MTTS – The End 

Our MTTS adventure ended yesterday. 

We’d actually planned to go all the way… Track to Track… and then spend a couple days in Disneyland and then drive home.  We should have been gone for two more weeks…. but Mother Nature had other ideas. 

Back home in STL we had some big storms that took out several trees causing a bit of damage around our house and Mom’s farm. Nothing terrible, but there was a lot of mess that needed to be cleaned up. Can’t have our open houses with tree debris all over the place. 

Well, actually you can… but our Real Estate Agent said ‘no way.’  *sigh* Sheri knows best. 

I am SO over Missiouri and the screwy weather…. I’m really looking forward to living the beach life. If I’ve gotta cut my vacation short and clean up tree debris… Fine!  Whatever it takes to get me to my new beach house! 

MTTS was awesome!  I’m sad we didn’t get to complete the whole route, but we had a great time while it lasted. At least we got to see all the states (on MTTS) that we hadn’t been to yet. We’ve already been to the other states on the route….. It still would have been fun to revisit those states with MINI. 

All in all we spent 91 hours in the car together… Covering 4400 miles of the country. Good thing we like each other!  

Back home… Back to work… So we can get on to our next adventure… Beach living! 


MTTS2016 – Day six 

Oh! Why does morning come so early?! I’m starting to wear down on this early morning thing. 

Brian and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel… Literally… I grabbed a banana and chased him out the door. I think I’d been moving a bit to slow this morning and he was ready to go. 

I ate my banana and peanut butter in the car on the way to the M1 Concourse. 

It was a bit chilly this morning… a little over cast and breezy… I was happy that I remembered a sweater. I was extra happy that this morning’s caterers had big pots of good, hot coffee. 

MINI of Detroit, our host dealership for this leg, gave us all drawstring MINI backpacks as we came in today. It’ll be perfect for on the beach! 

MINI, the dealers and sponsors have been treating us to some great (as MINI calls it) swag. I want all the presents, but then I remember that I’m gonna have to pack all this stuff in a few months… Maybe I shouldn’t be cranky that Brian and I had to share the straw at the last event…. 😒

They had a nicer bathroom trailer this morning too…  There were four bathrooms on the ladies side and three on the boy’s side. There still could have been more bathrooms, there could always  be more bathrooms… but these are pretty nice. They’re the rv style toilets, but there’s real running water and air conditioning (not that we needed it today) and sinks. These things are cool! 

The M1 Concourse is a new track… More like a country club for race cars than a NASCAR or rallye track. Some places of the facility still seem to be under construction.  The track is complete though, so we got to take a ‘parade’ lap. Emphasis on parade… As in SLOW. No passing, no driving on the grass (which is still mostly mud) and nothing over 20 miles an hour. 

M1 Concourse video 

Actually, since we were released from the event right off the track there really wasn’t any chance of us going any faster than 5-6 mph. As soon as we exited the track we had to deal with stop lights and other traffic…. like normal mortals… So we got all backed up on the track. 

The afternoon Surprise & Delight wasn’t a surprise… The shop owner that was hosting us has been posting on the events FB page for a week with updates and suggestions about the area (like good bathroom stops and restaurants to visit) but it was a total Delight!  The Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe was awesome!  This gal was totally on top of the whole event. I heard that she even attended the event in Ohio just so she’d have a better grasp of what to expect when we showed up. They did a great job! They must have baked though the night.. There were over 5000 cupcakes ready for us today. They gave everyone a free mini cupcake and they had regular cupcakes and MINI frosted cookies available for sale. They had an iced tea area…. They thought of everything. Brian and I bought four of the Gluten Free cupcakes and they were fantastic. I actually started eating mine and kinda freaked out.  It tasted like a real cupcake… I couldn’t believe it was gf. I figured I’d already eaten half of it… If it wasn’t gf I was going to be sick anyway so I ate it all.  Apparently it was just the most amazing gf cupcake ever!  I ate the whole thing and felt perfectly fine.  I have two more to eat later! (I should probably share one of them with Brian though….) 

The route MINI suggested for the rest of the trip took us past cherry orchards, farmers markets and Michigan beaches. A really pretty route. A number of streets were lined with flowers… Marigolds and petunias… Really, really pretty! 

