Just a week ago we were rolling along on the Colorado Grand, surrounded by millions of dollars of exquisite machinery. The past weekend was a little different.
Roger Dilts, the president of the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon, hosted the annual “President’s Tour,” a half-day event that sends those who love to drive down scenic two-lane Oregon roads.
The old car offerings were few – our 1967 GTV, an alloy-bodied Lancia Fulvia Zagato 1300cc, an MGB-GT and the “Jewel or Jalopy” Alfa Berlina with custom flames on the front.
SCM SEO guru Michael Cottam was my co-pilot, and our two six-year-old sons, Bradley and Benjamin, were in the back seat. This was my first time trying out both rear harnesses with our fancy new Recaro Vivo seats.
I rate the Vivos a success, but I must say that the GTV is a little close-coupled compared to the Super, so I often wished for a mute button when the munchkins were cackling.
We’ve devised three layers of child entertaining, i.e. pacification, for road trips. Stage one is to provide them with vintage Auto Bingo games, where they look for various road signs and buildings, trying to create a bingo on a score card.
When they tire of that, we pull out a Lego, which they can play with, seemingly endlessly taking things apart and putting them back together. Perhaps this is how most restorers got their start.
Finally, there is always the trusty iPad, where Netflix and Angry Birds can keep everyone happy. I confess that the electronic solution is always my least favorite, but it does have its place when you are traveling in confined spaces, or are eating with a group in public.
On The Road
Our first leg was 42 miles. We discovered that somehow the prodigious output from the GTV heater (really) was not making it to the windscreen, so frequent wipings, and adjusting of the various vent windows, was in order.
Compared to modern cars, the GTV wipers are pathetically tiny, and very slow. Plus, we were experiencing a torrential downpour – the rainfall in Oregon for September has hit a level not seen since the mid-1800s.
The car behaved well, but I was always conscious of just how little grip I had, and how off-camber turns, on a wet highway covered with leaves, had to be treated with respect.
The first stage ended at the Smith Berry Barn, where the kids got to expend some energy, we bought local apples, and I destroyed my carefully-watched caloric intake by buying a bag of custom-made red licorice.
Another 48 miles later we were at the finish line, Tree’s Restaurant in Sherwood. I recommend their salmon club sandwich — it was exceptional. And the setting, with the seating overlooking a wooded canyon, was terrific. Even better, our beloved OSU Beaver football team was winning.
We were home by two o’clock. The kids — all four of us — had a nice low-stress morning, full of old-car enjoyment. I hope that these times in the Alfa will bond Bradley to old cars, but there is no way to predict that. I do know that it is extremely satisfying to have him with me, as I have fun with other adults. Generally, our kids see us at work or “doing something serious,” so having him share my passion and enjoyment is special.
In some ways, these half-day old car tours are the best of both worlds. You get the pleasure of firing up your car and exercising it, without packing gear for an overnight or disrupting your weekend schedule.
Thank you, Roger, for putting this together – and we’ll be there for the next one.