by Bob Sparrow
‘Road Trip’ was the simple headline in a local magazine; those words however are always a clarion call me and thus seduced me to read on. This road trip was described as ‘one of the world’s most iconic drives’ – cruising the coast on Highway 1 between Orange County and San Francisco, taking in Big Sur and the beautiful coast line along the way. I read on to discover that this ‘Pacific Grand Tour Aficionado Package’ was being offered by St. Regis Resorts. As a rule I try to stay away from packages with the word ‘Grand’ in them, as it usually refers to the price. Add words like ‘aficionado’ and St. Regis and I can almost feel my bank account wither as I’m reading. But it gets better . . . or worse. What makes the tour so grand is not only that it includes two nights at both ends of the trip in St. Regis Resorts in OC and SF, but it also includes a Bentley Mulsanne. For those who think Bentley Mulsanne is a footman on Downton Abby, it is not; it is an expensive automobile – a very expensive automobile, like $300,000 expensive – if you don’t want any extras. Undaunted . . . OK, I was somewhat daunted, but I continued reading and finally found what I was looking for . . . the price. “Prices start at $6,900”, it said. “Whew”, I breathed a sigh of relief, for a moment there I thought it was going to be up in the $7,000 range. It doesn’t really say how far that ‘starting price’ will get you, but probably not out of the shadow of the St. Regis from which you are leaving, but I read on imagining myself tooling up Pacific Coast Highway in a Bentley. I looked good.
When I finished reading the article I paused and wistfully thought to myself, I haven’t made that drive in many, many years and it is beautiful and what a thrill it would be to do it in a Bentley; I have the time and I’m not getting any younger, so . . .
You guessed it, I threw the magazine away and wondered what I was thinking. But I’d been put in the mood for a road trip, so I decided to create my own package – I called it ‘The Grand Fun Bus to Barstow, Baker and Beyond’ – mostly Beyond. It wasn’t in a bus, but it wasn’t in a Bentley either that Linda and I headed for Vegas to celebrate her birthday. Now I’m not saying that the Zzyzx Road turnoff reminded me of Big Sur or that Baker’s giant thermometer, as majestic as it is, compared favorably to the giant redwoods along the coast, but I’ll tell you this, we had $6,900 worth of fun, maybe $7,000.
The fun included a great room at the Mirage Hotel, an evening at the greatest Irish Pub (and I know my Irish Pubs) this side of Killarney, Ri Ra at Mandalay Bay, a liquid lunch (their specialty) at Margaritaville, where the bartenders put on a show that you’d pay to see, and the Cirque du Soleil LOVE show – an amazing performance that we did pay to see, AND we left town with about a thousand dollars more than we came with.
I’m thinking that if I can do that 300 more time I can buy that Bentley!