I haven’t had a break since returning from MINI Takes the States (MTTS), so while this is coming a little late, I didn’t want to miss sharing about my travels.
I joined the last two legs of MTTS, going from Buffalo, NY to Boston, MA. As you can see from the maps below, the routes were pretty long and went through some tiny towns.
Route from Buffalo, NY to Bethelehm, PA:
Route from Bethlehem, PA to Boston, MA:
The estimated times on the route sheets and maps were completely off. We encountered plenty of traffic along the way, and then I also had to take pumping breaks (life of a breastfeeding mom on the road!). Major props to my co-worker for being cool about accommodating my needs. She chauffeured while I took care of business in the backseat, and then we’d pull over again so I could either drive or sit in front.
While it wasn’t fun or comfortable to pump almost a quart of milk a day (and keeping it cold the whole time), I really enjoyed the trip. The cooler temps alone were such a welcome departure from Texas summer. My first morning in Buffalo was so chilly that I could see my breath!
We kicked off each day with a morning breakfast event, announcements and prizes. All the MINIs would line up in orderly fashion, and then we’d get a police escort to start the day’s adventures. At the day’s destination was an evening event – either an activity or a large party with dinner. For MINI owners, the registration fee was only $45, whether they could do the whole coast-to-coast route or only participate in a couple legs. This covered breakfast, dinner and the day’s events. A pretty fantastic deal, if you ask me!
Buffalo to Bethlehem
The drive through upstate New York was beautiful! It’s so serene up there. We were on these two-lane roads, passing farms with bright red barns and tiny vegetable stands in front of each property. We made a pit stop in Le Roy, NY to visit the Jell-O museum, and they closed the town for us. We made a second pit stop in Penn Yan, NY to see the largest pancake skillet. The little Mennonite cafe and grocery store down the road was a nice lunch spot.
Along the route were vista points of the Finger Lakes and a couple of surprise waterfalls. The mountains, the curvy roads, the babbling creeks… If you ever have an opportunity to drive through that part of the country, do it.
When we arrived at our destination, we could see the old abandoned steel plant that was turned into an arts and cultural campus. We attended the music festival taking place at SteelStacks for our evening event and listened to a rock band who was singing an ode to bacon. The stacks were lit purple and other entertainment like aerial silks took place in one of the buildings.
Bethlehem to Boston
The final leg to Boston was at times draining. I can’t imagine the exhaustion felt by the coast-to-coast-ers! But there were still moments of levity, like watching this giant Peep try to get into a MINI.
We motored alongside other MINIs, and even when we got separated from the group, we inevitably passed others later. A little honk and wave made the drive so much friendlier. Unfortunately, I couldn’t feel how fast the car was going and got caught speeding downhill in New Jersey. *eek* That was an unanticipated ding on the pocketbook.
At one point, we could see Manhattan off in the distance and then crossed into Connecticut. We made it our business to stop for lobster rolls at a little place in Stratford, and they were SO GOOD.
Rolling into Boston, we had one last party at the architecturally stunning Institute of Contemporary Art. It was right on the water with live music, food, photo opps and a little tented lounge.
Over the course of those two legs I helped drive, we met some of the most passionate MINI owners and enthusiastic roadtrippers. There were even a couple people who came to participate in the full rally and didn’t even have a car with them. I can’t think of any other car brand that gives so much back to their customers in the way of a unique, bonding experience that they will never forget.
Check out the Tumblr page with highlights from throughout the trip. And then mark your calendars for Summer 2016 when MTTS is back with a completely new route.