A Recap of the EIM Black Hills Stampede

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Not counting multi-club regional and national events, there are very few MINI groups in the U.S. who rival Eastern Iowa MINIs when it comes to exciting and fun-filled, multi-day, out-of-area MINI motoring adventures to special destinations. This year’s 2016 EIM Black Hills Stampede, held on 18-22 May in the scenic Black Hills region of southwest South Dakota, was certainly no exception. A cadre of 26 fun-loving EIMers and 14 MINIs covered more mountain twisties and took in more scenic vistas over the long weekend than one can enumerate or imagine. This was EIM’s fourth trip to the area since 2008 and, by all accounts, it was one of the best.

Our decision to bivouac on Wednesday evening in Blue Earth, MN was excellent as it provided more time to socialize and get psyched up for the transit west, provided for some awesome photo ops at the Jolly Green Giant, and facilitated a sufficiently early departure on Thursday morning that provided ample time for exploring Badlands National Park, Wall Drug, and stops in Rapid City on the way into our base of operations at the K-Bar-S Lodge just outside of Keystone, SD. The weather was close to perfect and allowed our group to fully enjoy the exploration opportunities at all of the stops.

Friday’s skies dawned cobalt blue and after a few cold showers in one unit (we don’t know anything about who might have turned off the gas valve in the dark instead of the car wash water hose bib…do we Phil N.? 😉 ) we were off early to our nearby favorites, Mt. Rushmore National Monument and a hair-raising run down US-16A / Iron Mountain Road. After a stop at the new Custer State Park Visitor’s Center we enjoyed a superb buffet lunch at the CSP State Game Lodge, a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and serving as the Summer White House for President Coolidge back in 1927. After lunch we circled the CSP Scenic Wildlife Loop (fortunately only the MINIs and not the bison were stampeding) followed by another exhilarating run north on the Needles Highway, with stops at multiple overlooks including the “Eye of the Needle,” and a much-needed rest stop at the Sylvan Lake Lodge. Then it was down the mountain into Hill City, a stop for some at the Prairie Berry Winery for a little tasting and shopping, and a transit back into Keystone under increasingly threatening skies. That threat materialized into a whopper of an evening thunderstorm that sat over the mountains over several hours and upped the “pucker factor” with heavy rain and four separate instances of pea-sized hail, enough to accumulate like snow. It was rather tense for a while but thankfully the storm never devolved to the point of causing damage to our beloved MINIs. Not wanting to venture out en masse into the storm, the night was capped off in grand style when Laura R. and Peggy J. made a pizza run into Keystone (on behalf of their reluctant spouses, Mike R. and Steve M., who balked at getting stuck out in the weather). This turned into a true “Thelma and Louise” adventure complete with the dodging of flood waters, a solid stream of hilarious and “colorful” text message dialog, some Russian beer, an almost-missing-persons APB, and the ladies finally returning late to the K-Bar-S lobby with some great pizza and laughing so hard they were having trouble controlling their tears and their bladders. Of course, their virtuoso telling of the story had us all rolling on the floor laughing. Great times!

Saturday morning saw the bulk of our MINIs making a misty mountain run north on US-385 with stops at the Pactola Reservoir Overlook and at the brand new Homestake Visitor’s Center in Lead. Then it was southwest over the ridge on US-85 and then a spirited run north (after dispatching the student driver in front of us) on the Spearfish Canyon Highway, with several stops along the way including Bridal Veil Falls, with Cindy C.‘s “shoe incident” thrown in for good measure. That was so much fun, we decided to make a return trip up the canyon and back through Lead on our way into Deadwood for lunch and shopping. This group then filled the afternoon with a run west on US-14 to the outskirts of Sturgis and then south on Vanocker Canyon Road, Nemo Road, Norris Peak Road, and back on US-385 toward Hill City. Other MINIs in our group checked out the Crazy Horse Memorial, the Reptile Gardens, the Rapid City Bear Park, and other destinations. A gathering at the Ruby House Restaurant in Keystone for supper made a great exclamation point to a fun-filled day of MINI motoring. As our MINI mates started their independent return trips home on Sunday morning, it was hard to believe how fast the time had passed.

In addition to the folks mentioned previously, we want to give a shout out to Chris G. for his timely OBDII code reader expertise (and for the MINI “music” during the tunnel passages!) and to Steve & Juli B. for the GoPro video footage. A sincere thanks to all of the EIMers who participated in this trip and made all of the memories that much more special.

We’ve added lots of photos from our adventure in our Photo Gallery. You can access them directly using the following link:

Photos from the 2016 EIM Black Hills Stampede, 5-18-16 to 5-22-16

Be sure to check out the EIM Facebook Page for even more photos and memories.

Another Successful Skirmish…

Another Successful Skirmish...

…and no Gophers or Badgers (or MINIs!) were harmed in the process. Simply wonderful to be able to enjoy excellent weather, superb twisties, and great companionship this past weekend at the 2016 EIM Border Skirmish Drive. After meeting up at the Decorah Trout Hatchery and enjoying the views, feeding the fish, and checking out the famous eagles, we headed north into Bluff Country for some amazing curves and spirited motoring, and lunch in Caledonia, MN. Then it was back down along the Mighty Mo and the scenic cliffs through New Albin, Marquette, and Guttenberg to our final destination and supper in Balltown, IA. It was a special treat that the best roads had been completely cleared of their winter sand deposits, allowing us to exercise our MINIs properly!

Thanks to all who came out and joined us. It was a special treat to have EIM Plank Owner Daryl H. drive down from his home in Minnesota to motor once again with his old MINI mates. It was great seeing him and LEO again. His unexpected stop in Houston, MN will keep us laughing for quite some time (he radioed that he was stopping for “air” and the leaders soldiered on, thinking he had said “beer.” Beer? Not Daryl!). We enjoyed meeting and motoring for the first time with EIMers Paul and Sue P. Their son and prom date, incidentally, met up with us in Balltown so they could trade cars with Mom and Dad and make the MINI their prom chariot! Likely some future MINIacs in the making.

