The Miatas of the Month from

July 2008

Brian Patarich

Congratulations to Brian on the selection of his 2002 Miata as the July Miata of the Month, in memory of his friend Michael Speegle.

My long-time skiing buddy Mike passed away a few years ago. I promised that I would scatter a portion of his ashes on Middle Gully, one of our favorite ski runs at Arapahoe Basin. This ski area lies on the West side of Loveland Pass in Colorado.

In June 2007 I bought a 2002 Miata. In August of 2007 another good friend (Paul) and I decided to take our promised trip to A-Basin.

We arrived at the mountain before ten a.m. We located the assistant manager in the Sixth Alley bar where he was doing some painting. We introduced ourselves and explained our mission. After leading us the stairs to the office, he tried to contact the mountain manager vis walkie-talkie. He was not successful, but told us to go on up anyway. He directed us to the "summer road" that led up the mountain. In the winter this is the road that is often referred to as the "cat track".

Our first objective was to see how bad the road was and if the Miata would bottom out. The road was in great shape and ascended the mountain at a very shallow pitch. We started out below timberline amid rushing creeks and wild flowers.

We were surprised how quickly we made it up to the base of one of the mid-mountain lifts - The Lenawee Lift. I parked the car and walked up to the lower part of Middle Gully were I spread the first part of Mike's ashes. Then over to the avalanche cannon at the base of the East Wall where we fertilized a small spruce tree with Mike. Then back to the bull-wheel of the Lenawee Lift where we put more of Mike's ashes at the "Load Here" mark of the chair boarding station. I figured that way Mike could wait for those "beautiful tall ladies" that he loved and hitch a ride with them.

Paul suggested we try to see if we could get to the new midway restaurant. So off we went, slowly picking our way up the summer road. We made it past the restaurant and continued up the road. Soon we spotted a dark blue Durango headed down our way. As we got abreast of the Durango, I leaned over the door and asked the driver "Is this the way to the Miata rally?"

He identified himself as the mountain manager and said his assistant had told him we were on the mountain. Of course the assistant mountain manager did not know I was driving a Miata. The manager exclaimed that he never expected to see a Miata on his mountain.

By now we were above timberline and the road was getting steeper every few feet. Finally at the bottom of a run called "Dercum's Gulch" I was forced to stop because of the steepness and the fact that the Z-rated tires could no longer get a good grip on the dirt and rocks. So we stopped and spread more of his ashes at that point.

We headed back down the summer road at a very leisurley pace. We went back up Loveland Pass, stopped at the summit and spread the balance of Mike's ashes of both sides of the Continental Divide.

Dedicated to the Life & Memory of Michael Speegle.

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