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Discussion Starter #1


With springs arrival it is now time to leave the heat of Texas and drive back to the North East. The original plan was to store my 1973 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super here in the Austin area for use next winter and drive my Toyota pickup home. I came to realize I would miss the Super too much. Additionally any excuse for a long scenic drive in an Alfa is worth pursuing. So the Toyota will travel via transporter while the Giulia takes the roads less traveled.

The Super is no stranger to long road trips - it’s driven across the USA 3 times: NY to California via The Lincoln Highway, then a return Eastward with my buddies from Holland in the summer of 2011. Then in the summer of 2013 - NY to California via Route 66

This journey will begin near the end of April 2015 and cover approximately 2200 miles over 7 days.

A picturesque route has been mapped - one that would not deviate too far off a North Eastern course, avoiding the interstates where possible. Some compromises were made towards keeping each days actual driving time no longer then 6 hours. This will afford plenty of time for stops. The highlights of the trip are the following routes:

Natchez Trace Parkway - Natchez Trace - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tail of the Dragon - http://tailofthedragon.com/
Blue Ridge Parkway - Blue Ridge Parkway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Skyline Drive - Skyline Drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old Mine Road - Old Mine Road - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Included as possible stops are; craft beer breweries, coffee shops, eccentric roadside oddities and points of historic importance.

Overnight stays will be at vintage motor inns and motels where available. These are harder to find in this world of large chain hotels but several have been reserved along the route.

If anyone has some suggestions for points of interest not too far off the route, please let me know.



Here is a google map of the route: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z3eYo9GQK024.kSAnH_ctqlFM
 

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I'm a native Texan, where my perverse relationship with Alfas began, and lived for a brief while in Moodus, CT, which appears not far from where you are headed. Meanwhile, I've covered every freeway, a whole lotta "blue" routes, and many hundreds of low-altitude air-miles more or less along the route you propose. Boy, I could write a thick book on the worthwhile choices along your way, but some of them would be ladies who are better as memories than current experiences.... But I digress.

Gotta go pay attention to the grandson, but I'll get back to you on suggestions.....
 

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Fred,
I've driven all the roads on your route (in older Alfas) except for the Old Mine Rd. You WILL have more than a few days of great memories, no matter what the weather. Also, no commercial traffic on the first four roads, so even better. But they also have strictly enforced speed limits, so ...
Have fun,
Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes, I was expecting low speed limits but I've planed for that with low miles per day. Avoiding commercial traffic and having a nice view is primary.
 

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Signing on for another of your great trips.

Enjoy

Ken
 

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Your road trips underscore something that too many Alfafisti often don't realize: These old Alfas, Supers in particular, are exemplary open road cars, easily capable of going great distances in complete comfort and safety. Properly fettled, they're perfectly reliable---in contrast to the popular folklore about old italian cars being unreliable accidents just waiting to happen. And even if they do break, they're easy to fix. Not many people would attempt a cross country drive in a 40+ year old car of any make, but for a good Alfa like your Super it's not problam at all. As our mutual friend, Bob says, "If it will run around the block, it'll run a couple of thousand miles".
Sign me up! :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Austin to Connecticut via Giulia Super - Day one

Austin Tx to Alexandria, LA / 362 miles



East Texas is very different from where I spent much of my time driving the last few months; western Texas and the famed Hill Country. East of Austin the hills are much smaller and more gradual and the landscape is a lush green with abundant vegetation thanks to the consistent rainfall over the past few months. Eventually the undulating roads flatten out and huge lakes and streams appear.

The Draft Bar was listed as having a good craft beer selection. After being spoiled for choice in Austin the selection here seemed just OK. Nice weather and an outside patio made the stop all the better.

My overnight stop-over was in Alexandria Louisiana. This historic city is situated along the mighty Red River. The years have not been kind to Alexandria. Most of the shops sit vacant with only a dozen in operation. Thankfully there were signs pointing out where they were. This compact downtown is ripe for revival with its many historic buildings and excellent riverfront. The towns best (and only) craft beer bar was unfortunately and unexpectedly closed - hopefully just for today.























 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Day two: Alexandrea LA to Houston, MS via Natchez Trace Parkway / 311 miles



Dawn never seemed to occur since a huge storm rolled into Alexandria Louisiana just as I was about to set off. A few miles from the hotel in downtown Alexandria is a hipster expresso shop with covered parking where took cover to wait out the worst of the storm. Just over an hour later the thunder and heavy rain had passed leaving strong winds in its wake.



The buffering wind and showers ended an hour later, just as I entered the southern entrance of the Natchez Trace Parkway - mile marker 1 of 444.

