2010 RROC Spring Tour
Grass Lake, Michigan to Franklin, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi
1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II

April 6, 2010

The Rolls-Royce Owners' Club Spring Tour is from Franklin, TN to Natchez, MS. Roy Margenau and our friend Sandy are going and plan to hit the road in his Phantom II on Saturday. Fellow Michiganders Doug Wolford and Mark Kretz will be caravan-ing with us in Doug's 1953 Bentley R-type. We will join like-minded Rolls-Royce and Bentley enthusiasts at the tour's official start near Nashville and then wind our way from restaurant to restaurant over the next six days down through the Natchez Trace.

April 10, 2010

All loaded in Grass Lake, Michigan and away we go. Doug's '53 Bentley R-type in the foreground.

Sandy was content to ride in the back with the overflow luggage, and yes, those are fresh flowers in the vase.
The 7.7L inline six purred happily: 8 amps, 78 deg Celsius, 12 gallons, 24 psi and 60 mph. Yes, the clock works.
Our first stop of note was Van Wert, Ohio where we bumbled into this coffee shop for lunch. Lunch itself was entirely satisfactory with the following highlights...
Pickled egg and beets as a side dish.
And homemade pies made fresh daily. Mark had black raspberry.
Roy had peach.
I had coconut cream.
Sandy had old-fashioned cream pie. Doug had chocolate cream but I failed to photograph it.
Then, not too much later we ALSO stopped at Dairy Queen at Doug's behest.
Dinner somewhere beyond Connersville, Indiana was okay. I had the ribs. Our waitress did not really understand the difference between cake and pie and we were too tired to explain.
Nearing the shores of the Ohio River, it was clear spring had arrived in Madison, Indiana.

Passing the threshold southward to better and better BBQ experiences.

[April 12 addendum: Gary Phipps sent me a note and pointed out that this is the area where they used to (maybe still do) have hydroplane races on the river. Back in the day Gary used to watch them when they had Rolls-Royce Merlin power. Also there's a fairly recent movie called Madison about the whole thing.]

Nice vista on the bridge and then the sun pretty much went down.

We made it to Bardstown, Kentucky before hanging it up for the evening at the Best Western.

April 11, 2010

Got off to a 10:00 AM start and after a good hour or two on the road we stopped for fuel and Roy opted to add two quarts of Mobil 1 15W-50.

The redbuds and dogwoods were blooming like gang busters down through southern Kentucky and into Tennessee.
Sandy was particularly perky today...
So I talked her into switching seats with me. It's about 25 degrees cooler in the back seat, or so it seemed.

After chowing down at Pizza Hut, Doug hauled us into the DQ about 40 minutes later.

Here's the official stats on these two cars:

1953 Bentley R-type
Doug Wolford
Mark Kretz

1935 R-R Phantom II
Roy Margenau
Jon Waples

We made it to the meet hotel in Franklin, TN around 4:00 PM Central Time. The parking lot was filling up rapidly at the "a loft" hotel. This is a Springfield Phantom.

1931 Phantom I Springfield Brewster Newport Towncar
Tony and Jeanie Simmons

Short wheelbase Silver Wraith.

1948 R-R Silver Wraith
William and Ann Snyder

Another short wheelbase Silver Wraith.

1949 R-R Silver Wraith
Bill and Lynn Vatter

Gil Fuqua was fiddling with the float on his Springfield Silver Ghost.

1924 R-R Silver Ghost Locke Roadster
Gil Fuqua

The float itself is about the size you might find in a toilet tank.

Silver Cloud III in Mason's Black.

1965 R-R Silver Cloud III
Dan and Cathie Mouton

We travelled en masse to Puckett's Grocery for dinner. Fantastic meal, the green beans were out of this world, and of course the pies...
I had pecan.
Doug had chocolate chess.
Mark had peach cobbler.
And Roy had buttermilk chess pie.

April 12, 2010

First order of business was breakfast at the Loveless Motel Cafe in Franklin which is a few hundred yards of the north end of the Natchez Trace.

The sign at the bottom is a memorial to the lady that made the biscuits that passed away recently.

The biscuits were quite good but not spectacular, so the Cafe definitely lost something in the biscuit lady's passing.
We ordered all manner of eggs, country ham, bacon, grits with redeye gravy with hashbrown casserole which is apparently a staple in these parts. Very excellent.

One of our co-tour organizers R. Kelly Kyle ordered the BBQ pork and eggs which was particularly toothsome.

Speaking of Hal and Kelly, Sandy rode with them today. Hmmph.

We had dessert with our breakfast of course... cherry pie
and blackberry pie.

