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Old 5th May 2022, 07:08   #61
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Oh man, what a meet. A crazy bunch of guys and gals who just love driving for fun. It was great meeting the BHPians, driving, and spending time together. Considering how fun this meet was, I can't wait for when we'll drive the Tail of the dragon.

Given the distance, @rohittunga and I decided to drive together. This also allowed me to break my driving over 3 days. Thanks for being a great host! In a single day, @rohittunga and I drove nearly 750 miles, which was completely worth it to meet the BHPians. I was also offered the keys to the legendary M5, and a BHPian doesn't turn down the offer.

A note about the M5: (I got to drive it 350+ miles)
The E60 M5 is a German machine made for the Autobahn. I'm pretty sure it is faster than 99.98% of the cars out there while also being a very comfy cross-country express (nope, not just an intercity express).

With 500+ HP and a great ride + handling combo, you are guaranteed to reach your destination ahead of time and completely fresh. Just remember that a radar detector is your best friend. Just don't drive the car in stop-and-go traffic and keep your wallet loaded with Benjamins as you enjoy the cross-country trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vj123 View Post
Everyone waiting for nikhilarni when he deserted us and was speeding to the restaurant
Ah, now I know why we got left behind.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 5th May 2022 at 07:16.
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Old 18th May 2022, 17:32   #62
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

We have been thinking about an overnight trip for a while and have zeroed in our eighth meet (from the fall of 2019) in the past days. Thank you Rohit for initiating & planning this one.

This one is going to be another epic trip (we have been trying to do something better than out M track day gathering) as we will be covering the driver centric roads in Smoky mountains area. These roads would be in the bucket list for any enthusiast in the US.

Date: Jul 7 to 10
Place: Great Smoky mountains

Jul 7
Drive / Fly from home.

Jul 8 - Loop 1
Major roads: Tail of the Dragon (North to South), Fontana Dam, Cherohala skyway

Jul 9 - Loop 2
Major roads: Newfound gap road, Blue Ridge Parkway, Wayah Road, Tail of the Dragon (South to North)

Jul 10
Drive / Fly back home.

Loop 1 :
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-day-1.jpg

Loop 2 :
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-day-2.jpg

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - Driving from Detroit

You can send me a PM if you are interested in joining us and i can add you to our WhatsApp group. We will be booking our Airbnb's by this weekend, so do contact us on or before 20-May.

Last edited by Aditya : 29th May 2023 at 10:03. Reason: As requested
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Old 18th May 2022, 18:06   #63
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
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Old 18th May 2022, 18:30   #64
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
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Old 18th May 2022, 19:26   #65
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Quote:
Originally Posted by vj123 View Post
We have been thinking about an overnight trip for a while and have zeroed in our eighth meet (from the fall of 2019) in the past days. Thank you Rohit for initiating & planning this one.

This one is going to be another epic trip (we have been trying to do something better than out M track day gathering) as we will be covering the driver centric roads in Smoky mountains area. These roads would be in the bucket list for any enthusiast in the US.
This is going to be a great one. Since we’ll be driving a week after July 4th weekend, crowds should be less. Some of these back roads are truly spectacular and should match or beat the OH555 we drove last year.

When planning the routes, I came across an Abarth owners group who drove on the exact same route and here are some pictures from them. General consensus is that Tail of the Dragon is all show and no go. Plenty of traffic and heavy police patrolling. But the other backcountry roads is where the fun lies.

2 full days of driving on these roads? Bring it on

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-88286396f3764f72bbb902fefca28a30.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-0m5a6498.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-img_4659.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-img_4502.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-59535573_10100184297850361_3373929916063023104_o.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-bfc1871e1d5c4bf49a9416877aa060d7.jpg


Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - ??? Driving / Flying from Chicago

Last edited by vb-saan : 27th May 2023 at 18:21. Reason: Quoted post edited
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Old 18th May 2022, 19:55   #66
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Quote:
Originally Posted by vj123 View Post
We have been thinking about an overnight trip for a while and have zeroed in our eighth meet (from the fall of 2019) in the past days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rohittunga View Post
This is going to be a great one. Since we’ll be driving a week after July 4th weekend, crowds should be less. Some of these back roads are truly spectacular and should match or beat the OH555 we drove last year.

The other backcountry roads is where the fun lies.

2 full days of driving on these roads? Bring it on
Thanks Rohit and Vibin for planning this out. Looking forward to it. The over-nighter has been in a the works for a while now.

From what I hear, if the 555 was as much fun as we had, then the TOD is going to be EPIC!