This beautiful parkway/National park follows and commemorates “The Trace” - a historic trail of 440 miles that has been used for centuries by Native Americans and early European and American Explorers. The trail is thought to have prehistoric origins. The parkway approximately follows the original trail and parts of the original trail are still accessible from the many lay-byes along the parkway.
Natchez Trace - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The speed limit on the Trace is limited to 50mph but there really is not much desire to push beyond that and the lush green landscape passes by. Driving this roadway takes you back in time to the days of small two lane highways where you can drive for miles without ever seeing another car. Motorcycles and bike riders are more numerous. The national park service has done a great job; the road surface is immaculate and smooth.

Just north of Jackson MS is a great section of town featuring a coffee shop, quirky stores and a great BBQ and craft beer pub; The Pint and Pig. The area has retained it’s art deco architecture and is experiencing a revival thanks in part.



































 

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Discussion Starter #9
Day three: Houston, MS to Cookeville, TN via Natchez Trace Parkway & I40 / 305 miles

Heading north again on the Natchez Trace parkway for the second day I stopped in Tupelo MS for coffee. Another historic downtown with lots of vacant storefronts. There are signs of life and rejuvenation in the area. Hopefully it will come back to prosperity.

At the northern end of the Trace the terrain becomes much more hilly and rocky causing the parkway to snake and undulate it’s way between through the valleys. This is where the road becomes both scenic and more fun to drive. The posted speed limit dropped down to 40 in this area but I think that is intended for lesser cars then Alfas. The sport bikes that raced pass also did not take notice of the low speed limit.

It’s in this northern area that there is a grave and memorial to explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark notoriety. It was at this location in 1809 that he was robbed and murdered has he was traveling the Natchez Trace on his way to Washington DC.

At the end of the Trace parkway is Cafe Loveless - a former cafe and motel turned tourist attraction. No longer are rooms available for the night as they are now shops for tourist items. The cafe is still in operation and seemed very busy.

I stayed overnight in Cookeville TN. The north side has been revitalized and includes some great shops, cafes, a train museum/vintage station and of course a craft beer bar.

































 

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Discussion Starter #10
Day four: Cookeville, TN to Asheville NC via I40/Tail of the Dragon/Blue Ridge Parkw

270 miles


Interstate I40 is an OK road if you have to travel the interstate although the abundance of police and overturned tractor-trailers do spoil the scenery.

Exiting the interstate towards the famed “Tail of the Dragon” or US 129 as its printed on the maps. Motoring country roads dotted with farms and old barns soon changes to dragon signs and statues. This 11 mile stretch of roadway is known for its 318 turns and is well traveled by bikers and sports car enthusiasts. It truly is best suited for bikes as the turns are too compact and in close succession. Its more of a slalom type of drive with little scenic views or even a chance to take in the path.

The southern part of the Blue Ridge parkway climbs to over six thousand feet and offers fantastic views and perfectly paved tarmac with sweeping curves.

The weather was quite wet and cold so the roadway was a bit slippery. The majority of the parkway is without guardrails so care must be taken on some of the sharper turns.

Exiting for Ashland NC for the night I am struck by how much better this city gets each time I visit. It surely must be one of the top destinations for craft beer folks as it sports more then 8 breweries in town as well as many cafes, and music venues.

















 

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Hey Fred, you are right about the local craft beer in NC. Last spring while driving north from Florida about this time of year we over nighted in Statesville NC and had a sample of a couple of nice hoppy ales.

Next day we drove NE on the Blue Ridge and Skyline Drive in warm sunny weather. Not in an Alfa, alas.

Great pictures BTW.

Ciao

Ken
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Ken,
Yes, formally states along the southern east coast were craft beer wastelands. Now, you can stumble from one brewery to the next. Asheville is really quite impressive.

Today I head north on BRPW and Skyline - hope things are in bloom.
 

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Day five: Asheville NC to Floyd, VA via Blue Ridge Parkway

224 miles (planed) 261actual miles



I hated to leave Asheville as its such a great city - so I stuck around for a couple of hours longer this morning then normal. Good expresso and a quality breakfast is easily found here in town - not so easy along the Blue Ride Parkway in a small village.

The day was bright at cool - perfect for a scenic drive. In this section of the parkway the mountains are fairly steep and the twists are often, so if you are trying to pass a slow moving motor-home you have to wait and pick your spot and commit to it.

At several places the parkway was closed for road-work. Unfortunately the detours take you quite a distance off away through very rural roads and towns. This added quite a bit more time and miles to the trip - but allowed me to easily find gas stations to fill up on non-ethanol gas.

The lodging for the night at Tuggles Gap Motel/Restaurant was expected to be a vintage motel court. Little did I know how vintage it would be. When I arrived it seemed to be closed - perhaps forever. After walking around the property and the adjoining locked diner for a while, I was greeted by the very friendly owner who was waiting inside the diner/reception. Seems I was the only person who booked for this night as the season has not really started yet. She gave me the key and showed me to the room it was very vintage but clean, simple and pet friendly! I was informed the diner closed at 4pm today. The closest shops are 6 miles away in Floyd. Then she said “see you in the morning”. I have the entire place to myself . Also, there is no internet - a trip back in time.























