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Driving Air-Cooled Porsches to the North Mountains

The Air Brigade June drive originally had 12 cars registered but as the drive approached, the weather forecast was thunderstorms starting at 11:00 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.

Needless to say this forecast was not ideal for driving classic air-cooled Porsches without all the modern driving aids for safety and assisting the navigation of the twists and turns of mountain roads.

But what a drive it was!

Six 911’s made the drive, but this one will definitely be on the repeat list. Those who missed it will have the chance to drive it in the future.

The cars on the drive included:

· Jim – 1986 Porsche Carrera 911

· Carl and Janice – 1978 Porsche 911 SC

· David and Suzi – 1979 Porsche 911 SC

· TD and Kathleen – 1989 Porsche Carrera 911 SE

· Allen – 1989 Porsche Carrera 911 Cabriolet

· Keith and Donna – 1992 Porsche 964

The day started at Well Bred Bakery in Weaverville, NC with the debate: what do we do about the weather and the drive. It was clear in Weaverville and the group was “game” so the decision was made to buy a sandwich to take to Roan Mountain for the original scheduled picnic. Allen was a happy guy that they had a gluten-free chocolate orange cookie to supplement his meal.

The planned route was based on input from member Dennis Pevarski who bike rides the roads between Weaverville and Burnsville with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. They were great roads with twists and turns along Flat Creek where we eventually connected with Paint Fork Road. The scenery featured fabulous pastoral views and farms and barns that TD told us were former tobacco farms.

Carl and Janice in their white 911 SC hugged my rear followed by David and Suzi in their Casablanca Beige 911 SC. A gap in the line ensued as we approached the break at Prices Creek General Store. We learned later that it was due to TD missing the shift on the steep uphill and backing the end of the line up. TD got a little shtick about that.

I think it was the first time that the Prices Creek General Store had Porsches sharing the parking lot with pick-up trucks. Prices’ claims that “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Most Air Brigade members certainly agree with that thought as they wondered aisles of guns, boots, food, and car parts.

Fifty minutes into the drive and there was still not rain. Luck was on our side as we turned north from Burnsville with the destination of Roan Mountain and a picnic waiting for us an hour and 15 minutes up the road.

The road stayed dry as we wound our way along the Toe River. The Air Brigade for air-cooled Porsches started to experience elevation gains as we dove up and down hills and valleys.

We climbed 4,000’ on the drive from 2,825’ in Burnsville to 6,285’ at the picnic grounds on the top of Roan Mountain.

Arrival was just before noon in time for a view of the top and enjoying our picnic. There was a table available and we squeezed around so we could all eat together and enjoy the sandwiches from Well Bred Bakery. The icing on the cake was sharing the cookies bought by several members.

After lunch it was time to work off the sandwiches with small walks to see some of the sights. The group walked to the former site of the Cloudland Hotel from the late 1800’s. We were right on the state line of Tennessee and North Carolina that in the hotel’s day went right through the middle of the hotel. One side was dry and on one side alcohol was allowed so the guests had to be careful where they walked with their drinks. Not to worry with this group, it was dry as was the weather. No rain on the mountaintop, just mist from the clouds we were in.

The next stop was a walk to the Rhododendron Gardens. The blooms were early this year so we decided to forego the 45-minute walk through the gardens and enjoy the blooms at the entrance.

L to R David Linton, Jim Moore, Suzi Linton, Janice and Carl von Schummer, Kathleen Justus, TD King and Allen Peerson. Donna and Keith Antal were also on the drive but had left already.

After viewing the Rhododendron it was time to head for home and beat the rain that was on the horizon. The Hendersonville group scampered off down 226a, while the Asheville group chose 197. The Antal’s used 226 while Allen took the fastest way home that the Garmin showed him to meet Bev and painters coming to the new house.

It was another new and enjoyable drive in the books for the Air Brigade. Based on lunch discussion, it was one of the best so far. It is going to be hard to top, but the July drive to Mt Mitchell has the potential at least from an elevation standpoint since Mt Mitchell is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi.

Watch the site for details about the Wednesday, July 17, 2019 drive. Put it in your calendar now.

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