A bit of a rest
Saturday, June 9
Yesterday's fourteen-hour mountain drive capped the end of a three-day grand loop. We had driven on so many good roads of all sorts, but it was all beginning to blur a bit together in our minds. It was time for a bit of a pause.
To that end, there was no early-rise time. "Get up as you like" was the general directive, and there's was nothing specific planned on the day's agenda.
Roughly by noon we emerged from the flat, after having slept in late, had a lesiurely breakfast, did some photo and video download and categorizing, and washed some clothes. A stop at a nearby grocery store and a spray wash for the car rounded out the afternoon.
[on a well-earned rest day]
Sleep in until 8:00am... ahhhhh. Bread cheese and tomato for breakfast. Gave Andrew the milk for cereal. Need to go into town and get some supplies. Also need to scope out a place to watch the Grand Prix if possible. All gear sorted out and I believe we have solved the radio charging riddle. We will confirm in the car. Fingers crossed. Lukmanier Pass - What the heck kind of car was that? Fast, low, with triangular central exhaust. "Luke Pass" - drone flying + GoPro exhaust footage. Poor goat met it's maker.
Back at the flat, I created a list of all of the different types of video sequences and views that I had wanted to capture. There was quite a bit that we hadn't yet done, and we decided to spend the rest of the day crossing some items off of that list. Primarily this involved some external GoPro footage from various angles, collecting some audio clips (including the ever-popular tunnel exhaust sounds), and some B-roll style aerial mountain footage. To that end, we drove up to the nearby Lukmanier Pass - a relatively gentle gap between the counties of Graubunden (where the flat is located) and Ticino (essentially, the Italian part of Switzerland). The road through the pass isn't very twisty, but that means it didn't take us long to motor up there. We hiked a short way up a meadowy slope and spent an hour or so recording (and enjoying the scenery).
Our evening at Lukmanier Pass capped the end of a pretty quiet day. We were back at the flat at a reasonable hour, hoping to get in a good night's sleep before tackling some more exciting roads tomorrow.
A Pass Closer to Home
Sunday, June 10
Sunday.... and the dawn of another beautiful Swiss morning. Today we were going back to the quest for ultimate twisties, but we wanted something close, because (seeing as this was a motorsports-oriented trip) we wanted to be back at an early hour so that we could watch the Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One, which happened to be playing that evening -- live -- on the cable/satellite connection at the flat.
Consulting my magic twisty road map, I chose the nearby San Bernardino Pass, at the head of the Hinterrhein valley. It - like the Lukmanier Pass from the night before, connected Graubunden to the Ticino region. And if you were an un-attentive "regular" highway driver, you might drive the San Bernardino and think that it wasn't all that sporty or twisty - and you'd be right. That's because there are two routes over the San Bernardino - a newer, wider, mostly tunnelled route, and the older, original, much twistier overland route. Needless to say, we were much more interested in exploring the latter - and I was hopeful that the existance of a high-speed direct alternative would mean that much of the traffic would use that, leaving the twisty variant nice and empty.
The day was brilliant and bright and cheerful as we set out from the flat. We took the "fun" way down the Anterior Rhine valley towards Chur (which runs on the north side of the valley), adding a few new cool GoPro angles to our catalog of video clips. We then turned up the Hinter Rhine valley towards the San Bernardino Pass. We expressly stayed off the main/autobahn route and stayed on the old/original route. We enjoyed bursts of reasonably fun forest twisties at first, then, after the beautiful reservoir lake of Laghetto Moesola, we began to climb a very tight set of switchbacks (although more spacious than the nearby north Splugenpass switchbacks).
At the top of these tight switchbacks, we emerged into open alpine. The twisties continued, but they wandered about more randomly up here in the open terrain.
