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25 Years Ago – Fall 1994

Vroom with A View

By Barbara Feinman

BANGOR, MAINE–There aren’t a lot of people in Maine, and there are even fewer Miatas. In fact, there isn’t a surplus of much up here, except lovely views, black flies, cheap lobsters, and good roads to explore.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had this romantic notion of living in New England, driving along winding coastal roads, a perfect blend of nature and technology. So when the executive editor of The Bangor Daily News asked me to come be the newspaper’s summer writing coach, I accepted immediately, visions of lighthouses and Longfellow preoccupying my thoughts.

When it was time to leave Maryland I stuffed clothes, books, etc. into every square inch of my Miata, setting out on the longest trip I’d ever driven solo–more than 700 miles. Because I have a highly developed aptitude for losing my way I make a point of bringing along a navigator on excursions farther than the video store. But there wasn’t room for a passenger and I knew, once and for all, it was time to confront my cartophobia.

“It’s easy,” my sister said, “You don’t even need a map. Just go north. If you hit Canada you’ll know you went too far.”

Thanks for the advice, sis.

A few days later I arrived in Bangor–a sprawling metropolis famous for Paul Bunyon, home of horror writer Stephen King, and also the final stop on Greyhound’s bus line.

My boss had invited me to stay at his home until I found a place to live. Before I began my apartment search I needed a day of acclimation–get my bearings, as my father would say. Come to think of it, I’ve yet to see my father lose his bearings. He’s the kind of guy who drives with one of those dashboard compasses; not because he needs it, but just in case.

When I turned the key to get in the trunk the latch failed to release. My boss gave it a try. Still no action. There’s nothing like not being able to get at your toothbrush after spending two days on the interstate.

“I read about this in a Miata newsletter,” I told my boss, jiggling the key compulsively. “Defective trunk locks are not unheard of.” It was Saturday. Forty-eight hours till I could seek professional help. And of course, I noted to myself wearily, my warranty had run out. This was not boding well, karma-wise, in terms of my summer.

Monday morning first thing I drove over to the Bangor Mazda dealership. I went into my routine about how the trunk lock must have been defective, that it shouldn’t matter that the warranty had run out… The mechanic was silent as I went on and on. Finally he said, “Yup, I’ll have a look at it.”

About two minutes later he came and found me in the waiting room. “You want to see what was wrong with your trunk?”

I jumped up and followed him.

He stuck the key in the lock, smirked, and then the trunk popped open. Goose feathers flew everywhere.

“Err, I guess I packed it a little too tight,” I said, removing the culprit.

“I guess so,” he agreed, blowing a feather away from his face. “It jammed the lock.”

“Yeah,” I said, flushed. “So how much do I owe you?”

“Nothing,” he replied. “Welcome to Maine.”

As I drove off, pillow now safely stashed in the front seat, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw he was watching me drive away, laughing and shaking his head.

“Welcome to Maine,” I mumbled, remembering the state slogan while plucking a goose feather out of my hair, “The way life should be.”

After I got the trunk situation resolved it was time to find a home. I circled an ad in the classifieds: “Reliable, responsible roommate needed. Room available in horse farm.” Horse farm, huh? Now that would he a Maine experience.

Forty-eight hours later I found myself settling in to my new room at the Horse Of Course horse farm in Winterport, an old village along the Penobscot River. My roommates were to be eight horses, a beagle, an Irish Wolfhound, a barn cat, and one extremely nice riding instructor named Linda, who owns and runs this place.


My Miata was an interesting addition to the collection of trucks, hay conveyors and other assorted contraptions that cluttered the barnyard. In fact, my car was a conversation piece for the endless stream of equestrians, potato farmers and neighbors stopping by for a cup of coffee.

The attention my car attracted was fun, yet there were days when I would have preferred to be inconspicuous.

“Hey BLUE!” I heard someone yell as I sat at a red light in downtown Bangor one afternoon. Our police reporter and I were out on assignment. We looked over. There were two guys in a pickup truck hanging out the window. Emphasis on pickup.

“Yeah?” “What kinda car is that?”

When I replied they looked the car over, then us. “Ya wanna trade?”

“I could use a truck,” I said, shrugging. The sting of my jammed trunk had not completely worn off. The light changed and I moved to shift into gear.

As I drove off we could hear him yell, “You want to go for a motorcycle ride?”

A friend from New York came to visit towards the end of my stay here. She craved a few days away from the city and the humidity, and she wanted to make the most of her temporary liberation while her two teenage sons were at camp. She told them she was going up to Maine to drive around with the top down on her friend’s Miata–summer camp for adults.

