The Official ARKiV At The Gap Site!

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Stay Tuned for my MATG XIII page, coming soon!

* Navigation *

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* What Is MATG XII? *

Miatas At The Gap, or MATG is a yearly non-event gathering of loyal Miata owners and enthusaists at Deals Gap, North Carolina, sometimes referred to as The Tail Of The Dragon. The crowds are getting larger every year, and this year it is expected that over 500 Miatas will make the pilgrimage. There are swap meets, vendor demonstrations, beer swaps, food runs, waterfall tours and so much more. Follow along as I document my very first trip to MATG!

* Site News *

March 25, 2008 - Development has begun on The Official ARKiV At The Gap site! Hotel reservations have already been made at the San-Ran Motel and I'm glad I did it so soon, for it is VERY DIFFICULT to get a reservation for that weekend. Maps and Links to come soon...

July 2, 2008 - Well I finally stopped being lazy and continued work on the site today. I've figured out a few maps for some great adventures while I am down in the area. One of the more exciting things I have planned is a trip through Cades Cove in GSMNP, with my exit coming via Parsons Branch Road. The map link below only shows the route to the beginning of Cades Cove Rd. because for some reason Google can't calculate the driving directions beyond that point. Parsons Branch Road is one of three exits out of the cove, and is a primitive gravel road with nineteen water fords. Yes, I really am going to attempt this road in a Miata! This may change however if the water is too high.[See July 14, 2008 entry] I have also mapped out a round trip on the Cherohala Skyway, a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway after the Dam Picture, as well as a journey on the Devil's Triangle as part of my trip home. I still have a lot of preparation for the trip, such as transferring map data to my GPS software on my laptop, fabrication of a laptop table in the passenger seat (the bracket from last year didn't quite hold up) and preparing my final list of beers to take down to the Saturday Night Beer Swap at Tapoco Lodge.

July 11, 2008 - Today was an extremely productive day! I completed construction of the laptop table and let's just say this one WILL hold up better than the bracket from last year. It is more compact in the car and the power units fit underneath it on the seat leaving the entire floor of the passenger side available for storage. (Read previous as "beer" haha!) During the waiting periods between coats of paint I was able to program all of the maps below into my GPS software, so that is complete as well. I also made up a couple new routes including a Thursday night run down the Cherohala with a group from the MATG forums, a group trip to Fat Buddies BBQ and Ribs and an alternative plan to the Cades Cove/Parsons Branch excursion in case of bad weather or road closure. The only tasks left to complete before I go are shopping for a couple last-minute necessities and finalizing the Beer Swap list. I am getting quite excited now that everything is coming together... only 13 more days until I leave!

July 12, 2008 - I have updated the Fat Buddies Run map below to the actual route that the caravan will be taking (I got it wrong the first time and was corrected on the forums) and updated the GPS software to reflect this change. I have also created a logo for the event and submitted it to the moderators of the MATG forums. There are now current weather conditions banners for six locations in and around the area at the bottom of the page. Special thanks to Weather Underground for the banners. Just 12 more days to go!

July 14, 2008 - A few members of the MATG forums have advised me that the trip through Cades Cove and down Parsons Branch Road may not be a good idea. Not because the road is impassable, but because anyone else that would be there would probably be driving 5mph. I've heard from more than one person that it's not a very pleasant trip, so therefore I have created another backup plan. This loop which I have named "The Bulldog Loop" takes me into Georgia to explore some twisty backroads I found on Google Maps. Keeping with the attitude and tradition of MATG, all these plans are subject to change and I may just come up with something else entirely! Also, I was a bit late in submitting my logo so it won't be considered for this year's event. Goodness Gracious only TEN MORE DAYS!

July 14, 2008 - "Later that day..." I took the laptop table and the camera setup for a shakedown cruise on some twisty roads in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio today, and as I suspected the entire setup held up very well. The laptop table is as solid as I could ask and after a couple tweaks the camera mount became very sturdy as well. Just a couple more things to finish up before I go, including some routine maintenance on the car and some last-minute shopping. Speaking of which, the laptop's power supply began to periodically fail on me (the cord was shorting out) so I had to order a replacement power supply online. Let's just hope it arrives in time...

July 15, 2008 - After contemplating for a bit about the Cades Cove trip I have decided to go ahead and scrap that plan and go forward with "The Bulldog Loop" for Sunday. Changes made to the site today reflect this change of plans. Also, as suggested quite indirectly by one of the moderators, I now have a direct link to the MATG forums in two places on this page (including that one!) I finally got around to making an actual written list of all the things I have to accomplish before leaving, and it's a bit more than I originally thought... these last NINE DAYS are going to be hectic... and loooooooooong.

