Spring Drive 2004

The Road through Lillooet

Held: June 19, 2004

If you are rating a road in units of fun-per-mile you just can't beat the Duffy Lake Road to Lillooet. So its probably not a surprise that we took the Lillooet route again this year. We originally scheduled the Lillooet drive for June 26 but I moved the date ahead to June 19th in order to avoid a conflict with the Vancouver Island Chapter "Run to Renfrew". We were lucky the date was changed because we arrived just at the start of the Lillooet forest fire and were able to carry on without incident. A week later and we would probably have had to cancel the event.

We assembled at the United Church Parking lot at a civilized hour on Saturday morning. Those on had were, Bert Sherlock and Chris Naylor in Bert's 242 GLT, Chris, Pam & Richard Ainscough in the 69 122S, John Cave in his 66 1800S, Dave and Louise McAree in the 73-142S, John and Celine Cripps in their bright yellow Miata with the top down and Peter Valkenburg left his Volvos at home and arrived in his 79 Porche 911 which he correctly hid off in a corner of the lot. Peter's competition arrived in the form of a black, lowered and altogether sinister looking 80 242GT with Glenn Little behind the wheel. Rose and I drove our trusty bronze 544 loaded for a weeks tour following Lillooet.

We headed for the Sea to Sky highway and after a gas stop in Squamish we reunited in Pemberton for a picnic in the park. While we were sitting on the grass Suzanna Carnie and Price Montague turned up in Suzannas's dark green 1800ES. Suzanna's first remark was perfect. "Who brought this piece of Sh-t Porche". It certainly endeared her to the Volvo-driving contingent and Peter took the teasing well.

Suzanna is a brave soul. She chose this trip to Lillooet as the shake down test of her ES after it had been off the road for over a year. Definitely a tough test.

We finished a leisurely lunch and left Pemberton and headed for the famous Duffy Lake Road. Those who wanted to drive quickest left first, so the next time we caught up with Peter, Glenn, John Cave and Bert was in Lillooet. The day was sunny and hot and I got stuck behind a motorhome on the 13% uphill grade that signals the entrance to the Duffy Lake road. I watched with interest as the temperature gauge on the 544 slowly but surely headed east. When the needle finally disppeared I skidded to a stop, opened the hood, opened the ball valve that isolates the heater, jumped back in the car, turned on the heater full blast, and screeched back onto the road before the whole show boiled.. I was lucky, and this was enough to avoid overheating the engine, but Rose and I were par-boiled by the time we got to the top of the hill and could turn the heater off. Also at the top of the hill we got an opportunity to pass the brain-dead RV driver and after that we enjoyed a clear run on the Duffy Lake roller coaster all the way to Lillooet.

All of us stayed at the Mile "0" Motel, and Rose and I, rented the Bridal Suite so we could invite everyone in for a glass of wine. In the middle of the room, is what John Cave calls, the raspberry ripple hot tub which we promptly filled with cool water for those who wanted to cool down. Once we were all sufficiently mellow, we walked to Dina's, the great Greek Restaurant in Lillooet; ate too much and waddled home. The motel had filled up with fire fighters who had just arrived to investigate the Lillooet Forest Fire. The fire had started in a lightning storm on Thursday and the fire fighters had not yet had a chance to investigate the blaze. Even at this early stage it looked pretty ominous and the town was getting smoky. Bert learned from some local folk that the fire was visible a few miles along the Bridge River road and he took a ride out to see. He was shocked at just how close to town the fire was. Trees were exploding and people were watching from lawn chairs on the road just over the hill from town.

The next morning it was smokier yet, when we all headed out for a early morning blast via Pavillion Lake and Hatt Creek to Cache Creek for Breakfast. It was a beautiful drive through the dry Cariboo farmland but it was spooky to see the fire across the Fraser River licking its way down the forested river banks.

Breakfast at the Great Bear Inn in Cache Creek was as good as ever and when it was finished we it was time to head our own ways. Most people headed down the Frazer Canyon Highway at various speeds. Bert and Chris stayed with us, or rather I tried to keep up with Bert, on our way through Ashcroft and Logan Lake. They turned south at Logan Lake to Merritt on their way to Osoyoos and Rose and I headed to friends in Kamloops. What followed for us was a terrific weeks drive touring the Okanagan, Arrow Lakes, Slocan Valley, Kooteneys and Nothern Washington. We will definitely have to do this again next year.