A Cold Drive in the Mountains

“Twenty-eight degrees for the high? And we’re going to drive our convertibles into the North Carolina mountains? In January?” I replied to our Miata club e-mail announcing this months group drive. “This Florida boy will have to give this one some thought,” I continued.

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But this was to be our first group drive since joining the Foothills Miata Club in early January, and I wanted to see what this group was all about. The fourth Saturday of each month gets a bunch of MX-5’s together for a lunch drive, usually to a destination that involves the curviest roads to be found. I asked Roo if she was game, and with some reservation, she said yes. Thankfully, Mazda endowed the Miata’s with an exceptional heating system!

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We met the rest of the group in the town of Landrum, South Carolina, where we introduced ourselves all around and the drive leader conducted the drivers meeting. Today’s drive was to take us to the North Carolina High Country, i.e. mountains! Three hours of beautiful scenery and mostly curvaceous roads that led to the small hamlet of Valle Crucis, North Carolina.

Taking a break at half-way

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Twelve cars pulled out of the parking lot, and we began snaking our way towards North Carolina. Many of the back roads we traveled on were familiar to me, having ridden on them by way of motorcycle many times. But there were a few roads our drive leader led us on that were just absolutely sick! I tried to commit these new-to-me roads to memory so I could have some fun on the motorbike too!

Snow capped mountains in the background-that’s where we’re headed!

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Three hours of fun driving later, we arrived in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. A small hamlet tucked in the mountains between Boone (home to Appalachian State University), and Banner Elk, North Carolina, Valle Crucis is the home of the original Mast General Store.

Original Mast General Store

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Built in 1883, the Mast General Store, and general stores in ……… general, were the business, political, and social hub of rural mountain communities. They were the “happening” places for residents of these small towns and the surrounding farms.

The Mast General Store has now become a chain store of sorts, with stores throughout North and South Carolina, selling clothing, goods and wares in an atmosphere reminiscent of old-timey Appalachia.

The General Store housed the post office too

Purveyors of general goods

Our lunch stop was right across the street from Mast General Store. Over Yonder Restaurant is housed in an old residence from the early 1900’s. Beautiful old house, with each of its rooms set up as separate dining areas. Our club had one room all to itself. Food was good, portions were small, price was high. Not a real good value, but we had a really good time with the fellow Miata owners at our table.

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After a while, everyone said their goodbyes and went their separate ways to home. It was 3:00 PM and we still had a way to go to get back to Greenville and The Beagles. Fired up the MX-5, inputted “home” and “fastest route” in the GPS, and off we went. And yes, it was still very cold!

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