San Francisco, California

Odometer (ILX):  11,286

It’s been two months to the day since I got my ILX with just 16 miles on it.  It was time yet again to stretch the car’s legs and today’s return trip from the Bay Area was about 800 miles one-way.  It took almost exactly 12 hours.

Tracking back to earlier in the trip:

Saturday morning, I headed northbound on I-5 from Sylmar through what is known as the Tejon Pass, climbing to over 4,000 feet in elevation and then dropping sharply at a 6% descent grade to a small town at the base called Grapevine.  The 1955 Charlie Ryan song “Hot Rod Lincoln” has a reference to a kid racing a souped up Lincoln against a Cadillac on this grade.  The road has since been widened and straightened to make it less dangerous than it once was.  The ILX mastered the hill in 6th gear without even needing to downshift.

Back on level ground, the sun started peeking over the horizon and I set my sights on San Francisco.

That long downhill grade did wonders for my average fuel economy.  I reached an all-time high of 33.6 mpg.

Ouch!  Just when it seems like fuel prices are getting to be more reasonable, I paid this for 91 octane in Firebaugh.

After a visit to a friend in Brentwood and lunch in Walnut Creek, I paid a visit to an Acura dealership that has a special place in my heart:  Acura of Pleasanton.  My 1994 Legend that now has over 515,000 miles on it was purchased brand new from this very location in September 1994 when it had 288 miles on it.  The dealership is conveniently located off Interstate 580 so I swung by to grab a quick picture.

Here’s where I started wishing I would’ve parked inland and ridden the $5 mass-transit “BART” system into downtown SF:  16 lanes wide; total gridlock for 30 minutes waiting to get to the tollbooths.  Two lanes were moving at a decent pace, and of course they were the Fast Pass lanes which I wasn’t eligible for.  The toll is $6 from 5-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. on weekdays, $4 all other weekday times, and $5 on weekends.

Finally, some fresh (and I do mean fresh!  66 degrees!) air as I cross the Bay Bridge.  The bridge itself dates back to 1936 and is 23,000 feet long.  Other fun trivia (thanks to the Bay Bridge History site):

  • The bridge carries 102 million cars per year
  • The cost of the original bridge was $77 million in 1936
  • When it was built, the Bay Bridge was the longest in the world

Before meeting up with friends, there was something I just HAD to do first.  One of my favorite movies is the 1993 Robin Williams movie “Mrs. Doubtfire.”  This film was set in San Francisco, and I learned thanks to some investigative googling that the home used in the movie is in fact easy to find.  This became my second “movie crusade” in the ILX, since last month I drove to the Napoleon Dynamite house in southern Idaho.

Here we are:  2640 Steiner Street.  It’s been 19 years since the movie was filmed and the home looks exactly the same as it did back then.

(Small) screen shot from the movie:

Star-studded steps!

In typical San Fran style, the roads are steep.  Don’t forget the emergency brake here!

Here’s a screen shot from the movie.

And now with my ILX in the same place.

The home is at the corner of Steiner & Broadway streets.

Back the car into the driveway?  Sure, don’t mind if I do!  (Just long enough for a photo-op, of course).

Some other fascinating info about this home in this article.

San Francisco has an elaborate system of cable cars and zero emission buses.

The biggest challenge with getting around this area:  Finding a parking space!  I drove around for about 30 minutes before I found a location remotely close to where I would be spending the night.  Take a look across the street from where I finally ended up parking the ILX.  These cars are bumper to bumper!  It’s no wonder why most of the vehicles in downtown have battered bumpers and dented quarter panels.

My accommodations for the night on Duboce Street.

And reunited with a couple of old friends at Dolores Park for a great sunset overlooking the city as the cloud cover rolled in, followed by a night out on the town.

This morning’s departure:

First up, I found out from some quick mapping that I was only 2.3 miles away from the famous “crookedest street in America,” Lombard Street which I drove in my Legend in 2010. Here’s what the street looks like from a higher perspective/aerial view.

Since it was only about 7:00 in the morning on a Sunday, traffic was light and I was able to take my time creeping eastbound down the 8 switchbacks in the ILX and take a few pictures.

There was even a nice bystander near the bottom of the hill who snapped a picture for me!

Starting my long drive home now – what this picture truly fails to capture is the angle of the road!  Steep!  This is where the ILX “hill start” assist feature on the manual transmission comes in very handy.  When starting off with the clutch depressed, the car actually holds itself in place until you get going.  Fancy shmancy.

Much of today’s drive was on Interstate 5 in central California.  It’s flat farmland as far as the eye can see.  70 mph speed limits.

Los Angeles was about another 6 hours from San Fran, and Phoenix another 6 from Los Angeles.

Once I rose out of the LA metro area, I saw the one of my favorite signs–  “other Desert Cities” — on I-10 westbound.

Palm Springs, California.  Home of the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.  There are 3,218 windmills out there.

Just after Indio, the temperature crept to a toasty 117 degrees and I began my descent to the desert plateau via I-10.

If only the temp would’ve cooperated and been 111 degrees for my 11,111th mile.

