The Dragon

Randall Thomas SP 455

The Dragon really wasn't bad at all. Just a lot of turns in a row at slow speeds (15-30 in the turns barely getting up to 30-40 anywhere else). What you get is like the rhythm of a roller coaster, but side to side. Actually, I found it to be done with faster than I thought. Seems like the 11 miles is more like 3 or 5.

It was fun tho, but several did get motion sickness tho... mostly passengers, but some drivers, like Mike Stenhouse. I saw semi's going down the road and other trucks, and while it was challenging for the cars, it was just a lot of curves in reality easily negotiable if you were not pushing your car or bike.

The REAL challenge was keeping from hitting bikers coming the other way. Staying on your side of the yellow is IMPERATIVE, but the bikers forget to keep their HEAD on their side as well as their tires.

A lot of fun, we drove it twice, and I put on an extra few miles of it going back for Jerry's wreck, and I could have done it a half dozen more times and still not been fulfilled. Diane FELL ASLEEP while I was driving it once... eyes closed and even the screeching of the sliding tires didn't wake her up! lol. Although when I screamed out, "OH GOD NO!!!!", then her eyes opened up... unhappy eyes to be sure.

The area is pretty and beautiful, and probably really nice in fall. But it lacks the majestic appeal of the Rockies and the magnificence of the grandeur Colorado has, for me at least. But it can not and should not be compared to other destinations. Just like Branson should not. It was a killer destination and was worth every bit of caution tape I had to pull off my trailer.

Tame the Dragon? Easy. Overpower the dragon? Even easier. Fixing the car when you're done? Not so easy. Very few pushed their cars to the limits as there are too many immovable trees to contend with. All but Jerry... who can easily say he ripped the dragon a new A-hole on section three. lol. I think a u-joint in my steering column is clunking, probably wore out from the turning. lol. No, really... I mean it.

Would I go back? Absolutely. The Dragon and Little River roads were worth the price of admission alone. I'd probably want to stay closer to those roads though to put in more drive time and less freeway time, but sacrifice some amenities in the process. We put on about 400+ miles driving, but half of that was to and
from the cool roads. That and there are WAY too many cops on the roads too and from. The Dragon as a destination for next year's SSR? Probably not as there are a lot of other places yet to be seen and enjoyed, but it certainly may be an option for subsequent SSR's in the future.

In hindsight, the hotel staff was great allowing us a lot of latitude, EXCEPT for when we tried commandeering their bar. Dan and Tammy going down last fall to scope out the locations was a big help. The cookouts were FABULOUS with much better food brought in and cooked by the owners than we had at the restaurants. Stick one of Kumpsters brats in your mouth and you'll be hooked for life (yeah, I know how it sounded). Also, having the event a day earlier (Thu-Fri) was pure genius here, to keep the traffic down. It would have been HORRIBLE on late Friday and Saturday. HOWEVER... to bring some lawn chairs out and sit in the woods along the dragon WOULD be an event *I* would attend EAGERLY on a busy day and leave the car in the trailer!

Previous SSR's found that getting up at 9 provided more night life opportunities as this years earlier departure showed at 10pm the parking lot and hotel bar were graveyards in comparison to previous years. We will have to remember that one hour makes all the difference in the world, but being so far from the roads it was a necessary sacrifice to get in a day's worth of driving before dark.

Dan and Tammy along with Rod and Paula did great in confirming, running and timing the roads I had mapped out. Getting the timing right and the restaurants ready were welcomed and much needed. Steve Kump and Craig Aylsworth's food donations filled the crew up with yummies and a lot of others pitched in to cook, serve and clean up. Finally, the owners themselves served each other well by preventing traffic jams, getting lost and with no real mishaps. That is, all but Kort Knope who was always an hour behind no matter where we went. lol.

This truly was an owners event, for the owners, put on *BY* the owners... all who attended. It was a great week. The shirts that Jay made up for us were WONDERFUL, and the gesture of the funding support by Jay was GREATLY appreciated!!!! The collection started off by Steve Cioffi and masterminded and organized by Gary Osborne with help from Co-conspirator Craig Aylsworth was very much appreciated. While I certainly knew the owners were doing this behind the scenes, I had forgotten about it until Craig walked up with a 4' cardboard check.

There is so many little stories to surface, it will take weeks to git-er-dun. Stories such as...

1. Woodsy locking himself out of his coupe
2. The great trailer taping incident
3. Dan's ride back after the trailer taping incident was discovered
4. The Superduty plant tour (which very little can be discussed, but those who went on it will never forget the unparalleled access they had)
5. The parking lot spirit selection available
6. The BBQ cookouts
7. The few fast turns barely missed during the cruise
8. The nausea victims on the roads
9. The temperature change on Thursday's cruise from foothills to peak
10. The people stopping in to see "what the hell was going on?"
11. The magazine editors showing up just to gawk and talk
12. Close calls on the roads that we have yet to hear about
13. The trailer caravan to the Superduty Plant that cut hours off the late departure time and set a personal speed record for both Craig and Matt
14. The scale weights and comparisons of the car weigh in segment
15. The "Grouper sandwich" preferred by Mike Stenhouse

So stay tuned to weeks of interesting tales to remember.

Randall Thomas SP 455