Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY, A TOYOTA Mirai fuel cell car and I began a drive up Southern California’s Pacific Coast Highway, accompanied by Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Here in Part 2, we continue north to a once-used R&T skidpad. On our return, we wonder whether it was something I wrote.  

Thar’s Oil Offa That PCH! Oil rigs have long existed immediately inland of PCH, not far north of Huntington Beach. Today, they tend to be well shielded from view by tall shrubbery. 

An oil derrick masquerades as a condo tower; the shrubbery helps.

During one gasoline shortage or another, I recall we did an R&T photo shoot among the oil rigs.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands. Though much of PCH is developed, there are still signs of pristine nature. The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a natural wetlands renowned for its migratory bird populations. 

The Bolsa Chica wetlands, inland of PCH just north of Huntington Beach. Image by Eric Shalov.

Recalling the California ground squirrels that raced around on the bluff between R&T and PCH, I suspect their kin enjoy the Bolsa Chica wetlands as well.

Long Beach Traffic Circle/Skidpad. Traffic circles, or “rotaries” as they’re sometimes called, are rarities in Southern California. So much so that PCH’s in Long Beach warrants a Google Map mention as Traffic Circle Area.

Google Map image.

This was the turn-around of my Mirai PCH adventure, and it too aroused a memory: We once used the Long Beach Traffic Circle as an informal, albeit brief skidpad.

R&T’s PCH Comparison Test. In March 2010, I put together an all-singing, all-dancing analysis of gasoline, hybrid, and diesel propulsion. We drove a Ford Fiesta, Toyota Prius, and Volkswagen Golf TDI from Newport Beach north on PCH, with a canyon-carving diversion up Malibu way onto Mulholland Drive and then onto Route 101 to Ventura. Oh, yes, and that brief Long Beach Traffic Circle skidpad. 

This test was memorable because of a Ford “oversight” in retaining its car’s on-board mpg display in Imperial gallons, not the 17-percent smaller U.S. units. A new model, our Fiesta had previously toured the country in hyping its mpg capabilities….

Fortunately, we had backed up our cars’ on-board mpg displays with manual measurements at toppings-off and later discovered the discrepancy. Our correction came a month later, in April 2010, with Fiesta mpgs reduced to 83 percent of their Imperial fudge. 

By the way, in every stint, the Prius beat the other two. In corrected mpg, the VW uniformly beat the Ford. 

We didn’t measure our Traffic Circle skidpad. Otherwise, the Long Beach Police might have curtailed a most interesting Comparison Test. 

A Concluding Happy Snap. Upon pointing the Mirai back down PCH toward home, I felt compelled to take one more happy snap. It coincided, most appropriately, with Brünnhilde riding her horse Grane into Siegfried’s funeral pyre. 

The missing window is in the office I occupied for a good portion of 33 years.

Do you suppose it was something I wrote? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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