MiataWorld II: Day One

by Alan J. Claffie

If you looked at the pile of stuff we had piled on the living room floor at 7:00 Monday morning, you'd never think that we'd ever get it to fit into two cars, much less have those two cars off and running three hours later on a whirlwind tour of the southeast and, eventually, Texas for MiataWorld II.

We got the cars loaded and, miraculously, both trunks closed. It was a brisk Monday morning but the tops were down and we were rolling. My '99 showed 50,663 miles sitting in the driveway.

We'd only gotten maybe half an hour into the ride when trouble first showed up. I'd done some brake work on the '99 during last week, minor stuff, and when I finished the car went back in the garage. It hadn't really gone anywhere in quite some time. So it wasn't until I was on the Beltway heading towards the Woodrow Wilson Bridge that I felt a loose wheel. Luckily I brought a big ol' breaker bar with sockets for both cars' lugnuts, just in case, and it was right on the edge of the trunk so it was a quick job to pull over and tighten everything down. Funny thing, I thought about going around both cars and double-checking wheel lugs before leaving but dismissed the thought since I always make sure I finish the job before putting tools away.

On the plus side, I caught the problem before any of the lugnuts fell off or, worse, I had to chase an errant RP-F1 into Beltway traffic.

We breakfasted in Front Royal, Virginia before heading for Skyline Drive, which runs through Shenandoah National Park. To get there you have to go through a tollbooth and pay fifteen bucks to enter the park. At first I balked because I'm a cheapskate, and I was ready to go back to the Interstate. But Kate intervened and we wound up paying the freight and this turned out to be a very good thing. What a road - slow but twisty and smooth. Speed is limited to 35 MPH in most parts but our enthusiasm got the best of us and while we weren't exactly flying, we did spend a lot of time north of 50 MPH through some of the funner parts. We were wary of police presence but didn't see much, at least until I realized I was catching one from behind at speed.

Traffic was cooperative. As we approached some who weren't as aggressive as we were, most pulled off into one of the many overlook areas and let us go on. Imagine that, intimidated by Miatas!

The first gas-up came before we got to Skyline Drive. 28.1 MPG for that tankful, which was half from bopping around town and half the trip to Front Royal. We'll have to gas up before hitting the road tomorrow morning and I imagine that tankful won't be all that great since we spent a lot of time bouncing between third and fourth gear charging up and down hills as well as around turns.

We're modifying our ride down. Originally we wanted to go straight from Skyline to the Blue Ridge Parkway but, even at our pace, these twisty roads don't help us get to where we want to go very quickly, especially since we want to pull into the host hotel near Dallas on Thursday. So we'll skip the Blue Ridge, maybe hitting that on the way back. And we'll skip US421 in favor of taking a straight shot to the Gap so we can spend more runs there before hitting the Interstate again non-stop till Grapevine.

More later.

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