[on the San Bernardino]
A quiet day up the old road to the San Bernardino Pass. Time for Luke to drive and for lots of drone, GoPro and camera work. Woohoo!!! Ferrari 458 Italia Targa in red. In the pass. Juicy. Old 80's 911 as well. Air cooled flat six unique sound. Neither of them pushing tho. I got to drive the whole way up and down the pass as Andrew was setting up multiple drone shots. What a delight. Dang it's busy though. You can sense my nervousness driving the car hard. Under braking it seems fine, willing to brake harder and later than before, even dipping into the ABS at little at times, but powering out of the hairpins is another story. Whereas Andrew is comfy with applying more power earlier, and actually getting a little power oversteer, I am more reticent. Even when egged on to do so by my director, my right foot seems unwilling to apply the necessary throttle angle to induce wheelspin. Something about the rock walls on the outside of the hairpins perhaps? Certainly there's room, but instinctually, I am cautious, perhaps overcautious. Ah well, nevertheless I am having a blast. The return trip up and over the pass will be quicker and more on the edge, as Andrew will be taking the wheel. Oh for the S2000 to have along on this trip, to follow and chase (But likely not catch) the M2. At least not with Andrew at the wheel. Reverse the drivers tho...and I think the S2000 could keep up.
I was scouting about for a good place to do some alpine aerial tracking videos, and I picked a corner with a wide, hazard-free open area on one side, and stopped to set up. With our radios, I guided Luke through a set of back and forth runs. This took quite a long time and towards the end of it I was getting somewhat frustrated. It was hard to properly fly and track the M2 at the same time. In my mind's eye, I could visualize the footage I wanted, but it was tricky, very tricky, to turn that into reality. I was also somewhat annoyed at the rising level of tourist traffic - my hopes for solitude and quietness due to the existance of the high speed San Bernardino Tunnel bypass wasn't happening (probably because this was a sunny weekend day).
I finally concluded (gave up?) on my aerial shot work, and we continued south, over the San Bernardino Pass, and down into the Val Mesolcina on the other side. There were some even better twisties on this side - wider and more interesting (not simply a bunch of repeating switchbacks, which can get a bit monotonous after a while). Once down in the wide valley bottom, we stopped at a great little Italian restaurant and enjoyed some superb food. The restaurant - Ristorante Veranda
, in the town of Cama - was very sensitive to customers' food preferences, allergies, and intolerances, and there were very explicit charts and indicators on everything in the menu. Pretty unique - I'd never seen anything quite like that before.
Old San Bernardino Highway
Andrew, Ristorante Veranda
Ristorante Veranda ingredients
After the excellent lunch, we drove back north and over the San Bernardino Pass again, enjoying especially the south slope twisties, which are really quite superb. On a week day, when tourist traffic was at a minimum and regular transport traffic was using the main tunnel, this would be a great place to come.
Once finished with our retracing of the San Bernardino Pass, we continued north, back in the direction of the flat. We still had a bit of time to burn before the F1 race, so we took a little side trip back up to the Splugenpass to try and capture some more video footage.
Later, back at the flat, we whipped up dinner and ate it in front of the TV, watching the Canadian Grand Prix. There was virtually no passing and, all in all, was not that interesting of a race.
[on the San Bernardino]
A nice stop for lunch in a little Italian hemlet called Cama. Little place at the bottom of the pass. Fresh ravioli and an amazing vinegar salad with just lettuce. Mouth watering. The place is uber natural (home grown veggies) gluten free plus dietary menu for allergies - gelato for dessert!!!!! Andrew thrashes through the upside of the pass, pushing harder, getting smoother and getting the tail out more with controlled power slides. Impressive. We reach the top of the pass and set up for drone stuff above the tightest part of the twisties. Luke to drive. Andrew to fly. Excellent overhead views but I look soooo slow. Maybe I am....? Headed back the flat in time to catch the F1 race. Tried to see Lo and Adrienne on the tv coverage but no luck. Booooooorong race tho. Hit the sack after but woke up in the middle of the night with massive heartburn. Lesson learned. Again. Don't eat late.