Short fighter mission #5 – 21st to 23rd of May 2021

Spring is finally here! These months between September 2020 and this spring of 2021 have been quite challenging in many aspects: the Covid19 situation, the travel restrictions in Spain (and worldwide), the worst snowstorm of the past 70 years in Madrid that blocked the whole city for more than a week, more Covid19, etc. But hey! It seems that things are finally getting right!

We left our Morgan 3-Wheeler at the dealer’s workshop end of October, to solve a bevel box oil seal leaking, and the idiotic “check engine” light that, without any real alarm triggered, was always lighted on our dashboard. Because of the travelling restrictions, and the cold winter weather, we were not in a hurry to get it back, so the dealer took the time to properly check everything. They finally decided to remove the ECU and sent it to MMC so they double checked and saw why this “check engine” light was always on, while no alarm was apparently triggered by the program.

So, our Morgan stayed at the dealer’s workshop in hibernation mode for many months, and we picked it up in mid-April, after Eastern. With a reflash ECU with an updated program, and the bevel box oil seal properly changed with a much more reliable Viton one, solving the leakage.

It was not before end of May that we could travel across Spain again, when the government finally withdrawn the travel restrictions between regions. And we decided to go visit some good friends in Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast.

Valencia is just 375 km away from Madrid, and you can cover this distance in 3h30min if you take the motorway. But, as usual, this is not the option we chose! The 3-Wheeler is for smaller wild roads!

This was our itinerary.

First section – From home base to Alcocer

130 km and 1 h 50 min estimated driving time

We leave home and take first the A-2 motorway to leave on exit 26. We pass through few roundabouts to reach the M-300 and then the M-213 until we arrive to Pozo de Guadalajara. During this relatively short drive, we can enjoy the early morning light and those typical country roads, with nice landscapes tainted in different tones of greens of the spring. And we even must brake after a curve when a fox surprises us crossing the road in front of us.

Early morning lights on the M-213.

Pozo de Guadalajara is the first stop we make. We fill up the tank as the roads we’re about to take have not so many fuel stations. The Morgan creates a lot of expectation, and all the workers and customers of the gas station take photos with it. If we charged royalties per each photograph or video taken of us in our Morgan, since we got it in January last year, we could retire right now in a private island in the Caribbean!

Then we continue the CM-2027 and the CM-2028 to reach the N-320. This last one is a main national road, so we drive really fast on it until we reach the reservoir of Entrepeñas, one of the largest in Spain, fed by the Tajo River (Tagus River as known in English). The views over the dam from the viewpoint on the road are really spectacular.

View over the dam, at the reservoir of Entrepeñas.

We drive over the dam and some tunnels and continue driving fast on the N-320 to the first important waypoint of the day: the village of Alcocer.

Second section – From Alcocer to Cañamares

43 km and 42 min estimated driving time.

We finally leave the fast and a little bit boring N-320 to enter the natural parc of Sierra de Cuenca. As you may have appreciated in the previous video, we had very little traffic in the N-320, which is supposed to be a relatively busy road. Now we cross no car at all!

Crossing the Guadiela River.

The landscape is getting more and more beautiful. The harvest fields are surrounded by green fresh spring grass and thousands of poppies.

We arrive to Priego, in the center of the “Ruta del Mimbre” (The Wicker Route). These small valleys are specialized in the cultivation of wicker, and in each village we find artisans who make multiple utensils with this material.

Wicker handcrafting.

The fields become red from November to May. We passed few fields still not recollected and we could appreciate their beauty.

Wicker field.

After Priego we enter a stunning part of this road: the “Estrecho de Priego” (could be translated as “Priego’s narrow pass”), that goes along the River Escabas, in a narrow gorge with beautiful stone walls. Pure 3-Wheeler road! We are enjoying so much the drive!

We continue to Cañamares where we make a short coffee break, and visit the “white porcelain room”, just before the best part of today’s route: the CM-210!

The Morgan stays under the sun in the village main square. It’s a typical Castilian village with some old stone houses with their classic charming.

The 3-Wheeler resting before attacking the CM-210.
Ready to hit the road again!

Third section – From Cañamares to Cuervo River Spring

54 km and 51 min estimated driving time.

Rehydrated and with energy recovered after a nice coffee and soda, we jump into the cockpit again and head towards the best part of the route: the CM-210.

