June 2-14, 1998

Having sold both the 1989 Lotus Esprit and the 1967 Corvette Coupe, there was an empty space in the garage that begged to be filled.   Fearing that the space might become filled with such unessentials as lawn mowers, screen doors, gardening equipment and the like, I quickly moved to fill the void and bought a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV.  The good news was that it was a totally restored, zero-rust west coast car.  The bad news was that it was still on the west coast - Tempe, Arizona, to be more precise.  So an expedition was formed to retrieve it.

On Tuesday, June 2, Vi and I flew to Phoenix and were met at the airport by Dan Cogswell, the guy who owned the Alfa we were buying.  We drove him home and then spent three days touring Arizona and New Mexico in our new acquisition, arriving in Cuba, New Mexico on Friday.  Meanwhile, brother John flew to Albuquerque on Thursday and linked up with us in Cuba on Friday.  Cuba is where our friends Saucy (Harriet Russell) and Wad (Wadman Daly) live and we spent a couple of totally enjoyable days visiting with them.  Then John and I left in the Alfa, taking just over a week to get home via a northerly route, while Vi toured the Southwest for a while and flew back on the 16th.

Here's the route that we took getting back to Boston in the Alfa.  We chose a northerly route because we wanted to spend some time in the Rockies, it looked more interesting and less traveled than crossing through mid-America, and (primarily) it was June and the car has no A/C.

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This page chronicles our journey with the Alfa - the route we took, places we stopped (intentionally and otherwise), things we did, and other exploits.  Click on any of the smaller images for a larger view.

Tuesday, June 2

Tempe, Arizona
This was actually one of several photos that was emailed to me while I was considering the car to buy.  It was taken in Dan Cogswell's (the previous owner's) driveway.  Dan picked up Vi and I at the Phoenix airport, we drove him home, finished the paperwork, and left from there.  It was hot in Phoenix - high 90's - and we sweated a bit the first day, but the car ran cool and once we left the lower elevations we were fine.

Wednesday, June 3

Petrified Forest, Arizona
After spending the first night as the only guests at a quaint inn run by a bunch of throwback hippies in Pinetop, AZ, we headed northeast and spent much of June 3 poking around the Petrified Forest (a bunch of big trees that fell over and turned into rock) and the Painted Desert (I think they ran out of paint - we've seen more colorful areas elsewhere).

Thursday, June 4

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona
Canyon De Chelly is a National Park in the northeast corner of AZ with a gorgeous long, winding canyon, smaller than the Grand Canyon but much more colorful and interesting.  Navajos still live in the canyon and farm along the river.  Highly recommended, except that the entire area for a hundred miles in every direction is a Navajo reservation and there isn't a beer to be found.  Yikes!

Friday, June 5

Cuba, New Mexico
Arrived on Friday in Cuba, NM to visit our friends Saucy and Wad.  Here's the Green One, parked in front of Saucy's studio.  John met us in downtown Cuba for lunch at El Bruno's (for long-awaited green chili stew).  John followed us to Saucy's in his rental, and discovered that the Alfa had no brake lights, so we spent some time cleaning fuses and connectors and repairing ground connections.

Saturday, June 6

Cuba, New Mexico
This is Saucy in front of her old Subaru (stopped rusting when she arrived here), her studio on the right, and their house that they are building themselves (!!!).   They just moved in a few days before our arrival - bet they were glad to see us!   They have fantastic views and have built a beautiful, interesting house.  We had a wonderful visit!

Sunday, June 7

Cuba, New Mexico
Spent quite a bit of time in this position.  This time, I was trying to determine why the horn wasn't working.  Also, most of the lights didn't work reliably until after the trip when I got a chance to go through all of the electrical stuff.   Upper left corner is John's left index finger.

Cuba, New Mexico
Saucy and Wad let us borrow a small map to take with us to help with the journey.   Here we are pointing out the starting and ending locations.  At this stage, these were the only two points we were sure about.  Come to think of it, the only point we were REALLY sure about was the starting one.

Monday, June 8

Frisco, Colorado
Frisco is about in the center of Colorado and, at 11,000 feet, is a cutesy ski resort town.  Yup, that's snow on the car and on the roof of the (not so cutesy) motel we stayed at.  Frisco also has a diabolical little insect that bit me all around my ankles, which itched like hell for the next three weeks.

Frisco, Colorado
Here I am with the Alfa's instrument cluster removed and sitting upside down on my lap.  Both the tachometer and speedometer were bouncing crazily and noisy, and finally the speedo started screeching like a banshee, so we disconnected it for the rest of the trip.  Since the gas gauge also didn't work, we determined when to stop for gas by intuition.

