Altamont Drive Tour

   A brisk, sunny morning greeted Freewheelers as we gathered in beautiful downtown Livermore for our first drive tour of 2017, artfully hosted by veteran Freewheelers Dave and Sueko Gilbert.  Some street parking as available around the registration table and an off-street parking lot was also reserved for us for the day.

   A nearby farmers market was a pleasant distraction for those early birds while we awaited everyone’s arrival; others enjoyed requisite coffee and donuts…apparently very much in demand, as we ran out!  Some first-on-tour cars at the event included Robert Ecton’s and Michael Cowles’ 1958 Edsel Pacer 2-door hardtop, Rick Hunts’ and Jamie Reece’s 1966 Chrysler 300 2-door hardtop, Andy Kelchner’s and Tom Grissinger’s 1970 Opel GT Coupe, Scott Mikkelson’s and Todd Darling’s 1956 Continental Mark II, and Larry Shaug’s 1981 Pontiac Trans Am.  Dave and Sueko, and Ted Downer and Marc Williamson also brought their Edsels to the event, much to the surprise and appreciation of local passersby who have probably never seen so many in one place.

   Around 11:30, Dave Gilbert gathered everyone together to welcome them and provide a brief description of the tour.  He also provided everyone with directions, a map of the route, and a few of their favorite eateries nearby for those who wished to remain for lunch after the drive.  Personally, I’ve never seen such a well-organized tour – the directions were concise and coordinated with alphabetical references on the map so you always knew where you were.  Trivia and historical tidbits were also included in the directions to provide some perspective on where we were and what we were seeing.

   Dave and Sueko led the tour in their Edsel Citation convertible. After a brief jaunt through town, we headed out onto Tesla Road and more wide-open country.  We then drove up Patterson Pass Road; a fairly winding and narrow climb, the benefit of which kept most of the drivers on the tour together and provided an opportunity to take in some of the breathtaking vistas along the route.  We also passed by one of the oldest Wind Farms in the world…first building out the windmill technology in 1981.  The Altamont Pass has the largest concentration of windmills worldwide with over 4,000 still in existence!

   Part way along the drive, Dave, Sueko and photographer Peter Escobedo pulled into a turn out to snap some great pictures of the classic cars as we were coming over the pass.  Our roughly 30-mile drive tour then took us full circle back to Tesla Road and to our original departure point where we still had reserved parking available.  Many Freewheelers remained after the drive tour to gather for lunch and camaraderie at some of the nearby restaurants.  While some opted for Casa Orozco for Mexican cuisine; yours truly joined other fellow Freewheelers for some Italian delights at Strizzi’s a few blocks away.

   Many thanks to Dave and Sueko for putting together such a fun and interesting drive tour….and thanks too, to Mother Nature for providing such perfect driving weather!  Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), a good time was had by all!