by Michael Barone…..
I confess that it was disheartening that we received no ‘takers’ for the Around Superior tour (perhaps another time?), but though very few participated in Ed Solstad’s weekend trip to Alfa Heaven, we are surely glad we tagged along.
The Labor Day weekend weather was perfect. The morning route to Aniwa was mostly I-9r and US-29, but the afternoon back-country roads were typical Solstad…scenic, largely un-trafficed, and fun. Our little crew (besides Lise and me in the red 2CV) included a nice Porsche 928S, a lovely Alfa Romeo Julia sedan, and Solstad’s lead-car, a new Fiat 500 Abarth (which I got to drive for a bie…with 160 HP, it can really scoot, but on jouncy back roads the 2CV is WAY more comfortable!).
Our home base (for evening meals Saturday and Sunday night) was a place called Alfa Heaven, a back-country ‘estate’ created by a wild-and-wonderful guy named Tom Zat, who has made a business of selling military surplus trucks and, until only recently, Alfa Romeo parts (largely harvested by what once was the largest collection of salvaged Alfas anywhere on the planet). Tom is a gentle giant genius, tall and lanky, who derives great pleasure in tinkering with things (he coaxed 1000 HP our ot an Alfa V6 engine installed in one of the race cars he designed) and delights in his own mischief (he’s rebuild a surplus 105mm cannon…from the Israeli Army, which he uses to shoot frozen onions into the woods). But he’s also built a remarkable storage-repair-restoration-recycle facility for things automotive, and in recent years has set up an intriguing museum of some of his best Alfa race-cars and various other odd lots (a Sabra Station Wagon, a three-wheeled Berkeley, a lovely Ferrari next to a 1960 Rambler converted into a pickup, and a few versions of the SSZ sports car that he designed, built and sold, modeled after the Alfa Guiletta Super Sport. He designed and built his home, too, and has created a little rural retreat on 80 wooded acres along a river. And, boy, does he have a lot of toys, and has a great time telling you their stories.
Guys, link through the Alfa Collection and Tom’s Army Collection and read the various stories. When he talks about his GMC M211 with winch and crane and says “Everybod needs one of these!”, understand that he used it to dismantle and re-construct a huge metal shed (100X300) that formerly was a railroad storage building in Milwaukee (he says he and a bunch from the Milwaukee Alfa Club managed to take it apart in one day).
Tom and his wife Dale were sweet and welcoming hosts, and hanging out with them was at least a much fun as driving around in rural NE Wisconsin.
On our trip home, mostly on Highway “M” (very good road for entertainment and scenery…came across a bald eagle sitting in a field, nibbling on a rabbit, also came across a display of totem poles featuring chain saws, and a Citroën SM in Merrill, bought by the guy’s father new in ’73, now possible for sale with 73,000 miles in decent shape but needing paint and some other minor attentions…our little red 2CV turned its odometer back to 00000 at the intersection of Wisconsin highways M and VV.
I think we put on more than 600 miles during the weekend of driving…all good miles…and the adventure continues!