Appalachian Adventure

We are long-time members of the Porsche Club of America, driving “cheap” Porsches over the years – Porsche 944 models, not the other more-recognizable and much more expensive models.  That said, we have a great time with a great bunch of people.  Isn’t that what we want in the “Over 50” time of our lives?

When you say, “Porsche Club,” there are immediate connotations of untold wealth, weapons-grade snobbery and world-class elitism.  The same goes for Ferrari club, Audi club, Rolls Royce club, Mercedes club – and nothing is further from the truth.  The motto of the Porsche Club of America is It’s about the people…”  And it is, as was evidenced by the crowd who gathered in the mountains near Young Harris, Georgia in the middle of August.  Centered at the Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge, the weekend consisted of casual mountain drives, a “peoples choice” car show and concours, group meals and of course, s’mores by the fire by the lake.

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Our 1987 Porsche 924S

We drove our 1987 Porsche 924S to north Georgia on Thursday – a 530 mile trip in a 31-year-old car.  Even with the age, our 924S only has 48,000 miles and is a comfortable tourer, so the trip wasn’t too bad.  Cracker Barrel helps when you are on the road, but we all know that.  As one of the “cheap Porsches,” our 924S944.com 924S is only worth about $7500…not the typical 911.  And our car has a hatchback and a folding rear seat, making it great for weekend trips – and groceries.  However, it’s not so good for a trip to the local Costco.

For Florida Flat-Landers like us, driving in the mountains is pure joy.  Not too fast, not too aggressive, but still a lot of fun.  And spending a weekend with like-minded car nuts is always great.  And we were not the only ones from Florida – nine cars from our Florida Citrus Region PCA in Orlando make the trip to North Georgia!

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Downtown Helen, GA

On the way north, we used the magic of cell phones to meet another Florida Porsche enthusiast, Nort Northam, in Helen, Georgia, about thirty miles south of the hotel.  We had a nice German dinner outside at the Hofbrauhouse Restaurant next to the Chattahoochee River.  Helen is said to have the charm of Bavaria in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  After dinner, we negotiated the hills, mountains and switchbacks to the Ridges Resort.

When we checked in, our hotel room at the resort was mysteriously upgraded  – to a two-bedroom two bath condo with a full kitchen, living room and second-floor balcony overlooking the lake – for the same price.  What a great surprise!  The Ridges is a great place with its own marina with rental opportunities for boats, Sea-Doos, kayaks and other watercraft.  There are both indoor and outdoor facilities.

Rainy weather tried to make the weekend into a wet affair, but the rain cooperated!  Friday morning was a “road rally” that was dry through most of the day, driving through the mountains of both Georgia and North Carolina following directions, finding clues on the side of the road and answering very difficult, very obscure Porsche questions.  The roads were great, the scenery even better, and with four cars in our little group, we all wandered around, lost most of the time.  Stopping for lunch at a cafe in Blairsville, we had home-cooked food in a friendly atmosphere that is so common in the rural south.

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Porsches on display for the concours

On Saturday morning as we were placing cars for the car show and concours a squall hit that brought heavy rain.  But as the last cars were placed, the rain stopped and the sun peeked back out.  The show ended with lunch being served – and the rain returned while we dined on burgers, dogs and fries.  And to be exact, out 924S finished second in our class in the concours.  (Okay – there were only two cars in our class, so I guess we also finished last!)

The rain stopped as lunch ended and we took a boat tour on the lake.  Relaxing with friends on a nice afternoon in the sun – always good.

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Nort Northam and his 1989 Porsche Speedster

Nort Northam and I have a friend who lives nearby in Blairsville and is really into Porsches, so we decided to pay Elliott Grafton a visit on his farm, where he raises Porsches.  It was on the way back to the Resort when I realized that I was A) riding in a rare 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster B) in the mountains of north Georgia C) with a highly experienced race driver at the wheel.  Once in a lifetime!

At the banquet on Saturday night was a casual affair with a buffet dinner, jokes and thank-you’s, and awards for the various events in the weekend.  (There was no second-place/last place award for our Concours class, so we didn’t get a trip to the podium!)  The awards were many and varied, including a Porsche trivia contest, the rally and the concours.

In all, a great weekend away with a lot of old and new friends.  And that is the point.  Take advantage of every opportunity to go and travel and meet up with others and have fun.  Taking care of older relatives has shown us that there will become a time when we want to travel and have a fun weekend, but due to health and other issues cannot.  

Do it now.  Find a group or two or three and have fun.

 

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