Three gallons of gasoline in three days in a 2016 Nissan Sentra

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While others are covering plants, stocking wood for fires and turning up the heat, I am sliding open the balcony door at The Resort at Pelican Hill to breathe in the seventy-degree salt-tinged ocean air.

The resort is right on the Newport Beach coastline, a perfect place for a wedding or playing golf in Newport Beach, CA.

I could easily stay at the resort for the entire three days. The Coliseum pool is a must-swim. Named for the Coliseum in Rome, I was mesmerized by the glass mosaic tiles as they sparkled in the sun. My lungs knew what I was told, that this is the largest circular pool in the world with a diameter of 41.5 meters. One could get exercise induced asthma swimming the length of that pool.

Afterwards, I luxuriate in a bathtub with soap created exclusively for Pelican Hill by Gilchrist & Soames. The soap ingredients compliment the rosemary, marigolds and olive trees you see as you walk the 504 acres of exquisitely sculpted grounds.

It’s an easy four mile drive to the Fig & Olive restaurant for a bite to eat. I’m having dinner with my good friend, Michael. Michael and I have known each other for over twenty years now; through loves and loves lost, through marriage and death. We sit in a corner, off from the hub-bub of the world around us, and chat about family and cars while sipping a 2012 Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, CA.

Dinner is light for me; Chef David has created a small fig & Olive salad lightly brushed with 18-year old fig & balsamic and Arbequina olive oil, and a bite of the must-have silky melt-in-your-mouth burrata & heirloom beet salad with toasted hazelnuts.

The next morning I meet my girlfriend, Christie, for breakfast and to strategize on what to do for the day. We decide to go completely Californian; visit a farm to table farm and head to the ocean where you can see palm trees and the golden sand for miles.

We head off in a 2016 Nissan Sentra up Pacific Coast Highway via Balboa Ferry to a little farm on the side of the road. If you shop for fresh fruit and vegetables at Whole Foods, you have heard of Manassero Farms. Christie is quintessential California even though she is from Michigan; hip hugging blue jeans and a grey t-shirt, munching on a luxurious fresh strawberry while I am chatting with Chef Pascal in the middle of January!

We’re getting about 32 miles per gallon in the red Sentra, at $2.00 a gallon we will spend the rest on organic fruits and native honey. The Sentra is a solid drive; you can feel and see that Nissan spent a lot of money on the refresh. There are very few vehicles that have as much safety technology that drives as nice as the Sentra does and gets 38 mpg for under $17,000.

We head south on Highway 5, the highway of missions, and end up at Casa Romantica Cultural Center, overlooking San Clemente pier. Casa Romantica is the historic home of the founder of San Clemente, Ole Hanson, and a beautiful place to stop for pictures and a little California culture. As we stood on the Ocean Terrace, overlooking San Clemente Pier, Michigan Christie talked about creating a succulent garden, while I talked about my California herb/fruit/vegetable garden and my chickens.

Over 75 miles of driving, still getting about 32-33 mpg we head back up the Pacific coast highway to the Resort at Pelican Hill.

The next morning I hit the spa with Holly for a quick yoga class, then head to Amtrak for an hour train ride down to San Diego. I miss the quietness of the Nissan Sentra, and the comfy seats, but not the traffic on the highway.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.