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The 27th Year

I wrote “The 24th year” back in 2019. I felt as though it was worth reflecting on the year that I had. To share my struggles and my triumphs so that maybe someone out there would not feel so alone on their journey. Since then, there was only one year that I did not care to share my journey. Each year, it is tough to look back at some things that have happened. But it is as equally as joyous to see how far that I have come in just 365 days. So let’s dive right in.

My year starts right after my birthday in mid October. On October 14th, my best friend gave birth to a baby boy, and I became an Auntie for the first time! There was nothing quite like what I felt when I was able to hold my nephew for the first time. He was so small. A whole world in front of him and life ahead of him. I want nothing but the best for you my little tato!

At the end of October I ventured back down to North Caroline to attend Mini Mayhem put on by Cars and Cameras on YouTube. Although unpleasant people are attached to these memories, I still had a great time ripping around on my mini bike at Busco Beach.

When I returned home to New Hampshire, I had a photo shoot scheduled with the lovely Lightfox Studios. They are a wonderful photographer who specializes in body positivity boudoir shoots. This was my second one that I had done with them and I had such a fun time. It was noted by them that I did not smile during my first shoot until one of my favorite songs came on. This time, I was nothing but smiles the entire time. I can’t wait to do another one in the near future.

Fall came and went and the winter months were slow to move along.

From February 3rd through the 8th I went to Disneyworld in Orlando Florida. It was the first time I had taken a solo trip to Disney, and I had a great time! I had been a few times prior with some girlfriends, but there is something about traveling and doing things alone that make it a little more special. When alone, you can stops and truly enjoy what you are doing. I went to Animal Kingdom on my first day there, then Magic Kingdom, Epcot and then Hollywood Studios. It was a wonderful trip that I will always remember.

It’s worth noting that doing things alone is important and very beneficial. Often people ask me how I could go on vacation alone, but I actually prefer it. I believe you can’t be happy with anyone else until you are fully happy with yourself. Plus, if we are always waiting on someone else to go do something with, we will never get a chance to see everything that we want.

It was tough getting back from the warm weather in Florida and into the cold air of New Hampshire. But home is home. I stopped at one of my favorite spots, Sweet Waffles and Boba in Chinatown in Boston.

If you live in the NH/MA area, this is a must try on your list if you are a foodie. The waffles are made with mochi and are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. I like strawberries, but there are a whole array of other toppings to choose from. They are also big car people and have a wall of their customers cars on their wall.

The rest of the winter was quiet. I sold my Camaro. I was sad to see it go. There was so much I wanted to do with it. But it was not practical to keep it. It brought me some joy for the year, and now its with its new owners.

I crocheted some new items.

I had some fun creating my vehicles in Gran Turismo 7 and taking photos in scapes mode.

April rolled around and that meant car show season was upon us. I was eager to get back out there and continue doing what I loved. Hosting and attending car shows, and just being able to go for a drive.

I tried my own hand at repainting the bumper on my MINI after an unfortunate collision with a barrel on a windy night. I jammed out on my old ipod while doing the job. Over the next couple of days, LuLu also got a new pair of shoes. She was ready for her next big journey.

My own car show, Southern New Hampshire Cars and Coffee suffered a last minute change in venue. The Friday night before my first event, I received a call stating that the location that I had picked out was no longer able to host the show. With less than 48 hours til showtime, I was scrambling. I did not want to cancel. On Saturday afternoon, another venue came through with the help of one of our dedicated attendees. With less than a day until our event, I updated the address and asked everyone to share it to as many places as they could. With much joy, my first event was a success and had its biggest turnout yet. I am truly grateful for my car community.

The Miata was up next for a new pair of shoes, and damn do they look good. He also got a new shifter knob that I had been eyeing for quite some time.

I then said goodbye to the mini bike that I took down to North Carolina for Mini Mayhem with Cars and Cameras. Although a lot of fun, there was no need for me to keep it around here.

The end of April brought my most anticipated trip of the year so far, MINIs on the Dragon. I have had my MINI for almost 10 years now, and this was one of the events that I have been trying to get to for almost as long. Something always stood in my way, be it work, or school, or just generally not having the funds to go. This was the year. Nothing was going to stop me from getting there. I met up with my Friend Steve in MA to head down to his girlfriend’s house, Emily, who happens to live in North Caroline. They met at the Dragon 10 years ago. I would joke with them that everyone meets their soulmate there after hearing stories of all the people who met their significant others at this event. Little did I know.

The drive down was LONG, and by the time we pulled into her driveway it was almost 4AM. We would be getting up in just a few hours to drive the rest of the way to Fontana Village. An hour before getting to the resort, we stopped at Rocky’s Hot Chicken shack, a MUST for you fried chicken lovers out there.

We pulled into Fontana just as the sun was setting. The road leading into the resort is windy and has great views of the mountains in North Carolina.

We unloaded the MINIs and took a brief lap around Fontana. I was quite tired, and quite grumpy. It was definitely time for some sleep.

The event started on Wednesday. As the MINIs began to arrive, I was reminded why I love my car so much. The MINI community is one that is centered around individuality and being yourself. Everyone is welcome to come and meet likeminded people and just have a good time. Wednesday night consisted of Spaghetti Dinner, an annual tradition. It was nice to see some new people. I sat back quietly and observed the comradery.

Wednesday morning, my good friend Steve took me on the The Tail of the Dragon, part of Route 129, for the first time. The road is curvy. It dips and bends with the mountain. Inexperienced drivers, and those with weak stomachs, should not attempt this 11 mile stretch with 318 turns. Steve drove down, and I drove back. After that first time, I was hooked. For the next three days, I got up early to hit the Dragon alone. Much like Autocross, or riding a motorcycle, you must be completely present while driving the Dragon. Oncoming traffic is not visible when coming in or out a turn. It is important that you “stay in your lane;” the slogan of the Tail of the Dragon.

The rest of the MINIs on the Dragon event was great. There was a Cabin Crawl, that consisted of 8 cabins with a signature drink and some with a food item. By the end, I was definitely crawling. The following night there was Bingo, followed by fireworks. Saturday was bittersweet. An entire week of MINIs, driving, new friends, firepits and overall good times was over. As I was sitting under the tent of vendors with my friends, an unexpected individual walked into my life.

Chance encounters like this one are part of the reason I enjoy traveling so much, especially alone. In a single moment, it all changed for me. But I did not know it at the time. This person would become someone very important to me. Myself, him and his friends went to dinner at Topoco, just down the road from Fontana Village. Afterwards, we all sat around one last campfire before we took our leave for home in the morning. A bittersweet goodbye, but I’d see it all again in a year’s time.

In mid June, the individual I’d met at the Dragon came to visit. I instantly felt connected, comfortable and safe. And for the first time in a long time, understood. We spent a week getting to know each other, and he accompanied me to Foxwoods where we enjoyed some go karting at Monza. I had a pre-planned concert to see Trevor Noah, but he waited with me in line until I went in. Soon he had to head back home several states away, and we were apart once again.

After that visit, I felt like I had been woken up. It was as if I had been sleeping this entire time. Something inside me ignited, and I could feel my world start to change. I spent the next week cleaning out my space, purging of the old to make room for the new. And even though he wasn’t here with me, his support and encouragement was.

The next month went by slowly. I attended some events here and there. My next big one would be Miata Day at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Having never been there, I was very excited to go. During my time there, I reconnected with some old friends, and was able to see America’s largest vintage car collection. Soon after I attended the Tutto Italiano event they held there as well. Something else started to wake up.

Summer kept moving quickly, and I made another decision to bring a new family member home. On August 4th, I welcomed home, Mochi. She was an 8 week old French Bulldog. I loved her the moment she was handed over to me. A beautiful little squishy face, big ears, and a round belly. I had wanted a Frenchie for so long, and one was finally mine.

Next, I took a trip to Vermont to attend the annual Mt. Equinox Hill climb. The annual Mt. Equinox Hill Climb brings with it members of the VSCCA(Vintage Sports Car Club of America). Racers from around New England gathered, eager to climb the 5.2 mile road as fast as they could in their vintage racing cars. Watching them race their cars up the hill was an exhilarating experience. There is still so much life in the bones of vintage cars, and these racers give them a chance to show that.

