Turning the corner at Spences Bridge towards Merritt, it dawned on me…this is the first time in about 8 years that Warwick and I have driven the back roads of BC together, each in our own cars, just the two of us. It was just another reminder of how incredible this weekend had turned out to be.
(Gallery of Photos at the Bottom of the page!)
Our original plan for the weekend was the Hagerty Fall Classic, departing from Troutdale Oregon. With just 8 days to go before the event, forest fires raging in the area of our route forced us to cancel the event. Suddenly we all found ourselves with a weekend free, and nothing to do. Well, shouldn’t we go driving?!
And with that, the “Hagerty Fall Classic Alternate” was created! An idea of what could be done for the weekend was emailed out to our original entrants. Despite having almost no specifics on timing, route, or even if hotels and meals would be available, the positive replies kept coming in. “Car #3 is in for the Alternate!”, “Michael and Don are in”, “are you kidding, we wouldn’t miss it!
And so there we were, Friday night, hanging out in Squamish nearly six hundred miles North of where we thought we’d be. But for this group, it simply didn’t matter. It was old-friends getting to see each other once again. It was new, never-before-entrants, becoming instant friends over dinner. It was excitement, friendship and anticipation…exactly the way the night before an event should be.
We started the next day heading North through Whistler and Pemberton, and then up the Duffy Lake road to Lillooet. Initially the Duffy Lake road was pretty frustrating, as we cruised behind an RV for nearly 25kilometers. I had been following the RV with Michael and Don in the Alfa Romeo, and John and Marci in the BMW. Once we passed him, however, we discovered something wonderful. He’d been holding up traffic for so long, the road was empty all the way to Lillooet!
Our entire group filled up together in Lillooet, before heading off for Lunch in Cache Creek. I joined in with the Mini pack, as they made their way Horsting’s Farmers Market, a personal favourite of theirs. Soon other entrants who had heard Deanna and Nolan’s praise of the place started filtering in. Anyone who hadn’t made it to Horsting’s was dining just up the road at Hungry Herbies Drive-In, a personal road-trip favourite of mine. I must say, after our lunch in Horsting’s, you simply must meet the Mini crew. It would appear Nolan, Deanna, Larry, Anne, Martin and Cori have a knack for finding the best treats and eats in all of BC. With the afternoon in full swing, and a cinnamon bun coma on it’s way, we really needed to hit the road!
As we turned the corner at Spences Bridge, I began to think back to 2008, when we were still forming the idea of what would become Classic Car Adventures. Warwick and I were discussing the way a good event “should be”, and Warwick brought up Highway 8 to Merritt. At that time, Warwick was “the road guy”, and I can still remember the way he described the corners, the elevation changes, the scenery…as though he had just driven it. In many ways, “Highway 8”, was one of the roads which helped us to figure out what we should do.
Driving with a good friend is something we both enjoy. When Warwick is driving, and I’m co-piloting, I never have to worry. I don’t hit the imaginary brake pedal, or find myself grabbing hold of anything in the car (unless it’s out of excitement!). Similarly, when I’m driving, Warwick has never told me to slow down, or tensed up as though I should be. Driving with Warwick is fun…but driving with Warwick, when we’re each in our own car, is even more fun. The beetle and the mini are equally matched in many ways, and yet so very different. We setup for corners in a totally different style. I typically brake, moving weight to the front and power though. Where I’m heavy handed, Warwick, is smooth. Rarely do you see the brake lights come on, he sets the line and drives through in a way that doesn’t seem possible. And here I was, following him through on one of his favourite roads, studying his line and trying to ‘smooth out’ the Rally Beetle to match.
As we filled up in Merritt, a whole crew of other cars met us. The Staffords, the Shepards, the McLagans, the Hollidays and Robert & Jaclyn from RWM had all followed a short bit behind us. “Did you see the herd of Mountain Goats!?!”, they asked us. “How about the momma bear and cubs?!” Warwick and I sheepishly admitted we hadn’t…the only thing I saw was the pavement and Warwick’s Mini!
A short trip up to Kamloops via the 5A, and we met the rest of the group who had already checked into the Hotel 540. A wonderful dinner, drinks and fantastic stories rounded out the rest of our evening before bed. Only one yellow-card was handed out on day one, it would seem the Rally Beetle has a burnt out tail-light!
Sunday morning started bright and early (who plans these driver’s meetings at 8:45am?!), and with the sun shining. Our weather forecast was suggesting rain, but we’d enjoy as much as we could before it started. My goal for today was to try and drive a section of road with each of our participants.
I missed Michael and Don in the Alfa, and John and Marci in the BMW…but I figured that was okay, as we had enjoyed much of the Duffy Lake road together the day previous. Similarly the Mini’s passed me as I was at the gas station with Robert and his Aston, and Ron & Lars in the 2002. The three of us headed down highway 5A together, but not before a very brief uphill run with Malcolm and Geraldine in their MG TC. As the 2002, Aston DB4 and I enjoyed the lakeside curves of highway 5A, I began to think about how perfect the weekend was turning out. I could have stayed all day with those two, but I had other cars to try and experience! Onwards to Merritt!
In Merritt I caught up with Sue and Charlie (Alfa Duetto), Curt and Helaine (Caterham), Robert and Jacyln (BMW Z4), Jim and Sue (E-Type) and then suddenly Warwick pulled in with his Mini. Together we formed a pack, and headed our way down to Princeton. Warwick led, with the rest of us in tow, as we slalomed our way through one of the best driving roads of the province. Upon reaching Princeton, we turned West towards Tulameen, and it was my turn to lead.
The road to Tulameen is the closest thing BC has to Colorado driving. It’s an almost un-ending collection of curves, dips, climbs and descents that roller coaster you from Princeton all the way to Tulameen. It rewards precision driving, and the drop-offs ensure that you remember to keep it responsible! Coming into a corner close to Tulameen we finally caught the Porsche 911’s! Funny enough, Klaus, Joe and Wendy were all parked at the side of the road ready to take pictures of us. (You know, it seems you never see a 911 moving…only “arrived at destination” or waiting for you at the side of the road! I really must get one; they must be a phenomenal car to drive…)
In Tulameen we stopped for coffee, enjoying a quick break with the Mini’s, and the Porsches, before turning around for the drive to Princeton. From there it was onto Manning Park where we finished once again at the Manning Park Lodge. As I stood up to thank everyone, and take care of my usual end-of-event announcements I realized I hadn’t prepared anything at all.
Before the Hagerty Fall Alternate began, I would have said most (if not all) our entrants were friends of mine. But it wasn’t until about halfway through the event that I realized just how good these friends really are. We’re all wired for a love of driving, for a love of getting out there with others. I didn’t set out to create the “Fall Alternate” because I felt I had to offer a replacement for the Fall Classic, I simply still wanted to drive great roads with great people. Similarly, everyone on the event was emailing or calling to join the replacement event even before there were any plans in place. It wasn’t about the destination, or the particular roads. They simply wanted to have a fun weekend with other classic car nuts.
We hadn’t explored new roads in Oregon, but we had run great roads in BC, with great friends. We hadn’t just made the best of a cancelled weekend, we made the weekend into one of best I’ve had all year. The “Hagerty Fall Classic Alternate” sticker will be one of my favourites on the Rally Bug’s side window for many years to come.
A very special thank you to Andrew and Kristen Holliday for all the wonderful photos featured here. We’ll post a full gallery of the Fall Classic Photos as soon as they’re available. http://aholliday.com/
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