We hooked up in Salem with my 19-year-old daughter Alex and Wendie’s 20-year-old son Tyler. Alex had absconded with our newly-acquired 1984 Land Rover 90 Turbo Diesel, no doubt parading it around the OSU campus (where she and Tyler both go), showing off the custom Beaver license plates. For the gnarly-ness of the off-road suspension, the European event stickers, and most of all the BIG STEREO, it was their obvious rig of choice.

Crossing Santiam Pass around 8pm,we ran into a snow storm that dumped four inches of white stuff on the ground. Both Rovers took it in stride, our biggest fear being the omnipresent one-ton pickups hauling monster holiday travel trailers, all festooned with coolers, bicycles, you name it.

We arrived at our luxury accommodations, the Super 8 in Redmond, around midnight – to find the motel taken over by a variety of kids’ softball teams.

The next morning, we were at event organizer Pam Petroff’s cabin overlooking the Deschutes River by 9am.  Present were one Series rig (converted to coil springs), two Discos, one Classic, and three Defenders.

Drew decided it was time to learn to drive a stick-shift, so he commandeered the D90 – RHD and all. He became quite accomplished at the manual gearbox by the end of the day, and we were all impressed.

In the first severe off-road test of the day, Wendie got the center-diff high-centered as she ran the Classic up a fairly steep pitch,  and we had to push her clear. At one point on the descent, she began to slide and was directly on course to broadside the D90. Luckily, she regained traction before impact.

Next up the pitch was Alex in the D90, her first time off-road in it. The endless grunt of the turbo diesel, coupled with the extraordinary clearance and articulation of the modified off-road suspension, enabled her to waltz up and down the hill in style.

The day ended with a typical sumptuous PCRC barbecue, and by 2pm the next day we were back in (unusually sunny) Portland.

Botus or Roxster?

We returned home just in time to prep the Lotus and the Boxster S for last weekend’s “Much Ado About Driving” Northwest Passage 1,000-mile rally. Wendie and I have enjoyed this event the last four years, and in fact SCM (along with Chubb) now sponsor it. It is presented by the Oregon Region of the Porsche Club of America, with SCMers Jim and Judy North being the primary culprits who put it all together.

What’s My Car Worth producer Roger Williams flew out from Connecticut to join us, leaving his Carrera RS, GT-350, and 289 Cobra at home. He was driving our Boxster S, and Wendie and I were in the Elise.

Day one was a traverse to Eugene, where the 31-car group assembled at the Valley River Inn. The other members of Team SCM were Ed Shulz and Judy Buckley, in their 1996 911 C4S, from Newport Beach; Michael Pierce and Robert Katz in Michael’s 1988 twin-turbo Callaway Corvette; and John and Carlyn Draneas in their 2005 Lotus Elise.

Day two took us to Odell Lake, and a rather severe steering-wheel vibration at about 80 mph reared its ugly head once again with the Lotus. At the end of the day, we pulled into a Les Schwab tire store in Ashland, and the gurus there rebalanced the front wheels using a hub-centric approach, which cured the problem.

We spent the two nights in Ashland, home of the well-known Shakespeare Festival, but our nights were not spent listening to the Bard – rather, we shared tale upon tale of taking corners at three-times the posted limits, and how adept the Loti were when it came to passing the big-motor Porsches (at least in our imaginations).

Williams got a stint behind the Lotus, and it was just about impossible to get him to give it up. “This is as close to a motorcycle as you’ll ever get on four wheels,” he declared, as he sped away from a gas stop. “See you at the end of the run!”

On to Reno

In both the Rover and Porsche Club events, Team SCM suffered no breakdowns, no tickets, and not even a need to add engine oil.

Of course our run of good luck may all change this Sunday, when “The B Team,” three 1974 MGBs purchased by SCM for under $5,000 each, embarks on The Road To Reno. Destination: the 2011 MG National Convention in Reno, via Crater Lake (still under ten feet of snow). We’ll be traveling down with 30 other MGs from the Pacific Northwest. We hope that there is safety in numbers.

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