By the time we arrived in Mackinaw City, MI it had started to rain. We’d been considering taking the ferry over to Mackinaw Island, but since it was raining and chilly we decided to make an early night of it. This was a scheduled On You Own evening anyway. 

Brian and I found a pizza place close to our hotel that got really good reviews for gf pizza. We ordered at the counter and we’re looking for a place to sit when two other MINI people called out that we could join them. It was a really funny coincidence that we ran into these two. Both of our dinner companions were MINI execs (it’s cool that MINI execs get out at these events and actually mingle with their coustomers and get to known ‘their people’!) One of the guys was at the Cupcake event this afternoon holding the door and directing people. Brian and I were in the little crowd that was waiting near the door and he was telling us new directions around a construction zone. Someone was teasing him that they’d come find him if the directions took them somewhere crazy. He laughed and said that there wasn’t an evening event tonight alway, so he was safe. And here we randomly meet him at dinner! Probably six people were standing at that door when he said that… And here we were! MINI Serendipity! 

It was fun getting to talk to insiders about the event and the MINIs. We didn’t manage to squeeze any secrets out of them, but it was fun hearing their perspective of the events and some of the inner workings. And it was nice being asked our honest opinions and thoughts. 

The pizza was awesome and the conversation fun. After dinner Brian and I wandered around the shops for a little while and then headed back to the hotel for an early night. These early mornings are getting to me. 

MTTS2016 – Day Five

The day of no bathrooms…. No!  Wait… I’m not starting the whole ‘naming the days’ thing again. So… Wednesday. 

We began our day at Meadows Racetrack and Casino…. Not a CAR racetrack… but technically a track. Okay, MINI… Well let you have that one ’cause they had mini horses and I got to pet one. 

It was cool and a bit overcast this morning, so all my pictures turned out dark. The horses and their humans were out practicing. It was fun watching the horses prance and run. I’d enjoy watching these races sometime. 

Brian even got a hug from one of the horses!  

We stuck with the official MINI route for most of the morning. We wandered off a few times to hunt down a bathroom. Apparently not all gas stations have bathrooms… Lady acted like I was stupid for even asking. WTF are gas stations for if not for bathroom breaks?!  Yeah… I’m the stupid one. Thank goodness for McDonalds (Only time you’ll ever hear me say that!) they have restrooms! I love you MINI, but if you’re going to recommend a route that takes several hours, I’d appreciate a route with a few available pit stops. 

Our afternoon Surprise & Delight was in the town of Lisbon, OH…. The birthplace of the paper straw. Brian and I pretty much blew through this stop. We went through the MINI welcoming committee and received our straw.  Just one. They’ve started giving only one MINI gift per car. It made sense with the candy box yesterday… not sure about the straw… I mean, I’m not afraid of Brian’s germs, but not all driver’s and co-pilots are willing to share germs. 

Lisbon looked like a pretty little town, but we just didn’t feel much like stopping and visiting the shops…. I’m starting to run out of room in the car as is… and I have to budget space for whatever I buy at  Disneyland! 

We found a great Gluten Free restaurant called Moo Cluck Moo in Detroit for an early dinner. EVERYTHING was gluten free. It was so exciting to be able to order anything off the menu … Just like a normal person!  (That’s what I miss most about my life before going gf… Not having to think so hard and worry about every damn bite of food. Just ordering and eating.)  The food was fabulous! The staff was super sweet and friendly. 

I had onion rings for probably the first time in 4 years!  Oh, I love onion rings. 

The chicken sandwich was huge and delicious. The bread was really good too. It crumbled on me a bit, but had a great texture. 

After dinner we headed to the evening event. We were about an hour early, but we were thinking that the venue would be like the French Market in New Orleans with lots of shops and places to wander around. Nope. The Eastern Market isn’t anything like the French Market.  I think it’s supposed to be more of a farmer’s market?  I couldn’t really tell. There weren’t any vendors or cool shops, just a bunch of empty pavilions in a not so inviting downtown area.  We finally found a bunch of other MINI’s who had also arrived very early… and taken all the parking spots. MINI crews weren’t set up yet… (We were and hour early) so some Market staff(?) were hearding MINIs.  I heard one of them yell to another that all the parking was gone and we’d just have to start parking on the streets. We finally found a spot to park with another small herd of MINIs. 

We milled around with the other early arrivals and snapped some more photos. 

