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2007 Western Weekend - Oakhurst, CA

Everyone knows that 356s and rain don't mix well. But an intrepid group of the Faithful ignored this truism to gather on Friday October 5 in the Sierra foothill town of Oakhurst, California. Despite an unseasonably early and heavy rain, Lee Whistler's fourth annual Western Weekend was on!

Morning Frost

Lee had laid all the groundwork for a fantastic weekend, starting in August by blocking out a set of rooms at the Oakhurst Lodge. He backed this up with a tempting itinerary of driving, technical demos, and more driving. It might have been the lure of autumn colors draping Yosemite Valley. Maybe the thought of sparkling Sierra days and brisk evenings. Maybe even Lee's assurances that it had never rained between July and November in the 5 years he'd lived in the foothills. Most likely though, it was the chance to hang out with a group kindred spirits and their beautiful cars that brought us together on such an inauspicious Friday evening. Almost 20 of us gathered at Crab Cakes for dinner, and by the time we left, many new friendships had been made.

A frosty but otherwise brilliant Saturday morning gave everyone a chance to wipe down, then admire the cars. T-2s were solidly represented and included two '58 Speedsters and 4 A coupes - one, a stunning '56 4-cam. On the early end of the spectrum was a beautiful Bent Window Coupe; the "newest" in the lineup was a remarkably original T-6 B coupe. What fun to have our own private car show in the back lot of the Oakhurst Lodge.

On the Road

Center of California
No, these aren't part of the Women's Club Yard Sale!

After an appropriate period of admiration and chatting, Lee led us on a spirited romp through the golden foothills to the geographic center of California, the town of North Fork. We stopped just long enough to take photos and grab picnic lunch fixings. Then more tight winding roads, climbing from grassland through oaks and up to pine tree altitudes. Mammoth Pool Overlook gave us fantastic views of the fresh snow cloaking the Sierra backcountry - plus a perfect spot to line the cars up for photos.

Climbing to Mammoth Pool Overlook

Lee then led us up through the "Roller Coaster in the Sky", a mostly one-lane romp through a pine forest, replete with patches of roadside snow. Tight, tight turns brought us back down and around Bass Lake for another group shot.

Mammoth Pool Overlook

Saturday wound down with a rendezvous at Lee's home near Bass Lake. While some snoozed on the couch, oblivious to the football game and the jeers of the female Weekenders, others were drawn to the tarp-covered, 356-shaped lump in Lee's garage. Unable to restrain ourselves, we uncovered Gisela, a '65C coupe in the midst of restoration. Later, after beers, brats, and BS, Lee convened a brief tech session back in the garage. Lee used Gisela and her various components to illustrate his lesson on suspension and unsprung weight. The synopsis - keep it hard up front and soft in the rear - was understood and appreciated by even the non-mechanically inclined.

Bass Lake

Sunday morning, many of us headed home but some of the group motored off to Yosemite Valley to enjoy the winding roads, views of the gold-speckled high country, and brunch at the Awahnee Lodge. A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Many thanks to Lee for organizing this wonderful event - looking forward to next year!

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