Honey, I’m home. (part six of a series)

Arriving in Maine from Canada. Ape in tow.

GRAY, Maine–Midge, this cute Italian followed me home. Can we keep her? Pleease? Well, we did it. We brought this piece of Italy home to remind us of the old country every time we step out the kitchen door into the garage there. As if we need Italy reminders!
bringing home a bit of italy. an Ape?!
bring home an italian ape. from canada
Could a stranger be forgiven for thinking this part of Maine is crawling with apes? Apes around every corner like we were in downtown Siena or something. Having one in town is just some guy (Paul) being eccentric and leading edge. Two is surely the beginning of a trend, no? I drove it around the yard a bit last night and realized I was way too trippunchy to do that so I bucking bronco’d it into its new home and turned off the key. And went to bed. whew. Going to get comfy driving it this weekend. I’ve never had a motorcycle with hand operated clutch, so I keep moving my left foot around over there. Nope, still nothing there. I’ll get it. Until then, looking into the garage you just want to pinch it on its cheek, it is so cute sitting there.

Before calling it a day, we stopped at our major benefactor’s office, so Bill Goddard could see the whole righteous rig that his valiant Tahoe drug across all of Northern New England and a full Canadian province. Then we showed the STV marketing team the new Company Car and then home. Home. Love the sound of that. By evening I had confused the town hall and the State of Maine as well. They really didn’t have a book sitting around where they could research initial sales prices of one of these. But they kept after it and eventually it worked out, I gave them some money and they gave me a plate.

All’s well that ends well and this may be the end of this part of this adventure. I will try to do one more wrap up with the a photo gallery that shows the Canadian Countryside and the trip adventures in more photo detail. We’ll see how the weekend goes. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Saluti a tutti!

(travel note: the Lavazza Cafe was a giant fun surprise to find on the Mass Pike. Plaza just before Worchester.)

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

FULL MOON. OVER ALBANY.(part five of a series)

EAST GREENBUSH, NY–The miles seemed to just drop away. Heading these Italian horses for their new barns in Maine. Blue skies now instead of steely grey. We pull into an oasis just this side of Albany to think about how far we’re willing to go today before calling it a day. Paul’s first test drive in his Lancia is three and a half hours and its passing with flying colors. Red, white and green?
Italian Lancia, paper plates
We go into the Roy Rogers at twilight, a few bites of a chicken sandwich later it seems pitch black and the Lancia has no lights. OK. Not so good. Luckily Paul thinks like an engineer and somehow defroster settings bring the tail lights to life and fog light setting make the nose end look right. The State Trooper that swooped around me and onto Paul’s tail didn’t see it quite like that and flipped on his multicolored lights to have a better look at him. Handmade paper license plates by us over coffee in Buffalo, no light for the paper plate, and left headlight completely out. That is how he saw it. And who said we could make our own license anyway? He eventually tired of asking questions and let Paul go.
evening in lancia
But oh, that full moon. Huge. Glad I had plenty of time to admire it while Paul talked to Mr Trooper. Kind of glad he hadn’t noticed Paul was wearing one of those miner’s hat things with a light on it when he pulled him over. No instrument lights and he’d wanted to have an idea of how fast or not he was going. He flipped the switch on that and tossed it on the floor as he was pulling over.

Definitely time to get off the road. Only one hour of night driving. But that hour was a long one. Only four or five hours to go. Lets do them tomorrow.

In the day light. We’ll unscramble that Lancia’s wiring another day.

See you in Italy. And if you see me in Gray, Maine, I’ll be the one riding the Green Ape.

Stew Vreeland

Can Stew come out to play?(part four of a series)

Ape in New York State of mind again

So, I was in the hotel waiting for Paul to come back from the bank where he was getting a check for his Lancia. Right by the window comes the Ape. If it could knock on the window I think it would have. Paul had just called me from the bank asking for the seller’s name. He came out of the bank and a real Sicilian was there in the parking lot with tears in his eyes admiring the Ape. He said he had been here for years and it never occured to him that he could have been driving the Ape he learned to drive on. I gave Paul Ken’s phone number in Ontario but said I had the title here in the room and to stop dragging it around town soliciting offers. NFS.
italian ape outside our window
About an hour countdown to Lancia purchase and then this Italian car-a-van is really pointed homewards.

You can’t see the falls from the hotel. That was from the Rainbow Bridge as we nervously approached customs yesterday. For now we are coming to you from the Holiday Inn in Amherst, NY somewhere near the falls. Look for the room with the Ape with its face pressed up against the window. It is ready to come see its new home.

on the road again soon,


It was a dark and stormy night.(part three of a series)

And there it is! And now we’ve got an italian ape following us wherever we go. Looming large in our rear view mirror like some crazed tailgater out of a Steven King novel bent on doing a monkey jump right over us.

