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Tales of the Dragon

Members Attending: Brian & Donna Bogardus, Rite & Larry Garner, Dennis & Karol Mason, Trudy & Hal Scott and Tom Varallo.
Guests Attending: Hartmut Von Seleen

Friday: Tom had invited some members of the Greenwood Corvette Club to come along and it turned out that only one could join us. They would not be driving a Corvette and they would be meeting us at the McDonald’s in Elberton. Needless to say, Mr. Von Seleen’s Lava Orange 911 GT3 RS was easy to spot in lot.

In spite of the gloomy forecast, two of the five Miatas started the drive with their tops down. Our second spot of the morning was in Elberton and we almost made it before the rain started. Fortunately a VFW Hall with a covered entrance popped up at just the right time to save us.

We scrubbed the usual visit to the “Stonehenge of Georgia” because of the rain and everyone had already been there except Hartmut, no problem, he was more interested in driving, so that’s what we did. The next real stop was for lunch in Highlands at the Sports Page. On the way out of town, we blew by a set of cars parked near Bridal Falls taking photos. There was actually a decent amount of water coming over the falls this times, but they have put up barriers so you can longer park underneath.

At our next stop at the little gas station at the beginning of the fabulous Wyah Road, who should go by but the same trio of young bloods from Bridal Falls. There was a 1st gen MR2 followed by a Volvo C30 Polestar and a Fiat 500 Abarth. We waved as they went by and figured we’d never see them again, but a few miles down the road there was an 18-wheeler stopping traffic as it negotiated a sharp corner, so there they were. For the next 5 miles or so we hung around not too far behind them through the twisty parts. Eventually their youth and greater feeling of immortality led them to disappear from us off the front.

After driving the 200 miles to get Robbinsville, no one wanted to drive the 50 extra miles total to do a Dragon run, except for our Porsche driver and me. So instead of the two of us driving, I asked if I could ride along with him. “Sure,” he said. While the cost of the Porsche was roughly equivalent to the cost of all of our 5 Miatas put together, he promptly justified the high cost of the car to me by demonstrating how it would feel to do the trip in a low flying Blue Angels jet.

Saturday: I always plan a very early run through the Gap on these trips up here to avoid the traffic that eventually clogs the 318 turns later in the day. Usually I only get one other car to get up and go early, but this year everyone was up to a morning drive. Our early wake up was rewarded by a clean run through the Tail of the Dragon going north and almost unimpeded going back south. After the northbound run as we were stopped at the parking area, Dennis asked Hartmut if it would be okay if he rode the southbound trip with him, “Of course,” came the reply. On the way back, we stopped at the dam overlook to chat with several “kids” that were enjoying the same roads we were, as part of a Tougefest. At the Crossroads of Time we decided to head back to Robbinsville the long way so we could take the great drive of NC28 along the Cheoah Lake.

By the time we got back to the hotel we were about an hour behind the day’s schedule, but it actually worked in our favor because by then the early morning foggy middle 30’s had become mostly sunny middle 40’s making tops go down for the more hardy of our group. Our first stop at the Bojangles in Murphy is usually just a quick in and out, but it somehow turned into a full fledged meal stop. Once again the delay worked to our favor by allowing the temperature to warm up a little bit more. At the Hiawassee Dam Overlook, I asked if it was OK if we skipped the usual stop at The Field of the Woods because everyone had already been there except Hartmut, no problem, he was more interested in driving, so that’s what we did.

At lunch the weather was pleasant enough that we could dine outside at the Telico Grains Bakery. The return leg over the Cherohala Skyway went back & forth from nice to interminable, as we would get a clear run for a mile or two and get saddled with some knucklehead traveling 25 MPH. For a while there it seemed like we would never make it back to North Carolina because as soon as a slow poke pulled into an overlook another similar vehicle would exit the other side. It is never usually this busy on the Skyway, but I have to chalk it up to our slightly later time of day, but mostly it had to be the leaves and weather. Somebody let the word out that the fall color was later this year and we can vouch for the veracity of this statement, it most definitely was the best leaves I can remember for the first weekend in November.

