When I try and think of a way to start writing about BRG, I start to lose my train of thought. So many vivid memories begin fluttering through my mind like a colorful replay reel and I sit, entertained, staring off at nothing in particular letting it all come back. I start going through old pictures, chatting with Rob about “Do you remember when…” and “Can you believe that time that…” It really is amazing to reflect back on ten years of happy summers spent with people who have become our family. But, for the sake of the uninformed reader, I’ll try my best to describe what BRG is, and what it means to me and so many others.
Blue Ridge Gathering began…well, I’m not really sure when. Early 2000s? It was started by a group of car enthusiasts who owned 3000Gts and Stealths and became a geographically focused annual car gathering up in the Smokey Mountains. The draw of the gathering was centered around Deal’s Gap, also called “The Tail of the Dragon” which is a portion of public highway 129 that boasts 318 curves in 11 miles. You can read more about it from their site- it’s traditionally a motorcycle resort/enthusiast spot but draws just as many automotive enthusiast groups, much to the disappointment, I’m sure, of the bikers. 🙂 Anyway, it’s a wonderfully fun road to drive and that has always been the Saturday highlight event of BRG.
Rob and I began dating in August of 2005, and so his first BRG had already come and gone earlier in that summer. Beginning in 2006 however, we’ve been in attendance together every year since. So this year marked 10 years worth of gatherings! I combed back through the archives and found a picture of us from every single year. Enjoy.
I may be biased, but I think we’ve gotten a little better with age 🙂
Over the years, the location for BRG has moved around. For a long time, we were in Pigeon Forge, TN staying at a ghetto fabulous hotel on the main strip and drinking in parking lots. Once our group outgrew those days, we moved onto Fontana Village Resort in Fontana Dam, NC. This was a beautiful spot which had fun cabins we all stayed in and lots of green space between them to set up lawn chairs and spend the days talking, drinking, and taking lots of pictures of our cars. From there we moved onto the Nantahala Outdoor Center, which also had cabins but other fun things we could do, like zip lining and white water rafting. And most recently, this year, we were in Tellico Plains, TN staying in another cabin resort less than an hour from Deal’s Gap. Years ago, BRG always began on a Friday night but over the last few years, everyone has started to show up Thursday nights. It became impossible to try and squeeze everything into only 2 nights and it just wasn’t enough time to enjoy each other. So, BRG grew into a 3 night gathering. I wonder what year folks will start showing up on Wednesday 🙂
As I mentioned before, BRG began as a gathering for 3000GT and Stealth owners, so naturally, the majority of the cars and folks that came belonged to that platform. Something totally unique happened though, and the popularity of this gathering started to spread. Attendees started inviting their other friends to come because it was just that much fun. So year by year, the guest list grew to include anyone and everyone. As current owners started selling their 3000GTs/Stealths for whatever reason, they would acquire their new car and bring it instead. And then the gathering became less about the cars, and more about the people that were there. In fact, when folks ask me where I’m going when I tell them “BRG” I just say, “it’s a family reunion”. Because it is! My friend Molly said this so perfectly that I wanted to share:
Another BRG in the books. For those of my friends who don’t know, BRG stands for Blue Ridge Gathering. Simply put, it is a group of friends old and new who share a love of cars, sarcasm, camping chairs, eating dips, and cold beer in koozies.
The people of BRG are tremendously giving. They lend each other their time and expertise in fixing cars, a caring hand in childcare, a cold beverage so that you don’t have to trek back to your cabin, and have also given us extra special gifts: They give of their opinions and their memories. They share their sarcastic comments and their restrooms. They always make sure everyone feels at home and loved. They are our people. I will miss them until I see them again.
I could literally fill an entire day typing a post about this topic. I have so many pictures and memories that I could write about. I have so much happiness I could share about this, but for the sake of the character limit on this blog site, I’ll try and just recap this year’s gathering below. 🙂
This year, for the first year, we had a cabin to ourselves!! It was very nice.
The main lodge we were at had two stories and this awesome back porch overlooking part of the little TN river. Our group had this entire facility rented out.There were a lot of taxidermy friends scattered around.There is always car washing to be done!And beer drinking in rivers to be done!On Friday night’s we have “dip fest” which is where everyone brings a favorite dip to share, and that’s dinner! There is also an award every year for the most favorite voted dip! Saturday is always the dragon run day. We all cruise to a spot to take a large ariel photograph (captured by drone) before making our way to Deal’s gap.This was the first year of the NSX. As you read in a previous post, the blue car went to Heaven, so this year was a little bitter sweet. I will say though, that I’ve never really been scared riding passenger with Rob on the dragon. He is an excellent driver and I can’t count the number of trips I’ve spent co-piloting in the VR-4 feeling safe and thrilled. But the NSX is a wild animal, and twice I had to ask him to slow down because of how terrifying the car is. Sorry Rob.
Saturday night is always car show and cook out night!
Every year sponsors of the event get to choose an award category and the awards are always done by popular vote. Some are really funny, like this year there was actually an award called “Most likely to come in 2nd place to Rob’s NSX” 😀 In previous years, Rob’s blue VR-4 sometimes won the Best in Show award. And this year, to his delight, his NSX did too.
I can’t talk about BRG without mentioning Christy Pensinger. Christy is really the epicenter of this gathering, and every year somehow chooses to throw herself into making the event bigger and better. She does all of this on her own time, after working and juggling her two beautiful kiddos. She IS BRG. She is one of my best friends. She is incredible. There aren’t enough words to describe her loveliness. So here are a few pictures throughout the years. Christy, thank you for your servant’s heart. Thank you for all that you do to ensure this gathering has life. Thank you for caring about the little things, and for sharing a friendship with me that never recognizes the miles or months between the times we actually see each other. I love you because I know no other way 🙂