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A Mini Lap of Virginia

As British Car Week drew to a close last weekend, a small but enthusiastic group of four classic Mini drivers participated in a fantastic two day scenic drive through the Virginia countryside. Mileages and driving times varied as we all started out from different locations, but I was able to enjoy the longest drive of the group, at 20 hours including short rest stops, and 711 miles door to door.

Starting out from Virginia Beach at 6am Saturday, the route ran me up to the Virginia Peninsula, north on Rt.17 over the Coleman Bridge, continuing through the middle peninsula and passing through Fredericksburg, where I rendezvoused with another Mid Atlantic Minis member before continuing on to Warrenton. In Warrenton we took a short break while picking up two additional Mini drivers before turning west and running out to Front Royal. From there we picked up the northernmost entry point of the always scenic Skyline Drive, and headed south through Shenandoah National Park. As the park officially ends in the Waynesboro area, the road crosses over I-64 and continues southward, as the Blue Ridge Parkway. During the drive along both of these scenic mountain top roads we were able to occasionally stop at some of the higher elevation overlooks in order to take in the scenery while stretching our legs, snacking a bit, and chatting with the many onlookers. We ended our first day of driving at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. This is an extremely laid back lodge which is situated right along the Parkway. The guest rooms have no TV, no phones, no internet service and not even a clock radio. There's also no cell service anywhere in the vicinity. I was there 27 years ago, and nothing at all has changed since then. The place was perfect. Upon our arrival at 6pm we were able to enjoy a very relaxing early evening parking lot tire kicking session while enjoying plenty of cold libations, followed by a leisurely dinner, and then more parking lot socializing before turning in for the night.

On the second day we continued south and exited the Parkway near Roanoke. From there we traveled back eastward along the rolling and sometimes twisty two lane Rt. 40. It was along this stretch of road that we started to break off and head home in different directions. For me the drive on Rt.40 continued all the way back to the Smithfield area, before crossing the James River Bridge back into the Hampton Roads area. The route throughout the two days was comprised primarily of two and four lane secondary and rural roads, and Virginia Scenic Byways, with the exception of some of the busier roads within the Hampton Roads area. With the exception of a brief overnight shower, the weather was mostly mid to upper 80ís with clear blue skies for the majority of the weekend.

This was by far, the most enjoyable drive Iíve experienced in this car in 17 years of ownership. For that, I'd like to thank Harvey Lankford and Phil & Larry Atkinson for joining me and making it so much fun.  

If any of you ever get the inkling to embark on a scenic drive in Virginia, and would like to take in Skyline Drive and/or the Blue Ridge Parkway, make sure you let me know, as I will go again in a flash.

Howard

 

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