Alfa Centennial – Holland to Milano – Day One

The day started in Kerkrade at a former Abby – Rolduc Convention center/Hotel. A huge facility that included a church complete with a spooky crypt in it’s lower level and an in-house brewed abby ale that was quite fantastic. A great variety cars were gathered for the mornings drive. Also on display were three copies of the newest Alfa Romeo – The Giulietta – on loan from a local Alfa Romeo dealer who delivered them by truck to the parking area behind the Abby. The group of almost 300 cars over-filled the parking lot of the Kempinski Hotel outside of Frankfurt Germany after the scenic 4 hour drive from South Holland. It was quite enjoyable seeing Alfas scattered along the roads – some in groups, some on their own – as they made there way long the twisty roads of Germany.

California to NY 2011 – Day 8:- Madison WI to Holland MI

Driving on Interstate 90 in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana was quite horrible with endless miles of incomplete road construction, badly damaged tarmac and insane drivers who are oblivious to the lanes they are supposed to stay in and what the passing lane is for. Long gone were the twisty mountain roads and stunning vistas only to be replaced by tractor trailers weaving across our path with wild abandon.  Fortunately we had an enjoyable morning exploring downtown Madison while we were in search of espresso and some take-away lunches. Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse (motherfools.com ) typified the entire community surrounding it; bohemian Communists art-punks. Banksky-esque street art is on display on many of the walls.  For a takeaway lunch, we were recommended to stop by Willy Street Co-op, where we found an amazing grocery/health food store that made fantastic sandwiches.   A fantastic vibe is palpable in this quiet and very historic downtown. Among its many eclectic shops are some great breweries, coffee shops, art galleries and ethnic cafes all easily walked or driven to thanks to the lack of traffic and relaxed pace of the populace.

Our first rest after several hours of torture on interstate 90 was in Munster Indiana at Three Floyds Brewery (3floyds.com) . A quick break for a microbrew then back on the highway with our destination being Holland Michigan.  Holland, being settled by Dutch, includes an authentic windmill that Dinky was keen on visiting. The beautiful and quite affluent downtown is also home to New Holland Brewing (newhollandbrew.com) , a great microbrew company that also includes a great restaurant. Main street also is home to many upscale shops that display plaques telling of the buildings previous Dutch origins.

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California to NY 2011 – Day 7:- Sioux Falls SD to Madison WI

Total Distance: 702.52 km (436.5 mi)

Total Time: 9:08:04
Moving Time: 6:26:47
Average Speed: 76.91 km/h (47.8 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 108.98 km/h (67.7 mi/h)
Max Speed: 133.91 km/h (83.2 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 171 m (562 ft)
Max Elevation: 488 m (1602 ft)
Elevation Gain: 1836 m (6025 ft)
Max Grade: 11 %
Min Grade: -5 %

Tired from the previous days long hot drive we did not spend much of the past evening exploring Sioux Falls and the morning found us at our typical first stop – an independent coffee shop. In my efforts to show the Dutchies real America I have tried to locate independently owned shops for coffee, food and beer. Often, it is quite difficult as corporate american franchises have pushed out independents and replaced them with the more fashionable and advertised brands. Within the first few days of our adventure Dinky and Cor discovered Walmart and were hypnotized by the enormous stores and seemingly low prices. Only after some discussion about Walmarts destruction of down-town America and some sick stomachs from old food, has that desire faded.  This days lunch stop was one of the best so far. Grinders Deli, located in Austin MN was a bit difficult to find as it looked like another house on the block. Fresh baked bread and quality ingredients were enjoyed along with some micro brew on there relaxing patio.  Around the corner but the other end of the spectrum was the Spam Museum. A garish “museum” created to promote a hideous meat product created from slaughter house scraps. Fortunately it was free entrance and no samples were offered. We pulled into Madison WI quite late and tired from another day on the road – but Madison has fantastic beer – so out we went.  Our first stop was a bite at a quite fine Indian restaurant the the first beers were had at Ale Asylum (aleasylum.com ) where we met the enthusiastic brewmaster who was eager to give us a tour. After some great microbrew, we were told we had to also visit The Malt House (malthousetavern.com) who, while now brewers, did stock some amazing local and european beer.

