This season’s first Black Mountain After Perks Drive on May 8 proved to be a great success!

With an uncertain weather forecast including the risk of severe storms, 19 intrepid drivers and crew cheerfully gathered this mid-spring morning in Black Mountain under warm, muggy and mostly sunny skies, hoping to reach La Strada restaurant in Lake Lure before the weather changed. As drive leads and sweeps scurried to collect waivers and prepare for the safety briefing, old friends used the opportunity to catch up after the long winter break. Laughter and light banter quickly drowned out the ambient noise in the staging area.

Drivers lowered their drop tops, adjusted radios and GPS devices, and queued to depart. Group 1 was soon rolling through the sharp curves on southbound NC-9, and then into bucolic scenery punctuated by more hairpin curves on Bat Cave Road. The potholes that were warned of along Cedar Creek road had surprisingly been patched since our pre-drive, and the only obstacles encountered were the occasional sand & gravel accumulations caused by recent rainstorms. An enjoyable pace was set, and the lovely weather and scenery provided for a truly euphoric morning of driving!

The attentive staff at La Strada had our outdoor lunch area prepared with front-row views of the lake, with its spectacular cliffs in the background. As the second driving group filtered in to fill the remaining tables, orders were quickly taken while beverages & garlic bread appeared at every seat. The arrival of pasta, pizza, sandwiches and salads led to a distinct lowering of the conversational volume on the terrace, as the delicious food was devoured. Smiles multiplied like mushrooms after a rainstorm, which may have been a sign of what was in store for the drive home! Somehow the rain held off until everyone had departed the restaurant, though the skies were turning dark and severe storm warnings were being issued. Some encountered hail on the way home; some noticed high winds, while most everyone drove through heavy rain. But such is spring in the mountains, and having fit our tour in with a little room to spare felt like an accomplishment, bringing the satisfaction of having partaken in another wonderful driving tour! Many thanks to all who participated.

Doug Menchhofer – Appalachian Tour Chair