Step 13- Good Morning Spartanburg
At 630 I got my first call about missing magnets from cars, so I shut my phone off. I hear Keith from Z3 Solution was handing out replacement sharks in the parking lot.
I made it to breakfast around 9ish and had a nice meal with new and old friends before we split off in our own directions. MW promised to avoid eating shellfish in Sanvannah on the way home, FredR was heading straight back to Ohio, Bruce chided the waitress about breakfast service, his dad looked ready for anything. Nearby Tim (UK) and George (UK) faced returning to Charlotte in the Z24. Step 14- The Road Home
I didn't want to mention that so far, my trip had been completely without incident, except for that door dent the tech had fixed (THANK YOU Sean!) and all I had to do was make it home the same way. I was pooped. We had opted out of the CBBT convoy to make our own way home avoiding the storm. That also meant we had no route per se. We planned to choose between I-77 going way west to avoid the storm, or take I-81 up the west side of dreaded Virginia. We figured we'd decide at the crossroads.
We gassed up at the Mobil- I had gassed up at the Exxon before and gotten the news reports from the pump- that was pretty cool but JonT has an understandable aversion to Exxon. Dave P had some RainX and was nice enough to apply it for me and JonT. That stuff is cooooool. As we headed up I-85 the sky ahead looked dark and nearly black. It was 11am. We got our tops up seconds before it began to pour and we steeled ourselves for the worst. I was behind DaveP, who was mercifully unhindered by my foglights because he has no rear view mirror. He has obviously subscribed to the Gum Ball Rally philosophy, "What is behind me is not important."
I guess we were driving in the rain for about an hour before we finally admitted we were enjoying the hell out of it. My experiences at the UDE and the Performance Center Skid Pad made me much more aware of the circumstances and much more confident about driving in wet conditions. There is no car I would rather be in, in a rain storm. Driving between Z3's I not only felt quite safe on the road, it was also very attractive. I liked the way that Dave's tires wicked away the water. That Rain-X stuff was great, I didn't even use windshield wipers for the first hour.
We were having a jolly run in the rain. It was a lot easier to hear the talkabouts with the top up. Someone mentioned they had seen the Cali convoy folks clip the talkabouts to their shoulder harness and that was a helluva good idea, even with my Schroth shoulder pads. About this time I hear JonT say "We've picked up another Z3".
Shawn Fogg writes:
"About 20 minutes after Melissa and I headed up 85 leaving from HC Sunday we saw a few Z3s WAY up the road. We pulled out a Talkabout and tried to scan for them with no luck."

Shawn Fogg and Melissa in Shawn's magic 1.9 found JonT, and JonT managed to write our FSR channel on the window while driving in the rain~
"... we caught up to them (hey... they were only a bunch of 2.8s... we were in a Fogged 1.9 ;) and as we approached the first green one we were 'written' the Talkabout channel they were using. It turned out we had just crashed the Shag party on their way back home, cool! Jon was in the green one, I knew Emmy piloted by Rachael on sight and Dave had the white one.
~ so we were all together in the storm having a hell of a good time heading North.
"...It started raining very badly (I had a river flowing in Melissa's window) a ways up so we all pulled off to figure out what the plan was. They had planned on heading up 77 to 81 to get home while Melissa and I were planning on going up 85 till we hit 95 for a stop in Maryland for the night."
Shawn and Melissa were heading home via 95, which we planned to avoid, so when the signs for 95 popped up, we wished them well and good luck.
An hour later we notice that there is still no sign for 81 and Melissa points out that the crossroads we were looking for we had already passed. Oops. To get to 81 we should have taken 77 first. Uh huh. Looks like we are going up 95 after all.
I popped Teachum's music into the tape player and just as it played "Walking on Sunshine" the skies turned blue and the rain stopped and so it stayed for the rest of the trip home. Thanks Teachum!
"...After a quick(ish) stop at a gas station(Vaseline purchased and applied to the window was a patch for the leaking) they decided to take our path back home. They decided to stop for the night with Melissa and I in College Park. I had reservations in this really wacked out Best Western. (The Fundome is for Hotel guests only)"
We stopped at a Ponderosa for dinner, which was pretty amusing since none of us had ever been to one before. The people were nice and the food was cheap and plentiful. We porked out.
"(there is always room for Jello)"
Again, it was magic because Shawn and Melissa had reservations at a Best Western just past Washington D.C. and we just booked rooms there. JonT played the Shag Dance music and we danced in the parking lot of the Ponderosa and Shag Magged them and just generally horsed around. It was like we were drunk but we weren't.
"Turns out we are all a bunch of Z3 driving, movie loving lunatics. (BTW Shaggers.. "The first rule of Italian Driving- What's behind me is not important!" was by Franco). And my car was christened with a Shag Mag, number 57!!! Too cool, except Melissa is tryingto steal it from me to put up in her classroom at school."
(Melissa gets her own ;-), she's #61 )
We were a commotion at the Best Western, we'd all seen Mars Attacks and declaring "ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK We come in peace, do not run" we put the babies to bed in parking spaces just outside our rooms and settled in to watch Austin Powers 1 on DVD. This was a wild hotel with an indoor pool, billiards and a putting green indoors. No time to play this time around.
I'm sure hotel management was a little afraid of the group... After a sizing comparison (Jon's and mine are the same... 14.1"s) we watched what else but 'Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery' before turning in for the night. Not before we tucked Emmy and my unnamed baby in for the night.

