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Packard Club Members Hit The Highway
Friday was a bright, sunny spring day - perfect weather for a drive - and members of the NorCal Region of Packards International gathered in Escalon to begin a morning tour around the area.

Escalon resident Clarence Blixt set up the event, which included stops at the Sconza Candy Company in Oakdale for a tour, Lavender Hollow Farms in Escalon and the carriage house of Bob Carrere in Escalon, a virtual museum of antique and vintage carriages, horseless and horse drawn. A luncheon back in Escalon at D'Boni's Pizza rounded out the day.

"We do a monthly outing, except in February," Blixt said of the group, which includes Packard owners and enthusiasts from the Central Valley, Bay Area and beyond.

An annual event hosted by the regional organization takes center stage in February, but the local chapter schedules their own activities during the rest of the year.

"We do 45 to 50 mph on the country roads, we can also do the legal driving limit," Blixt said of the classic cars keeping up with today's models.

Blixt owns the Packard he drove on Friday and many members brought their own vehicles as well, while some don't have a Packard but belong to the club and ride along with fellow members.

Modesto resident Marion Stencil and her husband Victor were getting ready for the trip and looking forward to the day.

"I love getting out with everybody," Marion said. "I just retired so it's going to be my first trip."

Victor, who said he has three Packards, joined the group about three years ago and was in the auto restoration business for 45 years.

"I've restored a lot of cars," he said as he shined up the hood ornament on his 1936 Packard. "They were the best car built in their time."

Other club members on the Friday morning Valley tour included Tony Dicce of Sacramento, Bill Vassar of Diamond Springs, Mel and Lenore Roush of El Dorado Hills, Rob Corley of Angels Camp and Bob Williams of Carmichael, all coming together to share a common passion, their vehicles.

"You get to know everybody and you're friends," Mel Roush added of some other club benefits other than talking cars.

Sacramento resident Bob Plummer said he has been involved with the Packard group for "25 years or better" and has a 1952 Packard that he often drives on the outing.

"It's the camaraderie, the cars, the people, everything," he said of what he enjoys about the group. "And we don't discriminate. You don't even have to own a Packard to be a member, just appreciate the vehicle."

Blixt was busy checking members in and making sure everyone had an itinerary for the tour before the group headed east along Highway 120 to start their journey on Friday morning.

"We've been at this over 40 years," he said, smiling. "Some of these people are like family."