From Saturday, August 7th 2010 until Sunday, August 15th 2010, I drove on a little road rally called MINI Takes the States. If you look at the map above, you can see that we didn’t quite take the shortest route from San Diego to Denver. No sir! All told, We covered over 1,600 miles in those 9 days and it went a little something like this.
Day 1: SoCal MINI Dealer Poker Run, San Diego to Santa Anita
This day started bright and early at the newest MINI dealer in Southern California, MINI of San Diego. In fact, they are so new they weren’t even open when we started gathering. From there, we were led by members of West Coast MINIs on a twisty route to MINI of Escondido. From there, most of the pack did what we lovingly call the De Luz run to MINI of Ontario. After burgers and dogs, it was a very quick stop at MINI of Monrovia before ending at the start point for tomorrow, Santa Anita Raceway. Like all runs during this event, we collected MINIs as we motored. Starting with about 40 and ending with well over 100!
Tonight was also the night of the Southern California MTTS Owners Kick Off Party, held at the California Science Museum. Hosted bar, lots of food, Macy Gray spinning records and, the reason we were gathered in the first place, the MINI Countryman (aka R60). They had a couple of them there for the owners to gawk and ogle. Bonus, Gert Hildebrand and Vinnie Kung were on hand to answer questions and just talk MINI with anyone and everyone that wanted too. You will hear this quite a bit during my writing and it’s all true. MINI USA knows how to throw a party! Never a dry glass in the place, plenty of food, great music and great people. Calling it an early night in preparation for the drive tomorrow, I headed back to my downtown LA hotel and called it a night.
Day 2: SoCal to Scottsdale, Arizona and the Hotel Valley Ho Pool Party
Ready, set, go! All MINI owners were instructed to gather for bagels and coffee at Santa Anita for the great kick-off of what will end up being an epic roadtrip. Maps were handed out, instructions were given and the band played off what looked like over 100 MINIs!
This was to be one of our shorter drive days, covering just under 400 miles. Off we went across the California Desert, headed to warmer climes. MINIUSA, not wanting anyone to get too hot, decided what everyone would need about 1/2 way to Scottsdale was a popsicle stop in Chiraco Summit! Yes, that’s right, popsicles in the middle of the dessert, and everyone was treated. We stood in the sun and turned our mouths a rainbow of colours before continuing on to Blythe, into Arizona, thru Phoenix before arriving at the Valley Ho.
Once there and checked in, of course we had to catch up with our friends from Arizona and Nevada that were joining us, and no better place to do that than in the Valley Ho bar before they opened the gate to their legendary pool for a fantastic pool party! Again, music, drink, food and our good friends the Countryman were all on hand to enjoy the 2nd great party party of our trip. And, should you ever get to Scottsdale, Arizona, and want to see how the ‘pretty people’ play, definitely make a stop at the Valley Ho!
Day 3: Scottsdale to Vegas and the -5 Ice Lounge Party
Today started like the others. Bagels, coffee, route map, instructions and Kevin’s damned bullhorn. Oh, and about 100 MINIs tearing off through Scottsdale headed to Sin City. Funny thing happened this morning for me, however. Hectic morning, lost my iPod (later found) and other things delayed my leaving until about 20 minutes behind everyone else. No worries I think. I know where Palace Station is and have the GPS.
Now friends, before I continue, should you ever need to drive from the Valley Ho to Palace Station, do not depend on your nav to make that happen unless you like driving 30 miles in stop and go, road contructed traffic. Buy hey, I got to see Wickenberg and Sun City, so I had that going for me, which was nice.
Also, for future reference, if you are planning on driving to Las Vegas from I-40 and it’s a Sunday and the new bridge by-passing Hover Dam isn’t ready, skip Nevada Highway and motor on to SR95 through Laughlin instead. Don’t worry, you can thank me later.
Finally arrived at Palace station about an hour after everyone else, maybe a little cranky from the delays and traffic, so I got checked in and cooled down before heading down to meet up with whoever was going to the Ice Lounge. It was this night that I recruited Scotty Michalakakaka as my wingman (since Todd was driving from the east coast). He grabbed the right seat and off we went to freeze!
The Ice Lounge was (wait for it) very cool! I know, that’s lame, but it was, after all, -5 degrees. Cold enough we were issued coats and gloves. Cold enough that our cocktails were served in ice glasses that didn’t melt. Cold enough that every thing short of the floor, ceiling and walls was made of ice. Everything. We weren’t allowed to take tech in with us, so I don’t have any photos (yet). You will be seeing those as soon as I get them. Again, food, drink and the R60 on hand. Again, MINIUSA picked up the bill, along with Desert MINI.
And what is a WRR trip to Vegas without a trip into Jack’s Pub, right? I skipped the 6-pack in a glass Guinness this time and opted for a G&T or two instead. Not too much, since I had to save my strenght for the longest drive on deck, the 450+ mile trek to Salt Lake City.