Past Tours

BMW Club Tours 2015 Recap

Bimmers-on-MtRoads500px350The 2015 driving tours season officially ended in the beautiful Walla Walla wine country after a colorful fall drive over mountain, valley, and desert roads. Our driving season began six months earlier on a dark, wet morning north of Seattle. We’ve travelled quite the distance over our summer driving season!

Those of you who remember that inaugural tour in April may also recall how the morning rain turned into a bright sunny day as we drove the entire length of Whidbey Island before reaching our lunch spot in Langley.

2015_BMWClub_Skamania_Lunch_350px225By late May, we could enjoy perfect weather for our tour to the Columbia River Gorge at Skamania. Tour organizer and leader Phil Sanders arranged for us to all meet Saturday morning at BMW Northwest’s state of the art dealership in Tacoma. They generously provided showroom space and morning refreshments before we set out. Once on the road, our entourage took some of the best back roads in southwestern Washington, out to Astoria where the Columbia meets the Pacific, and then back up the Gorge to beautiful Skamania Lodge, where the group stayed overnight.

Our June tour to Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula offered members lots of twisty back roads not commonly travelled, and glimpses of Hood Canal from high atop peninsula ridges. A commanding view on the peninsula, Hurricane Ridge, was our final destination. Best of all, skies were blue at the Ridge observatory for a 180 degree view of the Olympic Range below.

Touring_byChristianeHelbig_350px225In August we returned to a favorite destination, Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, thanks to tour leader Jeff Conn. As in past years, it was a great drive to a beautiful part of our state.

Another favorite destination, The Ridge Racetrack at the south end of Hood Canal, provided a scenic September drive and a few laps around the track, just to sample what a real racetrack is like.

The Ridge Tour was marred by one mishap on the road to the track. One of our member drivers was involved in an accident, from which he thankfully expects to make a full recovery. Though the significant damage was to the metal and not the member, it reminds us of how we must exercise maximum awareness of the potential dangers out there.

BMW Club members enjoy wine tasting. Photo by Greg Smith
BMW Club members enjoy wine tasting. Photo by Greg Smith

Our final tour of the season, to the Walla Walla wine country, offered every kind of terrain our state offers. Mountains, desert, rivers, and abundant agriculture. Add in the good company of fellow club members and you have the perfect fall weekend. Thank you Greg Smith, who organized and led this tour.Read more about it in the adjoining article written by one of our members, Jeff Butler.

Thus ends our 2015 driving tours season. Stay tuned for our preview article in winter/spring 2016. We’ll have another season of great drives to your favorite destinations with fellow club members!

Ed Walker, Tours Coordinator

 

"My wife and I joined the BMW Car Club of America Puget Sound Region in 2009, shortly after moving cross continent to Washington. Since then we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting the many people who share our love of the marque and a joy for driving. The club tours have provided us with an entertaining opportunity to see more of our beautiful area and find roads seldom traveled. This year’s Walla Walla Wine Tour was one of our best yet. The pace of the drive, the routes chosen to drive, the accommodations, food, scenery, vineyards, and wine tasting experiences were all thoroughly planned and orchestrated. The only thing better than all of the above was the fantastic camaraderie and conversation we were able to share with the other car enthusiasts."

-Donald and Jeree Lagoon


BMW Club members enjoy wine tasting. Photo by Greg Smith

2015 Walla Walla Wine Tour Recap

BMW Club members wine tasting. Photo by Greg Smith
BMW Club members enjoy wine tasting. Photo by Greg Smith

The wine tour weekend of October 2-4 was our fourth wine tour with the BMW Club. In short, they are fabulous. Being a track guy at heart I have finally learned to slow down and enjoy the scenery as well as the company. Destination wineries are a bonus!

Having been on three previous wine tours, my navigator Kelley and I have become accustomed to a level of excellence that we BMW drivers are known for. Many thanks to our tour leader and organizer, Greg Smith. This year’s wine tour continued the tradition of well-organized and well thought out club adventures we have come to know and love.

