconic car designs in automotive history. I must have a thing for iconic designs because my search for a fun daily driver that can handle Northwest weather led me past SUVs, pickup trucks, AWD sport sedans before buying my first Jeep. Much like the 911, the Jeep Wrangler has evolved over the years, but you can still very clearly see the original model all the way up to the latest version.

As much as I love taking the 911 out on long fast drives, there is something equally special about stepping up into the Jeep. A go anywhere, do anything vehicle that is fun to drive, easy to customize and ready for top down adventure! Some recent photos of the Jeep: