The event started on a cool, crisp Saturday morning at a gas station in Hampden, Maine where we meet up with Matt and Brian from MINI's of Maine. The temperature hovered around 37° for the majority of the day with continuous drizzle. The roads also had residual sand and gravel from the winter months. We were warned to be careful of these conditions, as well as 16 pound wild turkeys that have a tendency to play chicken in hairpin turns.
We swung through a Dunkin' Donuts for some tasty treats, then we were on our way. We knew we would have an hour and a half trip to Wiscasset, Maine to meet up with several other MINI's and their owners, but were unprepared for what Matt and Brian had in store for us. What started as a sedate drive through the country quickly turned into a backwoods rally. Tightly tucked between a 2012 Hardtop S (R56) and a 2014 Countryman S (R60) we raced through the hills, our little JCW's Bluetooth exhaust popping and growling in the silence. Matt made us work for it. His tailpipe exhaled white smoke as he gassed it while downshifting out of a sharp corner. Brian's Countryman was no slouch either. Clifford, "The Big Red Bus" had no trouble keeping pace. Huge grins were plastered to our faces, except for Ashlie's... her's was kinda green.
We met up with the rest of the crew at an Irving gas station in Wiscasset, ME. Our group was very diverse with people attending from Massachusetts, Canada, Maine, and Louisiana. We all became close friends within minutes. Ashlie keeps telling me that just because I speak to someone, it doesn't mean they are my friend, but there isn't a person alive who would say otherwise....
Soon we were away. Our group of eight kept a tight formation. Even with the poor road conditions, we were still able to dip in and out of turns at 60 - 80 mph. Zipping through the steep, winding turns allowed us to become more intimate with the heart of Maine. Ashlie had never visited Maine before, and my experience had been limited to the coastal regions. Our journey was broken up into three legs. The first took us from Harris to Wiscasset, which was approximately 100 miles. The second and third legs were more of a coastal route and totaled approximately 160 miles. Some of the inland towns were nestled in the hills and gave it old time feel. Brightly colored houses and big red barns littered the countryside. As we cruised through some of the small towns we encountered people outside who would give us a friendly wave and a smile.
The weather worn roads kept us on our toes and allowed us to test the agility of the MINI. Having the automatic gearbox in manual mode and using the paddle shifters made it easy to deploy quick, decisive countermeasures while avoiding potholes and bumps, this also allowed for more controlled braking and better management of RPM's. The combination of power, weight, and torque showcased the MINI's intuitive handling.
We stopped off at New Castle Publick House for lunch. It was a restaurant in a very old building in New Castle, ME, which isn't saying much. Most of their buildings seem old. We sat around laughing and sharing stories like we had known each other for years. The food was the expected local fare: crab cakes, seafood chowder, and local brews. After filling our bellies, we hopped in the MINI's and drove off into the New England mist.
The last leg of our adventure would take us down a peninsula which provided exceptional views of Muscongus and Johns Bay. Initially, the sights were similar to others we had experienced, but as we came out of a sweeping turn, the tree line faded giving us a breathtaking view of the coast. The overcast sky melded into the misty waters. The waves crashed into the rocky coast with old picturesque houses on hills. Seagulls cried overhead as we rounded the bend and lost sight of this mesmerizing view.
We both were slack-jawed and were stumbling over words that failed to come close to describing its beauty. We were trying to find a way to duck out of the line of MINI's to go back to take pictures when the tree line started to fade again, allowing the coast to peek through. We both started scrambling for GoPros and cameras. I am sure the MINI's behind us were wondering what we were doing. We were swerving all over the road trying to find our equipment to get the shot while trying to keep up with the group. Thankfully they pulled over at a viewpoint shortly afterward.
The tide was out and revealed many rocks of all sizes. We walked down a short way and enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the coast. Some of the group said we needed to come back one day when the tide is in to hear the many small rocks tumbling with the tide, reminiscent of a giant rain stick. After everyone had their fill of the view we headed out for our final destination.
We ended the trip at King Eider's Pub. A bar in the heart of Damariscotta, ME with loads of local flair. We had one last beer before hitting the road. With much sadness, we parted ways with promises to visit soon. As the last MINI drove away, we took a breath and smiled. Now that was an adventure!
To learn more about MINI's of Maine, visit their Facebook page here: MINI's of Maine
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Authors: Baker and Ashlie
Baker and Ashlie are the owners of Bourn Adventure and together they author the majority of the articles and content found here.