Journey to Joseph – September 2016

Article by Karon Kutz

Fourteen cars and 25 members of the PCA High Desert Region in Bend, Oregon, made a three-day tour to Joseph, Oregon, in the Wallowa Mountains, one of Oregon’s most scenic areas.  The tour was organized by Rob and Karon Kutz, led and swept by Mark & Viki McConnell, David Gentry & Holy Reeves-Levanthal, and Stephen & Debbie Beers.  Photographer Roger Mathus and observer Donald Clark rounded out the crew.

The group left Prineville September 16, stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds, then drove 309 miles through the Ochocho, Umatilla, Whitman, and Wallowa National Forests to Joseph, in the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness area.  The roads wound through spectacular valleys, river canyons, mountain passes, and miles of open range land.  Bright sunshine, excellent roads and little traffic made perfect driving conditions, as did the brilliant fall colors.

Friday lunch at the Thicket Café in Ukiah found our Porsche people mingling with bow hunters in camouflage gear.  The Thicket’s small kitchen and staff did a fine job of serving all of us a memorable meal.

Arriving in Joseph, the group stayed at the Wallowa Lake Lodge, built in 1923, with a new, modern wing added in 1926.  The Lodge is a journey back in time, furnished with antiques but no room phones or TV.  It had beautiful grounds, tame deer, comfortable rooms, helpful staff, and offered an excellent Friday night dinner. 

Saturday, owner Dave Jackman guided our group through the Valley Bronze Foundry, which produces hand-cast bronze sculptures ranging in size from tiny birds to mammoth works by world-renowned artists.   After lunch, some members visited the Wallowa County Art Festival and the art galleries and shops in Joseph.  Others toured the Stein Distillery, finishing with samples of Dan Stein’s home-grown spirits.  Optional drives were available to the Joseph Canyon Overlook or the Hells Canyon Overlook, both offering spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains.  Our congenial Saturday night dinner was hosted by Michael Vali and his wife at their small family-owned restaurant.   After Sunday breakfast at the Lodge, members made their way home by varying alternate scenic routes over dry roads with minimum traffic.

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Journey to Joseph Slide Show by Roger Mathus

Rob Kutz sponsored an unscheduled tech session on Saturday morning, demonstrating that the Porsche immobilizer system really works after he left his keys in their 2008 Boxster overnight.  Rob, along with Pete Olson, Greg Snyder, and Bob Land tried a push-start, which resulted only in re-positioning a dead Porsche at the bottom of the Lodge driveway.  Although Lodge employee Oriana made her Toyota and jumper cables available, the front lid could not be opened to access the battery because it was completely dead, and  the immobilizer had locked the key in the ignition.  The mechanical solution to opening the lid -- removing part of the fender liner to get at the cable -- was reserved as a last-ditch option.

Rob Weston and Jim Heinrich of Kendall Porsche assured Pete that the elves of Stuttgart had cleverly provided a clip-on connector as part of the fuse panel, which would transfer just enough jumper power to release the front lid solenoid lock.  That didn’t work, as Rob discovered after spending 20 minutes head-down in the driver’s side footwell trying to attach the very large jumper cable clamp to the very small panel connector.  

A last, desperate reference to the owner’s manual finally solved the problem:  retrieve the stiff wire tool in the fuse panel cover, insert it into the special hole to release the key from the ignition, and follow the small print on page 247:  push the transponder button on the key itself.  Eureka!  Lid opened, jumpers attached, car started, and everybody caught up with the Bronze Foundry tour, all a bit older and wiser for the experience.