BAYFIELD, Ontario, Canada–Fine weather turned to foul weather and that turned to famously abusive Ike. Just as we were pulling into our Bayfield Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron so was the tail of the hurricane and everything went black. And wet. And wild. They had seven miles of road closed on one side of town. Lakes in people’s yards and standing in the fields of ready to harvest crops. Crazy. We stayed inside and talked cars and apes with Ken Johnson and his wife Delores and went our to eat in the hurricane. I went out barefoot to avoid being soaked and put on my shoes just before getting out of the car and going into the restaurant.

We got up this morning and loaded the Ape on the back of the Tahoe.

And there it is! And now we’ve got an ape following us wherever we go. Looming large in our rear view mirror like some crazed tailgater out of a Steven King novel bent on leaping right over us. So, there’s that. And now we have to do fret about busting thru customs with a 25 year old three wheeled Italian motorcycle. We idled in line for awhile and then explained it slow and carefully to the border crossing lady and her uniformed associates as more uniformed people ran by pointing at it going “what the heck is that?” Finally “pull over there” became the answer we expected. But when we got it inside a real matter-of-fact crew cut guy said “who’s importing the scooter?” I raised my hand. And asked if I could go to the bathroom. We’d been driving forever. The guy sighed and waved me to the elevators. Just like I’d planned, by the time I got back down, a responsible adult, Paul as it turns out, had pretty well settled everything and they were stamping my papers with what they no kidding called “the full BS stamp of approval” and we were solid gone before they changed their minds. No tax, no charge just “have a nice day.”
APE from ontario
ape of ontario

Finally. We’re back in the US, back in the US and we seem to have a newly naturalized ItaloCanadian with us. Can’t wait to get this little green bit of Italy settled into life on the farm in Gray, Maine. We’d be well on our way but now we’re sorting out Paul’s Lancia in the morning. And starting our caravan of Italian cars across America to Maine.

Non vedo l’ora amici, non vedo l’ora. And I can’t wait. Getting closer to home every minute. Stay tuned.

See you in Ape, (I’ll be the one waving like mad and grinning my face off)

Stew Vreeland

CALLING ALL LANCIAS or . . . figaro, figaro, figaro! (part two of a series)

Vigaro is an opera but then again it is an Italian sounding car. Lancia on the other hand just IS an Italian car. we saw both. Bought one.

Canada O. Canada

RICHMOND, Onatario–Who knew. Canada is a hot bed of all things Italian. Look, Enzo’s No Frills market, the Palazzo Hotel, and most importantly, Eric’s House of Strange but Good and very Foreign Cars. Like opening King Tut’s Tomb for us. Several very sharp, very hot, very Italian Lancias and Paul is sorely tempted. We’ll see. He’s in at the Coffee Bistro here on Yonge in this Toronto suburb discussing road clearance and four wheel drive valves or whatever. He wants that hot rod. We’ll see how badly he wants it.
lancias in canada
And yes, I know, the Figaro is Japanese. You caught me out on that. But see? It’s a natural fact. Everyone WANTS to be Italian or appear to have that Italian flair. Hence the operatic name for this eccentric buggy. Oh, no. I want it too. Devil get thee behind me. Hold out for true Italians. Sorry to insert this but you may never see another one of these. I saw one, once in a snooty part of London. This guy has one in every color ever made! My idol. Eric of Canada.

So, this is diversion one. But not too bad. If there is anything I have learned in Italy it is to be open to the moment. And at this moment we’d be driving right by this Lancia to get to the Ape, so let’s go. Oh, here’s Paul and it is YES. There goes my co-pilot for the ten hours from Buffalo, NY to Gray, Maine. Don’t think we can tow the Lancia behind the trailer full of Ape. An Italian car caravan across Northeastern North America. Where is PBS or BBC when you want to film a documentary?
nissan figaro in canada
We’ve coffee’d three times so far this morning with various degrees of success. But if you get near a Bob Evans wow. Have what I had. Country something. Biscuit cut open and layered with hash brown, real crispy, white sausage gravy, crumbled sausage, an egg, grated cheese. You gotta love that.

Ok, Paul is in paying his down payment and its about 1 pm. We’re still on the east side of Ontario where we started the day at the aforementioned Bob Evans. Come on Paul. We’’ve got an Ape waiting for us on the west side of this province on the sunny shores of Lake Huron. Who’s been there? Lets see a show of hands. I’ve never been and can’t wait to see this part of the world.

to be continued, so stay tuned . . .

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland