Upstate Area Drive & Dine
November 09, 2013
By John Budinich
Photographs by Peter Wrenn and James Beischer

Martha, John, and Kristen
Martha, John, and Kristen
The September Upstate Drive & Dine Tour was such a success, we followed it up with another Tour on November 9th. This Tour was planned and arranged by Upstate area members Martha Babinski and Kirstin Fine. I would like to thank both of them for all the effort they put forth to make this Tour happen.

The group was greeted with chilly but sunny weather and anticipations ran high for a great day with friends and a great drive. The day started with the group gathering at Panera Bread in Anderson, SC for breakfast, coffee or just to get to know each other. We reviewed the rules for the day, signed the appropriate waivers and went over the planned route. Kirstin then had everyone fill out their lunch order, so she could send in the orders before we arrived at our destination. This worked out great as it minimized the wait time for lunch for a group as large as ours. We appreciate Kirstin sending the orders in as we were driving on the first leg of the Tour. We had another great turnout for this Tour, as we had 38 PCA members and family and 21 Porsches in the group.

We headed out from Panera Bread on Clemson Blvd toward Clemson. We had planned a brief "regroup" stop at Tri County Technical College but we didn't feel it was needed as the group was in perfect formation. What helped us keep the group together was a "gift" from Porsche of Greenville. Robert Schucking, Service Manager, donated three walkie talkie radios to the Upstate Area the week before the Tour. We distributed the radios to the lead, middle and trailing vehicle on the Tour and this enabled us to keep together at all times. This was much easier than using cell phones as we have done in the past. Especially when you consider that cell phone reception would be spotty, at best, as we headed through the mountains to Highlands. Thank you Robert and Porsche of Greenville for the donation. We will get a great deal of use from these radios in the future.

Break in Walhalla
Break in Walhalla
Once we passed Tri County Tech, we turned off of Clemson Blvd (Route 76) and took some interesting back roads around the Clemson Campus. These roads offered some good twists and turns to get the fluids going in both the Porsches and their drivers. We next headed up Route 130 and Route 183 around Lake Keowee to Walhalla, SC. We stopped in Walhalla for a stretch break and some conversation. We garnered a lot of looks and smiles as we parked the 21 Porsches along Main Street in Walhalla. After a 20 minute break, we mounted up again and headed out of Walhalla. We went a couple of miles out of town and regrouped in a church parking lot. The other motorists in the area were very accommodating as the tail end car, me, held up traffic while the other 20 Porsches pulled out. We were able to keep the line of 21 Porsches together for the remainder of the trip to Highlands.

Speaking of the rest of the trip, we took Highway 28 from Walhalla to Highlands. If you have not had the opportunity or pleasure of taking this route to Highlands, you don't know what you are missing. This road was tailor made for Porsche driving. It did not matter if you were in a new 911 Turbo, an old 944 or a Cayanne, the engineers at Porsche made sure our cars could handle the hundreds of twists and turns Route 28 presented to us. This road also includes numerous elevation changes as it climbs from Walhalla, through Georgia and into North Carolina. We did get slightly held up by some other tourists on the road but this gave us the opportunity to drink in the scenery of the tail end of the Fall color changes.

Ugly Dog Restaurant
Lunch at Ugly Dog Restaurant
Lunch at Ugly Dog Restaurant
Lunch at Ugly Dog Restaurant
As we arrived in Highlands, the 21 Porsches dispersed to find parking as the restaurant did not have a dedicated lot. This actually was a good thing, as no matter where you looked in the downtown area you would see a Porsche. The owner of the Ugly Dog Pub, Kay, welcomed the group and showed us to the private dining area separate from the rest of the Pub. We filled the room and sat down for an enjoyable lunch and great conversation. After lunch and all of the thank you sentiments, the group was free to explore on their own as the Tour "officially" ended. Martha had provided three interesting routes out of Highlands based on your intended destination of Anderson, Greenville or Spartanburg counties. This was an "extra" from Martha that the group fully appreciated.

Most of the group decided to stay in Highlands and explore the town. They were having a food festival downtown and the shops along Main Street were busy with either shoppers or people trying different tastings. Some of our group found the local sweetery and you saw a number of boxes of fudge in hand as they left the shop. Some of us then went to the local coffee shop to relax and continue our conversation. As we left the coffee shop and headed back to our cars, we saw another group of 12 Porsches pulling into town and parking where they could find space. I spoke with one of the couples that just arrived and found out they were in a group from the Hurricane Region on their annual "Waterfall Tour". After speaking with them, they headed for the Ugly Dog Pub, talk about coincidence, and we head out. By this time there were close to 40 Porsches parked throughout downtown Highlnds. It was a great sight to behold.

Not one to pass up a good thing, Lora and I headed back to Anderson on Route 28. As we headed down the mountain we missed seeing all of the various Porsches in front of us as we did on the way up to Highlands. On the other hand, we had no one in front of us all the way to Walhalla, so you can imagine I REALLY enjoyed the trip back.

Thanks again to Martha Babinski and Kirsten Fine for putting the tour together and making sure the route was fun and the restaurant experience was enjoyable. I also want to thank Peter Wrenn and Jim Beischer for the photos that accompany this story. Finally, I want to thank the Upstate Area members for making these tours so much fun. I am looking forward to the early spring, which is the target for our next Drive and Dine Tour. If you have any suggestions for a route or destination, let me know and you can help make it happen.

Remember, the best way to enjoy your Porsche is to go out and drive it as it was ment to be driven.