When we started out the day traveling from Fairfield, California over to Mariposa, I laid in the coordinants on the iPad GPS. The first part of the trip took us through Lodi, California where we had lunch. After lunch the GPS had us get on a very boring strech of highway which swung around to the south of Mariposa and then back north again into the town. After about 20 miles of this boring, flat stretch of road (like most of the roads in Illinois where I'm from) I said enough is enough and plotted my own course.
The first part of the journey to Coulterville consisted of some winding roads through some gently rollling hills. As I was driving I wished I had a better road handling car as this would have been a lot of fun. Going about 60 MPH through some mostly gentle winding roads would have given me a bit of a thrill.
It was the almost 30 mile ride from Coulterville to Mariposa down Route 49 (the 1849 Gold Miner's Route) that is the basis for this tip.
Now, if you have ever seen the Hollywood movies or James Bond movies where there is the car chase going up and down and around the steep curves of a mountain landscape, this will give you an idea of this route. Being from the flatlands of Illinois and driving my automatic shift which really never gets out of drive until I park, I was a little unaccustomed to this drive. I would alternately go from gas pedal to brake and then back again several times a minute. When I pulled off to the side of the road and got out to take a picture or 2 about halfway to Mariposa I smelled something burning and then realized my brake pads were getting a "bit hot".
Not wanting to see the car plunge over the side of the cliff because my brakes had just given out, I dug into the recesses of my driver ed training and realized that I could use the couple of other notches on the shifter (namely D2 and D3) which would help me to slow down without using the brakes. That worked much better.
When we finally arrived in the town of Mariposa after a very interesting 45 minute ride, Sue finally took a breath. She said it was a lot scarier from where she was sitting as we rounded some of those curves as she was on the valley below side for most of the turns while I was hugging the mountain side.
Needless to say when we left Mariposa to go back to the Bay Area, we took the suggested GPS route. But (twinkle in my eye as I write this), I would do that ride again in a heartbeat with a nice convertable with the top down.
Traveling up from Merced (Hwy 140) , you will find a disproportionate amount of CHP's and sheriffs for the road and town. They are all looking for a ticket to write - do not let it be you!! The state makes a windfall on the residents and tourists.......beware!!