Our three-day venture to the Walla Walla wine country began bright and early Friday morning at the Enumclaw QFC. After loading up on caffeine and other goodies we headed out through Mount Rainier National Park on Highway 410, then down into the eastern foothills of the Cascades, with a lunch stop and iconic “Miner’s” restaurant in Yakima. Can you say LARGE portions? The final stretch past the Hanford Reservation and the Tri-Cities brought us into Walla Walla on Highway 12.

Our first wine stops were at L’Ecole and Woodward Canyon. Our tasting was out on the deck at L’Ecole in perfect 72 degree weather. This transformed 1870 Frenchtown school house and property had been purchased in 1983 as a retirement project and turned into a winery by founders Jean and Baker Furguson. From there we headed to the historic Marcus Whitman hotel to check in, nap and then enjoy the group dinner at the “Marc” restaurant downstairs.

BMW Club Members tour Garrison Creek barrel room. photo by Greg Smith
BMW Club Members tour Garrison Creek barrel room. photo by Greg Smith

Saturday morning bright and early had us at Garrison Creek by 10:00 am. This place was a sight to behold. We had a tour of the barrel room and library downstairs along with some barrel tastings from their premium new French oak barrels aging some great Cab. A quick drive to Basel Cellars for our catered lunch from “Olive” restaurant in their tasting room was our next venue.  We were provided a sit down tasting with lunch followed by a grounds tour down to the processing area and barrel storage. The wine maker was on hand to show the wine making process just after the grapes had been processed and “stomped”. The grapes and juice were in large vats being fermented and “pushed down” several times a day. Simple bed sheets covered the vats to keep the gasses in and the bugs out.

Our last stop for the day was Beresan, right next to Balboa, Saviah, Sleight of Hand Cellars and Pepper Bridge Wineries. There is just no end to your options. We headed back to the hotel and went out for a snack at one of the many fabulous restaurant options in the area with Steve and Michelle, a couple we had just met on the tour. After a nap (I could get used to this life style!) we headed to dinner and enjoyed one of the five music venues available that evening.

Sunday morning was breakfast and good-byes as we parted company with the group. Kelley and I must be part of the hard core camp though, because we couldn’t miss the Spring Valley tasting room right across the street from the hotel nor the Waterbrook winery as we headed out of town towards Prosser and our final wine stop, Thurston Wolfe. From prior wine tours we discovered Wine O Clock restaurant right next to Thurston Wolfe, so of course that was our final lunch stop of the trip. We enjoyed wonderful pear and bacon pizza and caprese salad with, um more wonderful wine. I downed a small French press of high test fresh coffee and a peach cobbler for the road.

We enjoyed our drive home and nearly 40 mpg in the 2015 Volcanic Orange Cooper S, even with back hatch filled with wine bottles. The weather was perfect, the company was fabulous, and the cars were a blast. The Walla Walla wine country is not to be missed. Oh, and there is the wine too.

I am writing this article avoiding going into the office this Monday morning because I don’t want to get back to reality just yet.

Thank you again to member Greg Smith for putting together this wonderful wine country tour!

Jeff Butler

BMW CCA board member & Car Control Clinic guy

 

 


2015 Columbia River Gorge Driving Tour Recap

2015_BMWClub_Skamania_Lunch_350px225Our 2015 Columbia River Gorge Driving Tour launched bright and early Saturday morning May 30 from BMW Northwest in Tacoma. Our host, Chris Busch, Pre Owned Sales Manager, welcomed us with refreshments in their new, state-of the-art showroom, a great venue for our morning drivers’ meeting. Thank you to Chris and BMW Northwest for reaching out to our Club members!

Once on the road, we covered lots of back road territory and great scenery including coastal mud flats, forests, river crossings and an ocean. As our 24 BMWs approached Astoria, where the Columbia reaches the ocean, the sun emerged and curvy roads drew us into the coastal lowlands.

