Rocky Mountains

The Alpine Region of the Porsche Club of America held their premier event, The Rocky Mountain High Way (RMHW), from July 27th to 31st. Four couples and a father/son pair from AZ PCA, along with members from 17 other regions, attended this “Escape” style experience. Chris and Kathleen Lemon, from the Alpine Region, did a wonderful job organizing the RMHW that took place in Colorado Springs. One couple even came all the way from Florida without traveling on any major highways and won the “prize” of having traveled the furthest. Chris and Kathleen planned many great local driving tours and activities. There was something for everyone, and they were very warm event hosts.

Though Rocky Mountain High Way of cially began on the 27th, some of the AZ PCA members decided to extend the fun a bit longer. On the morning of Monday, July 25th, Rook & Debbie Younger, Jack & Loretta Aman, and Jim and Jimbo Roberts met us at our condo in Flagstaff and were greeted with Bob’s freshly baked banana and zucchini bread and hot coffee. Rook asked if he could take the leftovers, but then decided the stress of getting crumbs in his car would be just too much. So after enjoying refreshments and the terri c Flagstaff weather, our merry band hit the
road and headed off towards Santa Fe.

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We stayed in Santa Fe at a very “zen” bed and breakfast called Alexander’s-Hacienda-Madeleine. Carolyn, the proprietor, was very gracious, but appeared to be a little overwhelmed when we arrived. We thought it might be because she was so in awe at the sight of four such beautiful cars, however, that was not the case. She told us that she had never had eight people arrive at her establishment for check-in all at the same time before and with so many questions. Imagine that! In any case, the B&B was in a great location and made it very easy to walk to the center of town. We were served delicious, healthy southwestern breakfasts, enjoyed some yummy snacks and were offered wine at Happy Hour. Cheryl, however, is very fussy when it comes to wine and sadly declined the offer. Fortunately for Cheryl though, she and Loretta have the same tastes in wine and Loretta thought ahead and came prepared and was more than willing to share her Riesling, allowing Cheryl to have a Happy Hour (or more) with everyone else, too!

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At the Gorge, we were treated to another surprise. We were given special permission to drive over one of the world’s highest suspension bridges spanning the 1,052 feet deep Arkansas River Canyon, known as the Royal Gorge. Imagine watching that line of gorgeous Porsches parading slowly over the bridge and then back again. We felt like royalty! Perhaps that is why it is called Royal Gorge (or at least we can think that in our minds). Royal Gorge Scenic Railway used to take visitors on a three mile miniature train ride in order to give visitors the opportunity to capture photos of the Royal Gorge Bridge, but unfortunately, made its last run in 2012 when a massive wild re consumed the railroad and about everything else except the bridge.

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The wooden bridge was built in 1929 and this may be the last year cars will be allowed to drive over it.

Thursday evening we attended the RMHW Welcome Reception and had yet another surprise, albeit not such a great one. There were hailstorms throughout much of Colorado Springs with hail that ranged from pea to baseball size. Mother Nature really showed her temper that night, but we were one of the lucky ones with only one small dent on the hood of our Boxster. However, others did not fare as well and many people were not very happy that evening, including members of our own Arizona group. The storm put somewhat of a damper on the evening.

The highlight of the trip for us was our trip up Pikes Peak to an elevation of 14,110 feet according to the sign at the top or 14,115 feet measured using newer technology. Our leader on this tour was, Chris, the event coordinator. He was a wealth of knowledge and actually participates in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb each year. It is so hard to believe people race up that mountain with all of those hairpin turns and no guardrails at 100+ mph. What a thrill that must be! For us “regular folks” however, just driving up the mountain at a leisurely pace and seeing such breathtaking views was a wonderful opportunity.

We had a very relaxing time exploring Santa Fe, visiting some very interesting places, eating at some delicious local restaurants (anyone notice a theme here?) and having a lot of laughs, conversations and camaraderie amongst good friends.

We arrived at Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs, the central meeting place for all RMHW events, on Wednesday afternoon. The hotel was not particularly elegant, but it was a good price and the staff was very accommodating. That evening, Porsche Colorado Springs sponsored a cocktail party. On the way there, Bob and Cheryl experienced a very near miss that more than most likely would have ended in disaster if it weren’t for Bob’s quick reactions and our baby’s tight maneuverability. Perhaps those DE classes paid off! The cocktail party was lovely and as you might guess, we saw some fabulous cars and met some very friendly and interesting people from the various PCA Regions. At the party, we also met up with two more AZ PCA members, Alma and Dwane Stewart.

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The next morning wewentonatourto Bishop’s Castle. What a hoot! The Bishop family purchased a piece of property in 1969 for $450, when Jim was 15 years old. Ever since, Jim has been primarily building his castle single handedly. He allows the public to climb over every inch of his castle. He was so happy we came to visit his creation, and he loved the Porsches and wanted to hear the loudest one.

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Our next tour was outstanding! We drove to the Royal Gorge but the destination was just part of the beauty. Our leader surprised us by taking us over Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive is built on the crest of a Dakota Sandstone ridge. It is only 15 feet wide in places and features drop offs of up to 450 feet on both sides of the road. The cars drove single le over the one-way road that really seemed to be part of the sky (hence the name). This was one time we were glad to drive very slowly so we could savor the
magnificent views.

The event culminated with a very well attended banquet on Saturday night. The guest speaker was Tom Gorsuch, our National PCA Vice President. He and his wife, Elaine, are really lovely people and as it turns out, are both alumni of the same college Bob attended in Florida. Small world indeed! After the banquet, we bid our new friends a fond farewell and wished them exciting driving adventures and safe travels.

Rocky Mountain High Way is a fantastic way to escape the Arizona summer heat and planning for next year’s event has already begun so keep an eye out for details. There will be new activities and more surprises (hopefully all good). We had a “hail” of a good time and are looking forward to next year’s festivities with great anticipation.

Article by Cheryl and Bob Woodwell
Photos by Cheryl Woodwell

 

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