No pics of the cars wearing car covers. JonT and Shawn's cars were on the ends so they wore the new door guards.
Next morning we woke up and rushed out to check on the babies and as usual hung out in the parking lot for a very long time learning more and more new things.
JonT came downstairs to find Saffie with a mouth full of twigs :(.
... we undug one of the babies, showed off our cleaning supplies, checked out each others cars, found a little suprise in one of them, and headed for breakfast. (Real programers use soldering irons!)

ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK We come in peace, do not run.
Shawn showed us the convenient space in the 1.9 for storing a car cover,

I was thrilled to find someone else who uses beads on their seats.
We opened my hood to see what now goes in that space and Shawn found something just a little out of place. Q: Can you see it?

Maybe you can see it now?
(If you look on the fuse box you will see a socket wrench for the strut bracelet that must have been left by a tech at the BMW Store in Cincinnati, that stayed there for 6 days 8 states, and drove the Dragon and nearly got in an accident in Spartanburg.)
DaveP tried Shawn's short shifter and explained a lot about wheels and tires on his car.

Breakfast at IHOP and back on the road, it never rained again and I never looked at a map again. Everywhere we went there were just four spaces for us.
When there were other cars parked with us, we used Keith's new door guards- one on each exposed Z3, and once I had 2 on one side!

First thing I saw was a sign saying "212 miles to New York". My heart leapt. It was all too easy. Just as JonT broke off to Pennsylvania, we picked up a Porsche Boxster.

Mostly uneventfull except for the Lincoln Continental that for no apparent reason decided to try to changes lanes as quickly as the show-off Boxster was doing. Normally I wouldn't care except that he did it into my lane. Thankfully I was in the low speed lane and was able to jump into the breakdown lane to avoid that tank... (see Shaggers... I told you the Z3s could change lanes just as quickly (or more so) as the Boxster was). Active safety rules! Withing a few hours Melissa was pretty much over that event. ;)
Traffic was kinda sucky but we had fun and I broke off from the group at Route 22 and headed for the Holland Tunnel.
As I sat in traffic I thought about DaveP hanging with Shawn and Melissa until Norwalk and how great it was that no one had to drive alone to go home.
We headed further on and Rachel broke off to head home. Dave and I kept going till he hit home off the Merrit Parkway... about 2 hours later I rolled into home and Melissa got in her car and drove the last hour to her place. Melissa and I decided it was MUCH nicer driving home in our new found group of friends then if we had done it alone.

It was magic from start to finish.
Thanks everyone for a fabulous time. I love my car more now that I ever did before, if that's possible. I learned great stuff from everyone. I set out to drive with as many convoys as possible and drive the Dragon, to make it all the way without incident, accident or ticket and I did it- with help from my friends.
Next year I want to do it different again. I'd like to drive it in a leaderless convoy of a small group of friends making up the way as we go along and picking up whoever pops up and wants to ride together. Maybe we'll find that road in Southern Ohio.
1- The Cast/NYC, ~~ 2- Pennsylvania, ~~ 3- Buckeyes, ~~ 4- Cin-cy, ~~
5-Midwest Z3ers @ The BMW Store, ~~ 6-Kentucky, ~~ 7-Nashville, ~~ 8-Dragon Morning @ John B's, ~~
9-Homecoming Friday, ~~ 10- Homecoming Saturday, ~~ YOU ARE HERE ~~

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