This area is known not only because of its amazing nature, but also because the, probably, most famous Spanish spring water is located here: Solán de Cabras. This spring water bottling facilities and the spa are situated close by the village of Puente de Vadillos, over the crystalline waters of the Cuervo River, and are known since the Roman times, in the 2nd century BC.

Spain’s most famous spring water: Solán de Cabras.

Just after Puente de Vadillos begins the Beteta Sickle. This amazing road section welcomes you through its stone arc.

Entrance to the Beteta Sickle.

More stunning stone walls surround this narrow road. The lower part, by the Guadiela River, has a beautiful hiking. And on the upper part of these walls is one of the most important vultures’ nesting area of Spain. We could see those magnificent big birds flying over our heads.

After this stunning section of the road, we leave the CM-210 and take the CM-2201 and CM-2206 driving on the top of the plateau, until we get to the Cuervo River Spring. This road is beautiful, with a bright green color grass and plenty of pine trees. The best time of the year to drive here!

The Cuervo River Spring

The Cuervo River Spring is situated is one of the most famous attractions of the Sierra de Cuenca natural parc. The river is born from underground caverns below the Muela de San Felipe, at about 1469 meters of altitude. It empties into the Guadiela, a tributary of the Tajo River (or Tagus, as known in English), next to the town of Puente de Vadillos, after passing through the well-known Solán de Cabras spa and mineral water bottling plant.

The crystal-clear waters of the Cuervo River create amazing natural pools.

It was declared a natural monument in 1991 and occupies an area of ​​1709 hectares. In this place, the water gushes from a travertine spring and runs through huge stalactites of calcareous rock covered with moss, forming long streams that freeze in winter, offering a beautiful picture photographed thousands of times every year.

In springtime, the fresh water runs over the moss.

Some people prefer to visit it in winter, precisely for the frozen cascades. But in our opinion, it’s the springtime – between April and June – the best moment to visit the place. The greens and the crystal-clear waters and the natural pools are stunning under the clear skies and sun of the season.

Beautiful moss covering the rocks.

As it is a Friday, and not any holyday, we are almost alone. We cross very few people in the parc. The visit, at a reasonable walking rhythm, takes about one hour and a half. This is a very well spent time. A worthy visit you should not miss if you are in the area.

Fourth section – From Cuervo River Spring to Carboneras de Guadazón

87 km and 1 h 30 min estimated driving time.

After the fantastic walk in the Cuervo River Spring we hit the road again, driving on the CM-2106 and CM-2105 to the Southern part of the natural parc of the Sierra de Cuenca. The road is still amazing, and we cross pine trees’ forests, prairies with green grass and poppies, and with no traffic at all.

Nice tarmac and beautiful landscape for the first part of this section…

Then we deviate to take a smaller road, the CU-9112, taking us to a tiny village called Beamud. This smaller road looks promising: narrow, without traffic, and curving between pine trees as we go down and up hills in a very thick forest. A true 3-Wheeler paradise.

But when we arrive to the village, we can’t find the exit. The road is supposed to cross it and continue until the next village, Valdemoro Sierra, but we turn in circles in the little village as we can’t clearly see which way to go.

We navigate the old fashion way. I mean we create a roadmap with indications and pictures and AM works as a wonderful copilot reading the roadmap on each turn and deviation. But here, we are really lost… What’s going on? We always get to the same point at the end of the village. Look at the picture and be sincere! If you’re supposed to follow a normal tarmac road, which option would you choose? 1, 2 or 3?

The obvious seems to be option 1, isn’t it? Wrong!

Option 1 seems to be the obvious choice, but it turns uphill around the village and takes you back to the entrance.

Option 2 then seems to be the right one, after option 1… Wrong again! Cul-de-sac!

Then… option 3? Really? It’s a dirt road. Really a dirt road. No tarmac, at least for the hundred meters we can see from here… But our smartphone and Google maps say this is the right way! OK let’s go and check! The Speedy Marmots have driven in worse dirt roads than this one! We drive very carefully because it appears to be made of gravel and has a lot of potholes where the Morgan could graze the belly. In some sections we can see that in the past, under the gravel, there was asphalt. The road is really a rural road with little or no maintenance at all. We even have to cross a stream!