Sunday: The Scotts were the first to head out on their way to Asheville. Brian & Donna left next with Tom in tow, right after we had to get the front desk to wake up some knucklehead who parked his truck with trailer behind a row of cars blocking us in. I don’t know when the rest left. I’m not sure which way the Masons planned on going home, but I know the Garners were going home via Helen, GA. If I had to guess, I’d bet Hartmut took that 911 GTS R3 back for one more run through the Gap before making his way back home to Greenwood.

Fall Steeplechase Report

MMC Steeplechase HQ

Attending: Karol & Dennis Mason, Donna & Brian Bogardus and Jennie & Thomas Hodges. With a guest appearance from Tom Varallo and a special drive-by appearance from Chip Cunningham.

Tom had set up an awning and a table the night before when he was over at the track finishing up for his Sertoma duties for the big day. The Hodges pulled into the driveway of the Bogardus Estate a few minutes early and the Masons pulled in 20 minutes later.  As with any Club event, even the ones not involving Miatas, there were several minutes spent standing around and chatting about how everyone’s Trust Funds were performing and which local gala charity balls we would be attending this particular season.

The three guys hopped into the Mason’s truck to drive over to the field and set up the second awning and the grills, plus unload the coolers and decorations. On the way over, Dennis apologized for their late arrival and blamed it on Karol. The three ladies walked the short mile over to the track, and while I was not there, I bet Karol blamed their late arrival on Dennis.

The weather was forecast for cool and cloudy, giving way to mostly sunny and warmer. The clouds missed the memo and hung around, low and gray all day except for maybe three or four 10 minute intervals. While almost everyone was dressed for the cool start, we really weren’t prepared to spend all day that way. Add in some fairly steady 10-15 MPH winds and the only time we were warm were those few minutes of sun or when we were standing really close to the small charcoal grill the Mason’s had brought.

Between the first and second races, a gust of wind picked up the Mason’s awning and sent it airborne. It was an amazing spectacle. It looked like a cross between a huge metal spider and a monster from the Cloverfield universe as it flipped and fluttered across the the two empty spaces next to us and landed feet down on top of the Honda minivan in the third spot. Somehow it managed not to scrape the vehicle at all. The only real damage done was to the now bent and slightly broken awning and the psyche of a small girl from the landing spot of said awning. We are pretty sure she didn’t get hit by the awning, but she was so scared that she cried in her mother’s arms for the next 15-20 minutes.

We re-propped the damaged awning back up and several next-door neighbors asked if we wanted some stakes to keep it in place. We politely declined as we actually did have them, but somehow the three heads of the set-up guys never thought to put them in, even though it was already quite breezy and Tom’s awning, which we put it up right next to, was obviously staked in. The women chastised the men about their bone-headed oversight and the men tried to deflect by telling them that it was obviously the women’s fault because they didn’t tell them to put the stakes in. One thing is sure though, there will be one woman in the set-up truck next time…

Because Mr. Varallo’s spot in the fall is on the outside rail right after a fence, we get a first hand view of the most exciting part of the steeplechase experience, jumping. And it really is fun to be up front for all that action until, in the third (or might have been the fourth) race, a horse and jockey takes a somersault 20 feet from where you are standing. The medical teams, both human and animal, were on scene within moments. The jockey bounced up fairly quickly, but horse did not. They held it down for about 5 anxious minutes while it was checked over, before he was let up and was walked off. Phew.

There was just one more bit of excitement left for our six participants on this day. The truck riders and walkers home arrived at Boardman Road at about the same time and when Donna entered the code on the remote garage door opener – it didn’t open. Thinking she may have fat fingered a number, she tried again. It didn’t open. She waited about 15 seconds, cycled the cover open and then closed before trying the code again. Still nothing. Brian then tried it and got the same no response. We even told Jennie and let her try. Time for Plan B, open a regular person styled door with a key. Well, Brian carried his Miata key chain but it has no house key. Donna’s key chain does have a house key, but she didn’t take her purse, it was inside the house. Spare key hidden outside somewhere? Nope (that is a whole other story.) Fortunately a local locksmith was happy to come out and do the rescue.

