Monday, January 26, 2009

THMMC - 2009's First Motor

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Hmmm, Mini likes to use the term "motoring" in a bunch of their advertising.  Part of their branding efforts.  But for the title of this post, if I wanted to substitute "drive" with something else, as in "THMMC - 2009's First Drive", is "Motor" the proper form?  I don't really know.  I suppose other words that would work include "event" or "tour".  Anyway, I'll leave it as Motor even though it doesn't sound right.  Maybe I can start a new trend in the Mini-verse.

Meanwhile, this post is quite late in getting made.  If you read my last post about the death of my Compaq laptop, you have some idea why that is.  Back on January 10th, the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club made their first run of the new year - a run up to Stone Mountain and then on to Sparta for some lunch.

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The event for me started out a little early as I made a flying catch of the Triangle group as they passed through the Graham/Burlington area on their way to our gathering point in Winston-Salem.  It has occurred to me that I am always trying to latch on to either a group traveling from the Triangle west or the Triad heading east.  No groups ever start right here in my area.  So I've dubbed this area I live in the "Island of Misfit Toys" since it seems like I am always the misfit trying to join in with the other toys.

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We had a nice little convoy of four Minis to make our way through Greensboro and on in to Winston-Salem and our gathering spot on Reynolda Road.  Once everyone arrived (and I think we started with 16 Minis), we headed out at 10:30 a.m. heading west/northwest on Hwy 67, a nice two-lane heading through some gentle countryside.  This took us through Boonville on our way to the Jonesville and Elkin area, where we caught Hwy 21 heading up toward the mountains.


While starting out as your basic two-lane country road, as we neared Stone Mountain the twisty factor increased dramatically and it was a nice opportunity for our Minis to enjoy themselves (drivers and passengers as well).  Along the way we hit the entrance to Stone Mountain Park and headed up into the park.  While quite twisty, this was a park road and demanded some very conservative driving.  Not only were there quite a few other visitors to the park, there were numerous deer.  (Yes, that is the part that sends shivers down my back.)  Once we made it to the end of the paved portion of the road, we all stopped for a little break and stretch our legs.  Then it was back out of the park the way we came, and a short drive on into to Sparta.

The originally planned route - view larger map


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Once in Sparta, we stopped in at Brown's Restaurant for some lunch.  Brown's is where we stopped during last year's Blue Ridge Parkway Tour.  They serve some good country cookin'.  Alas, no frog legs were available.  I guess frogs may be hard to come by in the middle of winter in NC.  When lunch concluded, most of the group decided to alter the planned route and took Hwy 21 on up to Elk Creek, VA, then some twisties down to Galax, VA.  Not real sure what route they took to get back to Winston-Salem.  Judging from the route map and the comments on the forums, it was a blast.

Unfortunately, my schedule did not permit me to take such a long detour.  And I was all turned around which led to me taking Hwy 18 the wrong way out of town to complete the originally mapped loop.  So I ended up taking Hwy 18 north up to close to the VA line where I caught Hwy 89.  That had a great twisty section for the first 4-5 miles, though it was tempered somewhat by a slow VW (Rabbit I think) taking it extremely slow down the mountain.

The alternate route that most of the group took - view larger map


So even though I missed the last little bit, it was still a great way to get 2009 started.  Now I only need to figure out something for February (or hope someone else posts something soon).  I'm hoping this year I can pull at least one eve---er, motor each month.  That will be a challenge with all the other stuff in my life.

As always, there is a complete photo gallery available (which I managed to get a few pics even though my camera had been knocked to manual focus without me knowing about it until I checked at the Stone Mountain stop).

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