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Lunch at the Top

Story by Glenn Billings
Photos by Larry Moore

“Wow it’s hot out!” It took a very determined group of 30+ PCA-OCR members enduring high temperatures on Sunday in late July to meet and drive from Porsche Riverside to the Palm Springs Tram Ride and lunch “on top.”


9:30 a.m. was our starting point and the heat was already registering mid-90 degrees. Our Palm Springs destination was 105 degrees and rising. Fortunately, our reward for escaping the heat lay at the top of San Jacinto Mountains where we rode the Tramway up 7,000 feet to cooler temperatures and clear, unobstructed beauty. Shortly after our arrival, it was a moderate 72 degrees and the timing was perfect, as we were sitting at the restaurant by 12:00 p.m., noon. The ride in the tram car was an e ticket; cabling past five environmental surroundings on our 20-minute journey to the top. The whole trip from beginning to end was 74 miles and took an hour and forty minutes.

Now, the rest of the story and how we got to Palm Springs. Resetting our odometers back to zero, our 20 Porsches, a mixture of old air coolers and new GT-3s, pulled away from Porsche Riverside and headed west and south along Irving and Mocking Bird Street. This area, with its narrow warm bitumen road surface, swept through orange groves, horse farms and open acreage with sprawling haciendas dotting the dull pewter landscape.

Once on El Sobrante, you find yourself in more desert-like conditions, with dusty beige chaparrals and huge boulders the size of semis. Just east of Lake Matthews, you turn left onto Cajalco, which then turns into Ramona Expressway. This is a long, straight drive to the 215 where on both sides of the road nothing but uninhabited hills in the distance while up close, we saw cow farms, barren vegetation with rusted farm equipment, feed stores, piles of lumber and abandoned vehicles.

After a brief stop in Perris, giant rocky foothills were in front of us. Once on the other side, the enormous open expanse of San Jacinto Valley with Banning to the south and Beaumont to the north appeared. With Palm Springs in sight but way off in the distance, everyone pulled over for a photo opportunity with the San Jacinto peak in the background.

We continued our journey north to Beaumont and onto the 10 East passing the Morongo Casino. Up ahead were the strange sights of hundreds of towering motionless white wind generators. In the midst of this ‘wind’ farm, Hwy 111 approached and we headed to Palm Springs with the San Jacinto Mountains in full view.

The final five miles seemed like an illusion. As you drive up to the parking lot to take the shuttle to the bottom station, you visually see a normal gradual rise in the road, but you feel the engine pulling a little harder than normal. A couple in our group experienced overheating clutches which cooled down once we arrived. Don’t worry - they made it back.

After lunch, the tour ended and our group began the descent back home, not without hesitation since the weather on top was so cool and pleasant, we knew our cars would be broiling in the parking lot. You could hear people say, “Man, it is hot out!”



This story and photos can be found in the October 2019 Pando on pages 24-25

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