July 18, 2008 - Two days ago I completed my pre-trip shopping and got myself a great deal on a new camera (my old one died). Last night I completed the task of preparing the laptop for the trip. I made plenty of room for all the video I'm going to be taking, made sure that the video camera worked with it and double-checked all my maps and fixed any errors. The new laptop power supply arrived on Wednesday and works great, so there's one less thing to worry about. All that's left now is to renew my car's registration, prepare the car for the trip (oil change, tire rotation, cleaning) and figuring out how the heck to fit 3 cases of beer in there! Say it with me now... SIX! MORE! DAYS!

July 23, 2008 - Over the last few days I have completed the rest of my list. I am prepared! I had my oil changed, tires rotated, gave the car a good cleaning, renewed my registration, replaced my headlights, sorted the beer and did some laundry. The only thing left to do is wake up, pack the car and leave! The anxiety is overwhelming. I'm leaving bright and early tomorrow morning, so this will probably be the last entry before I leave. When I return there will be plenty of content to sort and post, so keep your eyes on the Video and Photo pages! SEE YOU WHEN I GET BACK!

July 29, 2008 - I've been back one day now and I'm already planning next year's trip. The trip this year was a resounding success! I had such a great time meeting all the Miata faithful and running all the great roads in the area. The Saturday Night Beer Swap was a major success, exceeding my expectations! A great time was had by all and many a beer was opened and sampled by the group that had gathered. My beer list was well received by those in attendance and several people had the chance to try some beers that they had never tried before, including me (which is a pretty rare occurence!) The entire weekend was filled with events like this as well as some very spirited drives and I have many memories from the weekend which I will not soon forget. Check out the Photo page for some great pictures from the weekend and also the Video page for some great driving video and a highlight video! (Video page still under construction, check back often as more videos are uploaded!) See you at the Gap next year for Miatas At The Gap XIII - July 24-26, 2009!

* Maps *

Here are the tentative routes I have planned for the trip. (Special Thanks to Google Maps and

Chasing The Dragon
The ride down to Robbinsville, North Carolina from Columbus, Ohio. The Dragon just so happens to be right on the way to my hotel... after 362 miles of interstate. I plan to do this in one day.

Cherohala Evening
The Cherohala Skyway was a good way to start my big day in the mountains last year, so it seemed fitting to start my weekend at MATG with this back-and-forth run. This route starts and ends at my hotel with a stop at Tapoco Lodge to meet up with a group to do this exciting night run.

Cherohala Morning
Another run down and back on the Cherohala Skyway will start my Friday. This route ends at Tapoco Lodge, where my fellow Miata geeks will be hanging out.

Fat Buddies Run
Friday evening there is a group going to Franklin, North Carolina to enjoy good barbecue and of course the drive there and back.

The Dam Picture
Saturday Morning at 11am the shutter will snap on 500 Miatas parked at the base of the Fontana Dam, the tallest dam east of the Mississippi River.

Blue Ridge Loop
After the Dam Picture, it's time to revisit a portion of The Blue Ridge Parkway and some other twisty roads in the area.

Cades Cove Adventure
Sunday may be spent exploring the beauty of Cades Cove, then (weather permitting) exiting the cove via Parsons Branch Road. (The map stops at the entrance to Cades Cove because Google can't calculate directions past that point.)

Cades Cove Alternative
If I do decide to go ahead with the trip to Cades Cove but am unable to drive Parsons Branch Road due to weather or closure, this will be my route back.

The Bulldog Loop
This route which takes me into the Georgia Appalachian backcountry seemed to be a formidable replacement for Sunday's Cades Cove trip.

Devil's Return
My return trip to Columbus, Ohio from Robbinsville, North Carolina starts off with one last trip down The Dragon and continues on to the Devil's Triangle, another favorite route amongst motorcyclists and sports car drivers.

* Links *

The San-Ran Motel
My home base for the weekend.

Tapoco Lodge
Ground Zero for MATG, also the site of the Saturday Night Beer Swap.

The Tail Of The Dragon
US Route 129 between Tapoco Dam and Chilhowee Lake features 318 curves in 11 miles. Need I say more?

The Cherohala Skyway
North Carolina's most expensive highway with long, sweeping corners and scenic views.

Fat Buddies Ribs and BBQ
A legendary barbecue restaurant popular among the MATG crowd.

Fontana Dam
The tallest dam east of the Mississippi River.

The Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most famous roads in the United States, known as America's Favorite Drive.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
America's most visited national park.

Cades Cove and Parsons Branch Road
Cades Cove is an old settlement area inside GSMNP, and Parsons Branch Road is one of three ways out.

The Devil's Triangle
Also known as the Brushy Mountain Prison Run, this series of roads including Tennessee Route 116 features several hard switchbacks, elevation changes and more amazing scenery!

* Current Weather Conditions *
Click for Robbinsville, North Carolina Forecast Click for Franklin, North Carolina Forecast Click for Cherokee, North Carolina Forecast Click for Tellico Plains, Tennessee Forecast Click for Maryville, Tennessee Forecast Click for Oak Ridge, Tennessee Forecast