Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day with Mini

I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's been a while since I've had the faithful Mini on the road for an extended run. That drought was snapped when I signed up for a run with the nice folks of Panhandle Minis. The contingent was coming over from Pensacola today to visit the USS Alabama in observance of the 9/11 anniversary and decided to meet at the Spanish Fort Cracker Barrel restaurant, just a few short miles from my house.  

A few of the MINIs at Battleship Park
I got the little car started and it was not at all happy, wanting to buck and snort more than usual while it warmed up. I got it out on the road and gave it an "Italian tune-up" and within a few miles, it was its usual docile self. I pulled into the Cracker Barrel parking lot - the first to show up, natch - and waited on the MINI group to arrive. And show up they did. About a dozen MINIs made the journey and soon our little corner was filled with bulldog goodness.

About 25 hungry MINI owners made their way into the breakfast emporium and I was pleased to see SABCC's Richard Cunningham had dropped in to have a bite and hang out with the group before he attended to some business in Mobile. We chatted with Justin Octavi and John Genduso, of British Car Festival sponsor MINI of Penscola during breakfast and heard about all the new stuff that is coming from MINI.

We plowed through breakfast and saddled up for a drive up Alabama Highway 181 to Bromley Road where we were treated to some excellent twisty bits and interesting elevation changes. During the drive, I discovered that I had been more concerned about my personal fuel level than the amount of fuel in the Mini's tank. Yep, she was dead on "E" and we had about 15 miles to go before I could get to a gas station. I think the car ran on willpower as it never hiccuped once and got me back to Spanish Fort where I peeled off from the group and dropped a quick $10.00 in the tank.
Can you fit a classic Mini in a C47?

I zipped back out on the Causeway and caught up to the group as they were paying their parking fee at the Battleship. As I drove to the parking lot they proudly showed me the special reserved spot they had for me at the end of the row. Thanks, guys!

Once on the battle wagon, we broke into small groups to follow the self-guided tour route. I spent about an hour on the vessel and then dropped into the aircraft pavilion for a quick visit before I started for home.

The drive back across the Causeway was pleasant and the little car seemed to enjoy the day as much as I did.  

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