Miatas in May
Thursday, June 11 2015 @ 09:55 AM EDT
Contributed by: floored
It was a BLAST.
Ok, let me explain: first year events are often composed of a small group of individuals. The small-ness of an event is often a result of several factors - you never know if a new event will be a dud, the event organizers try to keep things small so they can keep a handle on activities, and word doesn't spread quickly. Now that we've had our first Miatas in May, I'm hoping the word gets out that this is the Miata event to beat next May.
Over the course of the weekend we had 20-30 cars show up. The main attendance was from the Miatas in Boone crowd (another regional event in the Carolina's, see my post about that here) and the Foothills Miata Club, many of whom were local to the area. Immediately there was a divide, with the MiB crowd preferring a much more spirited pace than the Foothills attendees. Thankfully our event organizers had planned for this, and two group leaders split us up according to pace preference. So began the first full day of driving.
We headed out from the Sleep Inn at Traveler's Rest towards Hot Springs, NC traveling a road know as "The Rattler" (209). Both roads provide plenty of twists and turns, and demonstrate the Carolina's distaste for littering their beautiful roads with guardrails, no matter how deep the cliff is just a few feet away. Passing through the towns of Trust and Luck on the way up, we took a break at the Trust General Store where I picked up one of my favorite items while vacationing down there - Coke in a glass bottle. It always tastes better that way. We continued on up to the Hot Springs for lunch, but we had to forgo a dip into the steamy waters in order to make it back down the mountain and return to Traveler's Rest (TR) in time for dinner. After this long first day, we spent some time in downtown TR at a local brewery. Their raspberry white ale was excellent.
On day two we headed out early for a run up Wildflour Bakery in Saluda, NC. A quiet, small town, the bakery was tucked off the side of the main thoroughfare and embedded in a brick building with an outdoor flowered garden area for snacking on the treats sold within. We brought about 30 cars, in two staggered groups, into the bakery and quickly overwhelmed the staff - but they were thrilled to have us! A ride back down the twisties got us back to TR in time for a quick break before heading out on the afternoon ride.
The peculiar thing about Carolina weather in May is it's ability to be chilly in the morning (50-60's) and heat up very quickly by the afternoon (80's+). The mid-morning return after breakfast allowed a change from jeans to shorts - very clever. Our afternoon ride took us upstate again, following route 215. This road is a blast, with three well-defined portions: tight and technical at the bottom with no chance to get out of second gear; wide sweepers come next, and it's third gear all the way with your foot flat on the floor; and then an uphill climb portion where your ability to quickly downshift 3-2 to pull out of tight corners will matter greatly. In my NA, the uphill portion was often an exercise in WOT. Additional torque would not go amiss here.
Upon reaching the top of the hill on 215 you're right at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and a local landmark called The Devil's Courthouse. A short hike up the hill puts you onto a scenic vista looking out over the mountains and valley's spanned by the BRP. You can see for miles on a clear day.
It was tough to tear ourselves away from the gorgeous views, but the roads were calling and it was nearly time for dinner back in TR. We returned back and headed downtown to one of the few restaurants in town, Shortfields. I did not think I would find a Hawaiian flatbread pizza in a small town in South Carolina; I was wrong. With the brewery right next door and sitting outside on the patio as the sun set on a long day of driving, I've never felt more content.
These types of driving experiences are both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. You're miles from home, flying around one of the more scenic places on the East Coast, and spending time with close friends and great people. There's really nothing better than that.