Arriving in Astoria, we pulled over for some great BBQ before turning up river and crossing back over the Longview Bridge. From there we could enjoy long views down the Columbia on one side and Mt. St. Helens on the other.

After jumping on I-5 briefly, SR 503 returned us to the twisties as we worked ourselves back down to the river gorge with Mt. Hood in the distance. SR 14 wound us up along the river to our final destination at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson.

There we were welcomed with exclusive parking and an outdoor grassy lounge. It was great just to relax, compare notes, and visit with fellow members and friends, old and new.

All in all, it was a great day of driving, exploring, and connecting with fellow enthusiasts.

See you on the next tour!

Phil Sanders, Tour Leader

 

Thanks to Christiane Helbig for providing these photos of the trip!

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Hurricane Ridge Tour Recap

HurricaneRidgeBMWs_640px430Our Hurricane Ridge Tour was a great success this year! Thirty BMWs of almost every vintage made their way some of the best roads the Olympic Peninsula had to offer. A beautiful sunny Saturday welcomed Club members to visit that mountain range so many of us see to the west--the Olympics. After snaking our way through the Kitsap Peninsula and over Hood Canal, we arrived for lunch in Sequim. After comparing driving experiences to that point, we set out for the final leg up into Olympic National Park on the Hurricane Ridge (twisty!) Road. From there the views were spectacular, being almost at eye level with the peaks you could almost reach out and touch. All in all, a great day to get away from it all and see that otherwise distant view close up.

 

If you missed this tour, or if you want more of the same, but to the east, sign up now for our August 1st trip to Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop. Get your room reservation in now, so you can enjoy the great drive there and then relax at this first class lodge in the North Cascades! Go to tours@bmwpugetsound.com to RSVP now.

 

Ed Walker

Tours Coordinator

 

Photos by Nathan Ramsey

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Whidbey Loop Tour Recap and Upcoming Tours

IMG_0322_350px225Thanks to the 40 plus members who made our Whidbey Island Tour a great success. A refreshing spring rain greeted us in the morning, but gave way to a sunny afternoon when we reached our destination in Langley on the south end of Whidbey Island. The 100 mile drive between afforded spectacular views of the surrounding islands, rolling hills and mountain ranges. If you missed it, be sure to sign up for one of our upcoming tours at tours@bmwpugetsound.com :

 

May 30-31:  Columbia River Gorge Tour to Skamania Lodge, OR

June 27:       Olympic Peninsula Tour

July 25:        Mercer Island Mini-tour

August 1:      Sun Mountain Lodge Tour to Winthrop, WA

Sept 13:        Hood Canal Tour to The Ridge Racetrack in Shelton

Oct 2-4:        Walla Walla Wine Country Tour

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The Ridge Tour Recap

BMW_HoodRiver_View_from_RowenaCrest300px200The 2014 Puget Sound Chapter Tour season officially ended on a high performance note, with some very spirited parade laps around The Ridge Motorsports Park on September 13. What a great way to end this year’s Tour season and tee up anticipation for spring 2015!

On this final tour for 2014, we started out bright and early with all manner of machines: Z3 to M3 to X3 (that’s right SAVs, we want you!). Finding the secret back route from Federal Way, we meandered through trees and twisties on scenic SR 509 around Commencement Bay, across the Narrows Bridge, and finally along the coastlines of Hood Canal.

Anxiously pulling into The Ridge racetrack paddock around noon, we waited as our fellow Chapter members attending the same-day High Performance Driving School exited the course for lunch. After receiving track instructions from Club instructor Jeff Butler, we followed him directly onto the course for a few spirited parade laps, keeping to the proper line through all corners, at a responsible speed, of course.

Afterward, those who wanted to strap on helmets and take some hot laps in instructor cars, learned why the term Ultimate Driving Machine is more than just marketing hype.

By the numbers, over 250 drivers and navigators enjoyed our six tours this year, roughly one trip per month over spring and summer. We travelled over 2,000 miles of the best roads in Washington and the edge of Oregon.

