Smokey Mountains Trip

May 6th, 2006

All I can say is “SUCCESS AT LAST”!! For a trip to take almost four years to complete is probably a record. So what happened!!

The planning began in late September 2002, while a group of us were at the Washington National Miata event in Virginia. This trip was scheduled for September 21, 2004, but that summer Asheville was put out of commission by a few of the hurricanes that hit Florida and traveled up thru that part of the country. Asheville lost its water supply, had many roads washed out, and the downtown flooded. Just before our trip was to begin, hurricane Francis was headed for Florida and predicted to go up through Asheville, so we called the hotel and cancelled our trip.

Meanwhile the Ridgerunner Miata Club, from North Carolina was planning their 2nd event, Mountain Miata Colorfest, for May 4 – May 7, 2006, so we decided to add our trip to their event, as they featured 12 self-guided rides, that all looked great, and could be included in our trip. Who would know more about the local area, roads, and the weather than the local Club?

On May 3, 2006 four cars, MMC members Jim Gillis, Bob & Shelly Goren, Art & Priscilla Caira and former members Janet & Donn Cichocki left Marlboro at 9 am to begin our trek to Ashville, NC. We picked up three more cars, MMC members, Bob & Terri Lannin, Les Barton and Dave & Deb Moore along the way and arrived in Stephens City, West VA for the night.

Highlights of our 1st. day: The Lannins & the Gorens kept losing their new antennas & finally placed them inside their autos. That did the trick. It seems these new fancy antennas were only good for 65 mph & we were cruising above that, no wonder they kept flying off!

We arrived in Stephens City, VA at 6:30, checked into our hotel & met to go to dinner with Terri’s brother & sister-law, who live in the area and had made reservations for us at an Italian restaurant, featuring Greek Night. Dinner included a very talented belly dancer that put on quite a show for our group!! Quote for the night “What happened in Stephens City stays in Stephens City”

We arrived in Asheville, NC the next day around 6:30pm, just in time for the cocktail party and to meet up with other members from the Mass Club: Winni & Geoff Fendon, Brian Rust & Dennis LaPlante from “BAD Transport” (That’s another story all in its itself.)

Highlights of Asheville, NC, The Blue Ridge Mountains, & Gettysburg, PA:

Toured the Biltmore Estate, the famous Grove Park Inn, Resort and Spa, as well as the Biltmore Village shops & restaurants.

Went on tours with the Ridgerunner Club and enjoyed the CB chatter & colorful local history. The following are North Carolina quotes:

“There’s another road side Wall Mart!” Sat. yard sales by the side of the road.

“Trains been thru here!” How do you know? Cause it left its’ tracks.”

“Yellow signs are for Truckers & Miatas!” Trucks won’t make it and Miatas can.

“Reminds me of a Cow looking at a new gate.” An unfriendly person on the side of the road.

Boarded the Pee Wee Coach for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad from Dillsboro to Bryson City, NC and back. In Bryson City we were entertained by a Hillbilly Band on the platform of the 100-year railroad station. On the way back toward Asheville we stopped in the nice little town of Waynesville and had a fabulous dinner in a gourmet restaurant, named “Wild Fire”, that had been recommended to us by a local shopkeeper.

Les Barton went for his long awaited Hot Air Balloon ride.

The MMC gang left for a trip to Deals Gap to ride the famous “The Tail of The Dragon”. All the guys were in 7th heaven and purchased decals and other souvenirs to remember this long awaited ride. On our way back to Asheville some of us wanted to have some famous North Carolina ribs so we stopped in Waynesville again and “pigged out at Fat Buddies”

We visited Lake Lure and then went on to climb Chimney Rock but it was all fogged in so we went back to Hendersonville, had lunch at an original 50’s café with soda fountain and 50’s music. We all enjoyed the nostalgia of our youth listening to Elvis, the Supremes, the Platters, etc. While there, we were approached by a religious panhandler who touted that God would take care of us forever if we gave him bus fare to get home only to find out he had asked others in our group too. Later we found him asking other tourist for the same bus fare, Priscilla reprimanded him for missing the bus.

Drove the Blue Ridge Parkway through fog and sunshine, and made many stops for pictures and to the Visitor Centers to purchase mementos, etc.

On our journey back we stopped in Lexington, VA and then again in Gettysburg, PA. We toured the Civil War Battlefields, with our guide, and were taken back in time to our countries troubled past. Walked the downtown area and enjoyed the shops, restaurants, and many historic buildings.

This was a great trip and everyone who went had a wonderful time. Ask any of the members who shared this adventure, but be prepared to spend some time listening to the stories and the adventures each one of us had.

Priscilla & Art Caira

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