Event Report: Classic Minis United / Mini 53 / Cherokee NC

If the Mayans are correct and the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, what would be on your bucket list? Would one of the things be to spend 3 days during the beautiful blooming time of the year in the mountains with your Mini friends and family, cruising with nothing but classic Minis on twisty mountain roads? How about the exhilarating and thrilling feeling of whitewater rafting? Maybe you just want to spend a little time relaxing along a river or stream and try trout fishing. Well, at CMU we’re here to fulfill these dreams!  And what perfect timing for yours truly, a new classic mini owner.

I believe this is an annual or bi-annual event that is put on by Mike Guidio and his team and they do an incredible job!  And as Mike puts it: This year they chose Cherokee, NC as the base for our 3 day driving adventure. It’s located at the south entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and at the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As with all of our CMU events, we like to drive, and that’s what we’ll be doing. We will have drives each of the three days with plenty of stops and things to see. Oh, and to experience the power of nature, we’re offering optional whitewater rafting!

Our international events are based at a campground (with an overflow hotel close by), but this will be the first time we’ll be able to get almost everybody staying at the campground. The KOA campground we chose is huge! There is plenty of everything from tent, RV, basic cabins, to hotel quality cabins along the river. There’s even a stocked trout pond! The only reason to stay at the alternate hotel is that you tried booking the KOA too late! All of the drives will start at the KOA.

If you haven’t been to a CMU event before, we do it differently; we like to drive/cruise a lot and see all around the area we’re visiting. With this being a CMU event, you must be a member to enter a Mini. Membership is free, go to the join page and become a member! As with all of our events, this is for everybody, but all of the drives/cruises/anything is only for classic Minis and its variants produced from 1959-2000, no exceptions. There’s always room to ride in someone’s Mini if you come in something else. We don’t leave anybody behind!

Ginger and arrived on Friday mid morning to meet up with some of the Roadster Chat Miata Peeps as well as hang with the new family.  Honestly, it was nice to just hang with friends and not have an agenda – which is what was happening with the mini group.  Not that it was a bad agenda, I just had too much to do in 2 days and I know Ginger and I wanted to visit some breweries, eat some food, hang with friends and meet some new peeps.  We also wanted to get at least one camp fire in before we left – sadly that did not happen.   So here is a quick synopis:

FRIDAY: Arrived at 12pm and looked for Miata friends in Robbinsville(all were out driving).  We grabbed a GREAT lunch at Philips and Cabby Bill met us for a bit.  After hanging a bit it was time to move on to our hotel in Cherokee.  Off we went and we checked in and Bill went back to Robbinsville.  Josh and Missy Haskins showed up at our hotel we we went out to see what was happening at the mini event at the KOA campground and then went for some yummy BBQ.  After some nice tasty brisket, back to hotel for bed.

SATURDAY: Our original intent was to meet up with the mini gang to do a run, but the weather was bad and Ginger was all tucked in.  I hate to wake her on a nice sleep, so after a but we decided to go to Sylva for the Gnome Brewery and we decided to meet our Miata friends in Bryson City to hang at the Nantahala Brewing Company as we loved it so much the first time.  The entire gang showed up and we hit a local Pizza joint (yummy!) and then went for ice cream (double yummy!).  After we wrapped up there Ginger and I wanted to go hang with the mini group for some fire-side chat and have a few drinks – but sadly it was light over there with people and just seemed that things had fizzled out.  We stayed for a bit and met a really nice guy from NE who owned his own company and had a fascinating discussion.  I finally got to meet several people who I had been speaking with online and was nice to put face with a name, etc.  Back we went to our hotel and called it a night.

SUNDAY: We headed home early and had a lovely drive through Franklin and then down 441 and then over to 400 and home.

And I must say that it was a nice laid back event – much different than say the Miatas at the Gap.  A little older in demo, but still as fun and I must say that they covered everything.  In fact, they know you want to drive.  So what do they do?  On each run they have a real Mini support vehicle that can tow two minis back in case something goes wrong.  And once back at HQ, there are a ton of mini nerds who know more about this car than you can imagine.  Honestly, we only got about 1-2 days out of the event when in fact the even was more like 5 days with a majority of people showing up on Tuesday and leaving by Sat (egads!).  It was quite a shock to see so many people had left by Sat – very unlike what I see at the Miata events.  I cannot wait to see if this happens again in the fall.  It will be quite the trip!

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