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California to NY 2011 – Day 6: – Rapid City South Dakota to Sioux Falls

Total Distance: 599.24 km (372.4 mi)
Total Time: 9:50:04
Moving Time: 6:41:41
Average Speed: 60.93 km/h (37.9 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 89.51 km/h (55.6 mi/h)
Max Speed: 141.64 km/h (88.0 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 357 m (1172 ft)
Max Elevation: 1009 m (3310 ft)
Elevation Gain: 1570 m (5150 ft)

We awoke early eager to depart Rapid City – this day we had a interesting place to see other then the endless tarmac of Interstate 90. Today we had plans to visit the Badlands  Nation Park. After only an hour of driving east we entered the park and the terrain suddenly became other-worldly. A dense fog had cover the terrain making the vistas and rock formations all the more strange.  Soon the bright sun burned off the fog and we were treated to some stunning views of this strange and beautiful area. This area is also quite full of other travelers many who ride Harleys. These bikers who we share the road with are always quite interested in Giulia – probably due to her small size, she poses little threat to them on the interstates as do the big rigs who blow them around.

After some more tedious hours on the interstate we came upon the town of Murdo South Dakota. This was home, as we learned from the many road side billboards, to the Pioneer Auto Museum and Cafe. Three bored and hungry car enthusiasts decided to visit. This had all the tell-tail signs of a tourist-trap but we ventured on. Prior to the museum visit, I asked a museum employee how the attached diner was. He had plenty to say, all of it negative.  He was right.  Paying our $9 for the entry to the museum ($1 discount from the diner) we encountered the best of what the “auto show” had to offer. This part of the museum was the most well kept – with most of the displays actually sort of clean. As we progressed to the older sections of the collection things became much stranger, older, smellier and confused. Eventually this “museum” could be summed up as a crazy collectors junk collection. Perhaps a visualization – in person – of all the junk ever sold on bay.  For a car enthusiast, it is mostly a sad way to spend a few hours. Most of the cars on display are rotting away and very poorly arranged in old dirty barns.   We were quite happy to get back into the now pristine looking Giulia again and hit the road east.

Our stop for the night was in Sioux Falls. A great looking town with a newly rebuilt downtown full of many bars, diners and art galleries. Unfortunately  as this was Sunday night, almost everything was closed, save for the dive bars. This is were we were able to meet the natives. It was quite a strange few hours.

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California to NY 2011 – Day 5: Cody Wyoming to Rapid City South Dakota

Total Distance: 650.57 km (404.2 mi)
Total Time: 11:26:09
Moving Time: 9:06:21
Average Speed: 56.89 km/h (35.3 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 71.44 km/h (44.4 mi/h)
Max Speed: 137.77 km/h (85.6 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 981 m (3217 ft)
Max Elevation: 2727 m (8947 ft)
Elevation Gain: 4269 m (14004 ft)

Thorough-out  the night the sounds and smells of the nearby rodeo was clearly heard from our hotel room. Upon waking from rodeo dreams, the town Cody was a much better place to explore in the with its inhabitants now out and shops open.  After a quick gas-station breakfast it was time to hit Interstate 90 and get east again. Our fist stop was near Greybull WY, where we spotted an aircraft graveyard/museum from the highway. Unfortunately it was fenced off and inaccessible. Hading back east agin we traveled though the Bighorn National Forest. Unfortunately this would be one of the last mountain roads we would drive this trip. Next was a lunch stop in the great old town Sheridan WY for a few beer tastings at the Black Tooth Brewing Company. Sheridan is fortunate enough to have had the good sense to keep most of their vintage downtown intact. This small town is quite vibrant and full of life with plenty of downtown American/cowboy charm. Our endpoint for the day was to be Rapid City, South Dakota. Along the way we had discovered the historic town of Deadwood was having a weekend street fair. Being a fan of the DEADWOOD TV series I wanted to visit the town but our time was short so this will have to wait.   Rapid CIty is a very large and not so pleasant town. We soon discovered most of the towns hotel rooms were sold out due to the festivities in Deadwood