I am still toying with the idea of flying down, and renting or drive from Pittsburgh.

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - ??? Driving / Flying from Chicago
5. Nikhilarni - ??? - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
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Old 19th May 2022, 23:57   #67
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

A friend ( non T-BHPian ) has also expressed interest to join. Adding him to the list

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - ??? Driving / Flying from Chicago
5. Nikhilarni - ??? - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
5. Pradeep ( non T-BHPian ) - X5 - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA

Last edited by nikhilarni : 20th May 2022 at 00:05.
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Old 23rd May 2022, 07:13   #68
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Date:
Jul 7 to 10

Place:
Roads along Smoky mountains

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - ??? Driving / Flying from Chicago
5. Nikhilarni - ??? - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
6. Pradeep (non T-BHPian) - X5 - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA

Accommodation:
Robbinsville, NC. We will be able to accommodate a few more people in our cabin, so do contact us if you are interested.

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-1.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-3.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-4.jpg

Last edited by vj123 : 23rd May 2022 at 07:34. Reason: Updated pictures
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Old 24th May 2022, 02:35   #69
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - ??? - Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Hyundai Sonata - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - ??? Driving / Flying from Chicago
5. Nikhilarni - ??? - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
6. Pradeep ( non T-BHPian ) - X5 - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
7. Ranjit - ??? - Flying down from IL
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Old 4th July 2022, 19:39   #70
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Confirmed members:
1. vj123 - BMW M3 Competition- Driving from Detroit
2. fusionbang - BMW X3 M40i - Driving from Philly
3. jeeva - Genesis G70 3.3T - Driving from NJ
4. Rohit - Ford Fiesta ST - Driving from Chicago
5. Nikhilarni - ??? - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
6. Pradeep ( non T-BHPian ) - X5 - Driving from Pittsburgh, PA
7. Deep - Mini Cooper - Driving from Detroit
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Old 15th July 2022, 16:37   #71
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Rust Belt States meetup #7 - Tail of the Dragon

We were considering an overnight trip for a while and it was worth the wait. This was one heck of a trip and will be right at the top as one of my best road trips. A big shout out to Rohit for initialing this trip and meticulously planning the route with every possible details. We drove along roads in and around Smoky mountains for two days. Since all of us drove anywhere between 9-12 hours for this meet, we factored one day before and after to reach our destination. We were lucky to get this AirBnB as it was booked for all weekends except the one we chose. It was plush with tons of amenities and the host was friendly as well.

This meet had performance vehicles, twisty roads, great weather and to top everything - amazing people. It was fun as everyone had bought their vehicles within the last year and were trying to explore the capabilities of their vehicles. We had right amount of driving on both days with planned breaks. Except very few occasions, most roads had minimal or zero traffic which was another plus. Glad that we did not zero in the previous long weekend for this trip. We stayed as a group for the most part and it was fun communicating with walkie talkie. Switching cars gave us a taste of each other's vehicles as well. There will be detailed summaries in the following posts and I am attaching the pictures which I clicked during this meet.

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-21-cherohala-skyway.jpg

Mpower with his Mini Cooper

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-2-car.jpg

rohittunga with his Ford Fiesta ST

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-3-car.jpg

jeevadeepan with his Genesis G70 3.3t

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-4-car.jpg

vj123 with his BMW M3 competition

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-5-car.jpg

fusionbang with his BMW X3 M40i

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-6-car.jpg

Pradeep (non member) with his BMW X5

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-7-car.jpg

nikhilarni with everyone's favorite

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-8-car.jpg
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Old 15th July 2022, 16:45   #72
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Tail of the Dragon meet - Day 2

Route: AirBnB - Cherohala Skyway - Tellico Plains - 129 Hub - Tail of the Dragon - Fontana Dam - AirBnB


AirBnB

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-9-airbnb.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-10-airbnb.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-11-airbnb.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-12-airbnb.jpg

Cherohala Skyway - Stop 1

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-15-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-16-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-17-cherohala-skyway.jpg

Cherohala Skyway - Stop 2

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-18-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-19-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-20-cherohala-skyway.jpg

Cherohala Skyway - Stop 3

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-22-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-23-cherohala-skyway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-24-cherohala-skyway.jpg

129 Hub

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-25-129-hub.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-26-129-hub.jpg

Tail of the Dragon - Tree of Shame

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-26-tree-shame.jpg

Tail of the Dragon - Deals Gap

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-27-deals-gap.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-28-deals-gap.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-30-deals-gap.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-29-deals-gap.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-31-deals-gap.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-32-deals-gap.jpg

