2021 Fall Mystery Tour
Anatomy of a Mystery Tour
By Alex Ching
The Alpine Mountain Region just completed the overnight “On the Road Again” Fall Mystery Tour on September 18-19, 2021. This event marked the 41st consecutive years the club has conducted a mystery tour; that’s only five years short of the number of years AMR has been in existence! It was a well-attended event with 39 cars and members coming from the Roadrunner and Rocky Mountain Regions; we also had a couple from the Audi Rocky Mountain Chapter join us for the weekend. For as long as I’ve been with AMR (a whopping five years), I’ve heard the mystery tour was the one to attend. Just what makes this a popular, enduring event; let’s take a look…
This was Kim and my first overnight mystery tour (we attended last year’s mystery tour but it was only a day tour due to COVID) and like everyone else, we had no clue as to the destination or which direction we are going when we signed up. Our tour leaders, Chris and Kathleen Lennon, sent an email telling us where and when we would meet for the drivers meetings and gave some packing tips but nothing that hinted at the destination.
On the morning of the 18th we topped off the Boxster and headed to Porsche Colorado Springs, our tour starting point. The PCS staff guided us into our space in one of the two groups. With 40 cars the tour was separated into two tour groups so it is more manageable for the driving team. We lined up with the first group. A big thanks to PCS for providing coffee and donuts for us as they had done all season long. Another bonus was a number of Singer Porsche on the showroom for the participants to gawk at. It’s always a special time after arriving at the dealership and before drivers meeting as members reconnect and catch up with each other or getting to know some of the new members. By the way, I’ve noticed more and more new faces the last couple of times I showed up at an event, which is a very positive trend. We checked in and received our goodie bag, dinner tickets, and initial instruction booklet; we would be making our first stop in Florence and then a lunch stop in Silver Cliff before getting part 2 of the directions…the destination guessing game is afoot. Chris began the drivers/safety meeting at 9:00 am with the first group departing at 9:30 am, and the second group would depart ten minutes later.
After leaving PCS with the first group, we proceeded south on Nevada where many of us got separated by traffic lights. A well-planned regroup point after crossing South Academy Blvd had us back together again and we continued on CO-115 towards Florence. We reached our first stop at the Exxon gas station after about an hour. The Exxon in Florence is a familiar stop for many of our southern tours as there is an adjacent unpaved lot that is large enough to hold about 50 cars. We had a 15-minute rest break before moving on and in about 10 minutes upon our arrival, the second group arrived to fill in the rest of the unpaved lot.
After our rest break we continued on CO-115 and turned south onto CO-67 soon after. Our next turn would be at Wetmore where the directions take us on CO-96 west to Westcliffe. This section of CO-96 is part of Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway that goes through the San Isabel National Forest in the Wet Mountains before descending into the Wet Mountain Valley and ending in the town of Westcliffe. The roads of San Isabel National Forest always make for a fun drive and we enjoyed seeing some of the prominent granite rock formation going through the canyons.
After coming out of the Wet Mountains everyone is treated to the grand vista of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. As the mountains appeared larger and larger, we would eventually reach our lunch destination at Tony’s Mountain Pizza in Silver Cliff. This ended our first leg of the mystery tour. Lunch was included with the registration fee and Tony’s dished out some delicious pastas, pizzas, and salad for us to enjoy. At this point it is still a guessing game at where we would end up at the end of the day. After lunch Chris and Kathleen handed out the instructions for the second leg of the journey; we would go around the Sangre de Cristo to Walsenburg for the next rest stop. It is likely that the final destination is somewhere in Southern Colorado either south or west of Walsenburg, but there are a lot of choices in either direction…
Once again we go back on CO-96 west toward Westcliffe and then turned south to CO-69 where we would traverse Promontory Divide in the southern part of Wet Mountain Valley. As we get to US-160 after driving southeast along the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo, we turned south to go through Walsenburg and then looped west towards Lathrop State Park on the outskirts of the city. The park would be our last rest stop to find out our destination. After the second group arrived we saw the visitor center’s courtyard as a good place for a group photo before making the announcement. The Lennons gave a hint that this would be a new destination that the mystery tour has not been to in the past. Many guesses were offered but no one was able to come up with the correct destination. A second hint was offered when Kathleen brought out a popcorn container…still no correct guesses. At last Chris announced that the destination is the Best Western Movie Manor in Monte Vista, which has a drive-in theater that you can either watch the movie in your car or in your room where there is a large window facing the screen with an indoor speaker. The movie chosen for us that night would be “Smoky and the Bandit”.
