Best Back Roads

TAKE A MOMENT, SIT BACK, CLOSE YOUR EYES, and think back to the spring. Then paint in your mind a number of things you imagined about the range of times you might experience with your Porsche over the summer. If not already coming into view, you might well see yourself driving through the countyside, a cloudless sky, the deepest of green growth in every direction. You are at the wheel of your Porsche carving the curves of the roads for hours on end, for a couple of days. Open your eyes now and know that you have just taken an imaginary driving tour that is a perfect record of the two-day Best Back Roads Muskoka Overnighter in mid-August.

If you have not yet joined one of the many tours spanning the summer, perhaps this tease will spark your interest for the next season. Without exception, every tour organized by our volunteer teams is exceptional in every way. We, who grab the opportunity, are not only grateful, but have the deepest respect for the almost flawless planning and execution.

On the morning of the first day, pulling out of your driveway to the meeting point during these early hours, you are a solo traveler imagining what the expedition will be like. Is the weather going to be good, the roads kind to my paint, will the route of the group be challenging?

On arriving at the parking area in your cherished car, you become one of many. Turning into the parking area one by one blossoms into a convergence of a couple dozen other Porsches, all of differing colours, ages, models, and even modifications. The hour-plus spent here prior to heading out is anything other than a “wait” mode. The heightened anticipation being merged with the excited exchange of drivers admiring each other’s cars, swapping car stories, created a sense of anticipation in the air like thoroughbreds in the starting gate. With the scheduled departure time nearing, as is the practice before any of the tours, a group address is made to the assembled club members and guests to outline the set of rules and requirements for drivers. Unexpectedly, an impromptu award was introduced for a couple of lucky participants, The criteria for the prizes was quite impromptu as well. “Who here today has the Porsche with the highest reading on their odometer?” was awarded to Jeff and Judy Topham (Arena Red ’99 Boxster) in from Dorchester with 107,000 on the odo, and second, a prize was awarded for the newest tour participant. As well, for the cleanest wheels: Andy and Valerie Lister’s Guards Red 1985 911 Targa with newly powder-coated Fuchs. Each winner received a 1:43-scale GT3 model courtesy of Porsche Centre North Toronto.

A great departure this year from previous years was the launch route. With the distance from the meeting location to the bountiful roads of Muskoka, and the lunch stop, being 180 kilometres, rather than a sprint up a major highway, this curtain-raising segment found the group covering more scenic, secondary roadways. The lunch stop in Haliburton was welcomed as a chance to stretch the legs, partake of the food fare at the restaurant, and re-engage heightened conversation about our favourite topic — Porsches.

With all rested and energized from the repast, the next 120 kilometres to our overnight destination, Deerhurst Resort, zipped by as we circumnavigated Fairy Lake and Peninsula Lake with touchdown mid-afternoon. On arrival at the resort, this is where this tour departs from every other tour of the season, and when the social features for the group settle in.

During the period for check-in and relaxation for the troupe another plan for the dinner gathering was put into action. And what a splendid plan there was afoot. Our troupe was assigned the main convention room for dinner service, a room that has capacity for several hundred guests, however, since our contingent was to be using about a quarter of the area, there was ample space to include a small flock of our cars to join the gathering. With ramps in place a handful of cars were ushered in with a choreography of colours and juxtaposition.

With the group cradled by a palette of unique Porsche shapes and colors, the feast was set to begin. The meal service met with broad approval with one and all, and served as catalyst for robust conversation at every table. Of note, there were participants across all regions of this province. Carmelo Genova (‘11 Boxster) from Alton, Mark and Ana Lowrie (‘20 718 Spyder) travelled from Kitchener, from Ancaster, Hart And Patty Solomon (‘21 718), with two couples from London we had Bob and Tara (sometimes known as Victoria) (‘10 Boxster S) and Scott and Donna Lyons. Several closer to Toronto included John Starasts and Dale Gardiner (‘08 Cayman S) plus Dave and Monica Dalicandro (‘92 964) and Jay and Joanne Diament (‘13 911). A good contingent made the trip north from Mississauga, including Rob and Roxanne West (‘21 Boxster GTS), plus Larry and Carmelina Funnell (‘06 Boxster). Burlington was well represented with the likes of Andy and Valerie Lister (‘85 911 Targa) and Donny and Gertrude (‘92 911 cab).

To a person, all drivers and passengers resoundingly voiced high praise of the tour and the route, not to be surpassed by superlatives for the folks they were sharing the experience with. As ever, to quote from the club motto, “It’s not just the cars, it’s the people.” Included with quotable comments, we polled a few as to there being anything that stood out or unexpected. Loud praise was offered from many. And why not? The route on day two included a 20-kilometre section of road that was non-stop navigation of curve after curve after curve, which, if you had the mental focus to count, numbered 151. Cardinal rule for this section — eyes totally on the road and never take your hands off the wheel. Remarking on the feature were Louis and Carmela Kapeleris (‘14 911), Matthew and Livia Held (‘22 GT4), Barry Yuan and Emily Gao (‘17 911 GTS), plus Rick and Helen Behling (‘09 Cayman). Adding their impressions, praising the people and the roads were Bill and Sylvie Neill (‘11 C4S) mentioning how perfect the weather has been, joined by John and Caroline Hume (‘13 911 C2S) who always praise the people adding that they learned quite a few new things from others in the group.

Prior to heading out for the day-two journey, undertaking the exit of the “dining cars” from the dining hall had to be carried out. One by one they were shifted into neutral and pushed through the doors to the parking area. Easy enough, or apparently so. We learned that the knowledge base on the 992 was evidently lacking as it took several volunteers in succession to coax the ‘22 992 cab driven by Lesley Thouret into “pushable” neutral gear. All this occurring while a gathered audience looked on enjoying the entertainment.

The last leg of the 143-kilometre route landed the group at Sawdust City Brewing in Gravenhurst for a final bit of beverage and conversation in the bar and on the patio. The skies were still clear, the weather was still warm, and the urge to linger just a little longer to savour was universal.

Many did not hesitate to heap praise and thanks on the organizers, Larry Funnell and Stefan Walther. Stefan capsulized the tour with, “The only way a Porsche drive in Muskoka could get any better is to make it longer. This two-day overnighter club drive certainly did not disappoint as we experienced the very best twisty asphalt of cottage country, combined with great people, amazing beautiful sunny weather and breathtaking scenery among nature.”

This writer signs off saying it was delightful connecting with familiar faces, meeting new ones, and extending thanks to all who participated in contributing their insights.

Porsche quotable: “There is the moment you know you want one, there is the moment you first own one, and for the truly afflicted there is the decade or two that passes in between.” </>

Story By Marc Etherington | Photography by Stefan Walther

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