Five Favorite Ways to Celebrate a Birthday

2011 Range Rover Evoque
Drive this for my birthday?!? Photo by Randy Stern

I am celebrating my birthday today.

In the past, I mentioned that I do prefer more understated celebrations at this stage in life. This is true, but what if I wanted to go "all out?" What if I decided that understated birthdays would be better served closer to my cremation than while I am enjoying this fantastic time in my life?

I can see a Five Favorites coming up for this.

The premise for this Five Favorite piece is simple: If I wanted a celebration that was not understated, how would I go about it. It has to involve either a vehicle and/or a historic point of automotive reference. It sounds like a brilliant game.

Enough introductions (you see, it was understated)! Let us get the bats out of the imagination bank…

A PROPER HOMETOWN BIRTHDAY: Los Angeles has always been about glamour and the celebration thereof. Reseda may have been the antithesis of Beverly Hills, but it does not exclude us from the party. I am certain there are many ways to do a birthday in my hometown, but if I were to "stay between the lines" to the caveats above, then let me dial this back a few decades. The Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach is where Brock Yates' took his Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea rallies from the east. That would be my headquarters for a celebration. The location by the Pacific Ocean remains as stunning as ever. To honor the heritage of the Cannonball and the Portofino, a proper "birthday" vehicle is in order. A Porsche would do. Perhaps not a 911, Boxster or Cayman…a Cayenne would do nicely. They are not too insane in price, except if one is equipped with the many customization pieces that would increase the sticker to shocking results. A base Cayenne would be fine, though an S Hybrid would placate California's environmental side. It is about a badge – I get it. Still, a Porsche SUV proclaims that you’d made it in the world. You upgraded from a humble one-story in Reseda to somewhere a couple of blocks from Jamie Foxx's house in Tarzana. You have connections and contribute to pet causes – the Gay and Lesbian Center of Los Angeles, for example. It also means having a trophy man – even for a night. Yet, that night was made even more special with the sunset over the Pacific from the Portofino. It could easily be made more special when my family and friends in Southern California would show up. That trophy man could wait until later.

FLORIDA PERHAPS? This time of year, Florida is overrun with snowbirds – residents of Northern locales who spend winter in the state. It creates a dichotomy between locals and the temporary residents. Yet, I am amongst the many additional visitors to the state…um, wait, I have never been to Florida. Perhaps I need something to rectify that. I scanned the state and found that the majority of combined friends, colleagues and others who fall into my attraction paradigm just happen to be in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Getting around the Tampa Bay area would require driving – that is, if I want to do a quick excursion into Orlando. You may never know what kind of weather would hit early February, but it has to be something far from a rental car to do the job. The 2014 Mazda6 would be a great choice. It is not just new – but groundbreaking. Though the Skyactiv-D is several months away, the new bigger 2.5litre Skyactiv-G should be worth the drive. It looks roomy enough for friends to ride along. One would hope there is the feeling of "Zoom-Zoom" on board as well. Florida may be ripe to check the new Mazda6 out, even if it means playing highway tag with the snowbirds and the locals.

A GEARHEAD'S ITALIAN FANTASY: For some of us who love automobiles, Bologna is our Rome. Modena and Maranello are places of pilgrimages where only the faithful dream of being at. As a whole, Northern Italy offers passion for the enthusiast with fantastic scenery and topography along with the steeped passion for the automobile. That would mean stops at Ferrari and Maserati to fulfill that passion – both towns are close to Bologna. A great run would be up the autostrada to Milan, the home of fashion, Pirelli tires and Alfa Romeo. The final stop would be Turin – the former home of the Winter Olympics of 2006. Turin is where Fiat calls home. Having never been to Italy, this would be my most preferred region to visit. Not because of the automotive heritage, but the climate's more suitable to me. A drive like this would require something that would manage the climates of Northern Italy – from Mediterranean to Alpine. Something rather, well, Italian. A diesel-fueled Jeep Grand Cherokee is what I have in mind exactly. After all, Fiat owns a majority in Chrysler.

IT IS SUMMER IN AUSTRALIA: A great birthday trip would a trip Down Under. It is the ultimate land, to be honest. Australia is a place where Britain, America and everywhere else meet in a relatively sparely populated continent. Yet, everyone seems to live by the ocean – the entire continent has a continuous coastline. For me, it would be the southeastern part of the country that I would focus on. But, which city should I go? Well, Melbourne is doing Midsumma before my birthday. I could option a run up towards Canberra and Sydney. To do so, it would take either a Holden Commodore Calais or a Ford Falcon G6E – a big Aussie car that appears to be a dying breed. But, why not celebrate Australian motoring by driving between two great cities and its national capitol? Why not finally meet the wonderful guys I have heard and seen virally that reflect a fresher perspective on the subculture I live in? The catch would be that drive – its quite long, but doable. Other than that, it would be a good time to soak in some wonderful Australian atmosphere – and enjoy the company of a few of its citizens.

IT IS BEST TO STAY HOME SOMETIMES: Right here in the Twin Cities, the place I call home these days, it is great when you can get your friends together for a meal and some conversation afterwards. The list of folks I would rather celebrate this inauspicious day has wavered, but I would rather have a subtle celebration on my home turf than some crazy whirlwind tour somewhere inducing some want of being home or a spat of loneliness. A birthday still has to be special on some level. The Twin Cities has some great restaurants – Victor's 1959 Cafe, for example. It has to be somewhere I have never been. A select group of friends is also a must. Lastly, there must be a ride worthy of the day – something newsworthy and engaging for discussion. Something that would thwart winter and carry some friends along. This may call for the Range Rover Evoque. It is not designed to carry everyone to the party, but for a select few to enjoy what James May and Victoria Beckham experienced in this little boutique Range. Having never driven a Land/Range Rover, this might as well be the one vehicle to celebrate a birthday here in the Twin Cities.

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