I have been a member of the BMW CCA’s Delaware Valley Chapter for just over a year, and I have regrettably struggled to attend a local Pennsylvania chapter event. Work is crazy for me right now, and weekends are forever busy. I also tend to ignore opportunities until they vanish in the rear-view mirror. 

But not this time!

I’d received a chapter email blast earlier in the month announcing a fall-foliage driving tour, and I was determined not to let another opportunity slip by. A pleasant and leisurely drive with the leaves in their glorious fall colors would be the perfect way for my wife and me to experience our first chapter activity!

You couldn’t have served up a better day for a driving excursion. It was cool and crisp in the early October morning, with a warming trend as the day evolved. You cannot underestimate the importance of timing—critical for capturing the best arrangement of the varied colors of trees. Sunshine only adds to their brilliance, and we were blessed with both.

The event was arranged by Chris Holliday and his wife, Valerie. They took over the duties of this decade-long annual event some seven years ago (organized by their vintage group). Generally, it has been a day-long jaunt, but there have been times where it has also been an overnight affair. (Expect that option to possibly return in future years—perhaps by combining DelVal efforts with neighboring chapters.)

For several years now, Otto’s BMW in Southeastern Pennsylvania has been the sponsor, and they were once again instrumental in providing the venue, food, and, most important, the facilities. Otto’s has been a respected family-owned business serving the extended community since 1968.

We arrived about an hour before takeoff, allowing plenty of time to participate in the Cars & Coffee portion of this adventure in the upper parking lot. Premium breakfast sandwiches and beverages were available in close proximity to the check-in area, and there were at least 25 cars already assembling in eclectic clusters.

For those unfamiliar with the Cars & Coffee phenomenon, they are also great primers for group drives, because, well, the hardware is already there. Arriving early enough to wander is a critical requirement; you would otherwise have to strain to view the varied machines in procession, or at the destination if you are lucky.

After 45 minutes of socializing and salivating over this diverse collection of BMWs, we were summoned to attend the prerequisite drivers’ meeting. The assemblage lasted the perfect amount of time: enough to convey important information, but not long enough to lose the attention of the participants.

We were provided both verbal and impeccably scripted turn-by-turn directions, with mileage marks for those clever enough to reset their trip odometers at the appointed times (I was not). No matter; we are from the area, so we know the landmarks and could follow the guidance without difficulty.

At precisely 9:30 a.m. we were WHEELZ UP, as they say. My navigator of 40-some years (on the road and in life itself) expertly managed the directions and waypoints. The first leg of the trip was simple enough, but unsurprisingly tedious, since the intent was to launch us into the northern counties where we could enjoy the spectacular views—patience does have its virtues.

As a bonus, the outing included a scavenger hunt (best undertaken by those with navigators in the passenger seat) and ended with a luncheon at a local renowned restaurant. From start to finish, the drive would take a little over two hours, depending on the two routes provided.

Looking at the photos, you can see how beautiful the trees are at this time of year. But even more than the colorful palette of the landscape were the roads specifically chosen for this run—some of the finest I’ve encountered. We passed countless farms and threaded through wooded groves where the vibrant branches draped downward, painting tunnels of color.

By now the group was well spread out as we picked our way from one gorgeous ribbon of blacktop to the next. The suburban counties of Philadelphia are known for their covered bridges, and it would have been difficult to plan a course that did not include traversing at least one of these extraordinary wooden icons.

The last stop on the journey was at one of my favorite haunts, the Plumsteadville Inn, a historic eatery with period guest-room accommodations located in the charming community of Pipersville. Alas, we could not partake in the social and gastronomical portion of this event due to another commitment—our loss, I’m afraid.

Organizer Holliday agreed to provide me with the ending of this story. We had a total of 86 members who participated in the Cars & Coffee, the breakfast, and the drive; 75 of them made the luncheon, where the winner of the scavenger hunt was awarded a high-quality electronic cooler, courtesy of Otto’s, who also provided other BMW-themed giveaways. 

[Photo courtesy of the Delaware Valley Chapter BMW CCA.]

We enjoy attending events like these because they are simple—just show up and have a good time. However, in order for them to be successful, they require the commitment of individuals like Chris and Valerie, with the support of the Delaware Valley Chapter. And of course none of this occurs without the partnership of a caring sponsor, Otto’s BMW.

I have arranged and attended quite a few comparable drives for a competing car club (in a previous life), and none has exceeded the organization and planning of this delightful event. Because of the dutiful attention in preparation, my wife and I enjoyed ourselves well beyond expectation, and will certainly mark our calendars for this event next year. —David Newton

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