I left the office late Tuesday afternoon to start my drive down to the LA area, heading down I-80 to I-99 a day early as my last living grandparent was turning 92 on that Wednesday. I thought I would surprise Grandma with flowers on her big day! After staying overnight at a nice Ramada Inn in the town of Fresno, I made it down to the LA area to see my grandmother, uncle, cousins, and my sister’s family. It was a great reunion as I had not seen anyone in my family for two years! After a whirlwind reunion, I headed to the PCA National Escape held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pomona, CA. Upon my late night arrival on Wednesday evening, the parking lot was already filled with Porsches. As I headed into the lobby area, a white Porsche 911 “50th Anniversary Edition” was parked along with huge signs that Welcomed PCA Escape 2013. I had the right place! The registration area was closed so I went up to my room to collapse and start fresh the next day.
Thursday morning came awfully early and I went down to collect my registration materials. The registration areas were clearly marked as I entered a room with two more Porsches parked in the conference room! I was greeted by a volunteer who found my registration packet and gave me all the instructions I needed to enjoy the weekend. There were several sponsor booths and PCA goodie items for sale along with lots of Porsche logo items and gadgets to buy.
I signed up for a “Porsche Driving Experience” that morning and needed to get checked in and sign all my tour waivers. Much to my surprise, I was already expected and was escorted to the parking lot where my new 2014 911 4S black convertible was waiting for me. Someone must have talked because this is my dream car! I almost cried I was so excited! I took advantage of the entire experience and had a great time. Apparently, the Porsche Driving experience was a little light on Thursday, so I was able to take as much time as I wanted with this incredible vehicle. Porsche had a few of their 2014 models out for registrants to test drive and “experience”. So, why not take advantage of the situation and make it an even greater experience? C-YA!
By the time I got back from my drive around the San Bernardino hills, it was the start of the official weekend program. I put my blue wristband on (those who paid for the Welcome Party/Drive-in movie night, had to wear their blue wristband) and I headed out to move my Boxster over to the next parking lot to line up for Drive-in Movie night. This was just a display-only event where PCA members got to vote for their favorite car and the one with the most “bugs” on it from their drive into town. After getting over 150 Porsches in place with the parking team, I got out and enjoyed appetizers and drinks until the dinner was brought out. We had a full buffet of pulled pork, fajita taco bar, garlic fries, ice cream milkshakes (with your choice of alcohol blended), and buttered popcorn. The movie “bullet” was being shown on a big screen with a huge sound system for those wanting to watch the movie outside or you could dial into radio station 106.3 in your car, if you wanted the full drive in experience. What a great idea!! We all looked and acted like a bunch of teenagers out there!
Friday started early as I had to head over to our meet-up location about 15 minutes from the hotel. I chose to spend the day driving up to Mt. Baldy. The windy road reminded me of the drive up to Virginia City but there were some distinct differences! The road was narrow, there were falling rocks, lots of cyclists on the road, and many more 180 turns to get to the top! I have to admit I made myself sick getting up the Mountain! We were guided up in groups of 10 cars at a time with one quick stop along the way to make sure our group was still together. Some of us were more “spirited drivers” and others were just on a leisurely drive enjoying the views as we climbed up to 8000 ft. Once we arrived at the ski lodge, we took the ski lifts up to the top of the mountain. After lunch we had our choice of hiking the trails, walking around the lodge, or just enjoying the views of the city and Pacific Ocean out the back deck. I chose to take the more direct route home and collected myself before the next social gathering that evening.
Friday night was a “free night” for us. I made some new friends at the cocktail party and our group decided to head into Claremont and try Walter’s for dinner, recommended by the concierge. There were 21 of us that took over the back section of the restaurant. It was also a Halloween night downtown and the town was crawling with college age kids dressed in their finest Halloween costumes. A fun night of people watching and storytelling filled our evening.
The alarm went off at 5:30 am to get ready for the scheduled drive to Big Bear for Saturday. I decided to skip the driving tour. I had a great day to catch up on things, spend time making new friends in the lobby, take a few Porsche cars out for a test drive, and take time by the pool in 82 degree weather. That afternoon, I was charged up and ready to meet and greet with my new friends and catch up on the adventures that they chose to engage in. The list of choices was overwhelming as some went to SpaceX, others went to Rodeo Drive and shopped, museums, Rose Bowl, Mulholland Drive, one family even went to Disneyland for a few hours! As we headed to the Hotel lawn for cocktails before the dinner, there were six Porsches lined up for viewing. All were rare vehicles and in perfect condition. It was fun to read the history of each Porsche as we got to walk around them and discuss their story.
The banquet dinner was a huge success! There were over 250 people in attendance. We filed into a huge convention room filled with PCA logos and big screens which showcased a slide show of all the tours! The staff of waiters rushed in as they poured wine and brought in more food and more drinks. Presentations began from our national PCA leaders and door prizes. The event seemed to be a huge success and I am taking away a huge encyclopedia of ideas to bring back to our club.
Sunday morning there was a Driver’s Education Experience planned off site. I was not able to participate in the event as I needed to head back up to Reno to beat the storm coming in Sunday night. I had a great breakfast with Doug Pierce, the National PCA Escape Coordinator, as well as Kurt and Angie Gipson, the National Past President. We had a meeting about my desire to submit a bid to bring a National PCA Escape to Reno in 2016. I wanted to get their feedback and compile a list of pros and cons. I got the real scoop on how to successfully run a National Escape or Parade in the future. The key is to delegate, delegate and delegate! Plan to have more than enough volunteers and then everyone feels like they contributed something to the event. I have to admit, I am still not convinced we have enough volunteer support to pull off an event like a National Escape or a National Parade. If my memory serves me well, there were 40 volunteers running something at all times during the 72 hours I was there. Our region only has about 235 cars and 420 including affiliate members. That would be a large percentage of people stepping up to take on MAJOR roles (not to mention all the volunteers who just did a task or two). I am now of the realization this task of bringing an Escape to Reno is going to take a heck of a lot of work. (My mind is still whirling - Perhaps we need to work up to this type of event scale? It would be great to put our Region back on the map! The last time Reno put on an event of this size was back in 1982 when we hosted Parade – I didn’t know that. I still think we can pull this off…).
If you are reading this article, give me some feedback – do you think we can do this? Can you help?
I had a lot to think about on my 8 hour drive home. I would love to report it was smooth sailing all the way back, but I did get caught up in some of the snow, ice, and slush. From Colfax to the Stateline on I-80 it was a white knuckle experience. Caught with no chains and a rear wheel drive 2001 Boxster, I went ahead and made the attempt to drive the mountain and get home that night. Thanks to a Wal-Mart trucker I followed, I got home in one piece at 1:00 am. No slipping, no sliding, no problem! Whew!
In conclusion and the best take away from the weekend - The cars and the club that bring us all together but it is the friendships, relationships, and alliances we build that make this club great. I hope to be a valuable resource for the future of this club to make it better and more fun for everyone who wants to be involved.