Turn off the A/C?  When it’s 117 degrees?  No, thanks!  The ILX handled the grade just fine.


Last stop of the day was at the Bouse Rest Stop, about 30 miles east of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Understandably, I needed to stretch my legs a little after having been in the car for over 10 hours at this point, so I read the Rest Area Guide.

Among the list of prohibited activities:  Vandalism.  Except, whoever developed this sign misspelled “vandalism” with an E.

Isn’t it ironic that someone took the liberty of vandalizing the word vandalism to correct the error?

Things that make you go, “Hmmm….”

And with that, I’m home sweet home and ready to relax.

It seems that every time I take this car on trip, I learn something new about it.  Here are a couple things I picked up on this time:

  • The turn signal indicator flashes at exactly the same speed as artist Juice Newton’s 1981 song (hey, it’s the same age as me!) “Queen of Hearts.”  Test it out sometime!  Great song.
  • The trip meters (of which there are two:  A and B) max out at 9,999.9 miles.  Since I never reset my meter “A,” it turned over to 0000.0 on me this trip.

Thanks for coming along with me to San Fran!

17 Responses to “San Francisco, California”

  1. The turn signal-matching-the-beat-of-a-song detail was what I extracted as interesting from this blog post, since I have yet to find a song that’s rhythm matches with my turn signal. Haha! How do you come up with these things, Tyson?? I guess when you spend so many hours in a confined space, your awareness is key. I loved reliving San Fran via this post. I truly left my heard there, as most claim. I may have to accompany you on one of these road trips. I could take the photos for you.

    The house of Mrs. Doubtfire still looks the same, and if I know you, the current owners/renters would have opened their door to you for a personal tour if you had just asked and explained that you had just driven 12 hours one way to see their house.

    See you in a week!

    • On the song – just noticed the timing was perfect while I was sitting at a light. My new favorite XM radio station is #58: “Prime Country.” Now if I could just find a tune that would match the speed of the windshield wipers…

  2. *heart, not heard

  3. Oh and I love the vandalism sign.

  4. Great write up as usual. Love reading your ramblings as you travel the road. Nice pick up on the “vandalism” and the turn signal beat to ONJ’s song. By the way the Legend looks great, turned out very nicely.

    • Terry, thanks! I thrive on meaningless details sometimes, so those types of discoveries stick out to me! And ‘ramblings’ is definitely the best way to describe what my trip coverage is like. I just like to take the reader along for the ride with me however possible. Not everyone is able to jet away and spend 24 hours driving in a single weekend like I just did. Hope you’ve got some fun trips planned for your Polished Metal Metallic ILX, too.

  5. tonyferguson Says:

    I loved the Mrs. Doubtfire house! Reminded me of my friend and his girlfriend who scouted the Full House house during their trip to San Fran. The first thing that came to mind when I looked at the front steps was an angry Sally Field: “You ate my begonias!”

    • Tony, if you can think of any other “movie houses” that I need to check out, let me know. One of these days I’ve GOT to get to Chicago so I can swing by the Ferris Bueller home and the Home Alone home. I totally forgot about Full House! I’ll hit that one up the next time I’m in SF. I also would have gone to lunch at Bridges Restaurant (the one where they ate in Mrs. Doubtfire) in Danville, but it was closed for an all-day wedding reception on Saturday! Of all the luck…

      • Ah yes, good call on the Home Alone and Ferris Bueller homes. I thought of a few more houses: American Beauty, Donnie Darko, Uncle Buck, Steve Zissou Life Aquatic and our summer intern at work suggested the Scream house – but if memory serves me right that was at the end of a long drive and might be hard to find. You should throw out a poll and put the top 5 or 10 on a road trip bucket list!

  6. If the Mrs. Doubtfire house is just a single residence I wouldn’t want to know what its worth. It looks HUGE!

    Great write up Tyson

    • Dave, thanks to Zillow I was able to dig up some information on the Doubtfire house. It was built in 1906 and is 2,578 square feet. It last sold for $1,395,000 in April 2000. Estimated value today is about $2.4 million. Not for sale currently though 😦

  7. Man you get around this small country of ours! And I thought our family trip to the mountains in up state NY this weekend was a bit of a trip at 500 miles roundtrip. Haha.. Not getting 33mpg though in our gas guzzling Yukon. It did manage 18mpg fully loaded on regular gas though..and it is a comfy ride 😉

    • Hey that’s not too bad of mpg’s for a big family truckster! Sounds like you had a fun roadtrip. Hope you took the bicycles. I bet it’s nice up there.

      • Yes- sure did take the road bike- enough hills there to tame anyone. Very relaxing up there for sure!

  8. Tyson,
    Great write-up as usual. If you weren’t presented with this ILX opportunity, what car would’ve replaced the Legend?

    • Dominik, I hadn’t really given it too much thought. I never really intended to retire the Legend right away when it hit 500k. It still runs and drives great. Plus – no car payment! I’d probably still be driving it. Though, a few newer cars have always caught my eye. One in particular is the 2008 Acura TL Type-S in Kinetic Blue Pearl. An absolute heart-stopper!

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