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Fall Color Tour Wrap

Members Attending: Rita & Larry Garner, Trudy & Hal Scott and Donna & Brian Bogardus
Guest Attending: Matthew, AKA Wingman0

For a while I thought the title of this post was going to be “Fall Foggy Tour Wrap” because for the first two hours of driving we were traveling through fog, sometimes with slow-the-heck-down density. When we met up with our guest from Elberton he said it was pretty foggy for his whole trip from Dahlonega too.

For a while I thought the title of this post was going to be “Fall Failure to Find Color Tour Wrap” because the further north we went the fog disappeared and when the trees became visible they were green or already had dropped most of their leaves.

Finally, once we got onto the two lane GA246 just north of Dillard to make our way to Highlands did the colors appear. And. They. Were. Worth. The. Wait. This 14 mile stretch of road came through with large concentrations of hardwoods with blazing yellow, orange and (some) red leaves. It also got very twisty turning mild mannered Dr. Bruce Banner Brian into the Incredible Hulk Miata Driver. As a passing lane appeared on the first climb, he dropped down a gear and started weaving in and out of the trio of “performance” SUV’s to get a clear run at the road. He was followed quickly by Matthew who was right behind him. The 2 other cars were a little further back and didn’t get a chance to get by.

We regrouped just outside of town and drove into Highlands together to find parking and lunch. Brian who thought he knew where he was going promptly drove the group into the police station parking lot. In the ensuing fray for parking we lost the Scotts, but were happily reunited at the Sports Page Sandwich Shoppe. In a town full of folks drinking $50 bottles of wine with lunch, it is always a pleasure to dine with the locals on sandwiches, soups and sides and come away for about ten bucks each.

After lunch, the group broke up, the Scotts opted to find their own way home to Augusta and our guest did the same to Dahlonega. The Garners and Bogarduses agreed to meet back at the cars after some shopping in 45 minutes to drive back together. On the ride down the mountain, if anything, the colors were even better than on the way up.

The two of us gassed up in Walhalla for the long and ugly return trip along the dilapitated South Carolina back roads. At one last pit stop in McCormmick, the ugly gray clouds ahead, and Larry’s quick check of the radar, led us both to raise the tops for the last 40 miles home. Next year we are going up in Georgia and coming back through there too.

Fall Steeplechase Wrap Up

Members Attending: Karol & Dennis Mason, Donna & Brian Bogardus and Emilie & Kirill Skliar
Member Guest Appearance: Chip Cunningham
Guest Attending: Lee Nolastname (friend of Masons)
Special Guest Appearances: Courtney (Lee’s daughter), Little Courtney, somebody possibly named Bridget and a couple others

After gifting the Club the use of his spot and tickets for the past two Aiken Spring Steeplechases, this time President Tom gave us the opportunity to attend the Fall Steeplechase. He donated to us the spot for one vehicle, a couple extra parking passes and a dozen tickets to get in the gate. Six club members claimed the tickets right off, us, Karol & Dennis Mason and Emilie & Kirill Skliar, and maybe because it was sort of last minute, no one else piped up. The six of us that were going started looking for guests to bring because we didn’t want Mr. Varallo’s largess to go unused. By Friday we thought we had all but one spoken for, but by Saturday we only had guest use a ticket to get in. Sigh.

As before with previous steeplechases the Bogarduses and Masons arrived practically as the event gates opened to set up. When we got to spot #262, we were excited to see that it was right at the jump. Soon the other spots started to fill up too. As our direct neighbors arrived, we traded introductions and offered up food and drink. They reciprocated to be friendly and because everyone always brings way more than they need to these events.

We had two portable grills (one charcoal, one gas) setup for cooking the hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken & vegetable shish kabobs. There were Fritos and a couple bags of chips with about four different kinds of dip to nibble on. There were crackers, cheese, sliced ham and venison sausage for grazing, with brownies and an Italian raisin bread for your sweet tooth. To drink we had iced tea, soft drinks/mixers, beer, Jack Daniels, Vanilla Crown Royal and a bit of bubbly.

Spot #262 was not only right at the exit of a jump, but as it turned out, in 4 of the 5 races, the horses lined up to start right in front of us. Unlike flat races where the horses are slotted into a starting gate, in steeplechase they parade from the paddock and then line up in reverse start order behind a judge who then walks them in a line towards the rail. There they do a left face maneuver, so when another judge (on foot) waves the red flag, they take off sort of like they just came out of a gate. Because these are naturally skittish thoroughbred race horses it never goes smoothly, yet somehow they always end up with a reasonably straight start.


