Congratulations to Dennis on the selection of his Miatas as the August Miatas of the Month!
I’m only home when I’m not at home.
--- Merle Haggard
For Sally, early car stories consisted of cruising around and around and around and around the State Capitol square listening to the Grand Ole Opry on AM radio. The cars didn’t matter, but the social aspects made for years of great memories. But, for Dennis enjoying a mis-spent youth in Detroit in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s things, were different. Detroit sure made for a great start in appreciating the world’s automobiles, not to mention the wonderful Motown rock ‘n’ roll. With all the factories operating in those good old days I got to see them all brand new before they hit the streets. And, nothing could beat the sports cars of the day like the early Corvettes, the two passenger Thunderbirds, the MG’s, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL and the 300 SL Gullwing, yet somehow the ’55 Studebaker Speedster with the mustard-like paint job and the magnificent ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk were my favorites.
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
Catch your dreams before they slip away.
--- Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
After growing up or whatever it was that I did –
got older, I guess – the years that followed saw a succession of the usual sedans and station wagons, and it was finally time to revert to my original Detroit mentality and so in 1997 we finally bought our first Miata. It was a gorgeous red one with a black top and after-market black leather seats. All it took was a visit to the auto show in Detroit, and the decision was made to trade in the seven year old Honda Civic wagon.
The ’97 was a wonderful ride and saw some limited travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada and to Detroit for the Dream Cruise. Upon arriving home from the Dream Cruise in 2000 a funny thing happened; it was a letter from the local dealer informing us that that they were going out of business. So we ran over there to look at the beautiful new 2000 version mentioned in the letter and traded in the ’97 after only 60,000 miles for another red one, but this time with tan leather seats and a tan top. It was an easy sale.
By 2005 it was time to get serious about travel, and by now we had embraced the relatively new phenomenon of digital photography. So, we took the ’00 out to the Canadian Rockies and followed the approximately 175 miles of the Columbia Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Parks where there is a super view of the mountains along every inch of the road. Some have described this road as the most beautiful highway in the world. No argument from us, and even more beautiful from a top-down Miata.
After 137,000 miles it was time for another Miata, and so in 2008 we did the unthinkable and got our third one – this time an automatic! This car is a Special Edition, icy blue in color, and with saddle brown heated leather seats which are very nice for the Wisconsin winters. To make it even more fun, it has paddle shifts – just like a Ferrari and far cheaper. Then we left Madison and headed for the hills – the Black Hills of South Dakota en route to a return visit to the Canadian Rockies. Our first stop was the Celebrity Hotel in Deadwood where we got married after a mere 20 years of togetherness. Cruising in South Dakota is just perfect for a Miata; the roads are flawless, and maybe it’s why the annual Harley-Davidson rally is held in nearby Sturgis. Not far away are the Badlands with their spectacular rock formations, the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and one of the coolest roads anywhere – Needles Highway. No Miata should miss this glorious road with its tall, skinny rocks, one lane of roadway and two lane traffic and all the more enjoyable thanks to the paddle shifts.
From there we Miata-ed on to Waterton Lakes National Park (the Canadian part of Waterton - Glacier International Peace Park) and a nice lunch of Alberta steak at the Prince of Wales Hotel with a super view of the mountains. Next, we headed for Banff via highways 541 and 40 through the area of Alberta known as Kananskis Country. The mountains are simply magnificent, and some of the skiing events of the 1988 Winter Olympics of Calgary were held here. Several hours later - as just a few years earlier - we found ourselves on the Columbia Icefields Parkway and topless driving (the Miata, that is) is at its best. Of course, the paddle shifts contributed even more enjoyment.
The high gas prices that summer forced a change in our route back to Wisconsin – originally we had planned on driving through Canada – but the 6.00 and 7.00 a gallon for gas there made the 4.00 prices in Montana look like a bargain, and so that we returned via a more direct route through the States.
Traveling via Miata is simply wonderful, and no Miata owner should miss the joy of driving on two of the greatest roads on the continent: Needles Highway and the Columbia Icefields Parkway.
Dennis and Sally
Will you be next?