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Point no Point Rallye

NWCOC SPRING MEET, POINT NO POINT RALLYE

By Katherine Enos (Seattle, WA)
with contributions from Henry Reed (Seattle, WA)
and Uschi Walter (Seattle, WA)

I awoke with a yawn: Yawn. My back felt like I'd slept in a 2CV without a trunk extension and my eyes were closed so tight as to be a pair of Citroen chevrons. But there was no time to waste. It was the day of the Point-No-Point Rallye. Whatever that was, I was going to it, in my first car, my 2CV6 named Cocteau. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I jumped out of bed, fed the cats, and prepared to drive to the Edmonds ferry dock to take the Port Gamble ferry. Having dutifully read the instructions prepared by Port Gamble denizens and hosts David and Cindi Walker, I aimed to get to the ferry dock in time for the 11:30am boat, and hoped to meet other club member attendees in line.

The gas was good to go, and so we went. Careening over Capitol Hill down 23rd (circumspectly slowing at the point where the motorcycle cop had chased me down last Fall to award Cocteau and me our first speeding ticket, accompanied by a lecture-demonstration on how I might better translate kilometers to miles per hour in the future), trundling over the deck of the Montlake Bridge, then shooting around the corner onto Pacific Avenue, Cocteau and I traversed the roads of Seattle, settling then on a steady and merry gait all the way out north on 15th, enjoying the clouds and grey-blue sky that sheltered us like a canopy to the Edmonds ferry dock.

Being lucky in line, the ferry line that is, is rather like being lucky in love. You never know what it will be like until you stand there waiting to see if you get on the boat, or if you're forced to await the next one. Or is it like a box of chocolates? Ah, well, no matter. That day, I was lucky. I was in. Happily, I left Cocteau and went off to attend to the standard pre-ferry functions: (1) finding the restroom; and (2) finding the coffee stand. I peered over the lines of cars on the way, scouting for the elegant elongated lines of a DS, the familiar upside-down-smile-like curvature of the 2CV, or the quaint exterior of a former Parisien baker's truckette. No other Citroen. But then I saw Josie, the yellow-and-black Charleston of Axel (Hobo) Kaliske and Ursula (Uschi) Walter, Hobo and Uschi smiling and waving on approach. It was time to board.

This was a day like any other, and, like any other, Hobo and Uschi had upped the ante by making sure they used the last drop of gas in Josie, their yellow-and-black 2CV6 Charleston, before arriving at the ferry dock. And I, nursing my entrenched 2CV I-can-go-as-fast-as-you chip on the shoulder, had already roared, if you will, off of the boat, leaving Hobo to run after me for just a few drops of the fewer than six gallons of gas in my tank. Studiously and with the practiced daring of any duck driver, I worked at cutting off the BMW that had charged off of the deck on my left, while simultaneously trying to pass the terminally accelerating Viper on my right. Naturally, these activities made it impossible for me to see poor Hobo, whose pace could not begin to outstrip Cocteau's marauding and surrealist tendencies to subvert both form and function. Fortunately, before Hobo and Uschi had to come clean with the ferry people and drag the gas can out of their car to refuel, Hobo was spotted by an observant Jack Hillyer, always prepared and having just enjoyed a fast-food repast at a dockside diner.

Leaving behind the battered egos of the BMW and Viper drivers, I got to the Albertson's parking lot but was puzzled to see that, again, nobody was there. I puzzled over it. Weren't Hobo and Uschi just behind me? Just as well. I had to purchase some groceries for the bring-your-own-meat-or-nonmeat potluck that would follow the festivities at the Walkers' home. I left Cocteau in the lot and made my way into the store to purchase my perishables to put on the grill.

Rallye organizer David Walker announced his arrival through the store page as I shopped in the meat department for some lamb to grill. There was the nearly unintelligible voice of the customer service clerk asking uncertainly, "Will the owner of the... two see ve?... please come to the front of the store?"

"What an unlikely page," I mused as I searched for the lamb in the meat section. "Well, no matter. I'm not done yet - hmmm, lamb shoulder? Or chops? - and there could be any number of 2CV owners here by now."

And so I finally emerged from the store, found David Walker and Jack Hillyer (with his 1956 2CV truckette) in a quiet corner of the parking lot, and was informed that the page was in fact for me. Who knew? Soon we were joined by the other rallye participants: Henry and Leena Reed in their black Traction Avant 1953 11BN, with guest passengers Dick and Eivor von Hagel, and, with a fresh tank of fuel, Hobo and Uschi in Josie.

I have to admit, I wasn't aware of the fine, or not so fine, distinction between a "rallye" and a "raid." Besides the winter dinner, this was in fact my first Citroën club event. It was a complete surprise to me to hear that each car was to receive from rallye organizer David Walker a list of questions that we somehow (I had no idea how) were supposed to answer en route to his house. For all I knew, it could have been questions as difficult as: "Does the fireman wear a hat?" or "Fish preschool?" Well, you tell me. Suddenly, it became clear to me that the 50-mile drive to the Walkers' abode would depend on my skill in playing a game - when the only game I like to play is chess - and not on my willingness to find a place for Cocteau, my 2CV, in the middle of a cavalcade of Citroën vehicles magically bound for a blissful drive that would culminate in an evening of good company and cheer on this great day in the northwest. No. It was a road game, the likes of which I hadn't played since >a captive teenager on vacation with my parents.

