The Drive to Mysterious Florence

22 Sep 2016 4:55 PM | Anonymous

On Saturday, September 17, there was a drive that either went south to Florence or back in time or into some mysterious place only the participants understand. Dr. Marj Jones-Schafer brought back this gauzy account of it all:

JCCA’s first drive of the fall season, led by Larry and Marj Schafer, with Route Master Rosemary Price running shotgun in the rear, began with a liftoff from Starbucks in Chandler with several Jags, a Porsche, and a Morgan.

Driving approximately 29 miles south, the entourage passed from the Cactus Forest into Aleppo Pine trees lining miles of road. Our virtual time travel trip to Greece began with the first glimmer of a small white washed church crowned with a bright blue dome gleaming gloriously in the desert sun, similar to the dome found on Mount Athos.

As the transporter was magically sending us back in time, four cars made it. David and Pattie Wheeler, driving the open Morgan, made the turn, only to have their dog, unnoticed, jump out of the car. Realizing it as they approached the final turn, back they traveled to find the dog (sleeping under a pine tree.)

Bob and Lynn Brown, driving the Porsche, could not qualify as part of the time-transported Jags, turned to begin the second leg of the trip that included the Florence 150 year Celebration and JCCA Treasure Hunt. Starting out early, they began the hunt for the Coke Ovens and the True Value Hardware Store.

The Greek entourage made it safely to the St. Anthony Monastery with a quiet greeting that included the traditional kerasma (water and something sweet). The gracious host father made introductory comments followed by a participants’ clothing review. Bob Martin, longtime JCCA member, said, “This is the first time I have ever been told what to wear for a JCCA drive.”

Covered with appropriate long sleeves, long pants, skirts, and scarves, our JCCA explorers proceeded to envelope themselves in the beauty of monastery architecture, visiting the main church, four chapels, monks’ living quarters, dining hall, and guest facilities. An elaborate system of gardens, pathways, and gazebos with Spanish fountains provided pathways to view date palms, vegetable garden, a small vineyard, citrus orchards, and an olive-grove-dotted landscape. JCCA Member Pam Reinhart, having traversed this land before, surreptitiously tried to get the other JCCA members lost with the intent that she and her friend Betty might rendezvous in the gift shop to purchase her most “treasured jam treat” before anyone else depleted the stock.

With purchases of freshly baked goods, jams, jellies, and herbs, the group returned to the cars to travel 8 miles to Florence and meet the Treasure Hunters at the Mount Athos Restaurant for lunch. Tony and Kim Dimitroplos, guests from the IJF Committee, joined the party to give their authentic Greek touch to the event. Greek salads, soup, moussaka, gyros, lamb shanks, Larry’s hamburger, champagne glass-rice pudding, and galaktobouriko (custard in filo) were indulged in with one to two Ouzo toasts to our travelers and award winners.  Ask Bob or Lynn Brown about the Treasure Hunt Coke Ovens. More to see for another driving event.

Some of the group as they were greeted.


And regrouping over lunch. Photos: Marj Jones-Schafer

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