Tag Archive: Mini Cooper

Great Scots Parade in a Mini Convertible

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Great Scot! Parade in front of the Westin Poinsett Hotel

This Memorial Day weekend actually started Thursday morning, and it’s just barely getting started. So far I’ve been kayaking, gone to a midnight movie to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, attended a history lecture on old maps, looked for mythical meteors, visited an Irish pub, and had coffee and a great visit with old friends – and it’s only Saturday. The highlight so far, though, has been our participation in the Great Scot! Parade through downtown Greenville with the Upstate Minis.

A couple of weeks ago Jeff Goodman had posted on the Upstate Minis Facebook page about the group participating in the parade. I asked Laura if she were interested, and she jumped at the chance. So, Friday afternoon a little after 5:00 we lined up with ten other Minis on Townes Street. We would bring up the rear of the parade.

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Perseids on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a Side Trip to Mayberry

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August 11, 2013

We hadn’t given the new Mini a proper shake-down road trip. When we got the Audi we took it completely across country, driving from South Carolina to somewhere north of Seattle. We didn’t have the time nor energy for such an adventure this time (Well, at least one of us didn’t :-)) so we decided on something a bit shorter.

It was time for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. We figured the perfect way to christen the car would be to take it up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and try to find a bit of dark sky to watch for them. From there we would do some free form road tripping, hoping to wind up in Washington DC by the end of the week.

I had scouted a few potential sites on Google Earth, but there was no way to tell if there would be dark skies. So, shortly after lunch we set off, having somehow managed to pack our gear into the tiny trunk of the Mini. We wanted to make tracks, so we took the Interstate straight on up to Gastonia, then headed off toward Blowing Rock, where we hit the Parkway. We drove with the top back, enjoying the breeze.

There were quite a few clouds, but for the most part it was sunny and the day was spectacular. We pulled off at several overlooks, many of which looked like like they would work for meteor viewing. I didn’t take many photos along the way, though. (more…)

Multiple Mountain Meanderings

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Devil’s Courthouse

Three times this week I have made treks northward, crossing the Blue Wall into the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Two of those trips covered similar ground.  Only one was in the new Mini convertible.  All three covered ground I’ve traversed recently, so some of the photos may look a little…familiar.

Monday – Picnic at Davidson River

Last weekend Laura’s sister and mother were with us.  The weather looked good for Monday, so we decided to take a trek up to Pisgah Forest for a picnic.  We had done this trip with Laura’s cousins a couple of years ago, and her mom had loved the sound of the Davidson River rippling past our picnic area.

For this trip we loaded everyone into the Subaru and first headed up Highway 25 toward Hendersonville.  We took a brief detour through Tuxedo, then turned toward Flat Rock.  At Flat Rock we took Little River Road toward Crab Creek westward, toward Brevard.  The weather was clear and spectacular, with large fluffy white clouds and blue skies. (more…)

Goodbye Audrey, Hello Mini

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Laura and her mom in the new Mini Cooper Convertible

The unusually wet summer has not been kind to our convertible. Twelve inches of rain in one week wreaks havoc on an un-garaged vehicle that already had leaky seals. When we got back from Florida the car was drenched, and all of the electrical systems were fried. It was finally time to look at a replacement.

Laura had named the 2004 Audi A4 “Audrey”. She has a habit of naming her cars, and this one was no different. Laura loved the car, even though it was a pain for most of the time that we owned it. The trunk leaked the whole time, and there were a variety of other problems. However, it was a zippy car, it looked great, and when it was running right it was a joy to drive. I can understand Laura getting upset when we knew it was time for it to go. It’s almost like making the decision to put down a beloved pet.

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We have lots of good memories of that car. We bought it in 2004 specifically to drive across country. This very blog was created to document that trip, so the history of RandomConnections is closely tied to the Audi. We drove it from our home in Greenville to Laura’s mom’s house, two hours north of Seattle, Washington. We stopped at lots of national parks and other scenic places along the way. Laura’s favorite memory of the car is driving through Yellowstone with the top back in a light snowfall. Ultimately, the car would have been driven diagonally across country, from Key West to the extreme Northwest. Even so, it had under 100K miles when we traded it in.

This past week we have been test-driving new cars. We had several options. We weren’t sure if we wanted another convertible, or if something with a big sunroof would do. Laura didn’t want something big. It had to be sporty, and she wanted something that would make a statement.

First we test drove one of the Fiat 500c convertibles. It was OK – tiny on the outside, but with room enough inside. To me it seemed a bit underpowered. We looked at a Subaru Impreza, but decided that it was too much like my Outback. Eventually we wound up at the Mini Cooper place where we test drove both a racing green Mini Hardtop with a sunroof, and a Mini Clubman. Laura like the roominess of the Clubman, but really loved the sportiness and color of the Hardtop. Yet, it still didn’t seem quite right.

The Honda Civic had lots of cool options, but overall it seemed kind of…blah. It made no statement. The Hyundai place was even worse. As we looked at the small sporty cars, the salesman came up and asked if we were considering this for a grandchild. What an idiot. Both the Honda and Hyundai salesmen were high-pressure, wanting us to walk out with a car right then and there.

We eventually made it back to the Fiat place. We wanted to drive the car on the Interstate to see how it would do. As we drove at highway speeds, the side mirrors were fluttering – not a good sign. It got up to speed OK, but felt woefully underpowered.

Having just driven the Fiat, we drove straight over to the Mini place for a direct comparison. This time we picked a red convertible. There was absolutely no comparison. Laura said she had finally found a car that made her feel happy. It reminded her of the red Triumph TR3 her dad had when she was growing up.

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We put down a deposit to hold it. We were going to sleep on the decision, but I was pretty sure that the next day we would have a new car.

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The next day we managed to get the Audi started and drove it over to the Mini dealer. Surprisingly, they made us a good trade-in offer on it. This was really going to happen. Laura said her goodbyes to Audi, and after an excruciatingly long process, we had a new red Mini Cooper Convertible.

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The car is red with white racing stripes. It’s a blast to drive, and I have to admit I’m jealous that Laura will be the one driving it on a daily basis. We’ve taken it to get groceries once just to make sure we could do it. We hope to christen it with a long road trip in a couple of weeks. Maybe by that time Laura will have come up with a suitable name for this car.

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