As the sun sets on 2014, the Miata gets a light show along with the rest of Seattle.

 

 Those who come to Gearbox Magazine love their respective cars. We don’t care what your car-quirk is so long as you love what you do and how you do it.

I first fell in love, not with autos, but with the road trip, whether rolling around the Pacific Northwest with my family as a kid or the hills of Northern Japan with Rob during our tenure in the Navy.

This New Year’s, I wanted to start things in the best way possible, but knew I couldn’t afford the ‘big shebang’ of a full-blown road trip.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

I love where I live. Seattle is nestled between two mountain ranges and a body of water. The Puget Sound separates Seattle from the Olympic Peninsula and mountains, while Lake Washington separates Seattle from Bellevue and the Cascade foothills and mountains off to the east. Lake Washington has amazing views of all the mountains, volcanoes, and cities all around the lake.

Driving along the west coast of the lake,  one can peer over the water out towards the domineering Cascades to the east and their snow capped tips glowing in the morning sun. Go around to the other side and you’re gazing at Seattle and the Olympics beyond, the tips of Seattle beaming over the hills and the mountains an ever present Goliath at our doorsteps. Beauty abounds at every corner.

Making it the best First Drive of the Year. (Close, cheap, and simply beautiful).

YOU DID THIS WITH WHAT?

This Miata is way too happy. I think it knows where its’ going tomorrow. If it had a tail, it’d be wagging.

It may or may not come as a surprise, but one of the Gearbox Family has gladly sold their soul to new cars. . . Not in self-buying power (I don’t make nearly enough money to do that, yet…), but in access to press fleet vehicles for GBXM, AON Media, and a newly created, regional car blog dubbed The Auto Reporter, started through my new employer, The Bothell-Kenmore Reporter papers.

For Christmas, Press-Fleet-Santa left me an unbelievable gift.

My First Drive of the Year was in a 2015 Mazda Miata Grand Touring with a power retractable hard top.

I couldn’t have picked a better car to do it in.

The shores of Lake Washington are filled with fun, curvy bits that, at 8 a.m. after one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, were empty save bits of morning fog that clung to the world like the hangovers most were surely feeling from their champagne-ended, cocktail-filled evenings.

I’ve done this particular drive before, in my own Mazda Miata, but it wasn’t the same.

This … this was PERFECT. In every sense of the word.

HEAVEN IS A MIATA

Nestled in our heated seats, Rob and I zoom-zoomed around the lake with the sound of awesomeness in our ears – given to us by the 167-hp, 2.0L 4-cylinder engine.

(Note: This drive was much better than the initial one, during which I had to Google how to put the car in reverse. It was only the third 6-speed transmission I had driven and they have all had a different way to do it. So, if you’re googling “how to put the 2015 Mazda Miata into reverse”, it’s by pushing down on the stick and then moving into into R while still depressing the shifter…)

The hard top allowed us to hear the engine, instead of everyone else on the road (like in my car). And it sounds fantastic. Don’t just take it from me, watch the video…

We started near the University of Washington (my Alma Mater), and drove down the sweeping and curvy Lake Washington Boulevard to watch the colors of sunrise fading around Mount Rainier.

On the first day of the year, this Miata enjoys the sun!

From there, we rounded the bottom of the lake through Renton and up towards Bellevue, finding some fun on a random wrong turn – the best kind of treasure found is the smile gracing ones lips on exiting a properly taken corner.

We paused for a bit in Kirkland, just north of Bellevue – once for a view of the mountain caps popping past the city peaks and once for some of the best baked goods I’ve had (I had the berry/cream Danish and Rob had the cinnamon roll) at Aura Bakery).

The last bit through Kirkland and Kenmore we put the top down; it was around 36 degrees, but that didn’t include the wind chill. We didn’t care.

We had the sun raining down on our shoulders. We had the wind in our hair. We had the open-ish road before us.

It was 50 miles of heaven. 50 miles of fun. 50 miles of the First Drive of the Year.

And I wouldn’t have wanted to do it in anything but a Miata. Hopefully, the Press-Fleet-Santa will leave me a 2016 Miata for next year’s FDotY.

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