Monday, February 14, 2011

Hell's Kitchen Ortega Highway Lake Elsinore

I did the 20 mile drive between San Juan Capistrano and North Main Divide Road (just west of Lake Elsinore).  I got the idea after reading Motoring con Brio's list of fun drives.

I thought I was going to get a Pontiac G5 as a rental, but I got a Dodge Avenger R/T instead.  This is what $31 a day will get you:

The acceleration was decent but the handling was akin to a 1980s Ford Fairmont.  I was not a happy camper.

The drive was scenic and would have been more fun had I had a different car.  The two-lane road was crowded with cars and motorcycles.  Harleys outnumbered Japanese/Italian crotch rockets by a ratio of 5:1.  I saw only three cars driving spiritedly the whole time-- a new 3 series sedan, a Lancer Evo, and a Ferrari 599.

We had lunch at a biker bar called Hell's Kitchen.  It's the kind of place you see in movies.  I'll just say it's not very refined and I'll leave it at that.  Still, I had a blast drinking, eating, and people watching.  There must have been at least 50 bikes outside.

This Boss Hoss caught my eye.  I know nothing about motorcycles and couldn't believe one exists with a V8.  Talk about overkill.

There were about a dozen cars in the parking lot.  Here are two of them.

It wasn't until the drive back to San Juan Capistrano, going downhill and westbound towards the setting sun, that I had a flashback.  I had driven the Ortega once before.  I was 15 1/2 and trying to rack up hours on my learner's permit.  Someone (who shall remain nameless) thought it was a good idea for me to learn about driving narrow, curvy roads with the setting sun in my eyes and dozens of impatient speed demons inches from my rear bumper.  Just remembering the experience gave me sweaty palms.  I think I rode the brakes of my mom's little white E30 325i sedan the entire 20 miles down.

I don't have any pictures of the Ortega Highway, but here is one of a lookout facing Lake Elsinore.  It's about a mile north of the highway on North Main Divide Road.

I'm already planning my next drive.


motoringconbrio said...

sweet! i think only in CA could you come across an old merc 280 and bmw e9 so nonchalantly, like it ain't no thing. just another day in CA- truly a car lover/spotter's heaven.

Maxichamp said...

@MCB: When I took the pics of the Merc and BMW, I thought to myself, I wonder if the old Germans who assembled/designed these cars appreciate the fact that their cars are so loved in Southern California, a half a world away, decades later.