We began in April with 61 cars ascending up through the Cascade foothills, bringing us back down into historic Snohomish for lunch. A month later another two-dozen member-enthusiasts circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula, stopping for lunch at Kahlaloch Lodge directly overlooking the ocean below.

In May, we proceeded solemnly past the Oso devastation on newly opened Highway 530. We continued on to Diablo Dam, momentarily stopping all dam traffic for some picture taking. Continuing up over Washington Pass, our BMWs were soon welcomed onto the sunny front lawn of Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop while we dined inside overlooking the magnificent Methow Valley.

Mid-summer found us discovering pre-Interstate era “Blue Highways” through the countryside and small towns on both sides of Snoqualmie Pass. A few lucky convertibles scored free car washes as we proceeded past irrigation sprinklers aimed suspiciously out over the highway. But before long, those historic, twisty roads led us into the heart of the Yakima Valley. Our lunch destination, Silver Lake Winery, afforded us complementary and mercifully shaded hill top views of acres upon acres of vineyards, orchards, and hop fields.

Our two-state, two-day tour in August wove around Mt. Rainier and then Mt. St. Helens’ volcanic-landscaped twisty roads. From our lunch stop at Windy Ridge observatory, we could also spot Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Count ‘em, that’s four mountains from one spot! Downshifting and braking slightly, we came around the final bend. Suddenly before us lay the vastness of the Columbia River Gorge and our ultimate destination, Hood River, Oregon. Wow.

So it is with our season-ending trip to The Ridge last month, we can call it a pretty good year!

But wait, there’s more! Planning for 2015 is just starting. For the 250 or so members who attended this year’s tours, let us know where you want to go next season, along with your likes and dislikes about this past year’s tours.

We’d also like to hear from members who weren’t able to attend this year. What destinations or kind of tours would you like to attend? And if you’re interested in planning a future tour, even better!

As always, we’re constantly looking for volunteers and new ideas. Please contact me at tours@bmwpugetsound.com with your thoughts.

Ed Walker. Tours Coordinator

(Remember the Golden Rule of Tours: Thou Shalt Not Pass The Leader)

Jim & Julie Lange at Multnomah Falls. Photo taken on the 2014 BMW Club Hood River Tour
Jim & Julie Lange at Multnomah Falls. Photo taken on the 2014 BMW Club Hood River Tour

 

 


Rowena Crest, US Highway 30 near Hood River above the Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Jim and Julie Lange.

BMW Hood River Tour Recap--2014

View down the Columbia River Gorge from Rowena Crest, US Highway 30.  Photo by Ken Theimer.
View down the Columbia River Gorge from Rowena Crest, US Highway 30. Photo by Ken Theimer.

Wow, what a great tour! August 16/17 was a beautiful sunny weekend for drivers and navigators on our Hood River Overnight Tour. Early morning we headed around the east side of Mt. Rainier and then on to Mt. St. Helens viewpoint at Windy Ridge. Twisty roads in the National Forest provided a great forearm workout as we steadily ascended through remnants of the 1980 blast area. Arriving at the viewpoint, our group enjoyed the panoramic vista before us: a cloud filled volcanic crater, still recovering Spirit Lake, and new vegetation in the vast blow down area.

After our picnic lunch, we descended into the shadows of Mt. Adams to the east. Turns gradually became longer and small towns reappeared, until before us lay the broad expanse of the mighty Columbia Gorge. Note: stop at river, turn left.

Snaking along the river on the narrow Highway 14 right of way with a long, speeding train, Hood River emerged in the distance. Our final thrill only cost a dollar. Peering down at the river just over our hoods, we carefully crossed the toll bridge on its two-lane, no-shoulder, steel grated bridge deck. Did I mention the famous Hood River wind? Both hands on the wheel, please.

The town of Hood River was truly a great way to end the tour. Several of us met for dinner to relax, get better acquainted and share favorite moments from our 200+ mile trek. For those who needed more, Sunday provided many more driving, shopping, and wine touring opportunities up and down the Gorge. Another great trip!

