North Country Tour

Saturday dawned bright and hot — perfect summer weather after a stormy Friday — as a half dozen intrepid Alfisti met at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to commence two glorious days of Alfa driving bliss. I was driving my '73 GTV2000, and was joined by Tom Ducibella & Angela Nannini in their gorgeous Rosso Tricoat 2018 Giulia QV, Dave & Vi Pratt in their 2017 Giulia Ti Sport, Peter Walker & Meg Anderson driving a 2016 Cinquecento Abarth, and Roger and Karen Carlson in a lesser car (but winning the prize for the furthest distance traveled). Luigi Minoletti couldn't tour with us, but stopped by the start point to say 'Hi' in his Bianco 2015 4C (on the cover of the 2017 AONE wall calendar).

We headed north on 106 and entered 'lakes country' as we approached Weir's Beach when a funny thing happened. We started to see beautifully restored Muscle Cars traveling in the opposite direction. 'Stangs, 'Cudas, and Chevies all done in the pastel and neon colors of the period rumbled past. A car show at the beach was just ending and we got to observe everything from hot rods to customs pulling into our Alfa train. But, of course, as soon as the road turned twisty they couldn't keep up and we forged ahead to Squam Lake, where we stopped to enjoy a lakeside ice cream. Everybody seemed to have a warm and positive memory related to Squam Lake, which made for lively conversation as we slurped our frozen confections.

As we continued to wind our way north, we encountered another slowdown: this time, we traveled a parade route for the 150th Anniversary of Ashland, NH, complete with a horse-drawn hearse and 10-gun salute by a group of Civil War reenactors. Fortunately, they were traveling south and we were traveling north.

Crossing the Pemigewasset River, we entered the promised land of open winding roads as we headed into the White Mountains. We hung a right in Woodstock as we entered the famous Kancamagus Scenic Byway, a symphony of twists and turns climbing 2,800 feet of elevation to rise and fall over a short 20 mile distance. After a stop at a scenic pull-off near the top, we descended through the National Forest, and then peeled off at mile 21 to take on the even narrower and twistier Bear Mountain Road, which led right to the Stidsen Chalet, where we arrived at about 4:30.

What followed was a great evening of food, drink, and convivial conversation where we were joined by John and Ki Basel, who were working on their vacation home not too far away. Andrea really outdid herself by creating a sublime dining experience that went off without a hitch. Of course, everyone pitched in to help and contributed some delicious drinks and desserts. At about 11:00PM, we realized that morning and another day of vigorous driving was looming, and we decided to reconvene at 8:00AM for breakfast. Andrea outdid herself yet again with quiche, bagels, fruit salad, and a selection of pastries accompanied fresh brewed coffee and tea.

Suitably nourished, we mounted our steeds and headed north on route 302 to circle the mighty Mount Washington, the tallest mountain on the East Coast. Passing Crawford Notch and the famous Mount Washington Hotel, we then headed east on route 2 and finally route 16 south. The roads were sparsely travelled and wonderfully twisty as they climbed and descended the many smaller foothills of the Presidential Range. Travelling through towns and villages that time has forgotten added an interesting contrast to the boisterous parades we had experienced the day before.

Soon, we arrived at the Glen House at the foot of the Mount Washington Auto Road — nearly eight miles of narrow switchbacks at an average incline of 12% for a total elevation increase of over 4,600 feet! The weather at the top lived up to its reputation as the worst weather in the USA. At the base was a beautiful sunny day with 78 degree temperature and quiet wind. The summit was a different world, with 35 mph winds with thick fog and temperature in the 50s. We had climbed to the clouds!

After checking out the Tip Top House and mid-nineteenth century 'resort', and observing the Cog Railway depart down the backside of the mountain, we began our descent. While there were many warnings to stop and cool your brakes, our Alfa train had no problem negotiating the steep, twisty descent. After stopping for a photo opportunity, we hightailed to Jackson and the iconic Wildcat Tavern located on the 16a loop and covered bridge. We had reserved a table in the Wildcat garden (where the Carlsons rejoined us after climbing Mount Washington via the cog railway, having done it previously in their '74 Spider) and enjoyed a delightful al fresco repast to close an exhilarating two days of Alfa touring.Tiny Quadrifoglio

[Many thanks to Greg and Andrea for planning such a wonderful route, for organizing such a fun overnight weekend, and for being such gracious hosts! —Ed.]

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North Country Tour