2011 Escape to Flagstaff

Vern Rogers  by Vern Rogers, Redwood Region Vice President
                                          photos by Vern Rogers

Three intrepid RRPCA couples met Tuesday morning, 9/13 at a little coffee shop in Emeryville: Chris and Veronica Harrell, Howard and LaVergne (Vern) Thomas, as well as Vern Rogers (me) and Susan Stuart. We had planned the route over the preceding months. Vern T. had booked our hotels along the way and provided route instructions and itinerary...just like a (very long) breakfast run - except we started at breakfast.

The tour was to go down 101 to Paso Robles the first day, then head East to Kingman, AZ on day two, leaving us with an easy drive into Flagstaff on day three. We planned to take Route 66 much of the way from Kingman to Flagstaff.

Day one went as planned, with the three cars (GT3, Boxster, and Cayenne) trading-off the lead as we drove south. My great accomplishment for this leg was to get 19.8 mpg in the Cayenne; I didn't know the mileage display could go that high (grin)! Upon arriving in Paso Robles, we attended a prearranged tasting at Denner Vineyards, where Howard and Vern are wine club members.

I hadn't realized how many wineries there are in the Paso Robles area; you can hardly throw a rock without hitting one. Wines at Denner were delicious, and the building architecture - as well as the view - was amazing. We made one more stop at Niner Winery on the way back to town for dinner. Wines there were excellent as well.

We arrived at the town square with the challenge of finding a restaurant. Let's just say that we would like to hear from any members that know of a good place to eat in Paso Robles. Based on Howard and Vern's previous visits to town and our evening there, we know of several establishments to avoid....

Day two was a longer trip, eastward across California, with lunch in Barstow. After beginning to get into the beauty of Arizona, we stopped in Kingman for the night. I can recommend a restaurant there: El Palacio. It has been in business for years and always has great food, as well and excellent service. I stopped there on the way both to and from Escape in Albuquerque three years ago. It is still just as good.  

Day three had us on Route 66 out of Kingman, through Hackberry and Peach Springs, with a stop in Seligman. The road conditions were great, and the views spectacular. The Seligman stop was for lunch (at the Road Kill Cafe) and sightseeing. Seligman has taken the Route 66 theme and really run with it; if you want Route 66 memorabilia, go to Seligman. 

We arrived at Little America Hotel in Flagstaff at about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, 9/15, and we checked-in with Escape Registration. Unfortunately, our mid-afternoon arrival left us in 'catch-up' mode. The casual car show was already in progress, and we had no time to get our cars ready for entry. Two pieces of advice for those of you planning to go to Escape, or for that matter, Parade: 1) Get there early; 2) Pick the events you really want to do, and save some time to just hang out. I signed-up Susan and myself for a tour each day, the wine reception, the barbeque, and the banquet. We were moving non-stop, and were too exhausted to get out and explore the town on our own.

On Friday morning, we set out on the guided road tour through Jerome, Clarkdale, and Sedona. The road tour took us through some beautiful country, and included a short stop in the old mining town of Jerome, as well as lunch at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona. I know Susan would have liked more time in Jerome. Friday night was the wine tasting reception at the Museum of Northern Arizona. We had the good fortune to participate in a docent-led tour, which included a lot of great information on the native cultures of the region.

The most fun we had was on the Cayenne off-road tour on Saturday, 9/17. I had a little trepidation at taking my '04 Cayenne S off the beaten path at first. I have very little experience at this. As it turned out, there was no need to worry. These vehicles really are very competent off-road. I am not talking about just the lack of pavement; I am talking about hill climbing over rocks and small boulders. Cayennes handle the terrain without you doing much but putting them into low range four-wheel drive. My biggest struggle was keeping my foot off the brake while descending steep hills over large rocks. The PSM applies brakes to each wheel as needed, and does it better than I could. 

Susan was initially thinking of trading tours with Howard to let him come off-road with me, but she decided to stick with her man. She was glad she did, especially once the tour lead showed her that holding onto the center and door-frame mounted grab bars would allow her to move with car and enjoy the ride...and what a ride! This event was the BEST. There is nothing like the views you get from the trail. The highway does not come close.  Check out the link for the video of the tour.

Lunch for the off-road tour was at the same spot as the road tour the day before. The Enchantment Resort is at the back of a box canyon just east of the town of Sedona.The food was fabulous. In fact, the resort offered a menu specifically created for PCA members at Escape. We were in a different dining room each day, and both had amazing views of the red rock surrounding us. Our return trip to Flagstaff was through the exquisite Oak Creek Canyon, state route 89A. This is certainly one of the most scenic drives around.

We got back to the hotel late Saturday afternoon, just in time for me to give the Cayenne a good rinse and get off (most of) the caked-on mud and sand from our day's excursion. Then we were off to the banquet. Chris and Veronica had decided to start their journey back to the Bay Area that night, and Howard and Vern were not in the banquet hall when we arrived, so we sat at a table with 'total strangers'. They were not strangers for long. Soon, the talk about adventures, life, cars, and how much fun we were all having, brought the table together. The Porsche Club of America is not just the cars, it is the people.

As it turned out, Howard and Vern did show up a bit late, due to an unintentionally extended tour to the Grand Canyon, but that is their story to tell....

That's all for now. Looking forward to Parade in Salt Lake City in 2012.

Three Porsches on the Road to Flagstaff

Three Porsches on the road to Flagstaff

Seligman, AZ

Seligman, AZ takes the Route 66 theme to a
whole new level

Cayennes on the off-road tour of Sedona

Cayennes on the off-road tour of Sedona

PCA Event Spotlight - 2011 PCA Escape

PCA Event Spotlight 2011 Escape
Cayenne Tour

Vern and Susan

Vern and Susan in front of a fabulous red rock backdrop