May 27 - June 8, 2012
Zoomin' the Mountains of East TN
(National Miata Event)
Hosts: Don & Linda

Photo Gallery from Toni T.

Photo Gallery from Duke M. (link courtesy of Mike S.)

Zoomin’ the Mountains of East Tennessee May 27 – June 8, 2012
Part 1: On the Adventure Road with Don and Linda McCann to the Tennessee Mountains
By Barb Treick

It was the mission of Linda to get us to the Zoomin’ the Mountains of East Tennessee event, it was Don’s mission to educate and entertain us along the way.

Day one – 9 shiny Miatas glistened in the cool morning sun with their tops up: Bolls, Carneys, Lucas, Macdonalds, McCanns, Netzingers, Thomas, Treicks, and Wiesmuellers. We quickly made our way through the flat lands of Illinois and Indiana. The Bolls helped the Illinois economy by becoming the owners of a brand new set of tires. As we drove through Nappanee, Indiana we marveled at the culture clash between bearded Amish men on bicycles and buggies and English girls in tank tops. Part of our tour took us on the route of the Grand Army Highway. Our destination for the day was Auburn, Indiana the home of the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg Museum. It is housed in the original design center for these autos. The first floor front is a beautiful, art deco showroom where the light fixtures and marble floors are only surpassed by the wonderfully restored Duessees. The second floor has a large collection of very early and rare vehicles manufactured in Indiana.

On Day two Don guided us off the I system, away from all the trucks and onto the Dixie Highway. It was originally named as a peace offering from the North to the South after the Civil War. The peaceful Pleasant Hill Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, KY was the highlight of the day. The docents provided so much information on the Shaker life style culled from their many journals and diaries. One of those docents gets lots of second glances when she drives to work in her Shaker costume and 1990 Miata with 23,000 miles. We also enjoyed watching working artisans and Bonnie led the first of many shopping expeditions.

Zooming Day 3 took us back onto the Dixie Highway past white fenced horse farms and so many antique shops. We learned about the corn hole game, a very popular Southern version of bean bags. After a short introduction, our Tennessee event hosts led us on a beginners ride. Here we learned the first rule of mountain driving—stay on your side of the yellow line. Lots of car talk took place during the Bob Evans supper stop. The Tri Cities group used this as a fund raiser for a children’s charity they support. Later in the evening the Bolls did Badgerland proud by winning their pairing in the first round of the corn hole tournament. They played against a pair of good ole Georgia boys. Later Betty Lukas wowed the crowd with her karaoke version of Wild Thing. See Ed for a video clip.

Zooming Day 4 - Tri Cities leader Laurie challenged drivers on Friday when we “did the snake”. The day was rainy so tops were up and maybe we drove a little slower too. The Snake is similar to doing the Dragon, but longer, covering about 26 miles with 489 curves. There was a stop at the Shady Valley Country Store to rehydrate and buy the necessary “I did the Snake” decals. Our catered lunch was at the Country Side Winery where they were generous with samples. That night there was a pizza party and DJ entertainment at the Holiday Inn. Sadly, your Badgerland contingent couldn’t identify with most of the loud music and retired early. Unfortunately, that night were we to drive laps on the Bristol Motor Speedway (NASCAR); however, track officials decided to repair the track before we arrived so our event was canceled.

Zooming Day 5 - Saturday was another day of challenging driving as most of the 125 cars drove the Clinch Mountain run. Leader Laurie works with the 911 call center in Johnson City and got great cooperation from other police units along the route. They blocked traffic so we could make left turns, coordinated lights so we could all get to the on ramps and were there to help us get out of parking lots. This was a far longer run with sharp curves, switchbacks and a surprise uphill hairpin maneuver. We drove a couple of one lane roads, passed out houses with views, lovely farms and idyllic rural vistas. Treicks learned that “following the red car in front of you” doesn’t always work, so they missed the Memory Lane stop and the opportunity to enjoy more mid century modern collectables. The Tri Cities club hosted a picnic on Saturday night. It was followed by an auction that raised even more money for their charity. With 10 cars participating, Wisconsin was well represented at the event. Bolls, Carneys, Lucas, Macdonalds, McCanns, Netzingers, Thomas, Treicks and Wiesmuellers were all happy to find new members Joyce and Garron Gilson already in Johnson City on our arrival. We had a fine time getting to know one another and appreciate all the work Don and Linda did in planning the route, finding hotels and finding destinations to stop at along the way.

After the Zommin’ event, 2 cars left the group (Lucas, and Thomas) and headed home, while the remaining 7 (Bolls, Carneys, Netzingers, Macdonalds, McCanns, Treicks and Wiesmuellers) began their exploration of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive (see Part 2).

Zoomin’ the Mountains of East Tennessee May 27 – June 8, 2012
Part 2: On the Blue Ridge Parkway and Beyond
By Barb Treick

Following the successful completion of TriCities Zooming event, seven Badgerland stalwarts continued on to enjoy even more lovely scenery.