Crossing a small stream. This is definetely not a regular road!

Despite the conditions of the road, we really enjoy the drive. We cross a beautiful forest, and the nature is as wild as it can be in such isolated paths.

Apart the risk of hitting the bottom of the Morgan, which we avoid driving very slow and carefully, the other con is that what we expected to drive in one and a half hours became almost three hours!

Finally, we connect with the CUV-9142 in Valdemoro Sierra. When we appear in this small village from this dirt road with the Morgan, the locals, sitting at the bar, stare at us and clearly thinking we are crazy… A man jumps in front of the car, blocking our passage, and asks us if he can take some pictures. Surrealistic situation in an isolated village deep in the rural Spain. Well… that’s also part of the joy of driving the 3-Wheeler through such isolated areas!

When we manage to escape the mob of the village, we are back on a decent and really pretty road. The CUV-9142 takes us out of the natural park of the Sierra de Cuenca, but not before passing by a spectacular place called the Lagunas de Cañada del Hoyo. This set of small mineral water pools has a peculiar beauty. And even more when, only in few occasions and due to specific subterranean temperature conditions, in one of them – Lagunillo de las Tortugas – the waters turn a shade of pink and red. The scientific explanation is that, motivated by thermal stratification that is broken by the action of the atmospheric agents and the anaerobic zone dominated by purple sulfur bacteria that rises in the water column and is seen on the surface, the water turns red.

Picture of two of the pools, with the Lagunillo de las Tortugas water turned red, late January 2020.

We continue driving and connect with the N-420, which in a few minutes takes us to Carboneras de Guadazón, final destination of this section.

Fifth section – From Carboneras de Guadazón to Utiel

83 km and 1 h 10 min estimated driving time.

We take the CM-2109 heading towards Utiel. This road runs along the original Madrid-Valencia railway, and we can enjoy some of the old railway bridges on our way.

Sorry for the pink spot in the top right of the video. A kamikaze bug had a good aim with the GoPro lens protector!

Sight of an old railway bridge.

We leave behind the Sierra de Cuenca, so the landscape becomes progressively flatter as we approach Utiel. We enjoy again nice empty roads over green prairies with thousands of poppies.

Beautiful green prairies with poppies.

A short stop in Camporrobles to refuel, and we get to Utiel, where we stop for a late lunch in a very nice restaurant.

Sixth section – From Utiel to Valencia

81 km and 1 h estimated driving time.

After a really nice lunch, we pretend to arrive to Valencia as soon as possible. We left Madrid at 7h45 in the morning, and it’s already 16h30 in the afternoon! So, we take the motorway to speed and get to our destination much faster.

It’s just one hour drive, this time with classic motorway traffic, which, while you’re driving a Morgan 3-Wheeler, means you have many cars keeping your same speed aside you to give time to the occupants to take pictures, videos and cheer up with the sight of the little rocket. Smile! And a little of hand waiving make our spectators really happy. The funniest is to pass a bus and see dozens of hands and faces on the windows. I don’t know how much a sudden change of mass to one side of the bus can surprise its driver!

No videos taken in this section, as the motorway and its traffic aren’t worthy.

We finally arrive to Valencia, and our friends receive us in style with a nice plateau of cold Spanish meats and cheese. It’s being a very long driving journey. But as always, we’re happy and more in love with the Morgan.

The nicest possible welcome!

Visiting Valencia

Our destination for this weekend is the city of Valencia. Situated in the Spanish Mediterranean coast of Spain. Today, with 800.000 inhabitants, it is a nice modern city and its port is one of the busiest of the Mediterranean Sea.

A little bit of history: Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. Later, in the year 711, the Muslims arrived in Valencia. After a time of splendor, and with the construction of the Arab wall by Abd al-Aziz, a certain instability appeared in Valencia. El Cid Campeador took advantage of the occasion and drove the Arabs out of the city. This did not last long. In 1102 Valencia returned to Arab hands. But during the War of Reconquest, it was finally recovered by King Jaume the 1st, in 1238.

The night we arrive, we walked the historic city center. It is a large pedestrian area with excellent ambience and plenty of restaurants with terraces and historic buildings.

Front view of the cathedral, from the Queen’s Square, with the Micalet tower on the left side.
Rear-left view of the cathedral, from the Virgin’s Square.