When the event finally opened we were given two tickets each…One for dinner and one for dessert…to spend at the food trucks. There were about 10 different  trucks there… BBQ and sandwiches and an ice cream sandwich truck and one with      donuts. We could have probably eaten the BBQ, but we were still pretty full from dinner at Moo Cluck Moo. We asked if we could just have the ice cream from the ice cream cookie truck…. It was a Design Your Own cookie sandwich thing… And they said sure… But didn’t have any cups or anything to put the ice cream in. And the donuts were obviously out. 

We looked around at the couple vendors that were there, but nothing really caught our eye. The band started murdering songs…. loudly… in an enclosed, hot pavilion. Brian and I decided to bail. 

Oh!  Guess how many bathrooms. Go on… Guess!  How many bathrooms were provided for 900+ people?


Now it was a cool little trailer with three nice air conditioned bathrooms with running water and toilets like in an R/V…. but there were just three. If there were others, I never saw them. 

******** Update ********

Brian and I ate dinner with two of the guys from MINI tonight (7/14) and they said that there actually were more bathrooms inside. So, I’m sorry for being cranky about the lack of bathrooms, MINI.  I guess I missed em.  – S

After we left the event we went to look for the house that Nicole on Rehab Addict renovated a few seasons ago on HGTV. It was only a few blocks away, so we hunted it down at snapped some photos.

Gorgeous house.

Scary neighbors. HGTV didn’t show them!   

Another interesting day. I enjoyed Pittsburg… Ohio was pretty… And we spent about 20 minutes in West Virginia, so I guess technically we can check that one off the list… Detroit… Enh… Not a huge fan. Ready to motor on tomorrow. 

MTTS2016 – Day Four

We finally got to one of the morning events early… too early… They were still setting up when we arrived. It’s been had to find a balance between early enough to get a decent place in the parking (because we’re released in the order we parked and if you’re way back in the pack sometimes you miss the police escort out of town. So you’ve missed having the traffic lights blocked and now you’re trapped in rush hour traffic.) and not too early that MINI isn’t ready for us yet. 

We wandered around until things got started and we were finally able to play the bean bag toss game. Get two bags in and you win a prize… We didn’t win.  Then we hit the breakfast bar. I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday, so I’d eaten a good breakfast at the hotel already. The caterers MINI had in Baltimore were excellent. They had a great dinner the night before and a really nice breakfast this morning. The had a ton of staff keeping everything stocked and neat and they even had big dispensers of fruit infused water. They served Make Your Own Breakfast Burritos… Which was awesome for GF and non-GF people… Just skip the flour wrap if you’re gf. Really nice. I hope MINI has more set ups like this. 

We had an easier drive today. Mostly we stuck to the same road for long periods. The previous days we had lots of turn to look for… Today was easier… Just a couple main roads. 

Our Surprise & Delight was actually pretty delightful today. We stopped at Mr Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium  MINI gave each car a take out box to fill with candies. We filled our box, but of course, had to check out the rest of the store. We got some fudge and a bag of double dipped chocolate peanuts. Brian kept telling me that they’d melt in the car…. Sometimes it’s like he doesn’t know me at all. Melt?!  Not gonna have time for that! 

We left Mr Ed’s with our collection of chocolate and wound our way through Virginia. We drove through Gettysburg and I made Brian stop at a few of the historic sites so I could take photos and  thoroughly depress myself. Why must we always be killing each other?  

The town of Gettysburg looked pretty interesting. I’d like to come back and actually spend some time looking around and learning more. That’s one of the nice things about MTTS… we get a chance to visit a lot of places that we wouldn’t normally have chosen as vacation destination. MTTS is sort of a ‘slampler’ of the states… try em out, see what you like… come back for a full course next time. 

We had a nice drive into Pittsburg, PA. It’s really pretty here… I’m not sure what I expected, but I was surprised by the rolling hills and valleys and all the trees. I love the houses all stacked up the hillsides and all the bridges!  

We stopped for dinner at Pastoli’s Pizza. Right on the front door, written in green, it says ‘Allergy Friendly Restaurant.’  Wow!  I wish every place did that.  ‘Allergy Friendly’ or ‘Run Away’. The pizza was delish!  The gf crust was really crisp with a rich taste and nice texture. 

