It’s a beautiful clear day, about as nice as it gets up here in the Great Northwest corner of the land, so how about we take a little spin in my old RX-7? After all these years it’s still looking decent, and is as much fun to drive as ever, especially on the route I have in mind today.
Heading south on Banner Road from Sedgwick, you go up and down some remarkable hills. After a few miles, you come to a sharp left; just after that, you get the first view south, down Colvos Passage, toward Commencement Bay and Tacoma. You’re still in high country here.
Continuing down the ridge, you get more glances at Puget Sound. A half-mile later you reach this spot, where you can look north up the passage. Here, Vashon Island is on the right; to your left is the mainland of the Kitsap Peninsula. If the weather cooperates, Mount Baker can be seen from here in the distance.
Continuing downhill, you get some nice views across the passage toward Vashon Island. Mount Rainier can be seen behind the island, atmospheric conditions permitting.
Soon you reach a sharp jog toward the water.
Just around the next corner is the wide view of the passage, seen from a narrow section of the road that snakes down the edge of the bluff. You can see the pilings for one of the old “mosquito fleet” docks, relics of a time when small boats were how you got around Puget Sound country before the building of roads over the hills. Also visible is an inviting-looking road leading south toward Gig Harbor. At the bottom of the hill is the estuary of Olalla Creek.
Here I’m parked at the boat-launching ramp.
Here’s the view looking back toward the last hill of Banner Road, down which I just drove.
Olalla Valley Road beckons west, toward Highway 16. I’m standing on a bridge that is the scene of a large Polar Bear Jump event every New Year’s Day.
This wouldn’t be a proper Curbside Classic piece without this photo of this circa-1980 Ford Bronco, which hasn’t stirred from this spot along today’s route for least six months. It’s not a bad-looking old pot, with no rust-out or dents visible from this side. It probably just needs a transmission or some other mechanical work. In any case, it’s considerably less mossy than the garage roof.
The really nice thing about this extraordinarily scenic drive? It’s just a couple of miles from my house, so I can pass this way often. If you’re in the neighborhood, let’s do it for real next time.
Nice! Great pics, and nice RX-7! Love those cars.
Did you buy the RX-7 new? What year is it?
Funny that the name of the island is Vashon – I actually worked for a Mazda Dealer for many years in Massachusetts and the owner’s last name was Vachon….great family – some of the best years of my life working there! Well, ironically, Mr. Vachon happened to have a MINT CONDITION 1982 or 1983 RX-7 with very low mileage – I think he still owns it, although I haven’t seen or spoken to him in several years. It was medium blue – I always admired that car. When I saw this write-up I instantly thought of him and that RX-7. Whenever I saw that the Island you mentioned is Vashon I found it so cool that it was nearly his name – probably pronounced the same too! Love your RX-7 too – always thought it looked great in white as it makes the lines of the car really stand out. Great write-up too!
Wow, never thought I would see this road on Curbsideclassic!
I drive it at about twice a week, and have spent many hours looking at the view from picture 2. If conditions are right you can see Mt Rainier off to the left. It is a great view with the water, boats and the mountain.
I’m sure its a great road for a sports car, my experiences haven’t been quite so fun in my curbside classics. Mostly other motorist crossing the center line into your lane. That and taking old trucks/tractors up and down will keep you on your toes!
Its one of the steepest road is the area, you go from sea level and gain about 300 feet of elevation all within a half a mile or so.
Nice car! These cars were something else back in the day, especially with the unique sound and turbine smooth feel of the 13B rotary.
Is that an 84 by chance?
The car is a 1984, with a carburetor and five-speed. I bought it in 1994 from a local used car dealer who’d taken it on trade from a relative who’d bought it new, and who lived on Vashon Island. Interesting coincidence….
It’s got an Atkins rebuilt engine, probably about 25,000 miles on that – 130,000-some on the car. It’s been a bit of a garage queen lately, using only one or two tankfuls of gas each year for the last several years. Last Thursday when I took the ride and the photos, it was telling me that it needs a new set of spark plugs.
That is a great road for a sports car – I often drive it quite a bit faster than I did last Thursday.
Good post and car, and nice to learn your name, Mr. Madsen. 🙂
I’ve only been to greater Seattle a few times, but I happen to have been to Vashon Island! In a previous life when I was a product designer, I worked for a while for a consultancy that was hired by K2 skis to develop ideas for strapless snowboard binding systems. We presented them at K2 HQ, which is on Vashon Island. Why would you put your offices there? Beats me, but then again, I’ve never used a snowboard or had any desire to, so I guess I’m the wrong guy to ask on a number of levels.
However… it look like you could end up going for a swim if you’re too tired or tipsy :)) .
Lovely SA22. Dad had an earlier copper/brown one when I was still in single digits that I unfortunately only vaguely remember.
“Olalla Valley Road beckons east, toward Highway 16.” I just spotted this boner. Try “west”….
Nice Rx-7. I’ve owned two of these Rx-7s – a 81 and 85. I loved the both but the 81 better. If they could have maybe 30hp extra and a rack and pinion steering conversion they be about the perfect car.
Ah… My neck of the woods, drive up Hwy 16 a fair amount, the last time was late July when heading up to Purdy to cut across on SR 302 to SR 3 to get to Shelton, on my way to the Washington Coast.
Grew up in University Place, but now live in Seattle.
The weather has been lovely of late, hasn’t it? I’ve noticed it’s a bit dusty out there these days, and dry too.
BTW, I drive a 2003 Mazda Protege5, and love it. Just had to replace the thermostat on it the other day though, and only has 115800+ miles on it.
Next up is an oil change and a tire rotation, and hopefully a quick wax job before the cold and the wet sets in.
1st gen RX-7 is probably one of the best looking cars of all time. Nice lines, good proportions, clean and honest. Oh, did I mention comfortable and dependable, too? Give a ’79-’81, silver or light blue, with OEM steel wheels and no trim rings…
These were great little cars, and are what real sports cars should be. I had the chance to drive a 1979 for a couple of weeks and woo-hoo was that little car a blast to drive. Sure, it used hi-test gas like a Peterbilt five ton but the smooth whoooosh-zhooop the thing made was pure magic. Since the cars were so light (even armstrong steering in the one I drove) they actually scooted along right smartly. The most important thing was the car was a permanent grin when you drove it, really had lots of character. You could actually buy these things used a get a lot of kms off them and repairs were not that bad. The engines were actually really good by this point. When I worked at a Mazda dealership in the 1980s it was rare for any rotary to come back for repair, The motors were light and strong but like I said before, the things guzzled gas like a Camaro 350 and didn’t go nearly as fast.
I decided not to take the RX-7 mostly because of its fuel habit but looking back, the car was only six years old, rust free, and 50,000 km, for $4000, it was a steal. The gas would be cheap compared to financing a new car, which is, like an idiot, I did.
Gorgeous views, and a great car, Pete! I’d love to be in the area and make the drive for real in my own Mazda, but that’s a heck of a drive from Dallas.
It’s an FB, not an SA22. Only the early 1st-gen RXs had the SA22C VIN. The post-1980 cars were FBs.