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California to NY 2011 – Day 4: Burley Idaho to Cody Wyoming

Total Distance: 639.42 km (397.3 mi)
Total Time: 11:53:09
Moving Time: 7:20:18
Average Speed: 53.80 km/h (33.4 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 87.13 km/h (54.1 mi/h)
Max Speed: 137.54 km/h (85.5 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1247 m (4092 ft)
Max Elevation: 2599 m (8528 ft)
Elevation Gain: 3709 m (12167 ft)
Max Grade: 21 %
Min Grade: -17 %

Idaho only seemed to look better in the AM because today we were going to see something besides potatoes and wheat fields. Just before we were able to say our good byes to Idaho we were subjected to some very steep roads with 10% grades. Giulia was not happy at this altitude pulling all the weight. Fortunately the crest was upon us before too long. As a farewell to Idaho, Dinkyboy was forced to pull over by the local lawman and told he was driving 9mph over the speed limit. As he has only a Dutch license the local township was unable to benefit financially from him and he was told to SLOW DOWN!

A few hours northeast from Burley was both Teton and Yellowstone forests.

Before entering the parks we were subjected to the horribly tourist trap town known as Jackson Hole. Crawling with tourists the drive was reduced to a craw to avoid hitting the throng. The local wildlife have more sense to keep out of the road.

Both of the parks were quite spectacular. The roads were well maintained and brimming with wildlife. Unfortunately they were also filled with tourists who would fill the roadside each time we would pull over to take a photo. Snapping a shot of an Elk was easy, keeping a befuddled tourist out of the shot was hard.

Driving late, we were treated to a spectacular sunset and a welcome respite in Cody where we passed a huge rodeo on the way to our hotel.

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California to NY 2011 – Day 3: Fallon Nevada to Burley Idaho

Total Distance: 724.97 km (450.5 mi)
Total Time: 8:52:54
Moving Time: 6:37:44
Average Speed: 81.62 km/h (50.7 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 109.36 km/h (68.0 mi/h)
Max Speed: 139.71 km/h (86.8 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1112 m (3647 ft)
Max Elevation: 1879 m (6165 ft)
Elevation Gain: 2625 m (8613 ft)

The original route planed by Dinky boy for crossing Nevada was route 50, also called “America’s Loneliest Highway”. Named so because of the many miles of nothingness that it crosses, without a single town to pass through (save ghost towns). Fortunately he was able to be convinced that route was a bad idea to take. The lack of cellphone signal and the endless desert vista was going to be too much to bear.  Traveling east via interstate 80 was not much more enjoyable but at least it was faster. Nevada is a stunningly boring land, where road-kill is your only diversion. At wells we turned north on rt.93 as our visit to the Teton Nation Forest and Yellowstone was set for the next day. Idaho was only a sleigh improvement over Nevada. Gone was the desert only to be replaced by vast fields of potatoes and road construction.

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NY to California 2011 via Lincoln Highway – Day 17 – San Francisco

San Francisco

With one day to go before we start our long trip back east, we spent a realizing day in beautiful San Francisco. Entering the city we were greeted by someone yelling “Three men and a Giulia!”  to us as we drove down Columbus ave. Quite a nice welcome!  Giulia’s destination was Alfa Center; a shop that specializes in Alfa Romeo, for a quick oil change and check up.  While she was being looked after we walked the foggy city.  On our exit from San Francisco we stopped at windmill on the outskirt of town.

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