On the weekend Mike and I joined the Mini Alpine Tour, a Saturday morning to Sunday lunch adventure run by the Mini Club where you are given directions to various meeting points with questions to answer along the way.
With a 9:30am drivers' briefing in Wangaratta, about 3 hours from Melbourne, we drove up after work (and a sewing and dinner stop at my parents') on Friday night. I walked out of the hotel room Saturday morning to see an addition to my car:
There was a sticker naming Mike as driver on the other side too. I laughed and laughed; such an incredible way to start the day.
The theme for this, the 13th annual Mini Alpine Tour, was 60s and 70s with a dress-up dinner organised for Saturday night. As we arrived at the briefing we could see a few people were already in the spirit.
Let me officially introduce my father-in-law to be, Ray. Peace man.
And brother-in-law to be Steve and friend Blake...
And the Elvis Mini.
Although we knew something big had been planned - I'd dropped over to Steve's the previous weekend and been banned from the backyard due to secret works - this was our first time seeing Elvis Mini. (We'd learnt of their theme the night before, catching up with them at the hotel and being greeted by The Kings.) The details were amazing; they'd even hidden speakers in the 'hair' so they could play Elvis songs as they drove alone.
Apparently this year the car gained the most attention on the highway - they've dressed the Mini up as the Batmobile and the Blues Brothers' car in recent years so have an interesting point of comparison - but next year's costume is already in the planning.
After receiving our showbag and instructions we were off, ripping into our envelopes. Didn't get too far though, the answers to the first questions - what day does the Rotary Club meet, and how much was the reward offered for the capture of Ned Kelly - were written on monuments in the park. ;)
It was an awesome morning.
Beautiful sunshine, interesting roads and great scenery as we wound through country Victoria you'd never normally see. There were cattle being moving along the road (bigger than the Minis by the way), men fixing fences, lush green valleys, tractors working in fields. We made a few u-turns (a missed turn or two, the answer to a question spotted a touch too late) and guessed a few answers and had so much fun.
It was a morning that glowed.
We were the first to arrive at our first stop, lunch at the Mitta Pub. Mike's a tad proud of that; sensible driving, I promise.
Fuelled up (us, not the cars) and ready to head off again, Elvis Mini needed a little loving first. Luck was not with The Kings though, their drive ending later that day at the back of a two metre tow rope, made a tad harrowing by the steep hills and animals - kangaroos and the biggest stag they'd ever seen - who wanted to share the road with them.
We drove along the Omeo Highway in the afternoon, the relentless curves meaning I (or rather my stomach) didn't enjoy it quite as much as the morning stint. ;)
Turns out, Minis can really move!
I definitely had some 'I love Australia' moments along the way. We saw such a variety of landscapes. I may disappear overseas at every opportunity, but this country of mine is pretty darn amazing too.
The questions we were given were quite diverse, from 'What is ENEYHYBWL on Something Station code for?' (still don't know the answer to that one) to 'Where are you not allowed to bring glass containers?' (still proud of spotting that sign as we drove past the cemetery) to providing a picture of the sign above, numbers blurred out, and asking for each of the distances and total, converted into miles.
It was from this point that our question answering got pretty terrible - I think we found one out of the next 5! - but I'll leave the rest of the weekend for a Part Two post. I'm sure you can't wait to see our 60s/70s costumes! ;)
Meanwhile, I'm officially ticking off another, much enjoyed, 30 Before Marriage goal:
28. Participate in a motorsport event.