 

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Life is good Fred! Your travelogues are a good example of just how suitable Supers are for long distance travel. Too many Alfesti tend to treat their cars like hot-house flowers when, in fact, the basic Alfa platform is a great, completely analog transportation device that's perfectly capable of traversing sizable distances just as easily a modern cars. How many 40 year old cars are good enough to make a cross-country trip without breathing hard? Not many, but a good Super like yours can do that easily. And when you get home, you could just as easily turn around and do it all back the the other way in complete silence and comfort!

Give Nico a pet for me!
 

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Wayyy coool Fred. Love roadtrips, specially in Alfas, and ESPECIALLY in Supers! Great pics. I especially like the good info on routes and places to visit and stay. Sometime in the next 2 years we plan a driving trip back east. Like Jim says, and I know well, a well taken care of Alfa, especially the old analog ones, are so easy to travel in confidently. A few tools and a few hard to source local parts helps confidence but I've never needed one yet. Just a broomstick to rap a tired solenoid with. No failures on the road yet. In fact, we have put over 43,000 miles on 7 old Alfas in the past 4 years, with 15,000 in three long multi-week trips (19 weeks out). Thanks for the virtual vacation. B
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks guys.
I'm missing Texas! It's cold and damp and most of the plants have not even bloomed yet! Looks and feels like winter up in the mountains. Today was the last day of scenic roads - tomorrow I make a big high-speed internet push.
 

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Day 6 Floyd VA to Luray, VA vie BRP & Skyline Drive

245 miles



Rain and cold greater me as I awoke in my private motel. Fortunately the diner next door was open and the smell of coffee was in the air. The internet was also in the air inside the diner - back to the modern age.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was again mostly all my own. Occasional I would come upon a car with local plates. Its not worth passing these drivers as they are just on the parkway for a short spell. The problems are camper vans with out-of-state number plates. I came upon a very large camper truck. Checking for the plate I noticed the truck was manufactured by IVECO! Hey, that’s FIATs truck division and they are not available in the USA. The number plate indicated it was from Germany! I hung behind this driver as I expected him to pull to the side when a spot became available. Suddenly a deer ran across his path seemingly inches from the front this truck. All thoughts of passing were gone. This truck would serve me well in clearing the road of crazy animals.

The clouds were very low for most of the day, so when I climbed in elevation I was in the clouds. Visibility was very poor, the road a bit slippery and evil deer waited to jump in front of me - so I drove slower then normal when up high.

Around Waynesboro VA the Blue Ridge Parkway ended and the Skyline Drive began. I had forgotten that the parks department charges a $20 fee to enter this roadway as it’s part of the Shenandoah National Park. For this price you get; bike riders in your way, plenty of confused and scared mini-van drivers, hikers/hippies with huge backpacks sitting on rocks along the road and huge caravans blocking the road to see the view. Also the speed limit here only 25-35 mph and there is an abundance of park rangers waiting to ticket able drivers. Both Blue Ridge parkway and Natchez Trace were free and included none of these “features”. Tomorrow I will be skipping the remainder of Skyline Drive in leu of the interstate for the last day of driving.

My hotel for the night was the Hillside Motel another vintage motor inn. Located in Luray VA - a town best known for a hole in the ground; The Luray Caverns. - Luray Caverns - What will you discover?





















 

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On a Top Gear episode, Jeremy and gang in some supercars got off the eastern end of the BRP as soon as they could for the reasons you cite above. Locals know a lot of good workarounds. Good heads up on this. B
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yes, I saw that episode. The BRPW was not a problem for speed. The limit is set at 45 but I never noticed any cops and was able (when safe) to do above the posted speed. Skyline Drive is entirely different. The limit is only 35 max (dropping to 25 often) and its heavily patrolled. Not worth it unless you plan to camp and hike
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Wrap up - Day 7



After the tedious delays on Skyline Drive I decided to travel for miles rather then enjoyment and arrive at my Connecticut destination before dark. My route – the interstate. I81, for an interstate, is fairly scenic with its views of the mountains and local farms. I78 through Pennsylvania is not at all enjoyable with its abundance of big rigs taking up most of the road and kicking up rocks and dirt. On a positive note I was able to attain high speeds and cover much distance. Even though I was traveling on a weekend – avoiding the New York City area was key with its non-stop traffic and road construction/damage.

Final total: 2187 miles over 7 days.

Towards the end of the drive I did start to notice the faint sound of the clutch trow-out bearing failing. I could feel some vibration through the clutch peddle as well when it was depressed.

A new clutch kit (friction disc, pressure plate and bearing) was installed and now the clutch is better then ever (as the previous bearing was always a little faulty since new).

A mistake with a vacuum hose was also discovered and now the engine is running better then ever.

While the car was on the lift it gave me the opportunity to check the underside after all these miles and shoot some photos.














Vic, not helping and drinking crap beer... :p

 
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