A Most Memorable MINI Adventure

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After nearly a year of planning and anticipation, there is little doubt that the EIM Big Adventure to the Great Smoky Mountains will rank near or at the top of the all-time memorable EIM event list. Over a nine-day period we made the transit and motored on almost a thousand miles of wonderful and renowned roads in one of the most scenic areas of the country. By mid-week we would catch ourselves laughing out loud at the realization that every turn seemed to lead to more fantastic roads…

…but it would be a disservice to stop there. In some fashion of order, here’s just a stream-of-consciousness, random sampling of our experiences from a single point of view:

The pre-transit Davenport hospitality (thanks Denny & Sandy!); the anticipatory LeClaire rendezvous; meeting friendly, Dragon-bound bikers at rest stops along the way; the Shelbyville stop-over and meeting up with Bill and Alyce; the closed door of Outmotoring in the rain (better for all as it turned out, since it led to our larger group visit later); parading into Sevierville; the realization of the fantastic view from the balcony of our condo at the Wyndham Resort; emergency vehicles and rugged, handsome EMTs (some people will do anything for attention!); suppers together in the condo (thanks ladies); morning mountain fog; the arrival of Thelma and Louise; our first meeting with Jeff and Sue in Pigeon Forge; Gatlinburg; the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center; climbing into GSM Nat’l Park for the first time; the seemingly endless views from Clingman’s Dome; the Cherokee lunch stop; the delightful stretch of the Hellbender; the whole Deal’s Gap experience; the Dragon! (more on this later); catching our breath at the US-129 overlook above Lake Chilhowee; the first of many trips via the Foothills Parkway; the clear, winding stream along Old Scenic Highway 73; the expansive views and rich history of Cades Cove; our “feeding frenzy” group shopping at Outmotoring and chatting with Aaron Cornaby; the hospitality of the staff at MINI of Knoxville; Jeff’s near-purchase of the G4 Coupe; the cement truck ahead of us screaming through the twisites; letting it all hang out on our second Dragon run; the curves and massive views of the Cherohala Skyway; two unexpected bonus Dragon runs; the Applewood Grill; Asheville; the Biltmore; lunch at Hooters in Greenville with the guys; Starbucks outside the Biltmore Estate; the ladies trying to find the “real” Riverview in Asheville; the Mellow Mushroom; listening to Jeff describe his “bear encounter;” the stunning surprise of TN-32 (and doing it twice!); the quaint Artist’s Loop around Gatlinburg; the Wild Plum; the Museum of the Cherokee; elk, deer, turkeys, hawks (and Jeff’s black bear); Flapjacks; the breathtaking morning view from above the clouds; the “immersive experience” at Sliding Rock Falls (cold!); the Whitewater Falls vista; our five-minute visit to SC; discovering the posh hamlet of Highlands; exploring Glenn Falls; great photo op at Bridal Veil Falls; the trail under Dry Falls; winding our way out of the beautiful Cullasaja Canyon; the wonderful view during our last northward pass through the Park; our rowdy farewell dinner at Applebees back in Sevierville; and disbelief that it was already time to head home.

Concerning the Dragon? It lived up to our expectations. The inability to wipe the grin off your face combined with the body trembling from the adrenaline rush. Occasionally punctuated by slower traffic — just enough to provide a few chances to enjoy the views. If one drives a MINI, this is a road that must be traveled.

It was a fun and amazing time with a great group of people that will be remembered for a long, long time. We can’t thank Peggy J., Steve M. and Bill and Alyce S. enough for originally conceiving of the idea and facilitating our lodging at the Wyndham Resort.

Some photos from our trip have been added to our Photo Gallery. You can enjoy them directly by using the following link:

Photos from EIM Big Adventure to the Great Smoky Mountains, 9-20-13 to 9-27-133

Thanks to everyone for the memories!

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