But you say you need one more Tour before the season ends? Then you won’t want to miss the Hood Canal to The Ridge Tour on September 13. It’s the only Tour that takes you onto the race track! Sign up now for the Hood Canal to The Ridge Tour.

Starting at the Federal Way Starbucks, we’ll take the scenic back route to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and along the scenic and twisty roads that line South Puget Sound and Hood Canal, about 175 miles round trip from Seattle.

Our destination will be The Ridge Motorsports Park near Shelton. We will be allowed to run a handful of slow speed pace laps during the lunch break of the BMWCCA High Performance Driver Education day. No helmets or inspection will be required.

Sign up now to reserve your spot! See the full article for more details.

 

Ed Walker

Tours Coordinator

 

First stop at Greenwater, road to Hood River.  Photo by Jim Walker.
First stop at Greenwater, road to Hood River. Photo by Jim Walker.

 

 

Forest Road 99 to Windy Ridge Viewpoint, Mt. St. Helens.  Photo by Doug Eng.
Forest Road 99 to Windy Ridge Viewpoint, Mt. St. Helens. Photo by Doug Eng.
Windy Ridge, gathering of members.   Photo by Doug Eng.
Windy Ridge, gathering of members. Photo by Doug Eng.

 

Clouds lying in Mt. St. Helens crater. Photo by Doug Eng.
Clouds lying in Mt. St. Helens crater. Photo by Doug Eng.
View down the Columbia River Gorge from Rowena Crest, US Highway 30.  Photo by Ken Theimer.
View down the Columbia River Gorge from Rowena Crest, US Highway 30. Photo by Ken Theimer.

 

Rowena Crest, US Highway 30 near Hood River above the Columbia River Gorge.  Photo by Jim and Julie Lange.
"LOVE this road!" Jim Lange at Rowena Crest, US Highway 30 near Hood River above the Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Jim and Julie Lange.

 


The BMW Club enjoying lunch at the Twin Pines burger joint in Cle Elum Washington.

Blue Highways Tour Recap

Blue Highways Tour Recap

Photo of the Car Club parked by Cle Elum Twin Pines Burger Joint, by Marcelo Vaccaro
Tour participants parked by the Cle Elum Twin Pines burger joint. Photo by Marcelo Vaccaro

 

Thanks to everyone who trekked over the mountains with us on our Blue Highways Tour. In the morning with blue skis beckoning, we headed up to Snoqualmie summit along the waters of Denny Creek, the suspended lanes of I-90 above us. Before long we were descending alongside Lake Keechelus through thinning trees and increasing rangeland approaching Cle Elum. Our unofficial welcome was a high output irrigation sprinkler aimed over the roadway, providing 50 mph car washes for all, more thoroughly for the convertibles.

After a quick stop at an old fashioned burger joint, temperatures started to climb past 100 as we descended into the Ellensburg Canyon. Lots to see along the twisty Yakima River route--fly fisherman, inner tubers, and of course our 21 BMWs leading a group of Harleys, itching to pass us. All too soon we found ourselves amidst orchards, vineyards, and hop fields as we approached the Silver Lake Winery above Zillah. We had reached our final destination for picnicking, wine sipping, and good old fashioned relaxing from our hill top perch.

Need more touring, you say? Happy to oblige! Sign up now for the Hood River Weekend Tour, August 16/17. Heading out from Issaquah, we'll snake around Mt. Rainier, up to Windy Ridge, and into what remains of Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake for our picnic lunch. Then it's on to Hood River down Forest Road 25 through some of the state's best twisty roads, open only in summer. We'll emerge alongside the vast Columbia River as we watch huge grain barges compete with wind surfers from our overnight hotel destination at Hood River, Oregon. Sign up now to reserve your spot! See the full article for more details.