After Chris handed out the final directions and Kathleen handed out popcorn, peanuts, and other goodies for the movie; we exited the park onto US-160 west once again. This stretch of highway from Walsenburg to the turn off for the town of La Veta is actually part of the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway, which circles the Spanish Peaks and was an excellent tour AMR did back in 2019…but I digress. After passing the Highway of Legends we began to head up La Veta Pass (which does not pass through the town of La Veta by the way) and eventually drop down into the San Luis Valley region. Monte Vista is a small town a half hour west of Alamosa on the way to the San Juan Mountains. We arrived at Best Western Movie Manor just after mid-afternoon; it is aptly named the Movie Manor because of the attached drive-in theater next to the property. Once we checked into our hotel room, we prepared for the group dinner in Monte Vista at 5:00 pm.
Dinner at the Mountain View Restaurant was only a short drive back into Monte Vista. The owners had closed the restaurant for the evening to accommodate our group. As with all AMR socials, this is truly one of those special times where you get to sit down with follow members and get to know them better. In our case we set down with the same members we had lunch with at Tony’s Mountain Pizza and continued our conversations from earlier (by the way, the couple from the Audi club were part of our table). Most of us had pre-ordered the prime rib and it was done to perfection. As a bonus, September 18th was also the 60th birthday of Nate Adams, AMR President. The servers brought out two cakes and we all got to wish Nate a happy birthday.
After dinner we returned to the Movie Manor for the “Smoky and the Bandit” showing. Did I mentioned that all the rooms have a large window facing the drive-in movie screen along with a speaker that pipes in the sound? But we ended up missing the show as we continued the social at the hotel with our dinner mates and a couple more AMR members. We adjourned back to our room for the night afterwards.
We woke up to a nice clear morning and found a few cars already departed for more touring in the mountains (there weren’t much fall foliage enroute to Monte Vista due to the hot summer) or making their way back home. We went to the hotel breakfast room to eat with a few friends before heading home ourselves.
That’s the mystery tour in a nutshell; every tour is different but will have similar format. I would say that the destination doesn’t really matter as much as being able to spend time getting to know your fellow PCA members better, making new friends, and do what we all like best – driving our Porsche thru amazing mountain roads. Thank you Chris and Kathleen for another great tour. If you haven’t been on one, give the fall mystery tour a try next year and you won’t regret it.
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2020 Fall Mystery Tour
We continued our 40-year tradition of hosting an annual fall mystery tour, albeit it was shortened to a day tour this year. It was a cool morning for the first fall Sunday and 27 cars with 51 members met for the drivers meeting at Bear Creek Park. Many of the usual suspects were there but we also had a few new members/first timers join us (we are first time mystery tour participants ourselves). We took off promptly at 8:30 am for Hwy 24 West and headed towards our first stop at Wilkerson Pass. Fall colors were abundant en-route although some spots seem to have past its prime already. After a short break we continued on Hwy 24 to Buena Vista and then turned west towards Cottonwood Pass.
The climb up the Sawatch Range was fun and the recently paved roads were still in very good shape. We made another stop after we crested the top of Cottonwood Pass. It was brisk up there and everyone broke out their jackets for warmth, but the breathtaking views of the Taylor Park area and Continental Divide more than made up for it. Afterwards, we descended towards the reservoir and turned southwest along the Taylor River. After turning south onto Hwy 135, it was fairly clear that the mystery destination was Gunnison. We then followed the directions to West Tomichi River Park next to the Gunnison River (about half of us did manage to get lost due to traffic separation and an unexpected detour, but that only delayed our arrival by about 5-10 minutes). All of us had a great lunch delivered by Mario’s Pizza & Pasta in the park pavilion and surrounding grassy area. A big thank you to Dwight and Dana Kasten for not only coming up with the tour but also working with the Gunnison Health Department for allowing us to have a lunch gathering, something we have missed for most of our tours this year. The magnificent Rockies fall colors and weather in central Colorado made it a perfect day to end our tour season.
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2020 Tarryall Off-Road Tour
Eight Cayenne’s and two Jeeps met early Saturday morning, August 15 at the Rudy’s parking lot for the Tarryall Off-road Tour (only the last 10 miles were actually off-road). It was a cool morning and not a cloud in the sky at 8 am. After the drivers meeting we headed up Hwy 24 towards Divide and then made the turn towards the Tarryall reservoir down the road. We took a short break at the reservoir’s rest stop, and the Sontags in their Jeeps left the group for some serious off-roading of their own. The eight Cayenne’s continued on to Hwy 285; one Cayenne left the group as we turned off the Boreas Pass exit.
We hit the small town of Como before it turned into a rocky dirt road as we climb towards Boreas Pass. The Cayenne’s got plenty dusty but nothing that they couldn’t handle. We all made it to the top and found parking to look around the historic site. Thirteen of us stayed in the area and had an impromptu picnic lunch. Other than the smokiness from the Colorado wildfires, it was a perfect day with perfect temperature up on the mountain. This tour definitely has the possibility to replace our current planned off-road tour for Treffen in 2022. It was worth noting that the group made every light together and stayed intact the whole trip (other than those prearranged departures). Everyone was impressed and the road between Hwy 24 and 285 was scenic and in good condition. Thank you T.J. Veldheer for setting up a great tour.
