Text and photos: Carl Foleen
The Group Two Stone Cliff Inn Drive-out: A Theatre of the Absurd Horror Story In One Act by Alf Weider-Seine and Gen. K. Oss
As the start of most events go, this one was right up there at the top of the “Promising to be Great” list. However, as a direct descendent of the guy that wrote Murphy’s Law, this should have been a warning to be heeded rather than ignored.
Manuel Phocus was on point as the club’s staph photographer, and seemed to be keeping busy with the Sisyphean task of removing surface dust and micro-scratches from his car’s paint, looking for Kodak moments, and eventually “herding cats” into a group photograph to commemorate the day’s event.
As the time approached to start the drive, the two drive-out leaders Tim Ashcroft (the event organizer) lead group one, and Rick Martin (who was substituting GPS navigation with the acute sense of smell of his recently acquired German Shepard “puppy”) lead group two. Mr. & Mrs. Phocus lined up behind Rick’s car, and waited the additional five or so minutes so that group one would be slightly ahead so as to keep both groups from bunching up along the route.
Once underway the first phase went fairly well – right up to the point where Rick pulled into the parking lot of the convenience store/gas station at the intersection of S. Lone Elder Rd. and the Canby-Marquam highway (a.k.a. Oregon SR 170). His car was underperforming by a considerable and very discernable amount. Discretion being the better part of valour, Rick decided it was wisest to drop out of the event and nurse his Mk. 2 home while it still had enough power to travel the posted speeds on the back roads enroute to his house. This naturally left an unfilled leadership position for the group and he asked Manuel to take over the lead for the second group for the rest of the drive. Somehow, disaster seldom knocks loudly, preferring, instead, to use a mere whisper when announcing itself.
Mr. and Mrs. Phocus thought “Sure! right now we’re in familiar territory, we have the printed directions, we can do this! What could go wrong?” And the die was cast.
There is a truism that driving a rally with your spouse is a true test of a marriage. It can either cement a relationship, or lead to the office of a divorce attorney. The good news is that we are still speaking to each other. The bad news is that we found out that there are no rally’s in our future. The route was a bit of a tricky one, having been designed as a rally route by the ALFA club, but we had very clear instructions. The fact that the route was somewhat tricky was emphatically reinforced when a few instructions had us either doing U turns, or literally going around in circles. (As it turns out, proper pronunciation and map reading are two skills that are required of a navigator.) The “lead” car’s erratic directional behavior undoubtedly vexed those poor souls that were attempting to follow, and for this we can only offer our most profound apologies.
Perhaps this is something that will be recalled with a certain amount of mirth in later days, especially if the recollection is mixed with substantial quantities of an adult beverage – say something in the range of 80 proof or so.
Toward the end of our first-leg misadventure, we pulled over (again) to assess just exactly where we were and try to ascertain the best route to Feyrer Park, when one of the group (who had better cell service) said that we were only about five miles from our destination. So, they led the charge and glad to say we were in time for a welcome stretch and trip to the WC.
Glen and Jan offered to lead the second group on the final driving portion to the Stone Cliff. In welcome contrast to the first portion of the event, this went into the record books without incident or the need to use any form of retreat involving reverse gear.
The Stone Cliff was, as usual, a fine venue for our group, and due to a bit of luck for us (not necessarily for the Stone Cliff, as they were short staffed for the day) we were able to break up into small groups of four to a table, and dine on the main floor. The food was sumptuous, and the vegetarian option was very, very good.
During the interlude between placing our orders and the arrival of the victuals, Manuel had to retreat to the parking lot to switch lenses on his trusty brownie. There he encountered a family admiring all of the Jaguars scattered about. They were especially taken with Dan Simons’ “Shaguar” (who wouldn’t be?). In just a few moments, this information was conveyed to Dan who graciously came out and allowed the two ladies and their toddler to closely inspect the car and even sit in it for some never-to-be-forgotten photos. Dan even offered to use their camera so that both could sit in the car to be in the same photo.
The only other “downer moment” of the event other than Rick’s mechanical gremlin was the misfortune of Fred and Bonnie Nuttall’s E-type. Just as Fred was pulling into the parking lot at the restaurant, he lost all brake pedal pressure. A quick look at the brake fluid reservoirs confirmed the problem. A top-up of brake fluid supplied by Mark Hull confirmed that this problem was serious enough to require a tow to Consolidated Auto Works on Monday. Fred should probably have also purchased a lottery ticket, considering the consequences of the brakes failing on the drive back home.
Many thanks to Tim and Mandy Ashcroft for hosting this drive, arranging the meal with the Stone Cliff, and providing a most pleasant event for everyone who participated.