One last lesson learned on Saturday, Brian needs to bring his real camera to these kinds of events, the cellphone just doesn’t cut it.

2018 Bug Splat Wrap

2018 Bug Splat Start

Members Attending: Debbie & Matt Wojtkowicz, Bobby & Sandra Matthews, Trudy & Hal Scott, Tom Varallo, Richard Whitehurt & friend Lee, Jennie & Thomas Hodges, Dennis & Karol Mason and Brian & Donna Bogardus.

Donna and I were a little worried about how many folks would turn out for a morning bug splat as opposed to the usual evening event, but it turns out they were unfounded. We ended up with 8 cars which is just about our average participation.

If only the bugs had turned out as well. The winning Big Bug was anything but and the total number of bugs and splats were few and far between. You know, it seems like I have been complaining about the amount bugs for the past few years thinking that they were so much more prevalent “back in the day”, so I got curious and looked back over the past Bug Splat wrap ups.

Turns out I have nearly always complained about there being hardly any insects to be had. So maybe this year was just about our average bug participation too.

The glamorously ginormous Biggest Bug Trophy was awarded to the Masons, the Most Bugs prize of a 2-Pack of Bug Racers was awarded to the Matthewses, the Fewest Bug prize of a deck of insect filled cards for playing Crazy Eights was won by the Scotts and the Wojtkowiczes took home the Nearest to the Dot prize of a bottle of Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce

“I Feel Good” Rally Wrap Up

Members Attending: Donna & Brian Bogardus, Don & Kay Boltz, David & Ellie Brock, Gary Ly & Jeff Kelly, Dennis & Karol Mason and Trudy & Hal Scott.

This was the second road rally/photo scavenger hunt for the club that Ellie & David Brock have put on (thanks!!!). This year’s was entitled the “I Feel Good” Rally because instead of last year’s rural roads, we were treated to a more urban route around the Godfather of Soul’s adopted home town of Augusta, Georgia and three of the nine photos needed were James Brown related.

The Masons took home the engraved glassware for their narrow first place finish. The second, third and fourth place teams took home no prizes, but did take home full bellies of North Augusta’s Sno Cap Drive In food. The fifth team was a DNF, I won’t tell you who they were, but somewhere along the course they bolted for home.

Be sure and check out the winning team’s navigation of Instruction #27 “Enter traffic circle and take 8th R” on the event Facebook page.

And if you are interested, you can read my 800 word blog post about Donna and my Rally Adventure over on the Life of Brian. Below are our 9 photos.

2018 Spring Steeplechase Wrap Up

Action Photography by Brian

Again Tom Varallo offered the Club the use of his rail side spot at the spring steeplechase. Brian & Donna Bogardus, Jennie & Thomas Hodges and Hal & Trudy Scott enjoyed a fabulous time at the races on our Club President. We were also joined by Tom’s “nephew” and his wife for the day and MMC member Noel Brock ducked in to say hi somewhere around the 5th race.

We had grilled chicken and hot dogs to eat along with veggies, fruit and chips to dip. There were cookies for dessert and a retirement cake to top it all off for the club’s latest non-productive member of society. You would think that with the Club logo on the sign right in front of Brian & Donna’s Miata that it would have brought a question or two about Miatas and/or the club, but you’d be wrong. The Club vehicle that attracted the most attention was Hall & Trudy’s 1987 GMC Caballero (that they’ve had since new), including at least one offer to buy it on the spot.

If you missed a chance to join in the fun this spring, don’t fret because Tom has already agreed to let us use his spot for the fall event too, so mark your calendars for Saturday, October 27, 2018.