We caught Dave Sjolund fueling his Bentley Continental GTC at the Kroger.

2008 Bentley Continental GTC
David and Carol Sjolund

Finally, we got on "The Trace." Wow.

Here's Roy's Phantom II and Andrew Dunn's latest in a long line of 20,000 series Silver Spurs.

1989 R-R Silver Spur
Andrew Dunn
Doug Shimosaka

We stopped at Jackson Falls which was cool until Wolford saw a copperhead snake. I was out of there.
Cool overlook.
We went to Big John's BBQ for lunch somewhere near the Alabama border.
And finally rolled up at the Marriott Shoals in Florence, Alabama in time for cocktails.

We had a lovely dinner at the hotel's rotating 360 degree tower restaurant overlooking the Tennessee River and Wilson Dam.

I always and enjoy Andrew and Doug's company.

April 13, 2010

This is a Barker-bodied Phantom that is largely original. Very interesting contrast in style to Roy's Mulliner-bodied Phantom.

1930 R-R Phantom II Barker Limousine
A.B. Bonds
Laraine Caldwell

We set off from our hotel in the Shoals to the Helen Keller birthplace in Florence. This is a Bentley S. It's a much earlier example than mine and has a 4.9L I-6.

1956 Bentley S1
Robert and Betty Berg

This is a Springfield (Massachusetts) Silver Ghost parked at the Helen Keller birthplace.

1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Pall Mall
Leonard and Missy McKeand

This is Phil and Sue Brooks' Corniche - very nice.

1986 R-R Corniche
Phill and Sue Brooks

Helen Keller grew up on a 643-acre working farm and the house was anything but Spartan. No wonder they could afford private schools and companions and such for Helen.
Tim and Tom take a break.
On to the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama built for the Rosenbaum's in the Forties. They owned a chain of movie theatres.
Very interesting but not liveable in my view. I would have to get rid of all of my "stuff".
This Springfield Phantom is parked on the edge of the Rosenbaum property.
Next stop, lunch at Johnny's Pit Bar-b-q in Tupelo, MS. Birthplace of Elvis Presley.
I had the XL BBQ Sandwich...
We sat in the booth where Elvis once say which is where Doug is standing now. (Blue T-shirt.)
Our next stop, Elvis' actual birthplace.
It is a two room house built for $180 and then lost when Elvis dad went to jail for forging a check.
The Tupelo Auto Museum was pretty incredible. The collection had many relatively obscure prewar cars including this Hispano-Suiza K6.
Hispano-Suiza H6B
4-1/4 Litre Derby Bentley with Vanden Plas body
Messerschmidt. Other interesting prewar cars included a Pierce Arrow coupe, Lagonda, Duesenberg, a brace of Franklins, a Rolls-Royce 20/25, Lincoln and a Graham. Some interesting postwar including Jaguar, Kaiser-Darrin and an Allard.
Morgan three wheeler in the lobby.
Here we are enjoying a cocktail in our room before dinner in Oxford. We ate at City Grocery which was very good. I had the shrimp and grits.

April 14, 2010

We left Oxford this morning and made our way back to the trace on back roads. I have a feeling this may be the last tour we see with "reasonably priced" gasoline. My prediction is that gas will be $4.50/gallon by the time we set out for the National Meet in Toronto this summer.

The Trace was simply stunning today. I took over 200 photos like this (mostly portrait format) to try and get a good cover shot for the next issue of The Flying Lady.


Nearing our destination we made a rest stop on the Pearl River just north of Jackson.

We made it to the Marriott with little time to spare before changing clothes for dinner at the University Club.

My roommate from college, Brian, who lives in nearby Clinton caught up to us for drinks after dinner.

Middle car details:
1953 Bentley R-type
Sneed and Anne Adams

April 15, 2010

Our co-hosts Kelly and Hal suggested we breakfast at the Elite Restaurant.

I had the best grits of the trip thus far along with eggs over easy, wheat toast, bacon, coffee and orange juice.

RROC luminaries Bill and Lynn Vatter sat in the booth across from us and told funny stories.

Our first stop was Eudora Welty's home. She was a great Southern writer, artist and gardener.

I must admit this Northerner was not familiar with her work but now intends to do a little bit of reading.



Here's Robert Gunn arriving in his Bentley Brooklands at the Eudora Welty House.

Robert was the fiirst person that I met at my first RROC National Meet in Newport, Rhode Island. He had a Bentley T and I had a Silver Shadow. Both 1973 and both Sand over Astrakhan.

1993 Bentley Brooklands
Robert Gunn

After lunch we headed towards Clinton, MS but stopped at a pull-off on the trace for a photo op...

