ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Shooting The Snake


Fear is a choice. The question is not how far your EV will travel, but how much anxiety you feel about it. The next range test was a trip to Mulholland Highway near Calabasas to drive the electric Porsche on a world-famous segment of asphalt called The Snake. I’ll describe that more in a bit.


101_mulholland_exit As reported in an earlier post titled Nailbiter, the little 914’s absolute maximum range on a single charge is about 74 miles. From our house, The Snake is about 39 miles for a round trip of 78 miles, putting it just beyond the capacity of my battery pack to get us safely home. For this mission to succeed, a charging stop would be needed somewhere along the route, preferably at the midpoint in Calabasas. This is why EV homework is so important.



I remembered my buddy Steve told me about a watering hole in Calabasas that erupts into a complete zoologic spectacle of rockers, bikers and trailerpark supermodels on Saturday nights, called the Sagebrush Cantina. A visit to their website confirmed they also have a Sunday brunch buffet, making it a good candidate for a battery break if there are any charging stations nearby.



The Recargo app on my smartphone found two charging locations in Calabasas right at Mulholland Highway, and one of them was coincidentally the Sagebrush Cantina! Kismet is always unexpected. It’s a complete mystery why a biker bar would install seven EV charging stations, but it merits a tip of the hat to their management. There were four stations open when we arrived, so I plugged in, tapped my Blink card, and escorted my Sweetie inside for brunch.



The Sagebrush itself is sprawling, with several large inside and outside dining areas, multiple bars, an indoor and outdoor stage, and room for half a thousand patrons. Even on a Sunday go-to-church morning, it was still rife with big hair, collagen lips, shameless muffin tops, huge sunglasses, impossible heels, and a variety of interesting wardrobe choices. Pin your Google maps for some prime people-watching.



Food makes a happy face. The Sagebrush is billed primarily as an authentic Mexican restaurant, although they also serve a variety of American and Southwestern dishes. The brunch itself was fairly traditional but the selection was good, including omelettes, waffles, lox and bagels, crab legs, oysters, several Mexican items, endless champagne, and flavored vodka shots. I would highly recommend spending a leisurely couple hours there, even without an EV to recharge.



Getting to Calabasas via the steep Sepulveda Pass had knocked the battery pack from 95% down to a 60% charge. Two hours on a Sagebrush charging station returned the pack to 87% for a nominal $3.00 charge on my Blink account. Now the batteries had plenty of juice to get us to The Snake and home again. We jumped on the 101 for a few more miles to the Kanan Road exit, then headed south on Cornell Road to Mulholland Highway. I have a special place in my heart for mountain tunnels, and am always surprised when they show up unexpectedly.



At the head of The Snake on Mulholland sits another renown biker hangout called the Rock Store. The building is a page out of Los Angeles history, crafted from volcanic rock and serving as a stagecoach stop in the early 1900s. Surrounded by winding mountain roads, the Rock Store is a likely spot for bikers of every ilk to congregate, swap stories, and drool over their expensive machinery. We popped in just long enough to get a peek, but then continued to the main event.




This is The Snake. It’s 1.8 miles long and has 21 turns. Among enthusiasts, The Snake is one of the best known segments of Mulholland Highway; equally one of the best known roads in California. The photo at the top looks east toward curves #19 and #20 on the right side of the picture. The final turn #21 on left side is called Edwards’ Corner, where many a biker has pushed beyond their skill limit.



Be advised, we didn’t trek here to test my driving skills or watch for crashes. We came to this iconic strip of asphalt to get sweet pictures for this blog, taken by a photographer whose specialty is capturing the action on The Snake. Every Saturday and Sunday, Paul Herold from Rock Store Photos stakes out the choicest corners with his expensive camera rig, and shoots very high resolution images of modern, classic, and vintage cars, motorcycles, and racing bicycles in the mythical context of Mulholland Highway. The watermarked photos are then posted online for perusal and purchase. Quite often, Jay Leno is caught tooling The Snake in anything from an overpowered superbeast to some esoteric vintage roadster borrowed from his famous garage for a Sunday joyride. I was quite excited be initiated into the annals of Mulholland Snake History.



We entered The Snake coming south from the Rock Store, twisting, turning, and hair-pinning our way through all the curves from #1 at the bottom to #21 at the top. This shot was taken as we rounded the last turn, where the camera is usually perched for the afternoon session to make best use of the sun. For the record, it was insanely fun. My female passenger thought we were finished until I did a turnabout at the overlook and ran the full course again in the opposite direction. (She should have known.)



This shot was the pick of the litter. I like the slight angle and the mild blur on the wheels. Clicking it will link to the medium resolution photo downloaded from the Rock Store Photos website. I’ll order the full rez photo to make my bedroom wall poster.



After clearing the final corner at the bottom, I pulled another U-turn and shot The Snake one more time for good measure, giving ample time for quality photos at the top. This was all to my wife’s chagrin, who staved off motion sickness by chewing her gum into a foam while nearly snapping the armrest handle off the door. Don’t let that sweet smile fool you.



We chilled at the overlook for a while, watching the pageant of expensive cars and bikes wind their way to the top for their close-ups. After not seeing any crashes or Jay Leno, we split for the coast via Kanan Dume Road. The beauty of this route is a nearly 6 mile downhill, offering an 8% grade at points. It was a great opportunity to see how much charge could be recovered through regenerative braking. The pack’s state-of-charge was 53.5% at the start of our descent, and when we dropped onto Pacific Coast Highway it had climbed to nearly 58%. Money in the battery bank.



We rolled into Malibu Cross Creek with plenty of juice to get home, and with no hurry to get anywhere on this Memorial Day eve. The charging station outside of Ralph Lauren was wide open – an irresistible opportunity to wrangle a free charge. However, we paid in flesh at the theater, with two tickets to the new Star Trek 3D movie costing $36. But on the bright side, the electricity for this all-day adventure totaled about 5 bucks. And by the way, the movie was worth it.


7 Responses to “Shooting The Snake”

  1. Awesome story telling. Thanks.

  2. Great post – Thanks – And I’m glad the snake didn’t bite you, but I thought that the Yellow Peril was a convertible? A drive like that on a day like that and you leave the top on? – Why? And maybe the lovely Karen’s gum would not have been so frothy had the top been off. (The cars top that is.) – Fordy

  3. Nice trip and beautiful photography. Another adventure in the pocket for the electric porche!

  4. What a fantastic story. I used to work in Calabasas so I know the Sagebrush Cantina well. Passed by it everyday. Your blog is not only a useful exploration of electric cars, but a solid guide for quality lovebird destinations. I’ll be sure to take my wife to some of the locations you’ve been describing. Maybe these places should pay you for advertising!

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