We are settled-in for the night in the Detroit area, with many members of the camping group at the Pontiac Lake Campground north of downtown. Some thunderstorms moved into the area just after we left for the event downtown, so we returned to a muddy campground. On the bright side, however, the Beehive is nice and clean after a bath from Mother Nature.
We started the day in Pittsburg at another track, and these racing vehicles had engines with one horsepower because the engines were horses! It was a horse track! It was relaxing to watch them going around the track for their morning warmups, while sipping coffee and munching on a breakfast croissant. A nice change of pace for sure.
It was a relaxing start to the morning, and afterward we headed out along the back roads of Pennsylvania into Ohio and on to Michigan. It was the longest day of driving so far at nearly 7 hours, and with a tight schedule. We had decided to skip the “Surprise and Delight” event in Lisbon, OH but stopped out front as we passed through. We were greeted by a familiar face…Jeff Stracco from MINI USA. Jeff is the head of MINI University, which is the place where Motoring Advisors like me get the training we need to help you with your MINIs. He gave us a cool straw from MINI Value Service and explained that Lisbon is the birthplace of the modern drinking straw.
We rolled through beautiful countryside in Ohio while passing through Amish country. Some of the hills were the type that made you hold your breath as you crested the top, like that moment when the chain pulls the rollercoaster up and then turns you loose. Spectacular! I regretted not setting up a video camera for this because it was really some fun motoring.
At one point my Garmin erroneously lead me to a wrong turn that put me on a steep, loose gravel road as the MINIs behind me stayed the course and continued on. I started losing traction immediately and knew we wouldn’t make it up the hill. It was a narrow road with ditches so there was no room to turn around. The only way out was backward, so I put it in neutral and gradually rolled it back to the paved road. Hope got out and guided me to keep me out of the ditches. It was a frustrating situation that wasted about 20 minutes. I’m still not the greatest at backing the Beehive, and this situation made me realize I need to work on it.
We eventually ended up on the turnpike and headed into Michigan. We shared the road with the MTTS Bus for about 30-40 miles at one point, and it made MightyBee feel like a fighter jet escort for “MINI Force One.”
I have been keeping track of the road quality in various states and up until today, South Carolina had the worst. But hey, Michigan, you obviously enjoy a good challenge and threw all the horrible roads you had at us today, so you are the new champ! I mean the Interstate roads are so bad as you approach the Detroit area it’s like driving over miles and miles of speed bumps at 70 miles an hour. Really, Michigan? I mean I know you have to deal with expanding and contracting pavement due to extreme temperature swings, but can you smooth-out the patches on the cracks when you repair them? I know I’m running on Koni Yellows, lowered with camber plates and frame stiffeners, but the fillings in my teeth shouldn’t be rattled out when I drive downtown for dinner. Someone needs to fix this now or get a swift kick in the asphalt.
The event at the Eastern Market in Detroit was really nice, with gourmet food trucks for dinner and local vendors selling handmade jewelry and various forms of art. I decided to buy a raffle ticket at the last-minute and won a Tumi Blackjack messenger bag, so it was a pretty good night.
We have another track experience in the AM and then we’re off to St. Ignace. Since I’m a Yooper (born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), I’m looking forward to crossing the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced Mackinaw) in MightyBee and have a special video camera installation planned for that moment. Oh, and don’t forget the pasties!