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2020 Breckenridge Tour
Mike Moore led this tour through multiple scenic mountain passes on the way up to Breckenridge. It started with a beautiful morning for our drivers meeting at Bear Creek Park. The roads were great and some of us even got to see a moose at the top of Kenosha Pass. The expected storm rolled in by the time we finished at Breckenridge.
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2020 Castles & Porsches Tour
The first AMR tour of 2020 took place on Saturday, June 26. Arnie Easterly, AMR Tour Chair, organized the tour and led the first group with Nate Adams leading a second group. After the drivers meeting near the World Arena, the groups went south on Hwy 115 towards Bishop Castle in the Wet Mountains. The tour then headed to Canon City where it ended and individuals went to lunch on their own. In all about 27 cars participated on the tour and we collected $430 donations for our charity of the month, Care and Share Food Bank. Thank you to all the tour volunteers and everyone’s generosity with the donations; and especially to Arnie for a smooth start with the new COVID safety procedures.
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2019 Fall Mystery Tour
By Nate Adams
Alpine Mountain Region held its annual Fall Mystery Tour in late September. It’s a mystery, where participants register for the tour but don’t know their route or final destination until after lunch the day of the tour. The tour challenges the participants to guess the destination and win prizes for the three closest guesses. The destination this year was Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
Twenty-seven Porsches and fifty-three PCA members joined the fun, traveling on some of Colorado’s best driving roads. We had members joins us from across Colorado including the western slope and even some from the neighboring Rocky Mountain Region. After departing Porsche of Colorado Springs bright and early, the tour traveled south on Colorado Highway 115 where it joined US Highway 50 West towards Monarch Pass and lunch at the Palisades restaurant in Gunnison. After lunch, the tour headed further west to Colorado Highway 92 (also known as West Elk Loop), a great twisting two-lane road that follows the northern rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and seems like it was made just for Porsches. An added benefit is that this road generally has very light traffic. The tour ended traveling north on Colorado 133 toward Glenwood Springs.
The tour made stops at the top of Monarch Pass and in Marble, Colorado. Monarch Pass rises to 11,312 feet with great views of the Sawatch Range in the central Rocky Mountains. Marble is the location of the Yule Marble quarry from which the town was named. When it was in operation the quarry supplied stone for the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and is one of the purest marble quarries. The tour members had dinner at the Rivers restaurant along the Roaring Fork river and stayed overnight at the famous Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge, home of the largest outdoor hot springs pool in America that for over 100 years has been one of the primary reasons to visit the area. The historic Glenwood Hot Springs were used by the Ute Indians and its current day visitors as a source of rejuvenation and healing.
The Colorado high country was having a somewhat late fall so the tree and scrub oak colors were not at their peak, but we had some fantastic crisp fall weather and great driving roads to enjoy our Porsches and fellow club members. Until the next Mystery Tour in 2020!
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Highway of Legends Tour Recap
By Alex Ching
Photos from multiple contributors
AMR made a first time tour to the famed Highway of Legends on May 19 with 35 cars and 67 people, including our own Zone 9 Rep, Rich Sanders.
Karl and Kathy Klepfer led the daylong trek from Porsche Colorado Springs in the first group with Nate and Lore Adams leading a second group. The tour headed straight south on CO-115 to Florence for its first stop and then CO-67 to Wetmore before turning on to CO-96 the old mining town of Westcliffe. As we emerge from the Wet Mountains on CO-96, the group was treated to a majestic view of the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo range. At Westcliffe we turned east to circle around the massive mountain range for our next stop at Walsenburg, which is the starting point of the 82-mile Highway of Legends scenic byway.
As we pass through the town of La Veta, we came to our lunch stop at the La Veta Inn. The inn and restaurant is owned by AMR members Ryan and Ali Parker, who were unable to join the tour due to car issues but stepped in at the last minute to host our large group for lunch after the original venue dropped out. A big thanks go out to Ryan and Ali.
After a fabulous lunch of soups, salads, chicken wings, and sandwiches; we were back on the byway to skirt the Spanish Peaks – the twin mountains with striking rock formations, high mountain lakes, quaint resort towns, and scenic river canyons, mesas, & plains. We also passed through the Cokedale National Historic District where the arching alcoves of coke ovens resembles the Roman aqueducts. The rollercoaster ride ended in an hour and a half at the Purple Toad in Trinidad, where many stopped for refreshments before heading home. Despite the daylong drive, feedbacks were positive and many members were impressed with the organization of the tour. We look forward to a repeat of this tour in 2020; hopefully in the Fall to catch the turning leaves.
Check out the Rallies/Tour page for more photos from the tour.
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