--Ed Walker, Tour Coordinator

Crossing Denny Creek. Photo by Steve Ladwig
Crossing Denny Creek. Photo by Steve Ladwig
View through windshield of the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.
Approaching Snoqualmie Pass. Photo by Steve Ladwig

 

 Twin Pines burger joint in Cle Elum. Photo by Steve Ladwig
Twin Pines burger joint in Cle Elum. Photo by Steve Ladwig

Sun Mountain Lodge Tour Recap

ViewFromTopOfDam_300pxWMany thanks to all those who made the Sun Mountain Tour such a success. We started early with a group of 21 cars including a classic bimmer convertible, new 2 and 4 Series models, as well as Porsche and even a Maserati. The trip through Oso was a sobering reminder of nature's power over us. Local law enforcement out of Darrington watched our procession carefully as we continued up Highway 530 toward Rockport, but that was the extent of the official attention we attracted.

A little farther up the road, we had the thrill of driving over and pausing momentarily on the top of Diablo Dam for some wonderful pictures of the glacier green lake on one side and spilling water on the other. The remainder of the drive up and over Washington Pass was something to remember for all. We quickly descended from the summit, paraded through Winthrop, and entered the grounds of Sun Mountain Lodge. Our cars were treated to special parking privileges on the lawn out front. Lunch was excellent and matched with a breathtaking view of the Methow Valley from their dining room.  It was a great trip!

Many thanks to Peter Stevens for sharing his photos with us, and to Jess Valmonte for sharing his son Nathan's video of the trip.

Ed Walker, Tour Coordinator

P.S.  If you missed the Sun Mountain trip, or want to experience another journey a little farther into southeastern Washington,  join us for our upcoming Blue Highways Tour  July 12. Come with us and enjoy the original, twisty, curving highways heading east, like those immortalized by author William Least Heat-Moon in his 1978 book, Blue Highways. These roads are the state's best kept secrets. Here's your chance to discover what's been right under your nose! Read more here.

Check out Nathan Valmonte's video montage of the Sun Mountain Lodge Tour. Enjoy!

Please note: your photos could be featured here too. We'll be putting up a Recap after every tour, and all participants are welcome to submit photos to be posted to the gallery. Send us your best shots! The fun doesn't have to end when the driving day is over.

The following are some of Peter Stevens photos. See more on his Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/sets/72157645262861324

 

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Getting ready for the Tour
Passing through the Oso mudslide area
Passing through the Oso mudslide area
Tour members socializing at rest stop
Tour members socializing at rest stop
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North Cascades Peak
Rest Stop: A parking lot full of shining Bimmers!
Rest Stop: A parking lot full of shining Bimmers!
Driving across Diablo Dam
Driving across Diablo Dam
The view down from the top of Diablo Dam
The view down from the top of Diablo Dam
Diablo Lake and Dam
Diablo Lake and Dam
Diablo Lake Reflections
Diablo Lake Reflections
Bimmers parked on Sun Mountain Lodge lawn
Bimmers parked on Sun Mountain Lodge lawn
Sun Mountain Lodge bar balcony
Sun Mountain Lodge bar balcony

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View from dining room
View from dining room

 

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Rainbow over spillway

 


Cascade Foothills Tour Recap!

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Sixty-one BMWs of all varieties turned out for our first tour of the season in the Cascade Foothills. The day started out overcast but quickly turned sunny as we snaked through seldom traveled sections of Issaquah-Fall City Road. Most of us made the proper turns and stayed on course. About half way, we met and all parked together for a pit stop along the Stilaguamish River in Monroe. It was a great photo op and a chance to mix and mingle for members and a great assortment of models and vintage.

The final leg took us around beautiful Lake Roesiger, a small gem tucked into the foothills. Many of us experienced some scenery and twisty roads in our own back yard for the very first time. And I'm sure we gave some local folks something to talk about as we paraded past many a front porch out on the county back roads!

Here are some of the photos from the tour. More photos of the event are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/sets/72157643855947474/ 

Many thanks to all the members who participated and displayed spirited, yet responsible driving manners. And now, on to our next tour, the Olympic Peninsula on May 17. Read more about it here.

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