After dinner we checked in at the MINI event so that we could take advantage of the nice parking… Then we walked back into the shopping/tourist area. I saw an incline trolley on our way in and I wanted to find it and go up the side of the mountain. 

The view was amazing! 

I’ve really enjoyed Pittsburg. It’s on our list to come back and visit sometime when we can spend more time exploring. 

We missed most of the evening MINI event, but there really didn’t seem to be much going on… Loud music and some food… The food didn’t look near as good as the set up in Baltimore. With an hour still to go in the event many of the trays were empty and there were crumbs everywhere. I looked for bottled water, but couldn’t find any. I finally found some coolers of iced tea and lemonade that were nearly empty. One of the MINI guys tilted it over for me so I could get the last out of it. 

Oh well… The morning and afternoon events were great and Brian and I entertained ourselves most of the evening anyway… I’m just annoyed that there wasn’t water… We did a lot of hiking!  

MTTS2016 – Day Three

This was probably my favorite MTTS day, so far. 

The morning event was kinda… meh.  Nothing amazing, but nothing bad either. MINI had breakfast available… Breakfast sandwiches… but Brian and I had eaten a GF breakfast at the hotel. Actually, Brian did… I was feeling a little off this morning and didn’t want to upset my tummy with eggs and bacon. 

We started out at the Richmond International Raceway. Everyone actually got in their cars and got moving quicker this morning… or maybe we were just further up in the pack than we have been… We hopped on the track for our lap… and right back off. We didn’t even get to go all the way around!  AND we had a bunch of pokey puppies in front of us, so we never even made it up to highway speeds! I shot the track video in Time-Lapse mode just to try something different… Good thing, it made the lap look so much more exciting. 
Richmond International Raceway video 

We followed MINI’s driving directions today and really enjoyed driving the back roads through Virginia. 

Our afternoon Surprise & Delight was at Belmont Farm Distillery. Brian wasn’t too excited about moonshine, but I wanted to try it.  

It was a fun little side trip, but it was jam packed with MINIs and the place just wasn’t big enough for us all. There was only ONE port-a-potty.  ONE!  

I sampled the Apple Pie Moonshine and the Apple Pie Whiskey. I might have liked to try a few others, but it was $5.25 for the two little samples as it was. 

After we left the distillery we left the pack and detoured into Washington D.C. It was…. disappointing. The drivers are bat-shit-crazy. Not a one of them knows how to use their damned blinkers. There are busses and pedestrians and bicycles zipping in and out of traffic. Then there are all these one way streets…. 

For safety and sanity sake we decide to park and take a bus tour around the city. 

We saw the White House… It was pretty… but we couldn’t really see it well. There was a big fence and lots of Secret Service guys. 

We only hopped off the bus a couple of times   It was hot and there were tourist, homeless people and… I dunno… other random people that live there, I guess??  Lots of people!  Everywhere!  We know how I feel about crowds!  I don’t like crowds. And by now my ‘off’ feeling had developed into a headache and I had to break my No Soda streak and drank a Sprite to settle my brain and tummy. 

We drove around other buildings… Old ones… Important ones…. 

I actually took more photos on the ‘big’ camera… These are just the ones on my phone. I think we made it past the Lincoln Memorial too… There were a lot of buildings and monuments and important things… but my head was really starting to hurt and I finally realized that… Ya know… Maybe I hadn’t eaten hardly anything today…. Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel good…..  I’m not always the brightest. In my defense.. Sometimes I feel a bit off and it means I shouldn’t eat… of course, usually it means I should eat, but it always feels like a bad idea. At any rate, I was over the bus tour and I just wanted to go find food. And sirens!  Did I mention the sirens?!  Every damn time we turned around there were sirens! Echoing around the buildings…. racing past us…My poor head. 

We found a cute little pizza place and had dinner and a couple of gallons of water. Did I mention that it was hot? 

After dinner we left DC and headed for the evening event in Baltimore, Maryland. I was happy to leave Washington behind. Maybe it would be interesting to come back some time and see all the museums… maybe there is a quieter time of year?  Probably when the kids are back in school. I’ll have to look it up…. 