Fontana Dam

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-33-fontana-dam.jpg
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Old 15th July 2022, 16:49   #73
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Tail of the Dragon meet - Day 3

Route: AirBnB - Foothills Parkway - Townsend - Cherokee - Smoky Mountains National Park - BlueRidge Parkway - Franklin - AirBnB - Cherohala Skyway - Tail of the Dragon - AirBnB


Foothills Parkway

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-34-foothills-parkway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-35-foothills-parkway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-36-foothills-parkway.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-37-foothills-parkway.jpg

Ben Morton Overlook in Smoky Mountain National Park


USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-38-ben-morton-overlook.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-39-ben-morton-overlook.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-40-ben-morton-overlook.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-41-ben-morton-overlook.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-42-ben-morton-overlook.jpg

Outside our AirBnB


USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-43-cabin.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-45-cabin.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-46-cabin.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-44-cabin.jpg

Night drive in Tail of the Dragon


USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-47-tod-night.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-48-tod-night.jpg

Final goodbye to Tail of the Dragon on Day 4

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-49-tod.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-50-tod.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-12-m3.jpg


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Old 15th July 2022, 17:37   #74
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

Here we go again! If you all remember we had a similar trip exactly a year ago. That was on the famous Ohio Triple Nickel (OH555). At that time we were discussing the option of going to the Tail of the Dragon but decided not to because it warranted multiple days and we were simply not prepared. Not this time. Buoyed by the success of previous meets, we decided to make this one the best so far. Tail of the dragon and its surrounding roads have been on our minds since forever and we thought now is the time to do it.

For those who are unaware, Tail of the Dragon (US129) is a ribbon of tarmac near the Smoky Mountains National Park that stretches 11 miles and has 318 curves. The roads are extremely tight and twisty and over the years has become “the destination” for car / bike enthusiasts. And as more and more people started visiting, the surrounding areas became popular in the enthusiast circle and now almost every car / bike community does multi day drives in that area.

Here is a map of Tail of the Dragon

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Of course a lot of things have changed since our previous outing. There have been a few additions to the “rust belt” group but most importantly new cars compared to last time. Here are those who’ve updated their cars.
  1. Vibin (vj123)

    He had a MK7.5 GTI the last time we met. Now a brand spanking new G80 BMW M3 Competition(510 BHP)

    Old:
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-2_vibin_old_gti.jpg

    

New
:
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-3_vibin_new_m3.jpeg

  2. Jeeva (jeevadeepan)

    He had an ND2 Mazda Miata MX-5 during our OH555 meet. Now a brand new Genesis G70 with the 3.3L Twin Turbo engine (365 BHP).

    Old:
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-4_jeeva_old_mx5.jpeg

    New
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-5_jeeva_new_g70.jpeg

  3. Sunay (fusionbang)

    He had a family hauler last time. But soon after driving with us on the OH555 he realized what he was missing out on and purchased a brand new BMW X3 M40i (382 BHP), aka White Wolf

    Old
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-6_sunay_old_highlander.jpeg

    New
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-7_sunay_new_x3m40.jpeg

  4. Rohit (rohittunga)
    I thought of bringing a different car this time. The M5 while being great isn’t ideal for such tight and twisty mountain roads. But used Fiesta ST (200BHP) (which I picked up a couple of weeks ago) is TAILOR made for this trip.

    

Old
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-8_rohit_old_m5.jpeg

    

New
    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-9_rohit_new_fiesta_st.jpeg

  5. Deep (mPower)

    First time he’s bringing a car for our meets. And his was a beautiful Supercharged R53 Mini Cooper S (163 BHP) with the best license plate 



    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-10_deep_mini.jpg

    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-10_1_deep_mini_rear.jpeg

  6. Pradeep (non-bhpian but hopefully soon)
    
Pradeep drives a brand new BMW X5 (335BHP) and while SUVs may not be the first choice that comes to mind, he moved to BMW from a Nissan Rogue. Nissan Rogue for the uninitiated is a sloppy, boring compact SUV with a forgettable CVT. So as far as he’s concerned, he’s driving a supercar.

    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-11_pradeep_x5.jpeg

  7. Nikhil (nikhilarni)

    He chose to ride shotgun this time. That automatically made him the photographer of the group It’ll be interesting to hear his perspective on each car as a passenger, and also review our driving styles.

    USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-12_nikhil_mini.jpeg


One lesson learnt from previous meets is the difficulty in communicating with each other while driving. Some of the roads were off the beaten track and cell phone coverage was spotty. If even 1 car misses an exit or takes a wrong turn, it causes lots of delay and inconvenience to the rest. Therefore for this trip we decided to invest in 2-way walkie talkie. Every car had them and it was worth its weight in gold. Because there was 0 cell coverage once you’re past a town and there were quite a few intersections to navigate. Having this walkie talkie ensured nobody was lost. Also proved to be quite entertaining when the entire convoy was stuck behind a slow moving vehicle who refused to give way as you can see in the video below.

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-13_1_walkie_talkie.jpg



Our 4 day adventure across the Tail of the Dragon was nicely segregated into segment with each segment being no longer than 90 minutes or 60 miles. This gave us adequate time to rest as well as drive enthusiastically.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Let’s just say the conditions were so perfect that we ended driving on the Tail of the Dragon 4 times (7 times for Vibin and I !! Including in the dark)

Day 1: Cherohala Skyway Drive

Route Map of Cherohala Skyway
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-cherohala-skyway-5-map.jpeg

Here is our group stopping at a scenic overlook. This was just to soak in the beautiful scenery we were driving in
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-cherohala-skyway-1.jpeg

After this stop we drove for another 40 minutes on some amazing fast sweepers. The brakes on the Fiesta ST were literally on fire by the time we made it to this overlook
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-cherohala-skyway-2.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-cherohala-skyway-4.jpg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-cherohala-skyway-6-drone.jpg

The next segment was again a set of fast sweepers. Let's just say the Genesis and the BMWs (in particular) were flying here. The hot hatches clearly were playing second fiddle to them. I've never come across a place that's so devoted to car & bike enthusiasts as the Tail of the Dragon. Needless to say our lunch stop was also a Driver themed restaurant called 129Hub (129 because the Tail of the Dragon is on US Highway 129). Was a good opportunity to relax and chit chat about our drives thus far. The heat and humidity were really high. Almost 33 degree celsius and 95% humidity, as you can clearly tell from our sweaty faces.

Outside 129Hub Restaurant. This is at the very beginning of Tail of the Dragon
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-129-hub-outside-1.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-129-hub-lunch.jpeg

Only Deep (mpower) & I doing our part for this cause. The rest all had slush boxes
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-129-hub-save-manuals.jpg


The next segment was the big one. It was the Tail of the Dragon. 318 curves in 11 miles. Deep & I had a preview of this road when we made it to our AirBnB the day before. But for the rest of the group it was first time driving there. This is prime hot hatch territory. Needless to say my Fiesta ST was S-U-B-L-I-M-E.

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-drive-fiesta-st.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-drive-fiesta-2.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-drive-fiesta-3.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-drive-fiesta-4.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-road-2.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-road-3.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tod-road-1.jpeg

Last edited by vb-saan : 27th May 2023 at 18:22. Reason: Typo
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Old 15th July 2022, 17:48   #75
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Re: USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup

And what an amazing drive it was. Very tight curves amidst a green canopy. Truly a delight to drive on it. This took about 45 minutes and at the end of it was yet another car & bike themed rest area called "Deals Gap". Like I said before I've never come across so many enthusiast centric place. May be the Nurburgring comes close.

Anyways, the entire crew taking a break here admiring the other cars and bikes that were present
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-killboystore-1.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-killboystore-2.jpeg


Some of the other cars & bikes that were doing these routes
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-deals-gap-1.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-deals-gap-2.jpeg

Here is an interesting structure. This tree is called the Tree of Shame. If anybody has an incident while driving on these roads, they hang the damage piece on this tree as a symbol of shame. Was interesting to read the comments on some of the wrecked objects. Most were bikers who had an oops moment. We did not make a contribution to this tree
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-tree-shame.jpeg

Next we continued towards Fontana Dam. Pretty much an extension of the same type of roads. Tight, twisty and lots of elevation changes. Now that everybody were familiarized with the area & the road conditions, we utilized this section to test out each others' vehicles.

