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Cross Country Cayman: Two Porsches are better than one

Saturday, June 14, 2014

By Mary Williams
Photos by Connie MacDonald

The drive now has two Porsches. Connie and Keith have driven their white 2014 Boxster S (981S) from Ottawa, Canada, to join us on our way to Monterey. In contrast to our meandering, they took a direct route, making the 2,846 km (1,768 miles) journey, via Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, in under two days.

The sun finally returned and we set out to experience some of the iconic sights of western South Dakota. The road to Mount Rushmore, SD 16A, named Iron Mountain Road, was designed and built for its sight lines, not for transportation efficiency. It is 27 miles of S-curves, 180° and even 270° turns, with steep hills, three narrow tunnels and fantastic scenery. It is a Cayman/Boxster playground. The drives on Iron Mountain Road, Needles Highway, and other scenic roads in the vicinity were more fun than any of the tourist sights we visited.

But we did visit the four presidents at Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument nearby, both very impressive for their concepts, scale, and viewpoints.

We later found the only car wash in Custer, a town on the edge of the state park. Immediately, there was a Porsche in each of its two bays. Short term benefit. Back at the campground, they were dusty again. Km. 6,509/Mile 4,045.

The next day, we explored further afield. Our selected hike required that we drive the Iron Mountain Road again, where we sought to improve our lines through the turns.

Porsche drivers are not the only ones who drive and socialize around their chosen vehicle brand. More famous and more numerous than PCAers are the Harley-Davidson (H-D) riders. In August each year, there is a H-D rally in Sturgis, SD. More than 500,000 enthusiasts and their motorcycles gather to compete, brag, and share information.

The H-D rally is the biggest social and commercial event of the year for Sturgis. We went to Sturgis to look for the H-D influence, and we found motorcycle imagery everywhere, in public art and in most of the commercial displays. The town is well endowed with saloons and souvenir shops, but there is not much else to see. Been there, got the t-shirt.

Our dinner that night was accompanied by a sound and light show – a very close thunder storm. We abandoned campfire and marshmallow plans and retired early to the (thankfully) waterproof tents. Km. 6,746/Mile 4,192.

Yellowstone and more buffalo

Wyoming, where the buffalo roam and the deer and the Porsches play. The eastern grasslands are classic ranch country, which we traversed quickly. After leaving the freeway in Ranchester, we headed up into the Big Horn Mountains on Highway 14. The road was narrow with frequent switchbacks up to Grand Pass, elevation 9,033 ft. Some slow traffic (RVs, grrr) meant that we had more time to appreciate our surroundings: red sandstone cliffs, forests with scattered snow patches, and occasional wildlife. The descent through the Shell canyon was spectacular.

Cody, named after Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody, is a colorful western town with two essential offerings: high-octane gas and groceries. It marks the beginning of a switchback road into Yellowstone National Park and the continental divide. We were glad that we had reserved ahead, because we arrived at our campsite, conveniently located in the centre of the park, to find that it was fully booked – nothing available without reservations. Km. 7,501/Mile 4,661.

Camping near the continental divide was, in the elevation sense, the high point of the trip. The air was thin, clear, and cold. Snow patches persisted at the edges of the campground and in the woods. We awoke in the morning to find a thick coating of frost on the tents and cars.

The Park provides many warnings to visitors not to approach the buffalo that roam freely in the park. Apparently, no one has warned the buffalo. Early in the morning, there was a large bull snoozing in the grass at the edge of the campground. When the sun rose, so did he, to wander through the campsites sampling patches of new grass as he went. He walked right behind our tents.

We continued our Yellowstone experience by visiting all the classic sights and, of course, enjoying the scenic drives. For details, see the park website. Km. 7,678/Mile 4,771.

Friday morning dawned, along with the realization that there were less than three days until the start of Parade, and we were still a long way from Monterey. This would have to be a driving day. The Cayman turned over 100,000 km in Idaho Falls. Our friends’ Boxster had bad luck with flying rocks: it has several nicks and a major crack in its windshield. By evening, we had made it as far as Reno, Nevada. Today’s distance 1,288 km, and total for the trip: Km. 8,966/Mile 5,571.

Stay tuned for more Cross Country Cayman, documenting Mary and Christopher Williams' journey in a Cayman S, from the farthest reaches of eastern North America to Porsche Parade 2014 in Monterey, California. Click here for Part V.

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