Friday, April 16, 2010

THMMC Covered Bridge Run 2010 Recap

Gathering at Pilot Mountain
Yes, yes, yes, it has taken me almost a week.  And I have lots of other blog entries on my list of things to do (those would be GTD Next Actions).  But for now, I just want to see if I can crank out an update of the Covered Bridge Run that was held last Saturday by the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club.  This was a run that I led as a follow-up to the 2009 Covered Bridge Run.

In 2009 we stayed in the central part of NC visiting the Pisgah Covered Bridge after a route that took in a couple Scenic Byways including the Flint Hill Ramble (really nice twisty stretch there).  For 2010 I set my sights a little farther north - Virginia to be more specific.  There are actually a few covered bridges in the southwest area of Virginia (also home to one of our THMMC chapters).  Getting up to them though proved to be a routing challenge as it was quite a bit of ground to cover.  I also wanted to avoid Floyd County after the whole Turkey Trot Incident (no, I will not go into details).  And on the way back I wanted to avoid Hwy 66 since I knew we'd be doing that as part of the Bullfrog Run.

MINIs on Squirrel Spur Road
So, I decided to start us off at the top of Pilot Mountain.  Those who live in the area and have been up Hwy 52 have seen Pilot Mountain several times.  I had to do a bit of research and figured out there is a State park there and it had a nice, large parking lot close to the summit.  Perfect for a gathering of MINIs.  Our plans almost derailed when we learned on Friday that a marathon was being run on Pilot Mountain.  Fortunately it started out at the base and no runners had made it to the summit while we were there.  Although a couple llamas or alpacas or something were up there as we were leaving.

Bob White CB stop
Down Pilot Mountain we took off on some back roads heading north.  Of particular note was Squirrel Spur Road, a neat little twisty road that lead us up to our intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We got to hop on that for about 20 miles for an early preview of the Blue Ridge Parkway Tour coming up in a few months.

We exited the BRP at Hwy 8 just south of Floyd and started off down toward Woolwine.  This little section of Hwy 8 is another one of those gems of a twisty road.  Getting into Woolwine we reached our first covered bridge - the Bob White Covered Bridge.  Reading the plaque on the bridge, I discovered the bridge was built and existed for the purpose of getting across the river to the Smith River Church of the Brethren (or read the Wikipedia entry).  Which I found to be an interesting and unique bit of trivia.

More arrivals
From the Bob White Covered Bridge, we headed back into "town" for lunch at the Brick House Cafe.  They had actually closed off about half the restaurant for our group.  And for future reference, a double cheeseburger includes two huge patties that you can barely get your mouth around.  Not fine dining - but good dining.  I always enjoy hitting local joints (hmm - a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives run???).

To help split things up a bit (since we were so close to our next destination), I threw in a loop up Hwy 40 to the north of Fairy Stone Park and we then came back down through the park.  And fyi for those interested - Fairy Stone Park is named for the fairy stones that can be found there.  Fairy stones are rocks that have formed in the shape of a cross.  iirc from my Google research, the legend is that the fairies in the area, upon getting the news that Jesus had been crucified, began to weep and when their tears hit the ground, they turned into the fairy stones.

Some THMMCers check out the CB
Hwy 40 (part of the Turkey Trot) is a fun road full of twisty action.  We did have a bit of a problem when a small contingent missed a turn off Hwy 40 onto Henry Road.  They went all the way into Ferrum, VA (where they discovered a small college existed), before getting turned around and finding us where we were waiting for them.

Our final stop of the day was at the Jack's Creek Covered Bridge, which is just south of Woolwine on Hwy 8 (yeah, we were only about 4-5 miles away when we were at the Brick House Cafe).  This bridge was located right next to the the Jack's Creek Primitive Baptist Church.  Couldn't really tell whether it is still an active church or not, but someone is definitely keeping it up if it is not.

A nice ending!
From Jack's Creek, everyone headed their separate ways.  I think this included a small contingent heading back up into Virginia, a member heading back west in the the NC mountains (maybe even TN, not sure), and most heading back into NC via Hwy 8 down through Stuart, VA, then looping around Hanging Rock State Park via Danbury, and eventually into W-S or breaking off to Greensboro and points east.

For once I did not have any wrong turns or have to execute *ahem* uncoordinated U-turns.  Apparently my Nuvi/Mapsource skills are improving.  I think we had 19 or 20 MINIs show up for the run, with several new members coming out and joining us.  Of course, it was great fellowship.  As I headed home, I realized that I currently do not have any events that I am in charge of or planning.  Just some ideas floating in my head.  And I'm helping some with BRPT 2010, though I'm trying to get by with as little effort as possible (did I just hear someone say lazy?).

As usual, there is a gallery with more photos of the event.  For any MINI enthusiasts out there reading this, hope to see you at an event sometime!

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