The evening event was held at the B&O Railroad Museum. I wasn’t really excited abut this one, but Brian is a fan of basically anything with wheels and complicated mechanics. MINI had a really nice dinner available and while I was trying to find the water bottles I wandered across a table of French fries with assorted toppings…. I couldn’t resist cheese fries. And then I saw they were serving chicken, ham or roast beef… It was supposed to be for sandwiches, but the guy sliced me several nice sliced of roast beef and I found dill pickles… And was pretty much in heaven. Brian was kinda looking at my like I was nuts since I’d left most of my pizza at dinner… but this just looked so good… and as soon as I ate it… my headache went away. Cheese fries cure headaches!  Brian says maybe I should have eaten one of the other three meals that I had a shot at during the day…. but I doubt that would have worked…. It was most likely the cheese fries that saved me. (Or the giant hunk of protein from the roast beef…) 

Since I felt so much better we roamed around the railroad museum for quite a while.

I’m pretty sure Brian has figured out how to take all the trains apart and how they all work by now. He kept trying to show me how stuff worked and I kept trying to see if I could jump up into one of the rail cars…. In a past life, Brian would have been the engineer… I’d have bee the hobo trying to hitch a ride…. And probably getting run over by the train… Unless I was much taller in that life…

All in all, another interesting day! 

MTTS2016 – Day Two

We met up with the other MINI’s at the Charlotte Motor Speedway this morning for our second MTTS Rise & Shine event. 

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to sound like a complainer through this whole post. Don’t get me wrong… I appreciate everything MINI and the crew do to pull this off. It’s a HUGE undertaking and they do an amazing job… Today just wasn’t my most favorite day. 

The event was supposed to start at at 7:30. Brian and I arrived shortly after 7:30…. but there were already hordes of MINI’s that must have gotten there an hour before. The line into the track was backed way up. We ended up getting parked in the second to last row… I swear they must have started parking more cars at the ends of previous rows because I’m sure there were tons more MINI’s behind us. 

Look out past the building in the above picture… Under the red ‘Thank You’ sign… That’s all the MINI’s parked together. 

Brian and I wandered around the morning event for a bit. MINI had breakfast sandwiches and fresh fruit available today. We bought our Official 2016 MTTS t-shirts and then tried to figure out what the other tents were for. You can see em in the above picture… The row of white tents. One was MINI gear, Defy Hunger (our official charity for 2016), two for the sponsors… Who weren’t even in their tents or doing anything that I could see..  And I have no clue what the other tents were for… There were long lines in front of them, but no clue what was at the end of the line. Last MTTS there were branded tents for the sponsors and they had interesting stuff to sell or give away. 

At about 8:30 they told us all to head back to our cars and get ready to take our lap around the track. At 9:30 we were still waiting…. It took forever!  

Charlotte Motor Speedway video – it’s a bit slow at first, but it’s a fun view of the track. 

All the MINIs finally made their lap of the track and had headed off for the day’s Suprise & Delight. By this time we were so far behind the group that we missed the police escort out of town and there were MINIs swarming everywhere. The rough part is, you never know if the MINIs in front of you are actually going to the next event… Some are going home or skipping the next event… Some are lost… Some are following other groups.  So it’s not a sure bet to just follow the MINI in front of you. Brian chose to ignore the directions from MINI and try to catch up to the main group by taking the highway more. 

We actually ended up ahead of the main group and got to the Suprise & Delight early. I thought we’d gotten there too early because there didn’t seem to be anything going on. We were finally pointed around the side of the building where the local MINI dealer had set up a tent and was handing out little bottles of water (hot), a state magnet and raffle ticket for the unofficial evening event. Hmmmm…. Okay. I guess I was expecting something a bit more… You know… Surprising or perhaps… Delightful?  We were just at a smelly truck stop… Sadler’s Truck Stop… Which is apparently owned by somebody who was a NASCAR driver…. So, I guess that was supposed to be the connection. 

Anyway, I did get my picture taken in this giant chair… And then I slipped backward in the chair and like to never got back out. Damn chair was slick! 

We had about an hour more to get to Richmond, Virginia which was our stop for the night. MINI didn’t have anything scheduled for the evening, we were supposed to be on our own to explore. A couple of other groups had planned other events, but the main event seems to be at a Irish Pub. Not really our kind of scene, so Brian and I took off on our own and caught a movie at the local mall. I also needed to find a new pair of tennis shoes.. The new pair that I bought from Amazon just before we left was trying to murder my foot. I’m going to need good shoes when we get to Disney at the end of MTTS. We finally found a nice, comfy, non murderous pair and I can ship the evil ones back to Amazon. 