Photos from our Border Skirmish are posted in our Photo Gallery. You can go to them directly by using the following link:

Photos from the 2016 EIM Border Skirmish Drive, Decorah to Balltown, 4-23-16

Time to get psyched up for the Black Hills Stampede next month!

Some NewBo-ots and Bonnets


Photo Credit: Chris Griswold (click to zoom)

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The NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids turned out to be a great new venue for our 9th Annual EIM Spring has [Almost] Sprung Meet-n-Eat, held this year just one day prior to that seasonal milestone on March 19th. Despite the unimpressive weather forecast, Mother Nature was good to us and we enjoyed dry conditions and a sizable turnout of MINIs and friendly MINI folk. The dedicated MINI parking in Lot 44 was great, as was lunch in the Five Seasons Room at the Parlor City Pub.

We extend our sincere thanks to dedicated EIMers Phil & Louanne N. for the great venue idea, for all of their planning and preparations, for the discount cards (fudge!) and for hosting our entire group after lunch for dessert and coffee at their fantastic condo just up the street. The view from the roof top patio was superb and the treats were great! Thanks also to all of the regulars and to the new folks who joined us for the first time; it was great to see you and we hope you’ll join us again soon.

Photos from this event are posted in our Photo Gallery and are directly accessible using the following link:

Photos from the 9th EIM “Spring has [Almost] Sprung” Meet-n-Eat, Cedar Rapids, 3-19-16

Next, we motor. Looking forward to skirmishing with you on April 23rd!

What a Difference a Year Makes…

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If the weather yesterday for the EIM Quad Cities Meet-n-Eat in Davenport is any indication, the weather gods look to be smiling on EIM for the 2016 motoring year. Glorious!

Thanks to all who came out to enjoy the beautiful day and MINI camaraderie with us, and for supplying us with such a great selection of tasty food items and excellent libations. Thanks to Paul J. for treating us to a flight demo and some video from his high-end drone (which, by the way, fits perfectly in the back of his new 3rd Gen Clubman!). And of course, a special thanks to Sandy & Denny B. for once again being such wonderful, gracious, and creative hosts for our February gathering.

For more, check out the pictures in our Photo Gallery – you can access them directly by using the following link:

Photos from the EIM Quad Cities Meet-n-Eat in Davenport, 2-20-16

See you in Cedar Rapids next month on March 19th. We have something new in the works!

Wigging Out

Wigging Out

Thanks to all of our faithful MINIacs who came out for our first gathering of 2016 — the EIM Meet-n-Eat at the Wig and Pen Pub hosted in Iowa City this past Saturday. It was great to see a good turnout and our folks enjoying the cooperative weather, great food, and conversation on our winter experiences and plans for the upcoming motoring year.

Special thanks to our good friend and MINI of Des Moines Service Advisor Jeremiah S. who graced us with some brand new F54 Clubman hardware to view and enjoy. Thanks to family members Britney and Alaina for tagging along with him — we always enjoy your company. Congratulations to long-time EIMer Paul J. who surprised everyone when he arrived in his very own brand new Midnight Black Clubman!

Thanks again for your participation. Photos from this event (courtesy of our beloved “Purple Haze Queen” Linda R.) can be found in our Photo Gallery and are directly accessible using the following link:

Photos from the EIM Meet-n-Eat at the Wig and Pen Pub, Iowa City, 1-23-16

Next up is our meet-up in Davenport on 2/20…hope to see you there.

You Like Me!

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Just hit 200 EIM Facebook Page fans. Glad to have you along for the ride!

MINI USA Sets the Route for MTTS 2016

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MINI USA has released the route for the upcoming MINI Takes the States 2016 (MTTS 2016). The biennial MINI adventure begins at Road Atlanta in northeast Georgia on July 9, 2016 and finishes at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs, CA, on July 23, 2016.

For additional details please check out the MTTS 2016 site at the following link:

MINI USA — MINI Takes the States 2016

Whether you’re committed to the entire coast-to-coast route or just a local segment, it’s time to start the planning!

Seasons Greetings!

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Eastern Iowa MINIs extends its sincerest wishes to all of our friends and families for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Motoring Year!

See you in 2016!

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Wrapping up 2015 in Dyersville

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Thanks to all of the EIM folk who came out for our end-of-the-year EIM Meet-n-Eat at the Country Junction held this past Saturday in Dyersville.

Congratulations to all of the annual EIM Recognition Award winners for 2015, and a special nod to Jeff & Sue N., our 2015 EIM Motorists of the Year. Thanks also to those whose “awards” dictated a good sense of humor!

A few pictures from this event may be found in our Photo Gallery and are directly accessible using the following link:

Photos from the EIM Meet-n-Eat at the Country Junction, Dyersville, 12-5-15

See you at the Wig and Pen Pub in Coralville on Saturday, January 23rd. Happy holidays!

Yes, of Course!

Yes, of Course!

Many of us had the great honor and delight of assisting EIMer Jay T. with his extra-special proposal of marriage to Kristin D. this past Saturday in Davenport. Jay left no stone unturned in planning out the MINI choreography and details, and we were blessed with unseasonably beautiful mid-November weather. It was all so perfect, how could her answer be anything other than “yes?”

Our congratulations and our best wishes to Jay and Kristin, as well as our thanks for being allowed to share in their special day. See the photo documentation of this neat event in our Photo Gallery, accessible directly by using the following link:

Photos from Jay’s “MINI Proposal” to Kristin, Davenport, 11-14-15

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