Muir Woods

Yesterday I drove up to Muir Woods. It was just an excuse to get out in my new car and celebrate my new range of freedom, but I’d nonetheless heard a lot of good things about the woods. We’d originally intended on riding there a few weeks back when we went over to Sausalito, but didn’t think we had time. Now that I know the path we would have taken, I think we made the right choice then – it’s not a huge distance, but it’s a whole lot-a-hills, and some narrow roads which aren’t a whole lot of fun to fit two cars across, let alone with a bike in the mix.

Anyway, I still hope to ride up there at some point, as it would be a really good ride.

Overall it was really nice there, which is to say it didn’t nearly live up to the hype. Nor did it really justify the huge crowds – there must have been about a thousand people there at any one time. I’m starting to get used to that here, though; when you’ve got an order of magnitude greater population than Australia, but in more or less the same space, it’s inevitable. In that frame of mind it’s actually surprising how bad it isn’t, for the most part.

So, Muir Woods… basically the Dandenongs, on a much smaller scale. Very nice, lots of good walking trails, some very old trees that are quite impressive – all the usual. But, really much alike virtually any other forest out there. And the big trees aside, it really wasn’t that dissimilar from the little hike we had through the hills just west of here, which are all of ten minutes away as opposed to the better part of two hours.

I’m glad I went, for sure, and I’d be happy to go back there for a half decent excuse, just for the fresh air, the exercise and the pleasant surrounds. But I was surprised at the number of international tourists there; I think if I’d flown all the way from Europe I’d be a little miffed to find that was what I’d come all the way for.

I did learn one valuable lesson from the whole escapade, which is: do not drive through San Francisco. It’s a really painful city to drive through; no fun at all. All these one way streets, and even of those that aren’t one-way, three quarters of the time you’re not allowed to turn onto them anyway. I know from being a passenger with Mike during WWDC that if you do not get the exact one possible route exactly right, you can end up having to drive half way across the city to the next alternative. It really is retarded.

‘course, 101 (of which the Golden Gate bridge is a part) runs along Lombard Street for a while, just up until the bit where it climbs to the hill, then winds down so famously on the other side. And I thought, hey, while I’m here I may as well drive down Lombard Street like the idiot tourist I am, just so I can say I’ve done it.

So I did… after waiting in the queue of cars for something like twenty or more minutes. And it’s a queue up one of the steeper streets in the city, too, which my car was not at all keen about – I had to just about floor it before taking my foot off the brake just to ensure I didn’t roll too far back and hit the people behind me. :/

It’s an oddity I noticed rather quickly, with my new car – it rolls backwards on the slightest incline. My old car would resist rolling quite a bit, and I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of just letting it idle unrestricted on slight hills. No such luxury now. Although I also noticed even quicker that the new car has a lot more grunt at the low-end. Although I am a little concerned about the handling – at one point in the windy hill roads I managed to get the tires to screech around the corner.. I was going faster than I would have liked, but not nearly enough to have cause that, I wouldn’t have thought. But then, my old car – for all it’s faults, like a complete lack of traction in the wet – was unnervingly solid on dry roads.

Anyway, all in all I travelled roughly 210km, with a pretty good mix of highway, city & country driving. The end result was a fuel economy of exactly 41mpg, according to the car itself. That’s 5.74L / 100k. Not quite the 4.7 that it claims, but, certainly not bad. And I’m pretty sure just queuing up Lombard Street knocked a good 5mpg off that, too – I was watching the average mileage dropping drastically the whole time – so with that aside it did really very well.

So, anyway… it wasn’t a bad day out, and I ended up walking about 15km or so, I figure, which was a reasonable bit of exercise. Also, photos are available.

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