Friday, August 21, 2015

The 2016 PCA Porsche Parade - A Preview

Before you go any further, you might want to read this alarming news release from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  

The 2016 Porsche Parade, the Porsche Club of America's biggest yearly event, will be held at and around the Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont. The resort occupies space on the northeast side of the mountain, and the bulk of the mountain is within Jay Peak State Forest. The mountain, which receives the largest amount of snow of any ski resort in eastern North America, is located 5mi (8km) from the Canadian border, or about 40mi (64km) from my house, which is more important.

Last weekend the Green Mountain Region of PCA held its August event at the resort as a preview of what next year's Porsche Parade might be like, and to give a general impression of the venue's facilities. On offer was the typical luncheon and tour of roads in the area, plus a walking, guided exploration of some of the resort's facilities, including a gondola ride to the top of the mountain at no extra charge.

That tram car can hold up to 60 people. Fun, but that many will be squashed together like sardines in a can.

Estimates of the number of attendees for the Parade range from 2,000 to 2,500 people, with the bulk of them remaining for the week-long duration of the event. I've never attended a Porsche Parade, so although I have read about the car related activities that take place, I haven't heard quite as much about the amusements that take place in addition, although there must be plenty. The Jay Peak Resort is something of an amusement park, making it a four-season destination, so I guess this fits right in with expectations and routine practice.

The waterpark. Open summer and winter and all of the water is warm.

We were given a guided walking tour of the facilities by a smiling woman in a formal, floor-length gown, who pointed out the rolling grass area - that looked like a very large putting green (our luncheon was at the golf facility) - that will be the presentation area for the Concours d' Elegance, although it was mentioned that a circus-size tent(s) will be on hand in the event of poor weather.

Your golf game starts here.

The 'Jay Peak Ice Haus' will be temporarily converted into a banquet hall to seat the entire 2,000 (+/-) collection of celebrating PCAers all at once; that's a lot of tables and chairs. They will thaw the ice, drain the floor, and install new flooring, and suitably decorate the place, one imagines. Otherwise, this venue hosts hockey, figure skating, and curling. If they hosted short-track speed skating competitions, I'd drive there to watch those. Actually, the resort complex has numerous hotels, restaurants, a zillion condos, shops everywhere, and a smiling staff of 1,600 (in the winter, but not quite so many in the summer time). 

The Jay Peak Ice Haus on the left, and the backside of the waterpark on the right. And some of us.

So, it's a large operation and it's easy to understand that it can handle a bunch of Porsche fans, demanding though they are. I'm not talking about you, of course, but some.

Although Jay Peak handles large numbers of revelers all of the time, I guess it seldom receives 2,000 to 2,500 guests all at the same time who want to stick together and talk about one subject, probably  Porsche. Therefore, some surrounding towns - remember, this is an isolated place - are digging deep in order to get a piece of the action, although I've noticed more digging than building. The Jay Peak Resort enterprise has long arms, though. For example, it is the fixed-base-operator of the Newport airport, next to the town of the same name twenty minutes from the resort, and it is to this airport that some PCA types will fly while their Porsches get trucked in for the event. Since airports have large, well-paved spaces with no obstacles to get in the way, the Auto-X events will be staged there. It isn't clear to me where they will launch the rallies.

I've driven the roads in this area often, and they are very pleasant and mostly fun to drive, plus the local governments are at work to improve a number of them in the general locale. That's a good thing. . . I participated in a rally here a couple of years ago, but I was focused on doing well and didn't have time to enjoy the scenery to any great extent. Don't make that mistake.

As far as mountains go,  Jay isn't much. As a matter of fact, it's vertical drop is only the fifth highest in the state of Vermont, but it is well developed, if you enjoy amusement parks, and it appears that PCA estimates that you will.

So, we took our free cable car ride up to the top of the mountain. It has been a few years since I rode in a Teleférico (in Venezuela), and that one, at Mérida, reaches 4,765 metres (15,633 ft) of elevation, which dwarfs the Jay operation that reaches just 1,176 metres (3,858 feet). Never mind, the small hill at Jay doesn't cause anyone to suffer from hypoxia, and the view is nice, considering.

Up at the top of Jay.
For me, mountain tops are delightfully special places. Once you are up there, the world becomes so much more quiet; the money changers, and elbowing crowds, and snarling Porsches all fade into a distant recent memory, allowing you to enjoy the luxurious embrace of a passing cloud. The kiss of that cool cloud on a hot summer's day is elegant magic. I have never truly acknowledged that there are places on this planet that allow the emanation of some form of mystical energy, but mountain tops must certainly be close. In such a regard, without ever thinking about it, I realize now that I have never been disappointed in any experience, at all, that I have had on a mountain top. But, it has to be high enough to keep away the noise and the elbowing crowds.

Antennas and rocket ships, apparently.
And, up on top, I felt that I came into contact with an intense sense of belonging - a connection to the Earth - then I realized that down below there were squealing hordes in the waterpark, having fun as they consumed stupendous, stunning amounts of energy in their all-glass, wet fantasy world, while skiers cruise by outside in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. But not today.        

There is a different reality down there amongst those celebrators of warm water and splashing that is removed from mountain tops, and Porsche talk, too. Time to go down and face it all.

Life on high.

At least the gondola descends into a welcoming, wooden inn and restaurant where you are reunited with commercial realities with some grace. It could be worse.

Every room with a beautiful view.
By the way, the wet gravel roads that we were led onto during our introductory tour of the surrounding countryside will be newly paved well before next year's Parade, so we were promised.

I did confess, above, that I have never been to a Porsche Parade, so I have no realistic idea about the suitability of this extensive venue, or even if it is in fact extensive. Maybe it's average, or perhaps it's fabulous. I simply don't know, but I do know that I look forward to the event. Even though I likely won't stay in one of the hotels - I live 45 minutes away - I should be able to get in on enough of the action to make the whole thing a memorable experience. After all, the visual adventure alone, of a thousand impossibly shiny Porsche cars, should be worth the price of admission.   

Stopped, on wet gravel! Good thing it didn't rain and turn to real mud.
Pay attention. I saw the mountain up close, and even hiking may be a challenge.

Have fun, stay safe, and relax.

Note: For a few more photos, go to Green Mountain's website: 
Click link:
GMT Photo Gallery - 2015 Jay Peak Tour