Somewhere in the Colorado Rockies
We saw more impressive snow-covered peaks than this one, but it rained during most of our travel through the Rockies, and neither of us wanted to get out and take a picture.   How about the rakish, aggressive stance of the Green Machine?

Tuesday, June 9

Black Hills, South Dakota
Having made it through Colorado, we stayed in Wyoming Monday night, drove through the northwest corner of Nebraska, and into the Black Hills on Tuesday.  Had to share the road with numerous buffalo in this neck of the woods.  They were considerably larger than our Alfa, and not terribly cognizant of the rules of the road, so we yielded the right of way.

Wednesday, June 10

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Felt a patriotic calling to stop at Mount Rushmore, since we were in the Black Hills region anyway.  It's a very pretty area, except where some bunch of doofuses carved up one of the mountains.  Stayed in nearby Rapid City Tuesday night, and found a very decent brewpub built in a converted firehouse.

Thursday, June 11

Drove across all of South Dakota Wednesday, stayed in Morris, Minnesota, and made it to Wisconsin by midday Thursday.  This is what Wisconsin looked like from one end to the other.  It rained steadily starting right when we crossed the border from Minnesota until after we made it into the Michigan U.P.  Wisconsin sucks.

Friday, June 12

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Stayed in Iron Mountain, Michigan on a rainy Thursday night, and drove the length of the U.P. and crossed into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie around noon on Friday.  Sudbury is a fairly good-sized city in the middle of nowhere, apparently built up around a nickel mining industry.  Had our best meal of the trip at a French restaurant, but compensated by staying at a cheesy Holiday Inn.

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
No pussy-footing around in Canada when it comes to the important stuff.  In the States, we hide our beer in grocery stores or nondescript-sounding "package" stores.  Didn't buy any beer here, though, since the clerk told us that the darkest beer they had was something like Molson Golden.

Saturday, June 13

Somewhere in Ontario
Stopped at lunchtime to nibble on some bread and cheese by the side of this lovely lake in a Canadian national park.  Cute park ranger didn't charge us admission because, we think, she liked the Alfa.  The car got lots of comments, grins, stares, and thumbs up along the journey.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Rolled into Ottawa early Saturday afternoon, which gave us a chance to explore the city a little.  Ottawa's the capital of Canada and is a very pretty city (as cities go) with lots of interesting architecture, much of it housing the various government branches, embassies, etc.  This is Parliament or something. 

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Ottawa has three brewpubs.  One of them has good beer.  Ottawa is fairly safe and clean, although, from our vantage point at a street-side table in an open-air Irish pub, we did witness a guy getting busted for soliciting a prostitute.

Sunday, June 14

Medfield, Massachusetts
We both woke up early on Sunday, hit the road, and made it to John's house in Medfield by early evening.  The trip gave John an appreciation for the GTV, and he thought he might want to buy one for himself, so on the way we stopped to look at one I knew of for sale in Vermont (it was a bit too rusty).

The new old Alfa performed well for the entire trip - the engine never missed a beat.  We did have lots of electrical problems (lights, horn, gauges, etc.) that were mostly due to age and corrosion, although some of them were caused by incorrectly connecting things back up when the car was reassembled during the restoration.  It had an annoying driveline vibration that, thankfully, became almost unnoticeable at cruising speed and, even more thankfully, didn't get worse during the trek.  After we got back, I spent a few days sorting a bunch of things out and then handed it over to my Alfa mechanic, Paul Glynn of Glynn Motorsports.   He discovered that the suspension was totally shot and needed to be rebuilt, which he did in addition to a number of other things that needed to be done, and presented me with a very sizable bill to show for it.  Seems as though the previous owner had the car restored starting from the top and working down, and when he got to about floor level, ran out of interest, money, or both.

But what a car it is now!!!  With the new suspension (I had Paul put in sport springs and Koni shocks while everything else was apart) and the driveline vibration resolved, the car drives like (or maybe better than) new!  This 25-year-old Alfa holds its own among most contemporary cars; it must have REALLY stood out among its competition back in '74.  Plus, it provides LOTS more enjoyment along the way (the unit of measure that I apply in evaluating car ownership is "grins per mile").

John and I agreed that the trip was both fun and worthwhile and that we'd do it again in a minute (we may have to if he finds an Alfa out west like I did). 

Thanks for visiting!

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