So it was that rallye organizer and host David Walker (alas, being a host meant that Cindi Walker wasn't able to attend the games for the most part) showed up on his Kawasaki 1000 police model, with the horsepower to gather up stragglers and to head off aimless wanderers, but lacking the authority to ticket those among us who would be intoxicated by the heady rush of our engines. I suppose it's just as well.

What set me to panicking was that David intended the honor and advantage of first departure for the first arrival in the lot. That would be me.

At any rate, the seemingly (to me) dubious honor of going first, combined with the fact that I was to somehow simultaneously navigate Cocteau through unfamiliar territory while playing road games, caused me some concern. Fortunately, the always generous Richard (Dick) von Hagel was willing to forego a comfortable and calm afternoon with mate Eivor and the Reeds in Henry and Leena Reed's Traction Avant in favor of cavorting around with me and Cocteau. I would drive; Dick would be in charge of submitting our well-considered answers to paper.

Without further ado, and lacking further excuses, Dick and I set out to experience the thrill of victory - or was that the agony of defeat?! No matter. Woopeee!

Rallye organizer David Walker kept a steady eye out for us and others as we turned round and round, traversing a single road numerous times, if need be, to ensure the precision of our answers, which could only be like the finely machined engineering of a DS, or so I've heard. There were great debates, questions to be asked and answered. Dick and I typically used the Socratic method to resolve our intellectual differences over such vital questions as: "The largest crab in the world is what?" or "I am not a starfish, I am a what?" Being the nonconformist I am, I could be heard to mutter, "Why can't we just play strip poker!?"

Our mid-afternoon break was slated for the Port Gamble Store. For some reason, Dick and I always were the last to arrive. Perhaps it was the counting of the red barns that slowed us down, this being one of the key highlights of the journey wherein we had to settle certain important questions such as: What is the difference between a barn and a house? Between a barn and a shed? Between a building that was probably a barn in days of yore, but is now a retail establishment? Not to mention the "When can we stop counting?" question that we puzzled over as we became increasingly confused over our counting methodology and decided that the prudent and responsible action would be to retrace our steps and to begin again, and again.

The Port Gamble Store contains the Seashell and Natural History Museum wherein Dick undertook the task of answering that section of questions as I wandered around. Some interested parties had apparently been waiting for club members and cars to arrive at the Port Gamble Store for hours. These included someone driving a green Citroen Dyane, which, oddly enough, turned out to have once belonged to Ben Morse, the founder of French Parts Service (FPS). Another was a beautifully restored VW bug sporting a compact and cylindrical swamp cooler on the passenger-side window that had caught the eye and attention of Henry Reed. Henry had apparently been thinking of trying to get just such a swamp cooler for his DS that he and Leena will travel to Amherst later this summer for the World Meet. All the while, inside the Port Gamble Store the Walker's young son Alexander would wordlessly indicate the answers to key questions to those raid participants fortunate enough to encounter him.

Then it was that David and Cindi Walker got us back on the road again so that, with growling stomachs, we could finish the rallye and arrive at the house to begin the evening's festivities. Along the way, we laughingly observed the Reeds and Eivor as Henry tried to maneuver the Traction Avant through a none-too-successful U-turn on the narrow streets of Indianola, a scenic and historic village in the Port Gamble Area. Such a long car; such a narrow road. And somewhere along the way, we picked up another 2CV, this one unabashed in red and yellow, a custom beauty belonging to Peter and Barbara Kaupat. I'd met them before, they once followed my 2CV into the parking lot of the Saffron Cow in West Seattle. I remembered their warmth and was glad to see them again. The adventure was capped by the view of the Port Gamble Lighthouse along the coastline.

Back at the house, we got busy making dinner while David Walker worked on scoring our road results. Don Stangeland was there too, in his black BMW convertible - his DS is still being restored. We had a feast, including Leena 's homemade focaccia and her intense but "Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake", and Eivor's spinach salad. I brought veggies to grill, and some tidily sized cheesecakes. Everyone brought wine.

NWCOC SPRING MEET AT THE WALKER'S PLACE

NWCOC SPRING MEET AT THE WALKER'S PLACE
photo provided by Cindi Walker (Hansville, WA)

Alas, owing to Jack Hillyer's early departure that resulted in his forfeiting the distinction of coming in last, Dick and I did experience the agony of defeat, though we were presented with a big, poofy baguette to use as the sword on which we collectively might fall. But Jack hadn't even filled out his form! (Or so I was told). And Dick and I had stalwartly pursued the answers to nearly every question on the road quiz, going to and fro, and fro and to, as the field mice scattered to avoid Cocteau's trusty Michelins, the bees hovered, buzzing over the open top, the birds flew overhead endeavoring to perfect their aim, and the barn cats watched our passings with derision. There'd even been an impromptu and somewhat one-sided game of chicken with Hobo and Uschi in 2CV Josie, though Hobo was unflappable. But by then it didn't matter - Leena and Eivor were a hoot, I'd run into Peter and Barbara and gotten to know them (and their 2CV) a little better, we'd dined on the Walkers' hospitality and the good banter of new and old friends, and had our happy alcohol-warmed faces licked by the Walkers' new dog, whose name sadly escapes me at the moment.

And so finally, it became dark, ferry frequency was on the wane, and we bade each other our goodbyes and set out in a line of 2CVs with the familiar yellow light of the Reeds' Traction headlights to find the ferry dock.

Thanks to David and Cindi Walker for their kind generosity in inviting us to Port Gamble and into their home, and for the energy spent to create an enjoyable rallye for all!

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