Friday, September 05, 2008
THMMC Recap: BTOT2 - Wolf Slays Dragon!
OK, I suppose I am part of the club now. What club you ask? Why the Dragonslayer Club!!! Yes, as part of my Labor Day weekend activities, I had the opportunity to take Mr. Mini Wuf for some motoring on the infamous Dragon. I'll touch on that some more in a bit. Even though the Dragon is often the goal of many a pilgrimage, it actually served as a punctuation mark for a much longer drive. Dubbed "Blimey's Tour of Terror II", our motoring for the day on Saturday, Aug. 30th, included runs from Canton, NC, down to Highlands, NC, a loop through South Carolina and Georgia, up to Robbinsville for some lunch, and finally some Dragon slaying and a little run down Hellbender on the way to Fontana Village.
As is often the case, getting to the starting point was the first adventure. In my case, I had to leave late Friday. I commute everyday up and down I-85/I-40 and while it is a boring drive, the relatively short distance and my Mini at least makes it tolerable. I was not looking forward to a four hour drive down to Canton. My suspicions of trouble were almost immediately confirmed upon merging from the Durham Expressway onto I-85 where there was a massive traffic jam, apparently caused for no other reason than all the people trying to merge down from 4 lanes to 2. I also came up on a wreck in Greensboro right after it happened (LEO was not even on the scene yet), but that didn't delay me too much.
Between Statesville and Hickory I came upon another massive traffic jam due to some construction barrels in the road (though I never saw any problems with the road or any construction going on). So I made it, but I did discover two new chips in the paint on the front of my Mini as a result of that drive. They join a windshield chip I gathered later in the weekend.
Saturday morning brought an early start as we were planning to be wheels up by 8:00 a.m. Our group consisted of members of the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club (THMMC) - Blimey (our leader), Vango(a last minute addition), Sgt. Pepper, abuzavi, x uhoh x, Salemgym, RudyT, and myself. After a few minutes of studying our course syllabus, we loaded up and headed out for a quick stop at McDs for some coffee to chug down on the tame part before we really hit the twisties. As you can see, we were initially socked in by some moderate to heavy fog, bordering on a light mist. The good news was that within about five minutes of getting out of Canton, that burned off and we were greeted to sunny skies.
Before getting into the meat of the run down Hwy. 215, we made a quick detour up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Herrin Knob. This provided a quick opportunity for some pictures with a fabulous backdrop. It was quite impressive and gave me the opportunity to get a couple good shots of my Mini. It also gave me some time to work on my camera setup. I had it strapped in on the passenger seat and was hoping to use the remote control to snap pics. Unfortunately, the camera seemed to "forget" that I had it set to use the remote and would revert to normal operation after a few minutes. It turned out to not be a major problem - with the camera strapped in, it was pretty easy to just reach over and hit the button.
From there, we headed down Hwy. 215 which was a truly awesome road. Lots of great twisties and some beautiful country to drive through. One nice thing was the fact that we got started so early in the morning, there wasn't any other traffic to contend with (not sure whether the road would ever really get a bunch of traffic anyway). Between the lack of traffic and the great road, it was an awesome, uninterrupted run - perhaps the longest roller coaster ride I've ever been on?
Stop in Highlands. Home of rich people.
Mr. Magoo's side trip. The fun of passing.
Back through Highlands. Stop at Bridal Veil Falls.
Wayah ride to Robbinsville. Lunch at Sweetwater BBQ.
Up to the Dragon, Deal's Gap. Very twisty, but our ride that day was disappointing.
Onto Fontana Village. Some rest, change of clothes, clean up, and dinner.