Bringing up the rear of our group, we watched the red glow of the taillights ahead of us, twinkling as the rain poured down on us, sluicing across the middle of the windy roads, twisting around Milton Heights and the Kelso Conservation area. Skies darkened even further and, riding shotgun in the GT4 for the first leg of our organizers’ three-part route, I had to turn the map light on so that I could see the route list. It was like Zeus’s own lightning bolts illuminating the clouds, though seemingly continuous, weren’t quite enough to read by. Was it only just after 10 am?
It wasn’t until the next day that we learned that the severe storm system we were under at 10 am was the same one that spawned a tornado at 10:15 near the Hamilton airport and Caledonia, one of our day’s destinations. But Porsches don’t dissolve in the rain.
As we descended towards Waterdown, along the top of the Niagara Escarpment, taillights selectively winked out as patches of blue sky and sunshine greeted us. Up and down the sinewy, and still rain-soaked, roads of the escarpment we played until we flew through the Dundas Valley and ascended a final time to reach our lunchtime destination, the Brewer’s Blackbird, in Ancaster. Our Porsches dutifully lined up in the now-sunny, steamy, parking lot, we descended again but this time it was upon the food – a lovely meal in the amazing ambience of the heritage building. Everything, not surprisingly, was nicely organized by our co-hosts, John Buckingham and Jeremy Gunness.
Off we went again, this time with me behind the wheel of the Shark Blue GT4, to catch up with our group, already off to frolic along the roads on the way to Cayuga and then Caledonia. No, we didn’t know that we were chasing a tornado sighting! Why take the direct route? Jeremy and John created a route that took us back and forth along the Grand River, occasionally meeting other like-minded groups travelling the other way in Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and the odd Nissan GT-R. Winding down the window, we shared “thumbs-up” as we passed each other. Rain starting again – Mother Nature was fickle – we rolled through Cayuga and looped back to Caledonia, the sun coming out as we nestled into 25 parking spots at Kinsmen Park, seemingly reserved just for us.
John had alluded to there being a special treat – as if by magic, out came homemade butter tarts and pecan tarts, enough to feed us 1-1/2 times over. Happily munching, we watched the water flowing over the nearby dam on the Grand River. We would have been just about as happy if it was raining because, as we were beginning to prove, Porsches don’t dissolve in the rain.
Suitably fortified, we leapt (well, maybe slowly entered!) into our cars – we were parked beside a twin to our Shark Blue GT4, imagine that! Under beautiful blue skies and along rolling green farmland, we made our way to Brantford, our final destination. Many checked in to the Best Western motel, whereas a few of us, planning on driving home after the Jazz Festival, made our way almost directly to the Hudson Public Kitchen and Bar. The concert venue, The Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, a theatre and concert hall in a beautiful heritage building, was directly across the street – convenient – have I mentioned anything yet about John’s and Jeremy’s meticulous planning? Dinner was served starting at 4:30 and we had lots of time to share notes about our exciting drive and then make our way to the Jazz Festival. I was going to say, “the Jazz Festival main event,” but I thought our driving tour was the main event, n’est ce pas?
But, of course, the main event was the South Coast Jazz Festival! There was plenty of room in the lovely theatre to sit back and absorb an amazing mix of local and global talent, headlined by Chara Suri, born in Madurai in South India, Mark Holmes from Platinum Blond and JUNO-nominated Mark Kelso and the Jazz Exiles, who played an energetic mix of original Jazz-Fusion music including The Dragon’s Tail. Where do John and Jeremy come up with such great destinations?
Though brunch was planned the next day as part of the tour, and I’m sure that those who stayed overnight in Brantford enjoyed their second day of jazz music (with the venue moving next door to Brantford Harmony Square), we made our way back about 90 km to our cottage on Lake Erie, the rain having started again. But we had no worries; we had spent the day proving beyond a doubt that Porsches don’t dissolve in the rain. </>
Story by Carolyn Stewart
Photography by Jeremy Gunness