July 23rd, 2006
It is 8:30 AM on Sunday, July 23. The skies over Holyoke are dark and cloudy and the remnants of an overnight rainstorm have created puddles in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn. The hotel lot is nearly empty; the rainy Saturday weather and unusually high gas prices have had a negative affect on the number of weekend travelers seeking lodging. The few patrons eating breakfast in the Friendly’s restaurant look out through tinted windows on a gloomy start to this last day of the weekend.
And then it happens; first one, then three, then another, then two more colorful little cars, and within several minutes, twenty-five Mazdas have overtaken the scene. They seem to come from every direction, like bugs drawn to the light. Their owners mull about the parking lot greeting each other and looking favorably to the sky, the same sky that only minutes ago was so dark and foreboding now seems to lighten as if to acknowledge the presence of these strange little vehicles which have no obvious utilitarian purpose. It is a scene that would cause the pessimist to question the rationality of such activity. The pessimist would ask why otherwise stable adults would engage in such frivolous behavior.
And that’s why pessimists just sit in Friendly`s and will never own a Miata.
Miatas In Mass 2006 kicked off at 9:15 AM when twenty-three Miatas and two RX8s turned out of the parking lot and headed for the sun. Over the last few days we had all endured scorching heat and torrential rains, but that was all behind us now. With a sense of adventure and the knowledge that only a Mazda product can deliver you to the end of the rainbow, we set forth to do the three things we most cherish: drive, talk, and eat.
In a welcome befitting the regal status of a Miata owner, we were met by a police escort on the outskirts of Northampton. With blue lights flashing and police officers stopping all other intersecting traffic, our motorcade of tiny cars was whisked through downtown to the amusement and amazement of onlookers who waved, honked their horns, and took pictures, for surely this type of fanfare is reserved only for those holding celebrity status! It was a great sight; a seemingly endless line of diminutive Miatas (and RX8s) commanding the roadway.
Once set free to continue motoring west on Route 66, we maintained our novelty status as people on their porches or in their yards would stop to wave and smile as we drove by. If twenty-three motorcycles or twenty-three Corvettes drive by in a group, people are intimidated and uncomfortable, but when a group of Miatas cruise by it makes people smile. Wow, I should write Miata ads!
At the forty-two mile mark we stopped at the East Otis Gulf Station where we were met by three members of the East Otis Welcoming Committee with smiles and a welcome sign. By this time we were getting pretty comfortable with this celebrity treatment!
While traveling on curvy, hilly Route 23 we picked up three more Miatas. We also lost a member of our parade on this route when a pot hole claimed the life of a right front tire. An unlikely pit crew stayed behind to render aid while the rest of the group made their way to Mc Donald’s, the last stop before the museum.
Upon arrival on the bucolic grounds of the Norman Rockwell Museum we quickly assumed ownership of the picnic area and enjoyed our meal in the peacefulness of the trees, a warm breeze, and great company. After lunch some of the group departed for more adventure while others toured the museum. Those of us who viewed the original works of Norman Rockwell came away with a new appreciation for his art and the country and the people who most inspired him. It was a cultural event that was befitting of the Miata owner; Rockwell’s art has an understated elegance to it that reflects passion, character, trust, adventure, and the value of positive experiences – just like Miata people.
The day evolved into sun and fluffy clouds, the kind of weather that was designed for a convertible. By late afternoon we had gone off in different directions but we shared a common appreciation for the experience of the day in the best roadsters in the world, on the best roads in the state, with the best people you could ever hope to meet.
Oh, that pessimist in the window at Friendly`s? He will be there tomorrow and for days to come, still questioning and doubting. The shame of it is, he will never know what he is missing, – he should stop asking questions and buy a Miata!