We found dinner at a place called The Daily Kitchen & Bar. There were a ton of GF items on the menu and everything sounded delish!  

I ordered the GF Calamari appetizer… Brian said he’d share it with me, but I don’t think he likes calamari. I ended up eating most of it.. It was really good. There was an adorable little girl and her mother that were sitting next to us having a really sweet dinner together. This little girl… Probably 9 or so… Was so polite and well spoken. It was hard not to listen in… They were discussing recycling… When our appetizer arrived the little girl asked what it was because it smelled so good.  I told her and offered her a piece… She very politely refused, but I told her that she should try it. She selected a chunk with all the little legs sticking out and remarked that it looked like an octopus. I said it was at the same time her mom said it was squid… Yeah, duh… Squid. Little gal wasn’t fazed a bit. She chomped right into it and seemed to enjoy it. They reminded me of me and my momma.  We always had grown up conversations and fun meals like that together. 

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get a good night sleep before another busy day tomorrow. 

MTTS2016 -the real day one

Today was the official start to MINI Takes the States. Brian and I chose not to attend the early check in event the night before because there were protest happening in Atlanta and Atlanta traffic is a nightmare on a good day. 

Morning came extra early today, but I was still wound from the whole buying a house in another state thing, so I was basically awake already when the alarm went off. (Not bright eyed or bushy tailed…. but awake.) 

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the hotel and then headed out to meet the rest of the MINI’s. (MINI USA often provides breakfast sandwiches or burritos, but being GF we can’t eat anything there. Fortunately we stay at Holiday Inns and they have foods that we can eat.) 

We recognized so many people from the 2014 MTTS and surprisingly they recognized us too!  (It says a lot about a company that they can keep the same employees year after year.) We were so impressed with the happy/friendly/helpful attitudes of all the MINI Staff in 2014. They were working crazy hours and herding cats… I mean CARS all day long for two weeks… And everyone was always smiling and nice…. Kinda like Disney employees! 

Once we got checked in and got our lanyards with our first pins we climbed up into the bleachers at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I rifled through our MTTS goody bags while Brian actually socialized with the other humans. The bags are made out of old MINI USA billboards!  How cool is that?!  So every bag is different and you kinda look at your bag and think… Oh! I got a tire! We had a few stickers in the bags and a bunch of windshield (or ‘windscreen,’if I’m going to use the proper Brittish terms) wipes. Which will come in handy since I like to put my foot up on the dash and Brian gets annoyed when I leave toe prints on the glass. 

Since we’re going the whole way this year – Track to Track – Atlanta to Los Angeles – we got different colored lanyards (orange) than the people just doing one leg (yellow) or a few legs (blue) of the trip. We also got a laundry bag that we get to stuff full of dirty clothes and MINI will wash and return them too us. MINI really has thought of everything. 

The event kicked off with the National Anthem and then ‘hellos’from MINI Corporate…. Some of the head honchos from Germany came over to see what the big deal was with Mini Takes the States. (If we can hunt him back down, he’s supposed to have a special pin to add to our lanyards, but the guy was a million feet away… I’m gonna have trouble recognizing him again… I guess I can just be listening for a German accent.) And THEN! There was a humming sound from overhead… and we looked up… up…. up… to see a plane circling overhead and three skydivers jumped from the plane…. And LANDED IN A MINI!!! How’s that for a precision landing?! 

You can check out my videos on YouTube:

Then we all climbed into our cars to take a lap around the Atlanta Motor Speedway. We were all warned not to go up the banking of the track or all of our oil would slosh to the side and our cars would start throwing codes (which is like car curse words, but more expensive.) There were about a bazillion of us there, so it took a while for us all to A) find our cars and B) get back in them. 

Note: There were not actually a ‘bazillion’ of us at the event. MINI said that there were 900 of us Track to Track people and about 4000 total people registered. So at any given time there will be 900 of us on the trip with more of our MINI cousins popping in at different points. 

And of course, since this is MINI, we got a special send off before we sped off on the track – Atlanta Motor Speedway Lap

After our lap around the track we started following the map provided by MINI to our first afternoon Suprise & Delight. 

We stopped in Ridgeway, Georgia at Laura’s Tea Room. Ridgeway is a teeny, tiny town… I think the population for less than 350 people…. We kinda invaded and overwhelmed the town. It was awesome!  People would stop along side the road and take photos of the migration of MINI’s. We’d wave and they’d wave back with slightly bemused looks. 

