It has taken a while, but I am finally getting around to a writeup regarding the latest Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club (THMMC) event that I was able to attend. Unfortunately, my photos really came out horribly for this event. Not sure what setting I messed up - I thought all I did was switch it to no flash, but obviously something else happened. Many of them, especially once we got out on the drive, were way overexposed. Any way, you can see what I've uploaded in the gallery.
The ride itself was titled the Meet & Motor & Beer Tasting event. It started out with everyone meeting at the Sonic Drive-In in Holly Springs, NC. After a quick bite to eat and some time to socialize, it was off on a ride. The route was a modified version of one the club had done previously known as the Tour de Steamplume. For those not familiar with the area, it is a nod to Progress Energy's Harris nuclear plant (although having grown up in the area and being around when it was built, I'll always know it as Shearon Harris). At the end of the motoring bit, most everyone stuck around to tour the Carolina Brewing Company brewery in Holly Springs. And after that, a last minute itinerary change included a late lunch at Xios Greek Restaurant. I did not stick around for the last two parts. I'm not a beer drinker, so the CBC tour was no loss, though I would have enjoyed some good Greek food. Alas, my kids were waiting for me to get back to the lake so we could do some jet skiing (kind of like a Mini on the water).
Speaking of my mother's house at the lake (Lake Royale if you really must know), once inside the community, the roads are very twisty and lots of blind corners and hillcrests. Very annoying when you are driving an SUV or a minivan (as we are usually doing). As I discovered last weekend in my first trip up there in the Mini, very fun when in a Mini!!! Just cannot get too crazy though as it is residential and there are lots of bike riders and golf cart drivers around. Anyway, Saturday morning started out bright and early with the drive out of the development and about an hour drive in to Raleigh via Hwy. 64, then looping around to Holly Springs. The ride on 64 was interesting as there were a lot more huge SUVs (Yukons, Suburbans, etc.) on the road than what I am used to seeing on my daily Interstate commutes. It was also kind of interesting to see them come blowing by at about 80-90 mph. I swear I could almost hear the gas pumps dinging in glee. I suppose if you can afford to drive around in something that uses so much gas, the hit to your gas mileage from driving so fast is not such a big deal.
As you can see from some of the photos, the Minis lined up at the Sonic were an interesting sight and I noticed they were generating lots of attention from other visitors to the Sonic. After some breakfast, we held a quick driver's meeting and then it was off motoring. A good thing about starting out in Holly Springs is that it only took 3 lights to get out of town.
The route itself basically involves a loop around Harris Lake, which is the water cooling source for the nuclear plant. Very rural most of the way with some great views. One of the thoughts I had during the drive was that someone (maybe I'll even do it myself) should create a system of rating the routes. Though I suppose that at least involves a couple factors - the road itself as well as how aggressively you want to motor. I was thinking of something like what they do with whitewater rapids or maybe ski slopes. So if the Dragon were a five on a scale up to five and a zero was flat, straight road, where would this route fall? I'd probably put it at about a 3? Good curves, but I would probably not say as "technical" as the Liberty City run in May or the Bullfrog run in April. Of course, I can tell that I am becoming much more comfortable with my Mini and where its limits are. It would probably be good for me to go on Blimey's Tour of Terror II.
One interesting thing I spotted during the drive was when we crossed under the bridge for the New Hope Valley Railway. Not sure how many people realized it, but they have several working steam locomotives and other railway vehicles there. A few years ago we took our kids out there around Christmas time for their Santa train rides. We even used a picture of our kids we took out there on the Christmas cards that year (I use "we" loosely as that is really a spousal unit project!).
So, another great event for the THMMC. I've managed to make it to an event a month since April and look forward to many more. Looks like the next one is a big club blast at Springwood Park in Burlington. Not sure if I'll be able to fit an actual drive in during August and September will be a challenge between soccer for my daughters and Wolfpack football games.