Summer is fleeting in the north country, arriving sometime in early June and gone by late September, when the impending threat of snow means stockpiling firewood and mothballing the convertible. But when the Earth tilts in our favor, days stretch until 9:30 and the humidity rises off of 10,000 lakes to envelop us in an almost tropical embrace. People take full advantage, busting out bikes, boats and boards, hoping to soak up enough summer to sustain them during the long winter.
One of the best ways to enjoy a summer weekend is a top-down road trip out of town. Not far beyond city limits, empty country roads stretch through farmland, winding around lakes and along rivers like the Namequagon, the St. Croix and the mighty Mississippi. Pick up a fun roadster like an Alfa Romeo Spider (preferably in rosso corsa) for just these occasions; a Series 3 in decent shape can be had for less than a nice wristwatch. Work the kinks out all spring and then, on a perfect July evening, pack a bag, a good book and your AAA card, pull on your driving gloves (you have some, right?) and find a rolling ribbon of asphalt to flatten. Keep the revs up, somewhere north of 3,500 rpm — an Italian tuneup is good for the car and for the soul.
As the sun sets, the sky turns amber, headlamps come on and bugs splatter the windscreen. Keep an eye out for deer on these country roads; they appear like specters on the gravel shoulder, eyes aglow, as much of a speed deterrent as a State Trooper. Where the road dips into valleys, the temperature drops; a quick stop to don a sweater, and it’s off again. Where you stop is up to you. We suggest a small inn that no one’s discovered yet, preferably near water. Park the car and pull the rag top up against a passing night sprinkle. The engine ticks as it cools off, the chorus of a thousand mating frogs rises from an unseen pond. You’ll do this all over again tomorrow, next weekend, and all summer long.
Tommy Bahama Duckbill Cap, $48
Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph, ($625)
Lotuff Leather Trunk Duffel, ($1100)
Brooks Brothers V-Neck Sweater, ($80)
Autodromo Stelvio Sunglasses, ($350)
Tommy Bahama Matte Raffia Fedora, ($78)
Askov Finlayson Explorer Pants, ($220)
Autodromo Stringback Driving Gloves, ($125)