Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mugs & Motors: The Extended Version

Mmmm - Coffee
As I've mentioned before in these scribblings, SABCC's Mugs & Motors is one of the club's favorite activities. Even rain doesn't keep our intrepid members away and many of the M & M meetings have turned out to be a bit soggy.

Today, however,  we had unusually warm weather and it brought out the drop top cars in force. Parked on Royal Street in front of Serda's Coffee Company was a pair of MGAs and four MGBs. Rounding out the  British car contingent was a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow (!), a Jaguar XJS and a humble Mini. Passersby seemed to enjoy the impromptu car show with more than a few stopping to take photos of the cars.

As usual, Serda's poured a fine cup of coffee and there were treats aplenty to satiate the early morning hunger pangs. The SABCC gang was through the door early and laid claim to the more secluded area in the back of the shop. We dragged tables together to make sure we could jump into any conversation that was of interest at the moment. 

The gang at Serda's
I was delighted to invite an acquaintance I met in Fairhope some years back who winters in Chickasaw, Alabama and lives the rest of the year in his native Glasgow, Scotland. Lithgow Wilson joined us for the day's events and related tales of rallying a classic Mini in his home country. The club members were pleased to welcome him.

After our "coffee and conversation for motoring enthusiasts", we rounded up the classic British cars and moved down Royal Street to the City Museum of Mobile where Robb Ogletree arranged some very special front door parking for us. Once inside the lovely old City Market/City Hall building we were surprised to hear that the museum entrance fee had been taken care of. Robb once again.

Preferred parking at the museum
We were placed in the hands of a very capable and friendly museum docent who lead us through the exhibits explaining in detail the importance of the artifacts to the city's 300 year old history. It has been several years since I visited the City Museum of Mobile and in that time the tireless staff has added significantly to the exhibits. I came away very impressed with this gem.

We spent over two hours in the museum and we could have stayed longer - there was that much to see. Our schedule called for us to be on the road so we bid our host goodbye and started up our cool Brits for the ride to the 5 Rivers Delta Center on the causeway. We meandered through the streets of downtown Mobile to get to a traffic light that would get us onto Government Street and the Bankhead Tunnel. I was leading the pack and apparently the Mini is not enough car to set off the street surface mounted traffic sensor. I bolted (as much as I could bolt, anyway) out of the car and pressed the pedestrian button at the crosswalk. Bingo - green light!

Our portrait at 5 Rivers Delta Center
Our caravan passed through the tunnel with the more juvenile of us (me, actually) honking our horns and we came out on a brilliantly bright causeway. The sun was reflecting off Mobile Bay and the morning clouds were parting. We zipped into Spanish Fort and then to the 5 Rivers Delta Center. We parked our cars for the perfect photo op and got our portraits made. Several members remarked that the facility would make a great place for a car show.

We entered the Delta Center and were greeted by a number of mounted animals native to the Mobile River delta region. Animals no longer found in the area (bison, for example) were represented in the collection as well. There were also several exhibits of live animals including snakes, turtles and a possum. There was even an albino hog snake in one terrarium - it's markings were pink on white.  We lingered outside on the porch overlooking the pier in the river and the delta stretching out to the north. The now-warm day and bright sun on the water made a few of us wish for a hammock to take a noontime snooze. Fighting off that urge for a nap, we mounted our steeds for the 35 mile ride to Stockton and the Stagecoach Cafe.
That thing is gonna bite you...

Robb Ogletree invited Lithgow to ride with him in his MGA and leave his American iron at the Delta Center. Lithgow accepted and Robb had a navigator. 

We took a less than direct route to Stockton with a detour to Alabama Highway 181 and onto Bromley Road where several engaging twists and turns made the driving interesting. The Rolls Royce piloted by Nancy Pugh (with her dad Cecil co-piloting) was observed taking the turns in a spirited manner. One wag (who shall remain unnamed) wondered if the doorhandles were scraping the pavement. Good on ya Nancy! The radiator mascot has wings for reason.

We ran through an area of sprinkles even though the clouds appeared to be much further off. I think I had a few dozen spots on the windshield and some of the topless drivers were dampened a little. 

Alan McDonald, my brother and fellow MGB owner, recorded a milestone event in his car's history: The odometer reset to all zeroes during the trip to Stockton. He dutifully made a photographic record of the event and asked if his car was now back under factory warranty since it was reading zero miles. Let me know how that works out.

Lunch at the Stagecoach Cafe
As usual, the Stagecoach laid out an impressive spread of country cooking on their groaning buffet table. We had fried chicken, beef cutlets, pork chops and a whole array of sides designed to make you loosen your belt. I, for one, took advantage of the fine selection and ate some of all of it. The SABCC gang is never short of something to talk about and we spent about an hour and half doing what we do best: enjoying the company of our friends, both new and old.

Our waitress kept us in stitches over her spring-equipped tennis shoes. Yes, a spring was attached to the heel of each shoe. When we asked about them she launched into a well-rehearsed presentation on the advantages of these fine shoes. That had to be worth an extra buck in the tip jar!

We couldn't eat another bite
We were sure we could hold no more, so we made arrangements to head back to our respective homes. Several smaller caravans were formed depending on the final destination of the groups. Lithgow accepted a ride back with Richard Cunningham in his V-12 powered Jaguar XJS. I'm sure the trip back to get his car was quick, indeed.

I led a caravan consisting of Mike and Nancy Darby, Robb Ogletree and Keith Jarvis back to Spanish Fort where I peeled off to return home. 

In all we had a great time. Whenever good friends with common interests gather, smiles and laughter are soon to follow. I'm proud to be part of this fine club and I hope we'll have an even larger crowd next time.

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