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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.

Fall Color Tour Wrap

Members Attending: Rita & Larry Garner, Trudy & Hal Scott and Donna & Brian Bogardus
Guest Attending: Matthew, AKA Wingman0

For a while I thought the title of this post was going to be “Fall Foggy Tour Wrap” because for the first two hours of driving we were traveling through fog, sometimes with slow-the-heck-down density. When we met up with our guest from Elberton he said it was pretty foggy for his whole trip from Dahlonega too.

For a while I thought the title of this post was going to be “Fall Failure to Find Color Tour Wrap” because the further north we went the fog disappeared and when the trees became visible they were green or already had dropped most of their leaves.

Finally, once we got onto the two lane GA246 just north of Dillard to make our way to Highlands did the colors appear. And. They. Were. Worth. The. Wait. This 14 mile stretch of road came through with large concentrations of hardwoods with blazing yellow, orange and (some) red leaves. It also got very twisty turning mild mannered Dr. Bruce Banner Brian into the Incredible Hulk Miata Driver. As a passing lane appeared on the first climb, he dropped down a gear and started weaving in and out of the trio of “performance” SUV’s to get a clear run at the road. He was followed quickly by Matthew who was right behind him. The 2 other cars were a little further back and didn’t get a chance to get by.

We regrouped just outside of town and drove into Highlands together to find parking and lunch. Brian who thought he knew where he was going promptly drove the group into the police station parking lot. In the ensuing fray for parking we lost the Scotts, but were happily reunited at the Sports Page Sandwich Shoppe. In a town full of folks drinking $50 bottles of wine with lunch, it is always a pleasure to dine with the locals on sandwiches, soups and sides and come away for about ten bucks each.

After lunch, the group broke up, the Scotts opted to find their own way home to Augusta and our guest did the same to Dahlonega. The Garners and Bogarduses agreed to meet back at the cars after some shopping in 45 minutes to drive back together. On the ride down the mountain, if anything, the colors were even better than on the way up.

The two of us gassed up in Walhalla for the long and ugly return trip along the dilapitated South Carolina back roads. At one last pit stop in McCormmick, the ugly gray clouds ahead, and Larry’s quick check of the radar, led us both to raise the tops for the last 40 miles home. Next year we are going up in Georgia and coming back through there too.

Fall Steeplechase Wrap Up

Members Attending: Karol & Dennis Mason, Donna & Brian Bogardus and Emilie & Kirill Skliar
Member Guest Appearance: Chip Cunningham
Guest Attending: Lee Nolastname (friend of Masons)
Special Guest Appearances: Courtney (Lee’s daughter), Little Courtney, somebody possibly named Bridget and a couple others

After gifting the Club the use of his spot and tickets for the past two Aiken Spring Steeplechases, this time President Tom gave us the opportunity to attend the Fall Steeplechase. He donated to us the spot for one vehicle, a couple extra parking passes and a dozen tickets to get in the gate. Six club members claimed the tickets right off, us, Karol & Dennis Mason and Emilie & Kirill Skliar, and maybe because it was sort of last minute, no one else piped up. The six of us that were going started looking for guests to bring because we didn’t want Mr. Varallo’s largess to go unused. By Friday we thought we had all but one spoken for, but by Saturday we only had guest use a ticket to get in. Sigh.

As before with previous steeplechases the Bogarduses and Masons arrived practically as the event gates opened to set up. When we got to spot #262, we were excited to see that it was right at the jump. Soon the other spots started to fill up too. As our direct neighbors arrived, we traded introductions and offered up food and drink. They reciprocated to be friendly and because everyone always brings way more than they need to these events.

We had two portable grills (one charcoal, one gas) setup for cooking the hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken & vegetable shish kabobs. There were Fritos and a couple bags of chips with about four different kinds of dip to nibble on. There were crackers, cheese, sliced ham and venison sausage for grazing, with brownies and an Italian raisin bread for your sweet tooth. To drink we had iced tea, soft drinks/mixers, beer, Jack Daniels, Vanilla Crown Royal and a bit of bubbly.

Spot #262 was not only right at the exit of a jump, but as it turned out, in 4 of the 5 races, the horses lined up to start right in front of us. Unlike flat races where the horses are slotted into a starting gate, in steeplechase they parade from the paddock and then line up in reverse start order behind a judge who then walks them in a line towards the rail. There they do a left face maneuver, so when another judge (on foot) waves the red flag, they take off sort of like they just came out of a gate. Because these are naturally skittish thoroughbred race horses it never goes smoothly, yet somehow they always end up with a reasonably straight start.

In between the first and second race our special guests arrived to liven up our tent with youth and conversation. We fed them some of our food and we helped ourselves to some of their liquor. They watched the carriage parade with us and the second race, when just as quickly as they came, they disappeared. Left behind the booze though, so we knew they’d be back.

In between the third and fourth race Chip was on his way to somewhere when he noticed the Club sign in front of Dennis’s truck, so he stayed long enough to say hello, before he too disappeared. In between the fourth and final race Emilie & Kirill headed over into the infield to walk through the shops and take in some of the pageantry that is steeplechase, which Donna and I and the Mason’s had already done earlier.

Emilie & Kirill came back after the fifth and final race finished. Not long after, Little Courtney and Bridget popped back in to join us as we whiled away some time waiting for the crowd of hurry-homes to disperse some before we would attempt our own exit. Bridget got Dennis to pop the cork on her bottle of sparkling wine and the nine of us toasted another fantastic day at the races in Aiken. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better spot to watch the races. Thanks Tom!