The weather cooperated, delivering four days of perfect cruising conditions. I charted a route up and down the coast of Maine, and armed with my newly honed navigational skills and a Maine road atlas, we set off. My friend, Flip, spent a lot of her time, eyes closed, smiling, enjoying the sea air as we zoomed along.

“LOOK!”, I would yell, whenever I noticed a particularly beautiful view. She would open her big green eyes, peer out at the ocean, and then with the serenity of a Trappist monk, she would smile and gently let her lids slip shut again.

During our four-day road trip we passed a few Miatas here and there. “Why do you wave at some Miatas and not others?” she said, momentarily rallying from her zen coma.

“Well, you’re supposed to wave,” I explained. “It’s like a secret fraternity or something. But sometimes I can tell that the driver isn’t going to wave back, so I don’t wave.”

Flip was silent, eyebrows raised. “You always wave at other blue Miatas,” she pointed out, trying to identify a pattern. “Well yeah, because there’s a special bond there.”

At this, she couldn’t help herself, sighing, eyes rolling dramatically.

She may have outwardly mocked my Miata fever, but by the end of the trip I could tell Flip was secretly coveting my car. We stopped at one of those scenic overlooks and sat watching the water. “It’s perfect,” she murmured, eyes fixed on the waves pounding the shore. “Perfect.”

One of our final stops was an L.L. Bean outlet. When we returned to the parking lot with our loot we tried to jam cotton blankets and flannel shirts into the trunk. I remembered the pillow incident and warned Flip against over-stuffing. If we couldn’t fit everything in the trunk we were going to have to put the top up and use the back shelf for storage, I remarked.

“No,” she said firmly, shoving packages around fiercely, “whatever happens, the top stays down.”

Whatever happened, I couldn’t go back to the dealer with a stuck trunk again. Where’s a guy with a pickup truck when you need him, I thought.

Copyright 1994, Miata Magazine. Reprinted without permission.

 

September 2019 Meeting Minutes

When: September 5th, 2019

Where: California Dreaming, Augusta

Who: Cathy and Sonny Black, Brian and Donna Bogardus, Kurt and Karen Breitinger, Mike and Shirley Dyer, Larry and Rita Garner, Jeff Kelley and Gary Lynn, Glen and Deb Link, Dennis and Karol Mason, Hal and Trudy Scott, Darryl Shipman and Sherry Moore, and Tom Varallo.

Thanks to Kurt and Karen Breitinger for planning this dinner meeting.  We all talked, ordered, and ate a tasty dinner before adjourning to the parking lot to hold a quick meeting.

Treasurer’s Report: The balance started at $1056.91, and added $10 in dues (New member Pat Charlotte), and deducted $50 to Alzheimer’s Association for flowers for Dennis’s Mom, ending balance is $1016.91.

Club Business:

  • As of now, Brian & Donna are still planning the Deals Gap/Leaf Peep drive on Friday-Sunday November 1-3rd.  We will be spending Friday and Saturday night there and head home on your own whenever Sunday.  (This drive will be held unless Brian and Donna sell their house before then)  See the website for updates, and more info.
  • Karol is planning a drive for 21 Sep, and had intended to plan a drive to White Hills Farm in Dearing, GA.  But it looks like they go to the Augusta Market on Saturdays so we may not be able to get into the farm that day.  Look to the website for updates.
  • Please remember to RSVP to our events – it makes it difficult for the planner if we don’t know how many will show – especially for smaller venues.  Your RSVP is greatly appreciated, so please don’t forget.

Ongoing:

  • See Dennis Mason for name tags, if you so desire.
  • Club merchandise is available: Pins are $3 each; “Support Vehicle” car magnets are $25 per pair, canvas tote/shopping bag $20 each. The 3” window stickers have come in and are available now.
  • Coffee mugs and other items are available from http://www.cafepress.com/masters_miata
  • Communigraphics in North Augusta has our logo, for $8 you can have it embroidered on just about anything.

Upcoming calendar events:

DATE EVENT – LOCATION COORDINATORS
21 Sep Breakfast & Drive – TBD Karol Mason
3 Oct Dinner Meeting – TBD, North Augusta Brenda Hays
12 Oct Pumpkin Run Car Show –

Back Side of Augusta Mall

On your own
1-3 Nov Deals Gap/Leaf Peep trip Brian & Donna Bogardus