Mike Love has been saying “Let’s do a drive to Eastern Kentucky/Virginia and stay overnight” for at least a year. I liked the idea, but frankly, I was a bit intimidated by the logistics of pulling it off and wasn’t sure how many members would want to go. I found that with a lot of planning, talking with Erik Hubbard (Backroads of Appalachia Director), using Mike’s knowledge of the area and a trip to scout the roads, restaurants, hotel and area attractions, we could handle the logistics. When we started promoting the event, we found that there was interest.
Once we had an idea of the area we wanted to see and how we would get there (Erik recommended Dragon Slayer), I put the route into Google Maps. Mike and I decided that we needed to do a test drive on a route that we weren’t familiar with, so we planned to go down the Friday before the event and come back on Saturday. Shirley and Kathy were going as well. Since my Boxster was still in the body shop, we would all ride in our Cayenne.
The original plan was to start in Lexington and ending up in Big Stone Gap, VA. The hotel Erik recommended there was booked, so he had me contact Amy Phillips, who managed several hotels in the area including the Inn at Wise. I contacted Amy and asked if she had a block of 15 rooms. She said she did and would hold them for us until the Wednesday before the drive. I told her to go ahead and book my room for Friday the 21st and for Saturday the 29th and that Mike would be calling to book his. We were making real progress!
I set up the Eventbrite registration saying we would leave from Jacobson Park in Lexington and that we would be staying at the Inn at Wise in Wise, VA and to book your room as soon as you sign up. The email blast went out on Tuesday July 18th and that night, Larry Woods called me and said when he called to book his room, they didn’t have a block of rooms for the “Porsche Club” and didn’t see my name on a reservation. Panic time! I called Amy and she said, we weren’t booked at the Inn at Wise, it was sold out. She had us at the Sleep inn and Suites in Clintwood. She said she would move Larry’s reservation over. So I went into Eventbrite and changed the information about the hotel and sent a blast email about the hotel change.
On Friday July 21st, the four of us headed from Jacobson Park at 10:15 AM down US-25 to US-421 in Richmond. Our route took us to Manchester and on to KY-80 E. Unfortunately, we were on KY-80 W and had to turn around and head back! (Mike says I’m “directionally challenged”, I can’t disagree). The directions had us take US-421/KY-80 E to Hyden then to turn left at KY-80 E. We missed that turn, and Waze said to take “Greasy Creek Road”. Not unlike the characters in bad horror movie, we said, this sounds good! Greasy Creek road was 40 miles of pure Kentucky backroads. The road was 1 ½ lanes for most of it and was under construction in places. If it had been just me and Mike, and we were in our Boxsters it would have been a blast, but I really didn’t want to bring a group of cars on that route. It eventually merged with KY-160 and took us into Cumberland, Lynch and the Dragon Slayer. We decided to come home on the correct route.
We made it to the hotel around 5:30 pm. We had been on the road for 7 hours and 15 minutes. We decided to start the drive in Richmond instead of Lexington. It would save about 45 minutes, plus we have members that live closer to Richmond than Lexington.
After checking into the hotel (which thankfully was clean and relatively new), Mike suggested we try the WoodBooger Grill in Norton. It was great! When asked about bringing a group of 20+ people in on a Saturday evening, they said, no problem. Just call us about an hour before you get here. The trip home was uneventful and we did take the correct road from Cumberland to Hyden.
After changing Eventbrite again to show new starting location, It was time to finalize the directions. We had 24 members (in 13 cars) sign up through Eventbrite by the cutoff on Wednesday July 19th. We had booked 13 rooms, so we gave back two rooms. I did get a call from Don McLeod asking if he could do the drive down and not stay overnight. I told him of course!
Day one of our Driving Tour started with everyone gathering in the Kroger parking lot in Richmond. After a safety meeting we organized the cars with me leading, Neil Fisher in the middle and Mike Love as sweep. We were able to have enough radios for every car to have one to monitor communications. That worked so well that I’m going to try for that on all drives. It was about a 90 minute drive to Manchester where we took our first break. It was so cool to have all of those Porsches lined up. The locals cruised by admiring them the whole time we were there. We were off to Hyden, Wooton, Slemp and finally Cumberland for a break. We took a short drive to Lynch to stop at the Dragon Slayer Welcome center where Whitney and Lindsey were waiting for us. They gave us Sharpies to sign the building behind the shop, take pictures of our cars and to sell Dragon Slayer merchandise. They told us a State Trooper and an Ambulance had gone up Dragon Slayer about an hour ago so be careful.
As we pulled out of the Welcome Center we were on the Dragon Slayer. Great fun (if you like to turn the steering wheel)! We did see a group of Motorcycles on a pull off with one that had crashed. When we arrived at the Jebediah Memorial Overlook at the Kentucky/Virginia State Line, the Trooper was parked on the Kentucky side. We are at the top of Black Mountain with an elevation of 4,145 Ft. it’s the Highest point in Kentucky. After a break to take pictures, we were off to head down the mountain and finish the Dragon Slayer.
Once in Virginia we stopped in Norton to have dinner at the WoodBooger Grill. They had us in a back room and the food and service was really good. While we were eating, a heck of a thunderstorm came through; luckily we weren’t driving in it. After dinner it was on to hotel for a good night’s sleep to get ready for Sunday!
Day two started out damp and foggy, but that didn’t stop our group from driving to High Knob Tower on top of Stone Mountain. The good news, it wasn’t that wet. The bad news, the tower was fogged in and we couldn’t see much. A bit disappointing, but everyone enjoyed the wild flowers and the walk.
We then drove to Prestonsburg, KY for lunch at “Billy Ray’s”. It was a hour wait, but that gave us a chance to chat and get to know each other better. The food made the wait worth it! The Rotisserie Chicken was superb! The service was good as well.
That ended the official drive, so everyone went separate ways to get home. We had a small group drive together to Lexington.
This was our first attempt at an overnight drive since I’ve been Drive Chair. I’m so glad it went well. I want to thank everyone who attended plus Shirley, Mike & Kathy Love for their help in making it a success.
Is anyone up for a drive to the mountains in October?
Article written by Larry Dukes