Sunday the Treicks and Wiesmuellers spent the day touring the Biltmore Mansion, winery, gardens and shops in Asheville. Whereas the Bolls, Carneys, Netzingers, Macdonald and McCanns took a detour to the very beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway so they could honestly say that they drove the entire Parkway (469 miles), except for the Macdonalds who departed the next day. Before we gathered for the evening in Asheville, Don took a shortcut from the BRP to Asheville that turned out to be another Deals Gap all downhill. Duke Macdonald pleaded “No more shortcuts”!

On Monday morning six Miatas regrouped for the beginning of our 104 miles planned for the day. The BRP Visitors Center movie provided a great introduction to the grandeur we would enjoy in the days to come. At the Folk Art Center we watched a glass artist create ornaments, a jewelry artist work with polymer materials and enjoyed seeing pottery, wood and fabric art pieces along with paintings and photos. At the blustery 6,100 elevation we quickly enjoyed the view of the Craggy Gardens, and then wound our way up to the top of 6,684ft. Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. It was very cold and windy so the restaurant here was appreciated for the shelter from the strong, cold winds and bowls of tummy warming hot chili and soup. Later in the day we had an opportunity to hike three miles to see Crabtree Falls, but choose to look at the photos, save some time and motor on to the small, but well done Museum of North Carolina minerals. Don had put the ladies in charge of meals. Armed with Trip Advisor suggestions, feminine intuition and some luck we enjoyed our dinners at local eateries. The Coyote Kitchen in Boone, NC was our first experiment. This small diner gave the 10 of us a friendly welcome and served us efficiently with a varied menu available.

On Tuesday Linda masterfully navigated four cars through the next miles. Treicks backtracked to have a faulty speed sensor diagnosed, and the Netzingers left the group to return home. We gathered again at the Historic Cone Mansion and Art Center for more Appalachian craft shopping. A surprise for the day was the Freeborn Eatery and Lodge where congenial barkeep Cliff made sure we enjoyed our lunches. Then on to the Blue Grass Music Center and Museum where we were fortunate to hear Bobby Patterson and Willard Gayheart pick, strum and sing. We heard stories from their youth and songs inspired by events of days gone by. Since both were older than any of us, we were enthralled. Willard is a talented pencil artist and Bonnie will be glad to share her print with you; Don will be glad to play their CDs. That night in Hillsville, VA we sampled the Mexican food at the Rio Grande and Bonnie exhibited her bar keeping skills by teaching their bartender how to make a proper Manhattan.

The next morning, Wednesday, we experienced the infamous Parkway FOG and rain. Driving carefully we made it to the Mabry Mill for breakfast. We sampled- no gorged-on a variety of pancakes—sweet potato, buckwheat and cornmeal—and eggs, sausage, bacon, country ham and city ham. Then walked around the picturesque, working grist mill, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and weaver’s studio. In the parking lot we chatted with a Canadian couple driving 8,000 miles across the U.S. in their Miata.

Have you been to Floyd? We have—it’s on the Virginia Musical Heritage Trail and was our ice cream stop for the day. It is also home to the Floyd Hotel where every Thursday night they broadcast a live Bluegrass Music radio show.

The sun finally broke through, so we did the 4 mile circle tour of Roanoke Mountain, then on to our hotel in Roanoke VA completing our 100 miles for the day. Trip Advisors suggestions were all on the other side of town, so we followed the recommendation of the desk clerk. Parkers Seafood is very tasty, but be forewarned, no alcohol served.

Thursday was our last day on the Parkway. Driving the Parkway is a fine thing this time of year. Trucks aren’t allowed, no heavy traffic, and beautiful flowers blooming along the road. We passed tree farms, wild turkeys and thick woods. Our breakfast destination this morning was the Peaks of Otter, a lodge with a wall of windows overlooking a small lake, or large pond. We took the mile walk around the lake and came to an Ordinary, which is the old English name for a small Inn, a log cabin about the size of our garages.

It was also the day of Gaps-Black horse, Powell, Bear Wallow, Spy Run, Bobbletts, Mills, Petites, Tye River, Indian, Whites, Irish, Rockfish, Reeds and Clarks Gaps. Ginger can tell you all about the difference between a Gap and a Holler (Hollow to Yankees). Our ice cream stop was in Steeles Tavern, oops no ice cream there, how about Buena Vista? Sorry, how about Lexington, ok that works. It is also the home of Washington & Lee University and Stonewall Jackson Hospital.

After 153 miles of driving that day we arrived in Staunton (pronounced Stanton). End of the Blue Ridge and time for dinner at the noisy, but accommodating Mill Street Grill. Be sure to order the ribs if you are ever there, they are delicious.

Friday found the Treicks heading to Virginia, while the Bolls, Carneys, Wiesmuellers and McCanns enjoyed driving through Shenandoah National Park on the Skyline Drive (105 miles) at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Similar in winding beauty to the Parkway, with vistas at around 2,500 feet, the road wound through wooded and forested areas that reminded us of northern Wisconsin. It was a great completion to a great trip! It has a new Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows in the Park.

At the onset, we wondered why we were only driving about 100 miles a day. Don’s planning and leadership gave each of us a real appreciation for the entire Parkway and the Skyline Drive has to offers in the way of natural beauty, insights into the Appalachian life style and American history. Thanks Don and Linda.

BMC Line