Scenic Vistas

OUR RALLY STARTED at the home of our hosts, Hazel de Burgh and Martin Tekela, on a drizzly Sunday morning in early October. As a warm welcome, they offered freshly-baked croissants as well as coffee and tea. Phil White and I volunteered to greet participants and direct them to the registration table and as we performed our morning duties, we gazed at the cars and contemplated our next Porsche. Of particular interest was a graphite metallic grey 356, Porsche’s first production automobile. The 356 was first produced in Austria, in 1948. A few years later, production moved to Germany where Porsche continued to produce the car until the last 356 C was delivered in 1966. The Porsche 911 was designed as a more powerful, larger and more comfortable replacement for the 356 and debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963 as the 901.

Once registered, participants received route instructions as well as a quiz for the gimmick rally. The quiz was comprised of colour questions, reflecting the theme of the rally, and the submission of photographs. Upon a quick perusal of the quiz, we spotted a few quirky questions and photograph requests that included determining the colour of mittens and taking a selfie with scarecrows. Prizes would be awarded to the top five teams of driver and navigator as well as awarded randomly to participants. The drive would take us through back roads from Clarksburg to the Cobble Beach Golf Resort and then back through Beaver Valley to our final destination and awards reception at the family home of Nick and Natalie Boyer, close to the Blue Mountain Resort. We would experience scenic views of Georgian Bay and the Niagara escarpment, and the various pit stops allowed us to enjoy the local community. The morning and afternoon drive of about two hours each would split the day nicely.

There was a light rain as we prepared to start, but that didn’t spoil everyone’s enthusiasm for the rally. During the drivers’ meeting highlighting rally information and safety rules, a few of the participants noticed scarecrows in the garden. Our first photograph was taken. We were released 30 to 60 seconds apart so each car could drive independently along the route. In our car, my navigator and I had lively discussions as we found our driving rhythm and answered quiz questions. The first point of interest was Walters Falls, one of the many waterfalls along the Niagara escarpment. Next, we drove through the Bognor Marsh Management Area, one of the largest marsh systems in Grey County, and enjoyed some twisties in the forested roads of the Kemble Mountain Management Area. Enroute to our lunch stop at the Cobble Beach Golf Resort, we drove along Grey Road 1 and enjoyed some panoramic views of Georgian Bay. Cobble Beach Golf Resort has hosted the world-renowned Concours d’Elegance which is next scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18, 2022, and includes a Porsche pre-1978 entry category.

When our lunch mates described themselves as “quietly competitive” and announced “we’re going to win,” we took it as a challenge and declared, “Game on!”

During lunch at the golf resort’s five-star Sweetwater Restaurant, we shared lively conversation and laughter. The lunch stop provided a nice break for our navigators who were fully engaged with driving instructions and managing quiz questions. We all agreed we had a fun morning and lamented that we’d missed some answers to the quiz, including the colour of the mittens. When our lunch mates described themselves as “quietly competitive” and announced “we’re going to win,” we took it as a challenge and declared, “Game on!”

For our afternoon drive to Scenic Caves Road, the clouds began to clear and the temperature rose high enough that we could drive with the top down. There’s no better way to truly enjoy the roads and take in the scenery. After Owen Sound, we wove our way to the Irish Mountain Scenic Lookout in the village of Annan. The lookout offered a vista of Nottawasaga Bay, a part of Georgian Bay, the Blue Mountains and the rolling countryside along the Niagara escarpment, but our view was obscured by clouds. The United Nations has recognized the escarpment as an ecologically important area with unique natural features, and it is one of six sites in Canada designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. After taking photos on the big red chair at the lookout, we drove to Rocklyn and stopped at the inn for ice cream where they served scoops the size of half-litre containers.

Just before participants reached their final destination, they had the option to stop at one of two cider houses, either the Grey & Gold Cider Company or the Spy Cider House & Distillery. Phil and I stopped at the Spy and on our way, the sun came out and the temperature rose to 21 degrees. As we entered the patio, some participants were sampling the menu while enjoying the sunny warm weather. The cider house makes cider, eau-de-vie, gin, vodka and apple brandy. We chose to buy a bottle of Spy Mata Hari apple brandy, double distilled and lightly aged in cognac barrels, smooth and spicy with some heat.

On our way to the reception at the Boyers’ home, our final leg of the drive took us over a rolling hillside hugged by a canopy of trees ablaze with fiery reds, bright yellows and warm shades of orange. Across the countryside we could see mountains in the distance. Phil and I enjoyed the scenery so much that we missed the remaining quiz questions. Turning onto Scenic Caves Road, we kept an eye out for cyclists who ascend the nasty climb. Scenic Caves Road has the highest elevation change in the area of 273 metres and an average slope of nine percent and maximum slope of 20 percent.

At our destination, we were greeted by the Boyers’ daughter, a pre-schooler with impressive skills as a public speaker. When all of the participants had arrived, a few of us tallied the results. Our hostess broke a tie for second by asking some random colour questions, which included naming the colour of a ski resort on our route. First prize went to Helen and Rick Behling, followed by Stan and Isabel Schnapp, Joan and Morley Bercovitch, Rosemary and Rob McLeese, and Brian and Linda McGregor.

After a day of fun driving, breathtaking scenery and generous hospitality, all of us headed off in different directions with fond memories of this year’s Blue Mountains Fall Colours Gimmick Rally. </>

By Anna Dopico  |  Photography by the Driving Tour Participants

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