After this event, a part of me I thought was long gone started to itch at me. In high school I used to do a lot of photography. I even considered going to school for photography for quite some time. Having always been a creative person, I wanted to rekindle with my old flame. I purchased a new camera as the one that I had been using was more than 10 years old. It was a great feeling to unbox a new camera and get back into something I used to love.

A few weeks later I attended the annual Dream Ride event in Connecticut. It would be the first place I would get to test out my new camera. The weekend includes activities that are fun for the Dream Riders and their families and friends. Automotive enthusiasts from all over the world come together to support the Dream Riders and their journey. It was a beautiful experience and I will definitely be back next year.

September rolled around and my favorite event of the year was coming up. On Saturday during Labor Day weekend the Manchester Rotary Club hosts their annual Cruising Downtown event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Thousands of cars and spectators line Elm St. My day starts at 5:00 a.m. when all the cars get lined up eagerly waiting the show. Throughout the day I get to see old friends, and make new friends. I also got to witness a beautiful display of vehicles locally and from other parts of New England. You can read about the full experience in my previous post about Cruising Downtown.

The next day I headed back down to Foxwoods Resort Casino to attend another pre-planned comedy show, Gabriel Iglesias. I had seen him a few years prior in Massachusetts, so I was very excited to be able to see him again. Comedy shows are something I very much enjoy, even alone. I attempted some Monza karting again, and even beat my previous best time by 1.7 seconds.

The following week was the annual Seafood Festival at Hampton Beach. If you are a seafood lover, this is a must attend event for anyone who lives in the New England area. A full write up of this is also on my blog and a previous post.

The following weeks got extremely busy for me. I wanted to expand my horizons with photography and wanted to dive deeper into my blog that I had left neglected for several years. I started reaching out to several of my friends that I knew had interesting and cool cars, and ask them if they would be willing to let me photograph it an interview them for my blog. Soon after that I received an opportunity to start writing for Upshift Magazine at Larz Anderson. It was very grateful for the opportunity and was eager to get writing. Although at this point my first article has not yet been published, I have no doubt that that will come soon.

The next several weeks included me photographing and interviewing people that I knew, and some that I did not I have the opportunity to meet a lot of new and interesting people having just been around to several car shows and putting myself out there. I’m always surprised and excited at the receptiveness of people when I tell them what I am trying to do, and what I hope to accomplish. Other car enthusiasts understand that our cars are not just our cars. They are an extension of ourselves. And I hope that in this and future blog posts I can share some of that with you.

A September was coming to a close, I did my annual maintenance on my vehicles which included inspections, oil changes, and registrations.

From September 29th through October 2nd, I traveled to newport, Rhode Island for the annual Audrain Newport Concours and MotorWeek. I was hesitant at first, because it was a different world than what I was used to in regards to car shows. The vehicles here have cared for in rebuilt on a different level than what I was used to seeing. They were built to perfection, as if they had just rolled off the line. A full story on MotorWeek is also on my blog for you to read more about. If you live in the area I recommend attending the event if you can.

After attending a lot of car events, and spending a lot of money on cameras and gear, I was feeling awfully discouraged with where I was at. I felt as though maybe I was not on the right path, and I should not be pursuing what I’m trying to do. On Thursday October 5th I attended a lecture at Lars Anderson. David Saggio renowned automotive photographer was coming to talk to us about his passion, and what he looks for when composing a photograph.

After this lecture I felt very inspired. And I also felt less alone in my struggles. David said to me that all artists struggle for their art, and it is part of the process in becoming who we want to be. All that I was experiencing was normal, and I needed to keep pushing through.

On October 8th, my birthday, I went to Palmer Motorsports Park, to photograph the Laps With Larz event. Another whole year has come and gone. I am not the same person walking into 27 as I was walking into 26. I am not the same person who walked into 26 and a half, or 26 and 3/4.

Later in the evening I ventured to Weymouth, MA where their annual water lantern festival was held. I got to decorate my own lantern and release it into the water. It was a very spiritual and moving experience. As everyone intentions manifested as paper lanterns on the water, I took one last look before I began my treck back home.

I have grown so much this year, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. Every day I become more of who I want to be, and can see a little bit more of that dream that I want to attain. It is exciting to wonder where my journey will take me when I sit down to write The 28th Year.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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