We went and got her from the port today. She’s got two new and tine scratches on the passenger door — the shipping folks acknowledged that the scratches are new, so we’ll work out something to get her fixed. It’s why we have insurance.
I was thinking earlier that the arrival of Tess Turbo marks the closure of a pretty good summer of motoring. Since late August, Tess Turbo and I made it through the Nordschleife at the N?rburgring, across the Alps, onto a boat to Baltimore, across America to Kansas City via Hermann, MO, and then on to Augusta (and the welcome arms of M2C2, the Mini Motoring Club of the Carolinas) and the Dragon with the Tar Heel Mini Motoring Club, before heading to HI.
Let me see if I can put these into perspective, to try and illustrate just how great they are individually and then as a group.
Driving my Mini Cooper S on the Nordschleife at the N?rburgring (Wikipedia) is like….. It’s like having Marisa Tomei, Hayden Panettiere and Kate Walsh asking me…. no, paying me to join them for a weekend long orgy, and have my wife agree only if it can be broadcast as a pay per view event.
It is also 21 km / 13 miles of pure driving bliss. You can drive as hard as you want or as hard as your car can handle. I am lucky — Tess Turbo is capable of so much more than I could ever dream of doing, so really, the limiting factor was me. But there’s just something about really putting your foot into it and really, really driving hard. With your kids in the back seat. And then hitting the autobahn to go home.
And the Alps? I still can’t believe we did that. What started as something almost of a joke, we put together an awesome plan and then pulled it off, snow and weather be damned. The scenery was awesome. The driving was insane. And I think we drove more of the Alps than did the guys from Top Gear. Our passengers / families were great, and we all had a blast. 4 days and 1100 miles? I’d do it again tomorrow if I could.
And somewhere in all this, I still made runs out onto the autobahn. And all through the Black Forest, and the Odenwald. If I had just spent the summer doing that, I would have cheered all winter long. I mean, just look at this:
How beautiful is that? And that’s just one part of one forest that we use to go driving through on any given Sunday! Warm sunshine, quiet and empty roads, over hills and ridges and back down through valleys, under bright blue skies and puffy white clouds.
Oh, and I could have found a way to take the car to Egypt with us, I would have. Valley of the Kings? Swimming in the Red Sea? Never in a million years would I have imaged doing that.
And even the trip from Baltimore to Kansas City was amazing. I posted a note on North American Motoring, my Mini cyber-home away from home, and was given a big heaping of great ideas to liven up the drive. It would have been easy and boring to hop onto I70 and just zone out, but instead I saw some great country and made some great side trips. Places I would not have gone, and places I’d welcome seeing again.
If my summer had ended there, I’d still have called it a damn fine summer. But after that, I linked up with Mini folks out of Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC, for some social events — which is a big part of being a Mini owner. It seems that no matter where you go, there are other Minis and their owners who are looking for Mini-related events, be it dinner or a spirited drive somewhere. Here’s a photo of me with two other Arts, also Mini owners.
And the Dragon weekend epitomized that. 9 Minis, 48 hours of little sleep and a lot of driving, and some great times. Hauling ass, all over the countryside, just for the sake of driving Minis. En masse. With giant, shit-eating grins cemented on our faces. Yes, the Dragon itself is something to see, but for me, really, it was the weekend that counted the most. Good, good people, and good, good fun. That weekend reinforced for me the belief that being a Mini owner and driver is indeed a very social event for me — and that I would not want it any other way.
So, here I am, six months later, and full of energy over the arrival of a car. Wow. I topped off the tank on post this morning, and now I am just waiting for the kids to get home, so we can see where we can go drive. Maybe I’ll take some pictures; maybe I won’t.