We awoke this morning to sunshine, and the promise of fantastic road ahead. The driver’s meeting covered the usual items; yellow-cards, lunch options, and (new for 2017 it seems) the alternate route which had been prepared for the washed-out highway. Our original plan was to take the group along a CCA favourite, highway 8 from Merritt to Spences Bridge, but a highway closure necessitated a re-route.
Our new route would take us first along Highway 5A, before turning north on highway 97C towards Logan Lake. Here, we turned left and enjoyed a section of yesterday’s route in reverse, this time running down the hill into Ashcroft instead of up it. Our group of 95 cars basically dined together, in one of two places. Half of the group descended upon Cache Creek, where we enjoyed Herbies Drive-in…a famous burger joint which has been in operation since the 1950’s. The other half of the group continued on to Clinton, where I suspect the restaurant of choice was the Cariboo Lodge, famous for it’s country fare. I had just settled into my Herbie’s Milkshake when the first text arrived…
“Flooding on highway 97”, it read from living near by, “barely got my truck through” was the next text. A phone call quickly followed, and I pulled Warwick and Andrew in for a speakerphone conversation and a roads consult. Between the three of us, (Andrew Snucins, Warwick, and I) we quickly determined that my route book was no longer going to work, that two of the main options for getting to our evening hotel were closed, and an emergency plan would need to take place.
Warwick and I went car to car and table to table in Cache Creek to give the best information we could on the “new route option”. I suggest that in quotes, as at this stage it consisted of “drive the route book to this town, and then google your way to this other town.” While we gave Cache Creek lunch guests these vague directions, Andrew was dispatched to Clinton to provide the same for those folks. The group would still be following the route book for a good 2-3 hour loop, which would buy me time to determine a solution.
While the classic cars headed North, my co-driver Greg and I headed back to Kamloops to find a spot the cars would cross on their way to Kelowna. Greg drove, while I scoured road reports, closure reports and the maps to try and give our guests the best option possible. We parked on the road-side, created the best “CCA STOP” sign we could muster with the supplies we had, and I hand-wrote two copies of the new route instructions.
As each car came into our impromptu checkpoint, we handed the sheet over and asked them to take a photo of the notes on their cellphones. Directions were confirmed as understood, and guests were waved off with a laugh and hopes they’d find the hotel without too much trouble.
Despite three major route re-routes, pulling off in a somewhat-questionable checkpoint location, and having to drive off with only a small cellphone photo of the route instructions…every one of our guests, to a tee, was smiling and laughing and having a great time. Flooded roads, questionable new directions and roadside re-routing just didn’t seem to matter. Sometimes “getting there” is the adventure, and today our guests were living it…and loving it.
Our previous loop through highway 24 from Green Lake to Little Fort had proven to be a favourite of the weekend. Little traffic, phenomenal curves, exceptional elevation changes. By the time cars rolled into the re-route checkpoint they’d had a wonderful sunny drive. Our re-route allowed them to skip some of Highway 1 and Highway 97, and instead sent them south on the twisty Salmon River Road. If you’re going to re-route your entire event, you can do a whole lot worse than a twisty road which would make a great trip on it’s own!
All 95 cars made it to Kelowna for dinner, and while certainly exhausted from the day, everyone was clearly enjoying themselves. Behind me at dinner was a prize and give-away table literally stuffed and overflowing with gifts. Thanks to Dave Koszegi, Ted Wilkinson and RWM&Co, almost every car will be heading home with a new automotive related item in the trunk tomorrow.
The day may have been an organizing challenge, but as one guest suggested to me at dinner; I don’t even have to worry about a route for next year, we’ve barely used this one that was printed in the route book!