In between the first and second race our special guests arrived to liven up our tent with youth and conversation. We fed them some of our food and we helped ourselves to some of their liquor. They watched the carriage parade with us and the second race, when just as quickly as they came, they disappeared. Left behind the booze though, so we knew they’d be back.

In between the third and fourth race Chip was on his way to somewhere when he noticed the Club sign in front of Dennis’s truck, so he stayed long enough to say hello, before he too disappeared. In between the fourth and final race Emilie & Kirill headed over into the infield to walk through the shops and take in some of the pageantry that is steeplechase, which Donna and I and the Mason’s had already done earlier.

Emilie & Kirill came back after the fifth and final race finished. Not long after, Little Courtney and Bridget popped back in to join us as we whiled away some time waiting for the crowd of hurry-homes to disperse some before we would attempt our own exit. Bridget got Dennis to pop the cork on her bottle of sparkling wine and the nine of us toasted another fantastic day at the races in Aiken. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better spot to watch the races. Thanks Tom!

Club Fall Picnic Wrap

Mmembers Attending: Bob & Pat Tarrant, Stacey Timmerman, Mike & Shirely Dyer, Dave & Sue Woomer, Brian & Donna Bogardus and Chip Cunnigham.
Guest Attending: Danty & Nita Busbee

I don’t know what the rest of you were doing on Saturday afternoon, but a dozen of your fellow members (& a couple of guests) enjoyed an afternoon of dining and chatting overlooking a peaceful lake tucked in a quiet little corner of Aiken. Some brought things to grill while others picked up a lunch from a local restaurants. There were chips for an appetizer and a couple of desserts that were worth their weight in calories.

Let me know what you did that might have topped that, in the comments below.

2017 Bug Splat Wrap Up


Members Attending: Don & Kay Boltz, Brian & Donna Bogardus, Jennie & Thomas Hodges, Doug Martins, Trudy & Hal Scott, and Bob & Pat Tarrant.

We had a group of six cars (about half of last year’s attendees) gathered at Greg’s Gas Plus in diminishing light of Saturday’s dusk. While the dozen of us (actually 11) stood a waiting for the 8:00 PM start time we did the usual chatting and standing around, all the while wondering who else was going to show. Turned out this was it, so our little caravan of insect assassins headed north in search of prey.

This year’s weather was a lot nicer than last, no rain for one, but both the temperature and humidity were below there usual high levels for this time of the year, making for a very pleasant evening drive in the country. Another thing nicer this year was while driving you could occasionally see bugs illuminated in your headlights. The 40 miles loop passed quickly and uneventfully for our little group.

Judging took place under the lighted canopy of the North Augusta Sonic Drive In while the group feasted on sundaes, shakes and even hot dogs and onion rings. Below is the rouges gallery of this year’s winners.

Participants, don’t forget to remove that green Avery dot off your car. Took me until this morning to remember mine and I daily drive the Miata, plus the thing was on my windshield!

Bread Basket Breakfast Briefing


photo montage by Victor Yu

Members Attending: Donna & Brian Bogardus, Tom Varallo, Karl Splan, Doug Martin & Victor Yu
Ex-members Attending: David Schumacher

Victor had a family obligation so he couldn’t get to the start point in time to make the drive to Blackville with the group, but promised to meet us there. As it turned out, because of the usual Miata gathering start time creep, when the five us were approaching the the last turn to get to Miller’s Breadbasket, Victor, who was coming from an entirely different direction, popped into view.

Breakfast at Miller’s is a new thing and the 2 times that Donna and I have eaten there, there have only been a couple other people there with us, so we weren’t too sure how long they were going to keep doing it. But this visit, possibly because we were there a little bit later in the day, there was a decent crowd eating breakfast.

Breakfast there, like the lunch, is served cafeteria style, grab a tray point at the food and someone serves it up for you. The wild card is a 3-egg omelet, it is cooked to order and brought to your table. The trouble with this is you have to wait a bit for it to show up, meaning you are looking at your accompaniments on your plate already and trying not to eat them.

After finishing eating we sat around and chatted so long (Miata gathering finish time creep) that Victor had to duck out and leave ahead of the rest of the group to wrap up that familial obligation. Karl doubled back to Springfield to check something out he was interested in. David went his own way too, leaving Brian to lead Tom and Doug back to Aiken on a different, but shorter route, back to Aiken.

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