I got a chance to drive Deep's (mpower) beautiful R53 supercharged Mini Cooper S. That car proper old school. Its hydraulic steering almost felt unassisted. It was that heavy. And the gearbox was tight as a drum with no slack whatsoever. And because that car's footprint is so tiny, even compared to my Fiesta, you get so much room to correct your line without straying out of your lane. Was eager to hear the supercharger whine and while its not as loud as the Dodge Charger / Challenger, it does make its presence felt. 163 BHP of supercharged goodness in a light weight, agile chassis. What more could you ask for?
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-driving-mini-2.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-driving-mini-1.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-fontana-dam-1.jpg

After this we drove on some yet another set of beautiful roads, did another drive up AND down tail of the dragon in each others' cars and finally called it quits. I got the feeling like we were all unsupervised kids who are allowed to do whatever they want to. I mean if there were anybody else accompanying us, they would certainly question our madness on driving on the exact same roads again, especially since we drove on it just an hour ago

Oh and we got a fabulous AirBnB rental. This place was nice & spacious for all of us and more importantly, for all of our cars. There was a stream running by, a game room etc etc. Vibin found this and we're all thankful for him.

This is how our AirBnB parking lot looked. All nicely & safely parked and what a nice mix of cars we have. 2 Hot Hatches, 2 Super Sedans & 2 Sporty SUVs
USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-2.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-4.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-6.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-7.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-5.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-8.jpeg

USA - The Rust Belt States Meetup-airbnb-house-1.jpeg

Day 1 of our epic road trip complete and we drove about 180 miles. Time to get some rest as we have another promising day coming up.


Day 2 is going to be something even more special. 220 miles today which slightly more than Day 1 but new roads and even better scenery. We hit the road at quarter past 8 and immediately are on the Tail of the Dragon (5th time for me). We had a little drizzle accompany during the initial 90 minutes. But soon after it started drying up. But hey at least that rain gave us some amazing photos.

Apparently it rained pretty hard the previous night and caused a few trees to fall down. Here's our convoy patiently waiting until the crew cleared up the debris
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After crossing the Tail of the Dragon, we were on Foothills Parkway, which is another scenic byway in these parts of the world. THIS WAS PERFECT! Because Foothills Parkway is still under construction. The first 20 miles were paved and the remaining 15 miles was still under construction. Therefore all traffic simply avoided this route, which meant we could have this 20 miles section of road all to ourselves. Brand new black top with 0 traffic and the weather clearing up. Things couldn't have gotten any better. And yet it did. At the end of 20 miles section which was paved, there was a scenic overlook and this view awaited us there !
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So pretty isn't it? Probably spent an hour here which felt like 5 minutes. Took all possible permutations and combinations of photos and got out the drone too. The next section was a little mundane. Going through construction work, small town is no fun. And then we entered the touristy part of the Smoky Mountains National Park. No longer could we drive enthusiastically. This being a Saturday, the place was full of tourists. So we all took it easy and enjoyed a relaxed drive.

We all had our Walkie Talkies and could communicate with each other. Handly when there is zero cell coverage as well as to poke fun at each other while driving at 10mph

See what I mean?
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At least Walkie Talkies kept us entertained


But soon after even that became boring. That's when Jeeva and I decided to pull over, take a break of 15 minutes and then rejoin. Not a bad spot to stretch your legs
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Meanwhile the BMWs were far ahead and were already at our meeting point. Spectacular views all around
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... until the entire convoy regrouped
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Relatively speaking this section of our trip was the most boring. Just because of the sheer traffic. Nonetheless we hit a local town for lunch and after that things began to improve. Drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway but no one was in the mood to click pictures. Such was the effect of 2-3 hrs of basically bumper-to-bumper driving.

A few miles down the road we hit a coffee shop for a break. After that it was back to usual routine. We were on another spectacular road called Wayah Road and local traffic don't prefer this because its super narrow and there is an interstate running parallel to this. Which basically meant we had this stretch of road all to ourselves and had a jolly good time driving on it. By the end it was almost 7pm and most of us were ready to call it a day..... Well, not Vibin, Sunay or I. Seemingly still not satiated on driving on ToD, we decided to go for another run but this time in the dark. What an experience that was. That drive with the M3 Comp in front, me hot on its heels in the Fiesta is something that'll stay with me for a long time. When it becomes dark, your distractions go away, traffic goes away and you can concentrate hard on driving. It has to be experienced. Here are a few pics from our nighttime run of Tail of the Dragon
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And that's an end of it. An epic 4 day driving vacation comes to an end. The next day was simply pack up and leave.Never spent 4 days on a vacation with car enthusiasts and it was worth it. The company was terrific, no ego wars and all were humble. That's what we want isn't it? If anybody is on the fence on doing this trip, just do it. As if these pictures aren't enough to motivate. The next post will be a small review about my little hatchback

Last edited by vb-saan : 27th May 2023 at 18:23. Reason: Typo
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