MINI Value Service gave us all reusable coolie cups and Laura’s Tea Room gave us all iced tea. Delish!  I don’t think Laura’s was expecting the number of people that showed up… I heard that they were expecting something more like 600-700 people over the span of a few hours… Not all 2000 or so of us that decended on them like a thirsty horde. Laura’s staff was all very gracious and welcoming… if a little frazzled.  I thought the whole thing was great fun and Brian and I got our tea and wandered through the little town for a bit before hitting the road again. 

We arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina and got a quick bite of dinner before heading to the evening event. I found a place through the Find Me Gluten Free app called Nothing But Noodles that promised gf rice noodles. The meal was pretty good, nothing mind altering, but still good. 

Fettuccini Alfredo w/chicken & tomatoes

The evening event was held at the Charlotte NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR’s not really my thing, but Brian and I roamed around and looked at all the cars and displays that showed how the cars have changed over the years. It was interesting. Brian got more out of it than I did since he works at some of the NASCAR track events in St Louis.  

MINI provided dinner… They never promise a full meal, but they usually offer a pretty good spread. Brian and I had already eaten since, even though we suspected they’d have food, we didn’t figure there would be anything GF safe. (Not a complaint!  MINI does an amazing job… I can find my own food since I’m a challenge.) 

We had a wonderful first day with MINI and our new MINI friends. Looking forward to tomorrow’s Motoring Adventures! 

MTTS2016-Day 4 & 5

I wasn’t thinking this through completely when I started naming days…. 

I’m gonna call this one The Day of Waves…. Catching Waves, Riding Waves, Making  Waves, Waves of Nausea and Waves of Euphoria. 

Catching waves is pretty damn obvious…. 

Okay, reader survey here: When one player is a FOOT taller than the other, shouldn’t the shorter player get to choose where they stand in the water?  

Brian kept luring me further and further out into the water (Shark Week is over, right?). It was fine as long as there were those big rolling waves that we could just ride along on…. But then the waves started breaking just as they got to us I kept getting the Sinus Cleansing Treatment! They just hit Brian mid-back.  Not fair. Though my sinuses are quite clear today…..

To explain the other waves….. 

Brian and I finally took major action on a new adventure we’ve been day dreaming about for a while……

See Posh there in the photo? She’s sitting outside our future front door!  

Yes, my friends, you heard me right…. We have suffered through our last Missouri winter. Me, Brian, Momma, Boo and a small heard of cats and cars are migrating to the warmer climes of Florida!  

Brian and I spent the last couple of days scoping out the area and checking out houses with our Florida Realtor friend, Mary. Yesterday we found a neighborhood and a builder that we just love…. 

Hello, Florida!  We’re home! 🌴💕🌴💕

MTTS2016 – Day 3 

If yesterday was the Day of Detours then today shall be called the Day of Minor Injuries & Inconveniences. 

After a crappy night of headaches and overzealous air conditioning the day actually started off pretty well. Brian went down and snagged me a banana and peanut butter before the breakfast bar closed. (See? I’m not so hard to please!) 

As we headed out to explore the area today we got an email from one of our contractors that they needed all this crap notarized and completed before they could get started… Of course, they knew we were going out of town… They even mentioned it in their damn email! Get your shit together people!!  Ugh… Thank goodness for the UPS store. We got everything printed, notarized and mailed back. 😉 And that’s how you get things done! 

Then we had an AWESOME lunch!  Oh, yum…. At the Floridian in St Augustine. It was well recommended through the Find Me Gluten Free app. The staff was super knowledgable, the menu was clearly marked and there were plenty of delicious options. 

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits with Pork Belly and Goat Cheese

Shrimp & Gritts

Southern Belle Salad

Brian and I roamed around Old Saint Augustine for a while… I am pretty much in love with Saint Augustine. There are tons of cute little shops and restaurants and historic stuff. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans French Quarter, but cleaner… and safer feeling. 

Then Mom messaged me that a package from Disney had arrived. Oh yay!… Oh no! Those are our tickets for Disneyland in California….. We won’t be going home before we get to Disney. So… Brian spent an hour on hold listening to It’s a Small World over and over… and over…. Just for them to tell us to either have the tickets mailed back to them, or ship them to one of the hotels on our route. The Mouse was not pleased with us. Brian wasn’t so pleased with the Mouse either.  

