12th Annual Bulldog Kliffs Rennen - White Mountains
Day #1 Snowstorm outside of Show Low
Short video #1 by Chuck Croteau, driving in a snowstorm with the Outlaws just outside Show Low. In it he lays down a notable quote...
"People who have these 356's, they do drive them in the rain. But real 356ers (AZ Outlaws), they drive them in the snow!"
Short video #2 by Chuck Croteau, view from the Coronado Trail and a transmission leak.
Alpine Hub Cap
Short video #3 by Chuck Croteau, picking up the parts.
Alpine 356 Pass
Short video #4 by Chuck Croteau, 356 pass by.
The 12th annual Arizona Outlaws 356 Club Bulldog Kliffs Rennen event took place April 12th and returned to some favorite roads and locations in the White Mountains of Arizona.
To those devoid of imagination, a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”
- Aldo Leopold
This quote is on a plaque at the Blue Vista Lookout, along with a spectacular view of the valley where the infamous ‘Devils Highway’ passes through. The perfect theme for a group of Outlaws enjoying the unique and mainly desolate highway AZ-191 drive from the copper mining town of Morenci to the mountain top town of Alpine, Arizona. This leg of the weekend drive was expected to be the highlight of the trip, and according to DangerousRoads.org, “is a narrow and winding road, dipping from one curve to the next and is said to have 460 curves”. The highest point of the road is located just south of Hannagan Meadow, in Greenlee County. It reaches an altitude of 9,370 feet (2,743 m) and is one of the highest mountain roads of Arizona.
This road is very exciting and sometimes very exposed with innumerable twists and turns and without a single guard rail should a turn be miss judged. It is tightly hair-pinned and an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler through the mountains. The entire road is paved but it’s one of the least traveled federal highways in the state. While the moniker ‘Devils Highway’ was replaced some years ago with the formal name Coronado Trail, this is a meandering, moseying, slow-motion drive in any car other than a 356.
Our Phoenix group set off on Friday morning to meet with our Tucson based Outlaws at an old favorite Globe restaurant, Guayos, for a tasty Mexican food lunch. Soon after, one 911 and fourteen 356 cars strong, we set out for our weekend headquarters in Springerville anticipating a meetup with four more Zia club 356s from New Mexico. The gray clouds to the northeast gave only a small clue of what was in store. It was a final retaliation from Mother Nature, indicating that winter had one more frosty finale left to deliver. We soon met two inches of icy slush on the highway, accompanied by large snowflakes sticking to the trees and coating the ground. Very unexpected for this mainly desert based Outlaw group.
As Outlaw Chuck Croteau stated, “People who have these 356's, they do drive them in the rain, but real 356ers like the AZ Outlaws, they drive them in the snow!”. The group had to stop a few times to scrape off the frozen snow that had built up under the so called wiper blades. We got to see how many of our car’s wiper blades actually worked. Not too many, I’d have to report. What was Dr. Porsche thinking when he designed the defroster and windshield wiper system of a 356? We will never know, but we pushed ahead through thankfully lighter snowfall into Pinetop, stopping to take a short break.
Snow fell all the way into Springerville, but all Outlaws arrived safely in a tight caravan. Our New Mexico friends were already at the motel in Springerville when the frozen group arrived, and we quickly set up a happy hour warm-up party in the motel’s recreation room and watched the snow fall outside into the chilly 35o evening.
The next morning, the sky was clear and the sun was out for our drive into Alpine to start the route loop down highway 180 to Alma, New Mexico. While the goal was conquering the Devils Highway, the NM-180 windy and tree lined canyon road was a nice warm up for the upcoming challenge. We stopped for lunch at The Alma Grille and took some great photos of the seventeen old 356 cars. After lunch we saddled up and crossed the border back into Arizona with Morenci as our next stop. This is also the start of the Devil's Highway, AZ-191. This leg of the journey begins with quite a sight as the highway travels right along the center of one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world.
After an hour of twisty turns climbing up the highway, we stopped at the Blue Vista Lookout to regroup. This is where the roadway plaque with the opening quote of this article was found. It was a 270 degree beautiful vista as far as you could see. The drive up the Devils Highway definitely lived up to the hype. We had beautiful Arizona blue skies and literally the whole road to ourselves. With many turns still ahead, along the way we saw wild turkey, lots of deer and elk, and a few cattle roaming the space next to the roadway. There was some swerving going on during one stretch to avoid the dreaded cow dung piles scattered across the roadway.
If you have never driven this road, then you are missing what could be one of the best 356 drives in our beautiful state of Arizona and maybe in the entire West. All Outlaws thoroughly enjoyed the twisty drive with NM Outlaws David Gensler and Bill Oaks taking the "prize" getting to the Blue Vista scenic view ahead of the 356 caravan. Kudos to all who rode in the passenger seat, I am sure a few left impressions in the floor board where the brake pedal isn't.
We arrived for dinner at the Foxfire at Alpine restaurant with tired arms after the five hour long day’s drive. The owners were expecting us and brought in a two-piece duo to sing for our group providing good music, delicious food and great camaraderie with fellow Outlaws. Then back to our motel for some final wind down cheers and some pretty long games of pool played. One Outlaw was heard saying “they were trying to see how long they could play on fifty cents”, but I believe they were just out of practice.
On Sunday morning we woke to clear 50o temperatures and sunny skies, said our goodbyes, then headed back to the dry warmth of the desert. As always, it was an exciting weekend of driving adventure, wacky weather and friendly camaraderie. Thank you to all of our friends from Phoenix, New Mexico, Tucson and Lake Havasu for making this a memorable trip.
Till we meet again...