The “BIG QUESTION” is: Is it Global Warming or Global Cooling (maybe the start of another ice age)?
Who would ever have believed a mid-winter type snow storm, complete with treacherous roads, downed trees and tree limbs, and major power outages- all in October, would be sandwiched between two perfect Alfa Sundays; the first for our annual picnic, this year courtesy of DVAROC’s Alan Aptner, manager of one of Princeton University’s very exclusive eating clubs The Cloister Inn, and the other for our annual fall tour held, as usual, on the first Sunday in November- to take advantage of the normally cool, late fall- but still nice weather.
The freak (couldn’t find a better word to describe it), un-seasonable (to put it mildly) storm dumped more than a little snow (enough to cause much slipping, sliding, accidents and resulting in the dreaded S— word [salt], accompanied by the almost as hated cindering) on area roads. We (the planners) of this years’ tour were almost convinced our great, good luck of previous years had finally run out.
But, lo and behold, just when it appeared that the tour would be a wash-out, as planned,, the weather reversed itself and, as if Ma Nature realized that a horrible mistake had been made (or maybe she was just tired of the joke she had just pulled on us mere mortals) the sun re-appeared for the entire next week together with snow melting temperatures and the roads were almost entirely devoid of both snow and salt by tour time. The nice weather also gave both PA and NJ road crews time to clear all trees and debris from mostly all the roads we used on the tour. Life is good!
As a result, we were pretty much able to stick to the entire planned route of about seventy miles, with only one minor deviation , and were able to arrive with the group intact at the restaurant, at about the time we were expected. Not too bad- considering the scare of the week before.
Most of our Alfa events have had a couple of non-Alfa cars. This years tour was no exception, but with more than the normal number of “other” marques, some driven by Alfa owners and others by (as yet- un-enlightened) non-Alfa owners. This years’ roster of the “others” is as follows (not in any special order): BMW M-5, with driver Josh Aptner, and navigator Eric. (Josh had been driving Dad’s Alfa 164 S, yes there is a family connection here, which is presently recuperating from a broken timing belt.) Jaguar XK140 FHC, with driver/owner Paul Merluzzi, and wife/navigator Irena (Paul can correct the writer, but, for those of us un-familiar with Brit car lingo, FHC is short for “Fixed Head Coupe) M-B AMG, with driver Glen Lowe and navigator/owner Justin. (Special thanks to Glen, who runs a print shop, for running extra copies or tour directions)
Porsche 914, with driver (and past DVAROC Pres) Dave West, and wife/navigator Karen. (It’s always interesting to see what Dave will be driving at these events.)
Mazda Miata, with driver Dan Valanzola, and navigator Christian and a flag that, with intent, made it ‘Alafa-esque’.
The rest of the group were mounted on the normal assortment of Alfa coupes and spiders. If the cars were being judged, which of course they were not, the judges would have been very hard pressed to determine the best, most interesting cars. To mention just a few which would have been contenders would be the dark green (BRG?) Jag XK140 of Paul and Irena Merluzzi, Dave and Karen West’s beautiful Porsche 914; Jim Itin’s, always exquisite Guilia Spider, in its Alfa red paint; the green (as differentiated from his red) GTV of Dan Diefenderfer; the very nice, accurate 1750 Spider of Greg Shpungin; and the list could go on for the remainder of the cars but this article is probably already too long. Congratulations and thanks to all participants for showing their beautifully maintained cars. It is noteworthy, in passing, two very impressive cars which were, in fact, not Alfa Romeos. Both exemplified the current state-of-the-art of high tech automotive engineering and performance. This writer, having been allowed by its owner, DVAROC member, Alan Aptner, to sample its performance, can attest to the massive, overwhelming performance on tap in this car; if the driver is not prepared, the car can quickly overwhelm the driver. Kudos to Alan’s son, Josh, who handled it on the tour. It’s hard to believe the AMG Benz is any less capable. Let’s hope Alfa can come up with suitable competitors when (or maybe it’s “IF”) they come back to the U.S.
As for the tour itself, this year it started in Morrisville, PA, conveniently in front of a coffee and bagels shop (for the early arrivals), and proceeded north along the Delaware (River Road in PA), through Yardley, then across the bridge at Washington Crossing, into NJ. After the recent, pre-snow flooding, closely followed by the freakish snow fall of the previous week, the river was very high and close to the road in several spots.
After crossing into NJ, we continued north another few miles before turning east away from the river, and the low road, and up onto the high (and, hopefully dry) road. There was less exposure to wet or flooded areas, but more concern about unexpected detours due to downed electric wires and trees. These concerns proved to be, for the most part needless as the stat and local municipal road crews did an admirable job clearing away the significant amounts of debris which was still in evidence on the sides of many of the roads.
Thanks to the advance road recon by the Wests, who cut short their mid-tour break to survey the road conditions on the remainder of the tour, we were able to avoid a closed section and re-route with no problem and no wasted time or gas.
After approximately 70 miles and about 2-1/2 hours on the road, our hearty crew was ready for something more substantial than a cup of coffee at a rest stop. The “something” was set up by Alan Aptner at the quaint, historic Stockton Inn, along the Delaware, in- where else?- Stockton, NJ. Fortunately, although having had minor flooding and snow damage from the recent storms, the Inn was able to get cleaned up and back to the eating business in time for our visit. (Fortunately for a few of us, their rest rooms were in good working order also!!).
After re-stocking at the bar, good companionship, and leisurely conversation were enjoyed over excellent fare provided by the folks at the Inn. Not least appreciated were the parking spaces reserved for us in front of the Inn, along Rte 29, for all passers-by to enjoy.
Overall, a great day; hopefully everyone enjoyed it and got home safely. Best wishes to all for a nice holiday season, or if this article is received after the holidays, hope everyone had a great one.
PS: Let’s hope that the freak, early snow storm in October wasn’t a taste of what the coming winter has in store for us, and that we’ll have plenty of snow and salt free roads to drive our cars often.
PPS: How about some calls for a Spring tour folks? Any takers? Merry Xmas all, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for a healthy, happy, prosperous, and Alfa driven new year!