1949 Bentley Mk VI
Terry and Christine Meredith

It created quite a ruckus.

1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
John and Lucy Nading

The color of this car is very unusual and quite fetching — any ideas as to the name?

Answer: Silver Mink

We stopped in Clinton to visit the studios of watercolor artist Wyatt Waters.

Here I am with college roommate Brian who just happens to work right around the corner.

Every car on the tour received a book of Wyatt Waters art which he personally authographed. In addition, he sketched the car as well.

We had our second major failure to proceed today. Doug and Mark's '53 R-type decided to quit while still in Jackson. We think it's the fuel pump, which, by the way, is an SU double-ended style with positive ground in case anyone was wondering.

Tonight we're staying in Vidalia, LA right on the Mississippi River. Photos to follow ASAP.

April 16, 2010

Last night Richard, shown here in Corniche threw us a giant party on the patio at his antique shop in Natchez: Lower Lodge Antiques.


Today we got to tour the plantations of our choice, but of course a period of dead insect removal was built in to the schedule.
Roy and I attempted to visit Dunleith but they were closed for a private function. Fortnuately they allowed us to photograph the car which was about half the point of going there anyway.

We made our way to Rosalie for several reasons not the least of which its proximity to Fat Mama's Tamales.

The house was impressive but the real stunner was the almost complete collection of furniture original to house. The condition and sheer delicacy of the woodwork was astounding.

This is the view of the Mississippi from the grounds of Rosalie.
Rosalie exterior.
On to Fat Mamas. I had three "Knock-you-naked" margaritas and a half dozen tamales. I did not get naked but it was a close call.

I am not sure what it was that Tom was eating but it sure seems like he was enjoying it.

Tom and Tony gave me a ride home last night in their 2006 Rolls-Royce Phantom. Having ridden in a prewar car for the last 1200 miles, the silence was a bit disorienting. I quickly learned to deal with it, however.

We also got word that Doug and Mark's R-type had a new fuel pump and they would arrive in time for dinner.

Tom and Tony gave Roy and I a lift in their Phantom to our final dinner for the tour. Tony hates it when I take his photo, but that's him on the right.
It was a pleasure meeting folks with whom I had never really spent time before. Case in point: Jeanie and Tony Simmons.

Les, Tim and Tom battle for appetizer supremacy.


It's been a great tour with absolutely perfect weather. Kelly and Hal did a spectacular job putting the whole thing together.

We'll have three more days of coverage as Sandy, Roy and I make our way back to Michigan. Hopefully we will be able to stop in Memphis for some BBQ dinner tomorrow night.

April 17, 2010

We set out from Vidalia, LA this morning. Predictably, I had to stop at this BP somewhere on US61 in Mississippi after consuming a 44 oz. thunder tub of Diet Coke.

Roy and I found that it helps to open the left side bonnet for short stops to prevent the fuel from boiling in the Autovac.

We found lunch in Leland, MS. Roy and Sandy had burgers and I had a roast beef sandwich. The buns were phenomenally good. Apparently they make them on site. All of the women working had hats that led me to believe that perhaps they were Mennonites.
This is basically what the Mississippi Delta region looks like.
We made it to Memphis on Beale St. for an early dinner on a Saturday night. Festivities were already in fulll swing. Turns out there was a crawfish festival going on.
We chose Blues City Cafe based on the recommendation of the parking lot attendant.
Here's Roy and Sandy having just received their drinks and ordered their meal.
I had the half slab. Very good especially because it was accompanied by a Yazoo Pale Ale.

Something tells me I should come back when I have a bit more time to spend.

We pressed on and holed up for the evening in Brownsville, TN about half way between Memphis and Nashville.

April 18, 2010

We took US79 across Tennessee to US68 North. Once we got to Kentucky we decided to pour on the coal and make up some time on the Interstate up to Louisville. After chowing down the Sunday fried chicken special at the Cracker Barrel we made our way to the very scenic US421 (shown in photo) and across the Ohio River into Madison, Indiana for the evening.

April 19, 2010

We spent our last day retracing our route in reverse from our first day. The highlight was supposed to be our glorious return to Balyeat's Coffee Shop in Van Wert, OH for more lunch specials and homemade pies.

Alas, they are closed on Mondays. Crap.

We fanned in all directions looking for a suitable substitution...

...and ended up on Washington St. at this Chinese Restaurant. How bad can a Chinese buffet be? Look no further. I was concerned that I was going to have the screaming mimis but held it together.

We arrived at Roy's house at 5:00 PM having consumed ~230 gallons of gas, eight quarts of oil but no worse for wear.

©2010, Sherbourne Mews, LLC
Click here to contact the webmaster.