Indian Summer Sortie

Small Is Beautiful. The 2018 running of the AONE Indian Summer Sortie took place the final weekend of September, just as it did last year. But unlike last year's running, the weather this year cooperated (last year we drove through drizzle the entire tour): we awoke Saturday morning to blue skies, dry country roads, and temperatures in the Berkshire hills in the low 60s.

Unlike 2017, though, the smallest number of cars ever participated in the Sortie, six, and only two of them were convertibles (Meg's and my 1977 Spider and Gene Durso's 4C Spider). Aside from Robert Rook's and Adrien Sipos's 2017 white Giulia sedan (with its beautiful black and burgundy interior), the other three cars were all GTVs (or to be more accurate, two GTVs—belonging to Greg Stidsen and to John and Lauren DeWaele—and Mike Hollinger's 1967 Giulia Sprint GT).

After gathering at the Fillin' Station (the diner, gas station, and truck stop in South Deerfield just off of Interstate 91), we began the tour with a quick drivers' meeting and then took off in our Alfas into the hills. As before, we began by driving the twelve miles of Massachusetts Route 116 to South Ashfield. Locals know this road as the greatest sports car road in the region. But we try to keep it a secret, as nothing is more thrilling than a traffic-free run up this road (no Miatas Meet the Dragon North here please!). We lucked out and met no moving chicanes during our run to South Ashfield. And on top of that, most of the road had been freshly re-paved only a few weeks before.

In South Ashfield, we turned off onto a few small, unnumbered country roads, re-joined Route 116, to Plainfield, where we again took to the unnumbered, windy country roads, until eventually we reached the Berkshire East ski resort, where, as before, our group has stopped to stretch our legs and use some of the (free) facilities—i.e. rest rooms, not the zip line or other attractions. The parking lot was full of cars and people (mountain biking on the ski trails has become very popular—one of several ways the ski resort has found to generate revenue during the three quarters of the year when there is little or no snow). Our group of six Alfas quickly became a free attraction in its own right, as people congregated to take photos and to ogle the cars. Two young mountain bikers were among the admirers. One of them said that at first he had been certain that Gene's 4C was a Ferrari. We quizzed them by asking them if they could guess which of the six cars was the oldest. One of the two said, "let me look at the tail lights," and then he promptly identified Mike's '67 Sprint GT as the oldest.

After leaving Berkshire East, we crossed the Deerfield River and headed north up Route 8A into Vermont. This road was re-paved three years ago and has held up fairly well since. Unfortunately, we did encounter one or two moving chicanes, but nobody seemed to mind too much. At the northern, Vermont end of Route 8A, John and Lauren left our group, as they had a commitment back home that they needed to get home for in good time. They headed south down Route 112 to join Mass. Route 2, while the remaining cars headed further north toward Jacksonville, VT.

In Jacksonville, we turned off onto a series of country roads that AONE Vermont member Tom Freiberger had scoped out for us during the summer and that Meg and I had reconnoitered during Labor Day weekend. One road, called Collins Road, started with a bumpy section when we drove it a month ago, but quickly turned into a delightful sports car road, with smooth pavement, a variety of interesting vistas, a section that wound alongside a stream, and a small town of Halifax, VT, about half-way.

Well, we learned that in Vermont they act fast! The section of Collins Road that was bumpy a month before had since been entirely torn up and was hard-packed dirt. At first, when we encountered this dirt section, Meg and I assumed we had taken a wrong turn. So we turned around and made what we thought would be the correct turn, only to encounter another dirt road! Therefore we turned around yet again and, after some consultation (thinking of loose rocks and Alfa's less than stellar reputation for undercoating), agreed to take the original dirt road, but in nothing higher than second gear. This we did for several miles, until we reached the paved section of the road. We all sighed in relief, only to find a few miles later that the town of Halifax was closed to traffic for a fall festival. Instead, a detour of one or two miles sent us up one (permanently) dirt road and down another before we could regain the original road and enjoy its windy section alongside the stream.

Fortunately, the Collins Road fiasco was our only hiccup (aside from the poltergeist that kept turning on my Spider's left blinker). About twenty minutes later we reached bucolic Ashfield, Mass., where we turned in to the Ashfield Lake House parking lot, parked our cars in front of the lake, and sat down to lunch. Because we were so much smaller a group than previous years, the restaurant seated us together around the same outdoor table, in the sunshine, overlooking the lake. We enjoyed our lunches, basked in the sun, and relaxed. It was close to 4 PM when we finally shoved off and headed in our own separate directions toward home.Tiny Quadrifoglio

Participants (in order of arrival at the Fillin' Station):
Meg Anderson and Peter Walker, 1977 Spider
Mike Hollinger, 1967 Giulia Sprint GT
Robert Rook and Adrien Sipos, 2017 Giulia
Greg Stidsen, 1974 GTV
Gene Durso, 2016 4C
John and Lauren DeWaele, 1972 GTV

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Indian Summer Sortie