Ladies Join Oct. 17 2015 Drive Event, Everyone Survives

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History was made on Saturday, October 17, 2015, when the New York Mets (sorry, wrong blog) the Sunday Morning Driving Club went out for a ride, and changed all the rules. What exactly did we do? We drove on a Saturday (for the first time); we scheduled a breakfast AND a lunch (for the first time); we visited the Jersey Shore (for the first time); and we allowed drivers to invite their Significant Others along for the experience (for the last time; sorry, wrong blog – for the first of what we are sure will be many more times).

As best as we know, all the participating husbands and wives were still married to each other at the end of the day. Seriously, we think the ladies enjoyed themselves, and got a taste of the genuine fun we men have had for years, namely, riding through beautiful scenery in interesting cars, and sitting down for a hearty meal with affable and like-minded people.

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The formal part of the day started at the Bridgewater Diner in Bridgewater, NJ. Changing with past tradition, attendees arrived on their own between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and fortified themselves with good local diner food. By 10:30 a.m., after a few who skipped breakfast but were joining the group arrived, we were out of the parking lot, embarking on the first half of the day’s drive. This 30-mile-route, dotted with fall foliage, took us along the Millstone River, through the farmland of Monmouth County, into the historic village of Cranbury, and eventually to a Wawa pit stop, sorely needed by the men after all that diner coffee.

This deserved Wawa-stop allowed us time to hang and chat in the parking lot. Old friends caught up with each other, new friends were made, and Bill Whited bought gas. After sufficient time was given for life’s necessities, the lead Alfa driven by your humble servant (who assigned the 90-horsepower car to lead??), with 11 other cars in caravan, headed east on Route 33 for the second leg of our drive – a 25-mile straight shot to the seaside resort town of Ocean Grove.

We allowed plenty of time for folks to find parking and wander along the picturesque Main Ave. before our 1:30 lunch reservation at The SeaGrass restaurant. Our table was set and ready for us ten minutes early, and our rowdy crowd was ably handled solo by one young waitress who, to her credit, smiled through the whole ordeal. The food was excellent, and more than one person in our party remarked that while not expecting to be hungry after breakfast, the food at The SeaGrass was too good to pass up.

It bears mentioning that as the popularity of our drive events has grown, participants have told friends, who have told friends…. For this drive, we had two drivers who were with us for the first time. Several others had only made their first trips with us earlier this year. By my count, half of today’s drivers are people I’ve met through other drivers. It’s been rewarding to see the group grow in this fashion.

Lunch was over by 3 p.m. The shoppers delayed their departures so they could wander through the many gift shops in Ocean Grove. Others hit the road in order to get back home before the ever-earlier darkness closed the day. Overall, our many “firsts” combined to make this drive one of our most successful, read, enjoyable outings yet.

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, Sep. 13 2015

2 p.m. Saturday: Larry and Rich talk by phone:

“I don’t know about tomorrow. I’m driving right now and there’s nothing but dark clouds overhead.”
“The weather forecast is for heavy showers through tonight, and cloudy with showers all day Sunday.”
“One report I heard said that the showers may hold off. Let’s talk again later.”
“OK. I’ll call you after dinner.”

8 p.m. Saturday: Larry and Rich talk by phone:

“Forecast isn’t looking good. What should we do?”
“No one is going to want to drive in the rain. Should we cancel?”
“Let’s see what it’s like at 6 a.m. Worse case, we get together and just have breakfast locally.”

At 9 p.m. on Saturday night, the National Weather Service was calling for Sunday’s weather in the entirety of New Jersey to be completely cloudy, with the likelihood of showers increasing throughout the day. But at 7 a.m. Sunday morning, the sky was mostly blue, with scattered high clouds. Be prepared to ignore the weatherman when you’re planning a Sunday morning breakfast run!

"When I was your age, I bought a Z-28 for $1,500!"
“When I was your age, I bought a Z-28 for $1,500!”

In all, eleven brave souls brought out their cars for what turned out to be a spectacular morning. Several in the crowd were with us for the first time. And in what must have been a first for our group, the European sporting machines outnumbered the American iron, 7 to 4! The Germans were well-represented by Peter’s 911 (with son Jonathan navigating), Danek’s Audi R8, and the “almost twin” BMWs of Jeff (Z3) and Rob (Z3M). The UK flag was flown by Rich S in his MGB and Rich L in his Jaguar F-Type. Rounding out the cars from the Old Country, your humble scribe proved once again that the words “reliable” and “1967 Alfa Romeo” can be spoken in the same sentence.

It’s usually “Chevys Rule” at these events, but the only Chevys today were Larry’s Camaro, and Bill’s new (to him) ’61 Corvette, making its Sunday morning inaugural run with us. The ‘vette also had the distinction of the oldest car participating. Ralphie’s tried-and-true Buick convertible was back, and Julio debuted (to us) his hot ’66 Dodge Coronet.

Once our stragglers arrived, we were able to push off by 8:45, with the Readington Diner as our destination. Our route took us down Route 287 and into Morristown, where we met our first challenge: the roads around the Morristown Green were closed for a bicycle race, forcing us into a detour. Further on in Chester, a street fair gave us some minor issues. However, the weatherman could not have been more wrong, and the sunshine only added to the joy of driving the winding country roads through the towns of Mendham, Long Valley, and Oldwick. After an unscheduled pitstop to use the toilets and refill the cars (in that order), we arrived at the diner on Route 22 by 10:45.

True to form, Rich S again assumed the duties of the traveling photographer, thinking nothing of pulling his MGB alongside another car on 287 and jutting his camera skyward, taking pictures while managing to stay in his lane. With his permission, these 3 photos below taken by Rich S are posted here:

The diner food must wait...
The diner food must wait…

When 12 hungry guys order breakfast, the orders are as varied as our cars. And you would think that with food on our minds, each of us would remember our selection. But it doesn’t always work that way. The waitress showed up with the first plate: “Awright, who had the #3 with eggs sunny-side?” No one said a word. Her patience ran out after 15 seconds and she put the plate down. Rich S said “we’re not very good at this part, are we?”, to which we laughingly agreed. Eventually, everyone had a plate in front of them, with food approximating their order. No one left hungry. Coffee service continued well after the last morsels were consumed. The wait staff was generously compensated for their attentiveness.

"What are you getting?" "I don't know, what are you getting?"
“What are you getting?” “I don’t know, what are you getting?”

 
The diner has a large parking area in the back, and the joint wasn’t overly crowded, so we had all parked together. As we exited, we asked several gentlemen nearby if they would take some group photos for us, and they happily obliged. Lots of smiles, handshakes, hugs, and of course, cries for a repeat event before year’s end brought our September breakfast run to a cheerful conclusion.

The group with their automobiles
The group with their automobiles

 

The Group
The Group

 

All photographs (except as noted above) copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.