The Gap - a story of the adventures of Ankay
Got off work at 6:00, swapped the smelly rental for my bright and shiny playtoy, threw my bags in and I was off. Hit a ton of bad fog late at night and had my hazards going throughout PA. No animals gone berserk, thank goodness (I was kicking myself for not getting any deer horns before I left) even though what with the eighteen-wheelers getting bullish, air horns would’ve fared better.
That's me on the left.
Decided I had to break in my new Hawk pads in a mall parking lot at 2:30 in the morning after a frantic message from a friend. Ended up smoking the new tires too, unfortunately. Friday weather had rain in the forecast all day in Winchester, Va but the Miata Gods were smiling. Top DOWN (and ear plugs) all the way! Meep-meeped at every eighteen-wheeler on the way down to Staunton, Va.
Took 211 through Luray instead of I-81. Wow! What a ride. Enough sliding, winding twisties to prep me for the Gap (I’ve never driven on curvy roads before). This is pure farm country (Shucks, lookee thar, Skeeter, NJ tags. You shur don’t see them ev’ryday)
Halfway down in New Market, I’m minding my business at a traffic intersection when the pickup truck in front of me decides TO REVERSE AND KEEP ON REVERSING!! Right into ME! I laid on my pathetic meeeeeeeep and tried to back up, but ALAS, there was huge truck behind me. The lunatic crashed into my front bumper. I scrambled out to see my front tag bracket and plate mangled and two deep scratches (Hey, they look bad to me!) on my bumper but no divots, dents, whatnot. My pristine paint job is flawless no more.
Anyway, I let loose. His poor wife had to come out and defend him. Insurance info and several expletives later I’m on my merry way again.
I hit 105 mph chasing a Ford Focus and a <gasp> Lincoln all the way down to Knoxville so I suppose I made good time. Pickup trucks drag-racing are a common sight down there. How curious.
Anyway, the guy at the lodge tells me to maintain the road I’m on for an hour and a half (!!) and that the “mountains going to get real crooked.” (I’m thinking ALL the blasted mountains look crooked here). Anyhoo, I get lost (guys can’t give proper directions) and end up arriving at the lodge at one in the morn, sputtering and stumbling away.
Found out next day, that THAT “crooked mountain” I’d traversed the night before was none other than the DRAGON ITSELF! All I remember thinking the night before was that if this road is bad, I wonder how much worse this supposed Dragon’s going to be. In the pitch black, I was more concerned that at any moment Bambi’s relatives would come charging at me to avenge her death.
We made some wonderful runs on 28, grabbed some lunch (is milk with ice a northern thing?), snapped some pix. I can’t tell you enough about the scenery down there. Every turn brought a new vista. Weaving through the mountains, the car handled beautifully. I’m humble enough to admit I was somewhat…umm…anxious. I had no idea how my new tires or the new pads would perform. The brakes actually did start chirping when they got warm. Kinda unnerving listening to the sound bounce along the gullies. Is that common for Hawk pads? And the brake dust! Yikes.
Every now and then a memorial on the side of the road would pop up or I’d see skid marks ending nowhere, a brutal reminder of what might happen if I got careless.
Along the way, probably my worst habit was jerking the wheels in midturn. Big no-no. When I felt the car was approaching its limit, I’d let it slide a wee bit, but generally the car responded beautifully. I think I’m a little sedate about the whole thing because I have had no other car to compare the handling to. Hah! Imagine doing this in the Chevy Lumina. We kept a good clip going, about 55 to 60 mph in some places.
On our last run towards Charlotte, the guys all communicated by CB (I have to get one!) and kept each other informed about what was around the corner and whatnot. The thing is we hadn’t worked out a signal yet. One of my turns went sloppy and I crossed the yellow line just as a truck comes lumbering round the bend head on! That was a close one.
These guys have maneuvering down to an art form. There is nothing as satisfying as watching a little roadster holding up the traffic in the left lane and then allowing 13 cars to switch lanes simultaneously back and forth.
Stayed in Charlotte, NC Sunday and took the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way up. This road is a must. Imagine a curvy road lying right in front of you. Towards your right, a sweeping drop and a panorama of the entire Shenandoah Valley. On the left, the EXACT same thing! I felt like I was driving the crests of these mountains, connecting the peaks. Absolutely breathtaking.
And that’s it, folks. Stopped over in Reading Monday night and straight off to work the next morning. I’ll be there come July!