One last blast! Our final driving tour of 2018
ON A COOL AND BRISK AUTUMN DAY, PCA UCR headed out for one last blast and it was a big one — the wrap-up driving tour of the 2018 season, exploring the kaleidoscope of colours in always-breathtaking Kawartha Lakes.
Aptly titled the Autumn Blaze Kawartha Lakes Driving Tour, the deciduous trees did not disappoint as we carved our way through some of the most picturesque countryside in all of Ontario, set afire in vibrant orange, yellow and red.
It’s often difficult to bring together a pack of purring Porsches so late in the season because the weather can be so iffy and many P-cars are already half-headed into winter hibernation.
There arises another dilemma — can we accommodate this many Porsches on an organized group drive? If you know me, and you’ve been on my driving tours, you know my maxim: “The more, the merrier — let’s go!”
We originally hoped to attract 25 Porsches for this final tour on Saturday, Oct. 13. We would have been happy with 20. So we were beyond delighted when registration numbers soared to 30, still two weeks out before the big event, and then it topped out at 37.
There arises another dilemma — can we accommodate this many Porsches on an organized group drive?
If you know me, and you’ve been on my driving tours, you know my maxim: “The more, the merrier — let’s go!”
And so all 37 Porsches and 67 people were confirmed to attend, wait list be damned.
Our meeting spot was at Tim Hortons in Uxbridge, slightly northeast of Toronto. At 10am grey clouds were hovering overhead and the temp barely kissing eight degrees. Brrr! The convertible Boxsters and 911s would see top-down duty only for photo ops.
Always important but even more critical for a large driving tour group, the safety briefing carefully addressed the printed turn-by-turn instructions, noting that at some points, participants might find themselves stuck at a stoplight or stop sign, and all of a sudden be leading the pack behind them. So they would need to consult the instructions and odometer reading to see where the next turns would be coming up so they could reconnect with the group and hopefully not lead astray the cars behind them.
As the lead Porsche, I responsibly set some regroup points. As well, four of us were connected by Motorola two-way radios, including the lead and sweep cars.
This extraordinary drive warmed up with some sweeping curves and straight blasts as we headed into rural lake country. After an hour we snagged a quick pit stop in Bobcaygeon at —surprise—another Tim Hortons and quite possibly the busiest one on planet Earth, which is saying a lot. Thank goodness for the oversized parking lot where we parked at the back and far away from the dirt-drenched, jacked-up pick-ups and rusted Corollas. The drive-through line-up seemed to trace all the way back to the GTA.
Then we got serious and tackled some fantastic highways—particularly Highway 507 which features only ups and downs and twists and turns, hardly a flat straight, through some stunning scenery—on our way into Haliburton and a delicious lunch at Stone 21 restaurant at Pinestone Resort. It was so relaxing just being among Kawartha Lakes’ tremendous natural beauty which was amped up by fall’s foliage and crisp clear air.
We all enjoyed a delicious Taste of Italy buffet with a couple of build-your-own pastas, dressed with a choice of tomato and alfredo sauces, chicken, sautéed vegetables, sausage, and accompanied by Caesar salad, mixed greens and garlic toast, nicely finished with chocolate mousse for dessert.
Hard to believe we came from Toronto’s concrete jungle this morning and now all we see are trees and rocks and one tiny OPP detachment.
After lunch, we snaked our way back towards civilization through the heart of the Kawarthas, on some of the area’s best roads that included names like Deep Bay Road, nestled among various waterways and marshlands, scattered farms, mature woods and sprawling countryside.
One club member remarked, “I’ve never seen so many bloody farms!”
To which I replied, “Moo.”
Another observed, “Hard to believe we came from Toronto’s concrete jungle this morning and now all we see are trees and rocks and one tiny OPP detachment.”
To which I replied, “Oink.”
To wrap up, we popped into Sgt. Pepper’s Pub and Grill in Stouffville for refreshing beverages and mostly deep-fried snacks. We shared some stories of the day’s great adventure before dispersing and setting off for our respective homes.
With a big group of nearly 40 Porsches and almost double the amount of people, it is difficult to find good restaurants with enough parking.
Lunch in Haliburton was a particular challenge as mid-October is considered the off-season with many restaurants already shuttered until spring 2019 and others not having nearly enough parking spots or seating for a large group.
Stone 21 restaurant at Pinestone Resort came to the rescue.
Luckily Sgt. Pepper’s in Stouffville is located within a large strip-mall development, so there was plenty of space for parking in a vast lot, and the management was very happy to set aside half its dining room for the Porsche Club of America, Upper Canada Region.
We are also thankful to fellow club member James Biggar, who carefully designed and successfully hosted this driving tour route in mid-July, then called The Land Between. We tweaked it for the fall run.
It’s certain that this Kawartha Lakes route will find itself back onto the 2019 calendar of driving tours at least once, if not twice. For autumn 2019, we’ll shoot for one week earlier to capture a few more coloured leaves on the trees and perhaps a better temperature.
Until then! </>
Story and Photos by Stefan Walther, Driving Tours Chair