Mastering the Long Cut

I’m parked on the grass alongside Highway 59 just outside Montevideo, Minn. I’ve positioned my car in front of a bright green sign announcing “Lac qui Parle County.” As I set up the tripod and camera, a passing Ford pulls over and stops. The driver rolls down his window and asks if I’m having trouble and need help.

“Thanks,” I say. “I’m just snapping photos for a sort of scavenger hunt. I’m fine, really.”

He pauses for a couple of seconds.

“What is that?”

“It’s a Mini Pickup,” is my practiced reply. “Cousin to the Mini Cooper.”

Another pause, only this time with thoughtful nodding. Soon his window is up and he’s on his way.

These Little British Cars on the side of the road are magnets that draw the compassionate and the curious. As a participant in the Moss Motoring Challenge, I’ve parked on many shoulders over the last year and a half. As a result, I’ve met a surprising number of motorists who offered assistance when I wasn’t broken, volunteered directions when I knew where I was, and even asked if I was shooting pictures because I was selling the car.

Moss Motoring Opportunity

It’s the folks at Moss Motors who call this a challenge. To me, it’s more of an opportunity. Although I drive my Mini thousands of miles a year, participation in 2014’s contest inspired me to make more trips, to plan those trips more strategically, and to add “long cuts” to my routes whenever possible.

In fact, the Challenge inspired me to take a serious long cut to a favorite car show in Eastern Washington. The annual pilgrimage normally involves a straightforward round trip—east and west across the Cascade Mountains—of about 400 miles. However, with Challenge points to gather, I opted to drive south to Oregon first. From there I turned left to follow the Columbia River east, and then I looped back into Eastern Washington to the show before crossing the mountains for home. The result was a drive of more than 650 miles—along with Challenge points for a Z town, an H county, a U county, a tunnel, a waterfall, a World War I memorial, a National Park and, of course, the car show.

By year’s end, I was adding long cuts on my way to the grocery store. (“Honey, I’m headed to the market to pick up a gallon of milk and a Dead End sign.”)

The Moss Motoring Challenge is in full swing for 2015, and I have two drives planned to British Columbia this year. On one of those trips, a long cut might stretch into North Cascades National Park, and I know there’s a town up there with fewer than 100 residents, and a one-way bridge, and a ghost town, and some falling rocks, and…  

By Dan Berglund

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