Dinner was FABULOUS! We ate at Roy’s in Jacksonville. I’ve been to Roy’s in Hawaii a couple of times and it is just about the yummiest place on earth!  The food in Jacksonville was just as delicious, but the view wasn’t quite the same. (It’s hard to compete with Hawaii.) 

Brian and I both ordered the Butterfish. It was delicious!  There were plenty of Gluten Free options on the menu and everything was clearly marked. Our waitress was knowledgable and super sweet about us being GF (some people are bitchy… Sorry!  I don’t enjoy being sick!) 

We really should have split a dessert, but my taste buds remembered the Chocolate Lava Cake and fresh ice cream and I said I didn’t want to share…. My tummy says we need to learn to share!  (My clothes are beginning to agree 😣)

After dinner we went to the beach and walked in the surf…. I think Brian was just trying to get me to burn off some of the sugar so maybe I’d shut up and sleep tonight…. but he says he just wanted to walk for a bit. Whatever!  I’m not going to complain that my hubby takes me to fancy dinners and long walks on the beach. ❤️

Also, we’ve been getting calls from our internet provider since we left saying that there’s a problem on our line and they want us to do something or the other… and we keep saying that we cancelled your shitty service and were out of town so please quit calling us. Today they called, apologized for bugging us on our vacation… and then asked who we were…. Ummmmm?… They thought we were some company out of Oklahoma. I’m not sure how they got us mixed up, but I think we’ve been telling them to shut off these people Internet for the past week! 

On the list of injuries: 

I got sunburned, but just a little. 

I slammed my arm into the side mirror of a car… The mirror was fine. My arm is bruised. 

My shoes that I’ve been wearing for months and never had a problem, decided today that they should rub the skin off my toe on one foot and try to gnaw my heel off on the other foot. Don’t worry, I walked in the salt water and I’m sure both feet will be just fine. (Those shoes can spend the rest of the trip in the trunk) 

Hopefully tomorrow will behave itself. 

MTTS2016 – Day 2

It’s been one of those days. The Universe has just been messing with us all day.

We got a late start, which wasn’t a huge deal. We didn’t have a strict schedule for the day and sleeping in was nice. Of course we missed the continental breakfast… so I didn’t get my peanut butter and banana for breakfast.  Fine, fine… I had coffee. Lunch wasn’t that far away….

We’d been driving for about an hour and a half when the hotel called us…. The hotel we’d just left…. They had my glasses…. Would I like them back?  Yes! They were my brand new glasses!  The ones that actually fit and didn’t give me headaches. So we turned around to go get them. The hotel clerk made Brian show ID before they’d give home the glasses… Really?  Do a lot of people come in and randomly ask for glasses?  Glasses retrieved, we drove back the way we’d already been.

Lunch was late. I’d started eating random things I’d found in my purse… Coconut, cashews… gum…  Brian finally found a rest stop and we ate our packed lunch. I smuggled the cookies into the front seat in case of futures food related emergencies.

I’d been hoping to go to this really fancy restaurant in Jacksonville for dinner, but by this point we were so far behind schedule we wouldn’t be reaching Jacksonville until bedtime. I hunted around on the Find Me Gluten Free app and located a place that sounded promising. It was off the main highway, but the road ran reasonably parellel to the highway, so it wasn’t terribly out of the way. I was, again, starving as we finally pulled up to the restaurant. The restaurant in the middle of nowhere…… And it was CLOSED!  Seriously?! Nothing else in town either!

So we drove some more and found a Hardee’s…. but it looked really creepy…. sorta vacant/abandoned… We could see workers inside, but no one in the lot… We just had the feeling that the locals knew something we didn’t. Brian voted for Wendy’s. I was ready to resort to  cannibalism… but since that is generally frowned upon, I agreed to Wendy’s. It took three people to ring in my hamburger with NO BUN… People lost their freaking minds. I wanted to lean over the counter and just scream don’t put it on a damn bun!  Brian restrained me.

After dinner we discovered every detour and construction site between Georgia and Florida. Several u-turns and a few detours later we finally arrived at the hotel.

It’s been a looooong day.  Hopefully tomorrow will be more agreeable.