Driven: 2011 Lotus Evora S

Matt Tierney

My Zumo 550 gave me an ETA 2 hours earlier than the car's nav system did, but I let both run. In the first 30 miles of the trip I started to think that this might be a painful mistake. Michigan freeways, fresh from the spring thaw, suck. Ohio is not much better. The smooth, fault-free roads of the Dixie States, on the other hand, made me feel like I was in a glider plane as I zipped through the Smokey Mountains onto the back roads of Georgia. Running about 80 mph, I was averaging about 23 mpg.

Both GPS systems missed my destination by about 2.5 miles. As I was sitting on a side road looking at the GPS display, referencing contact info for the River's Edge, and Googling it on my iPhone, a young guy pulled up and smiled. I lowered the window, and he said, "Not to sound stereotypical, but you're not from around here, are you? And you're lost." I laughed, swallowed my pride, and said yes. He told me I was on the right route; I'd just not gone far enough.

When the Lotus and I pulled into the River's Edge, it was as if Brad Pitt had arrived. Not many peeps go camping in a Lotus, clearly, and many people never see a Lotus anywhere, let alone at a campsite. I parked at the top of the hill in the grass by the lodge. I did not want to attempt to drive down to the campsites, even though most people do drive their cars down there.

Catching up with Marty over a campfire, we re-routed my return itinerary to Michigan via the Tail of the Dragon. After all, that is the holy grail of roads for motorcycles and sports cars alike.

After a restful night under the stars, I headed north from the campsite, hitting HWY 78 and HWY 28 to get to 129. I highly recommend this route, because it's a great warm-up exercise for Tail of the Dragon but with considerably less traffic.

I enter HWY 129, Tail of the Dragon. The first time through, I turned off the sport mode and simply enjoyed the road and the drive while listening to one of my favorite play lists. When I got to the Dam, I U-turned and headed back to the start, with sport mode on. After all, end-to-end it's only 11.1 miles, and I drove more than 700 miles to get there. On my second pass, I killed the radio, put the windows up, and listened to the songs and whistles of the engine. To get back home, I had to make a third pass. This time, sport mode on, no radio, and windows down so I could enjoy all the sounds from rubber and exhaust. Sport mode can sometimes feel like a gimmick to me on certain cars, but it really feels different in the Lotus.

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