The historic city center preserves majestic buildings such as the cathedral or the church of Santa Catalina Mártir.

Bell tower of the church of Santa Catalina Mártir.

We have a very nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. A nice home-made pasta and wine help us to recover the energy!

Our hosts here are Paulina and Daniela, daughters of one of our best friends. The two girls live here in Valencia as students, in a beautiful causy centric appartment. And they proved to be the best guides!

The Speedy Marmots with our nice friends and hosts, Paulina and Daniela.

You want to know more about Valencia? Today Valencia is also famous for the City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures such as the planetarium, the oceanarium, and an interactive museum, designed by the famous Spanish architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela.

The Palace of the Arts Queen Sofia in the back, and the Hemispheric in front.
The Hemispheric in front plane, followed by the Science and Arts Museum, the Bridge l’Assut de l’Or and then dark blue Ágora in the back.

The buildings are stunning. If you like modern architecture, this is probably one of the best places in Spain, and, why not, in the World.

Detail of the side walkway.
The Botanical Garden.

We visit this area on Saturday, before enjoying one of the best paellas we ever had. Yes! Valencia is the capital of the paella! Here this typical Spanish dish is meant to be the best of the best! The restaurant we chose – El Racó de Lluis – is reputed to have one of the best paellas in town. And we have to say, it is absolutely true!

Paella at El Racó de LLuis, simply amazing!

Valencia also has several beaches, including some within the nearby Parque de la Albufera, a wetland reserve with a lake and trails, that can be visited doing a short cruise in traditional charming wooden boats.

La Albufera, 10 km South from the city, can be visited by boat.

We go to the Malvarosa Beach in the night for a nice lighter dinner. A beautiful spot plenty of restaurants with beach-side terraces. Very touristic, but worth a visit.

Malvarosa Beach.

On our way back to the apartment, we have some light rain. We were supposed to have a full sunny weekend! So, we checked the latest weather forecast and, surprise! For tomorrow, Sunday, that we’re driving back to Madrid, scattered showers and even some hard rains are announced. Not good news while you’re driving a 3-Wheeler! We decide we’ll leave Valencia early in the morning, when the chances of rain are lower, and get back home using the motorway, so we take much less time behind the wheel.

Returning to home base – From Valencia to Madrid

360 km and 3 h 40 min estimated driving time.

The way back home this Sunday was the toughest test we had in our 3-Wheeler… We leave Valencia with just few raindrops falling over the City. Equipped with our nice quality raincoats and of course our helmets, we leave town and take the main motorway A-3 to Madrid.

Then, after 70 km driving fast under a dark grey sky, the rain starts. We have driven the 3-Wheeler under light rain before, with no issues of course, but now it’s not light rain what we’re talking about, and we’re almost at 300 km from home, in a fast motorway!

We keep driving fast. And we’re surprised that, with the helmet, the raincoats, ad the speed of the car, we’re not getting wet. How is it possible? It’s really heavy rain!

And at a certain point, after 150 km drive, it’s not rain anymore but a real shower. All cars must slow down radically and with the fog and warning lights we drive slow for few kilometers with extremely poor visibility. It’s then when we decide to stop to refuel and take a little bit of cover, while really black clouds pass over our heads.

This is harder than a Navy Seals training! Or at least it looks like for a couple of our age! But we are still surprised that we’re not wet!

When the rain comes back to normal, then no more like Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, we jump back into the cockpit. This time we add our nice Morgan scarf for the neck, and our green fleece blanket over our legs, for extra protection against the low temperatures.

We keep driving under the rain for another 100 km. With the neck scarf and the fleece blanket, combined with the heated seats – oh yes! Now we’re happy to have added this option! -, we drive warm and surprisingly dry. But the best part is to feel the 3-Wheeler under such weather conditions: perfect! I never felt uncomfortable with the car, and we were driving at good speed of 120 km/h!

Just 70 km before our destination, it stopped raining, then had some sun peeking through the clouds, and finally ended with a superb sunny weather while arriving home!

Once in our garage, we check everything, and we happily confirm that the car is not flooded and we’re really dry. It was a hard but very learning and satisfactory experience!

The Speedy Marmots are not scared anymore about driving the 3-Wheeler under the rain!

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