Monday, August 25, 2014

Mid Summer Thunder Cruise 2014

Friday evening just a few hearty souls ventured out with their hot rods….the weatherguessers were forecasting rain that never materialized.  There were about 20 vehicles but one that caught my eye was Pete’s new red ’88 IROC Camaro convertible with every option known to man.  It also has a very interesting interior.  There was also my favorite red ’59 Pontiac convertible from the Southern environs.  Then a late 80’s, yellow Buick GN (?) with a 455 motor….very interesting with the portholes on the front fenders.  Since none of the regular ladies came out, the Princess didn’t have any compatible conversationalists….so we went home around 8:30!  I know….Kim and us guys don’t count….it’s a Princess thing!

Saturday we watched it rain!

Sunday we left the WAWA at 8AM and cruised 27 miles to Opal, VA and the start point for the Mid Summer Thunder Cruise.  This would be the first one of this cruise for our group, Cruisin For Heroes, and we wanted it to be special.  We have been planning this since February and Sunday we would see how it would be received.  I almost rescheduled it because a show that I really like, Colonial Beach Nostalgia Drags, scheduled their rain date the same as our cruise.  I had a real struggle with this but in the end, my friend, Fred, said….don’t we do what we say we’re going to do?  “Light bulb”….YUP….we do!  So on with our cruise.

There were 12 cars at the meet up in Opal but Dan had to go home with his sick Chebby.  Then we picked up 3 more cruisers about 6 miles from the start when we turned onto Rt. 211….and lost the Studebaker when he turned off for home.  So I’m really struggling with this new math but I think we had either 13 or 4729 vehicles in our caravan, assaulting the roads on our 65 mile cruise to the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge near Mt. Jackson, VA.

The Meems Bottom Covered Bridge spans the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and is the longest covered bridge in Virginia at 204 feet.  It has been reconstructed four times from floods or fire since it was built in 1867.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, it is a special deal.  The Princess and I discovered it in the 90’s one day while we were cruising the Virginia countryside on our Harley and last winter we decided to share it with some of our hot rod friends.  This year we wanted to attend fewer shows but go on more over the road cruises.  Since few other people plan cruises around here, we decided that if we wanted to go on more cruises….we would have to also be the planners of them!  This is the 5th cruise we have planned and executed this year and have 5 more this year!  Next year we will be planning more if the interest is there.

The day was dreary and just a tad warm till we got over the first mountain….then it got more comfortable.  We had low hanging dark clouds that were taunting us all day but our wipers stayed in their hiding place!  Yes….I have my wiper arms & blades removed and stowed under my seat.  It seems that when the Princess is taking pictures out the windshield, on a sunny day, the reflection from the wiper arms is like a thermonuclear explosion….right there on my hood!  And the Princess does not like to look into the bright light.  The whine meter starts climbing….hmmm.

After our first pit stop near Luray we proceeded over the next mountain to Rt. 11 then turned north toward Mr. Jackson.  You really have to know this deal is there or you can drive right past the little sign that directs motorists to the bridge.  The long access road has mature trees along the path and a manicured buffered sod area between the 6’ high corn fields on both sides of the road.  The road is an active; VDOT maintained access road to homes and businesses on the other side of the bridge.  The Princess and I parked the truck on the side of the road then got out and began photographing the event.  Driving the hot rods is a visceral deal for us but reporting on it is a visual thing so please check out the pictures.  The Princess takes all the ‘on the road’ pictures so no old people were hurt in their truck as they documented the cruise.  All the cars drove through the bridge then turned around and came back through it.  Many of us took photographs of the cars as they exited the bridge….it’s part of what we came for!  Everyone wandered around the bridge and under the bridge….it’s a neat place to explore.  Rich was having a little trouble with his orange ’69 Dodge Daytona (minor) but had many many helpers offering advice and help.  It was not a disabling problem and the car was ready to go when we decided to move on to lunch. 

We cruised about 7 miles to the other side of New Market, VA and the Southern Kitchen restaurant.  We have used this eatery as a destination a few times in the past and have always been pleased with the food and service.  When we arrived we were about an hour and half early.  There were lines of people outside waiting to get in.  I knew our people would not like to wait so I squeezed (yeah little ‘ol me) in to the lady taking names for the wait list.  When I said we have 22 people she asked if we were the “car” people!  I stammered yes!  She said come on in we have your tables waiting!  WOW So the only inconvenience we had to suffer was the looks from the people that didn’t call ahead….note to self, ALWAYS CALL AHEAD!  We all settled in for another great meal at Southern Kitchen….did I say it is on Rt. 11 in New Market, VA and they are open 7 days a week?  I don’t know how they did it but they served all of our group within 5 minutes of each other….that in itself is amazing.  Usually when a large group orders off a menu some of the people are done eating before some even get their food.  There is plenty of parking and easy access….this place rocks!

After lunch some of the group visited a car show going on near New Market, some had to go somewhere else and some headed home.  Our little group of about 7 cars made our way back over two mountains again but when we reached Sperryville we took Rt. 522 to Culpeper.  It gave us a different look for the trip home and also provided an ice cream stop!  Our truck cannot pass an ice cream establishment if we are closer than….oh say….200 miles from one!  We have to stop!  So in Culpeper there is a Bruster’s Ice Cream store very close to Rt. 29, which is the route we will take going back to Stafford.  By the time we arrived at Bruster’s there were just three of us….the rest had peeled off and taken a different route home….no ice cream that way….just sayin.

We had a great day cruising about 200 total miles on some of the picturesque Virginia byways, enjoying old friends and making some new ones while driving our hot rod….I love this hobby.

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