Sunday, July 31, 2005

Not Sleepless in Seattle

At 14,471 feet Mount Rainier is an imposing fixture on the landscape. We got up close and personal at the National Park. Later we met Jean, David and Simon at Alki beach and had a nice dinner at Duke's.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Food Fun

Trudi at a Sonic Drive-In for breakfast in Amarillo, TX.

When travelling it's always fun to try new foods....well...within reason.

1. Concretes at Ted Drewe's, St. Louis.
2. Tator tots
3. Raspberry iced tea
4. Biscuits & gravy
5. Suzy Qs
6. Michigan Gewurtztraminer
7. French toast sticks from Sonic Drive-In
8. Tilapia
9. Tri-tip
10. poblanos

Microsoft Museum

Now in Redmond, WA just outside of Seattle at the Microsoft Corporate Headquarters and blogging from the visitor center museum. Founded in 1975, Microsoft moved to Bellevue, WA from Albuquerque, NM and then to Redmond in 1986. There are 28,900 Microsoft employees in Washington state and 59,947 worldwide. The average age of their US employees is 36 years and contrary to popular belief, there are currently only 2 employees under the age of 20. Microsoft owns 7,821,131 square feet in 73 sites in Puget Sound and rents a further 2,158,329 square feet in an additional 29 sites. The campus is well treed, beautifully landscaped but a little difficult to navigate. With the aid of some kind employees we found the Visitor Centre, Store and museum which, as one would expect, is an interactive experience.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Washington State

We are impressed with the Washington State Rest Areas - their signs weren’t kidding when they said “Free Coffee”. Non-profit groups serve up cups of java and cookies to motorists as a service and a fundraiser. We spotted tiny, attractive birds at the Toutle River Safety Rest Area which, with the aid of my sister Jeanie’s guidebook, we later identified as Dark Eyed Juncos.

Driving north towards Seattle, we decided to take a detour to visit Mount St. Helens. This mighty volcano caused serious destruction when it erupted on May 18, 1980. The event has been called, “a disaster with no end” and ravaged 600 square kilometres. Within the first 9 hours 540 million tones of ash were spewed over 23,000 square miles. (Like a true Canadian I can speak both metric and imperial.) The explosion - equivalent to 1,000 atom bombs going off triggered massive landslides and mud flows as 70% of the mountain’s glaciers and snow melted. Acres of heat dried trees were a fire hazard and through a massive, round the clock effort they were removed. The reforestation process is equally as impressive. It took 1,000 men seven years to plant 18.4 million douglas fir, noble fir, cedar and hemlock trees. The Charles W. Bingham Forest Learning Centre is one of several spots where amazing views and informative displays help you get a feel for the scale of things.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Smart Comments: Week Two

1. I'd need one for each foot.
2. Can you do the speed limit? ( it was 35 mph at Petrified Forest National Park)
3. Watch out for Arizona drivers.
4. Why don't they sell it in the U.S.?
5. I could see me in one of those.
6. They make them up in Washington State. My daughter is working there - they can't build them fast enough.
7. Have you driven all the way from Ontario? Congratulations!
8.I'm glad I got to see it. It made me happy.
9.We had to have an operation so we could fit inside it.
10.It's fully street legal, huh?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Roadside Warning Signs:

1. Deer, frogs, elk, tractors, geese, pigs, cows and equestrians crossing.
2. Rock Slide Area.
3. Bridge Ices. (Temp was 100 F)
4. Gusty Wind Area.
5. Watch for Bicycles.
6. No Cruising Zone. (Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles)
7. Do Not Pick Up Hitchickers. (Near prisons)
8. Tight Curves - Reduce Speed.
9. Helmets Required. ( Many states do not have helmet laws for motorcyclists)
10. Wild Elk Do Not Approach on Foot.

Often you read warning signs along the road about animals crossing but never catch a glimpse of them. While driving north in California from Eureka we spotted a lone Roosevelt Elk stag and were amazed at how casually he jumped over a fence into a pasture where horses were grazing. A quarter mile down the road we had to stop for a herd of elk crossing the road. What an amazing site!

Historically the range of Wapiti or Elk in the USA was from the Appalachians to the Rockies. By the 1860s white hunters had eliminated them from the eastern half of the country. The elk was a "victim of its own popularity" - meat, hides and canine teeth were in demand. By 1912 only 125 remained in California. This decreased to an alarming 15 by 1925. President Teddy Roosevelt started a campaign to protect them and the population has rebounded to more than 1,000 animals.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Drive Through Tree.

Following signs on the "Avenue of the Giants" through Hubboldt Redwoods State Park we found the Chandelier Tree in Leggett, California. Trudi fit easily through the 6' wide, 6'9" tall opening. I wonder how many SUV drivers are disappointed. This magnificent tree is approximately 2,400 years old, 315 ft high, and 21 ft in diameter. The park covers 53,000 acres of forest including 17,000 acres of redwoods.

Zapped in Santa Rosa

We weren't quite sure what to expected as we pulled into the parking lot of Zap in Santa Rosa, California. Just as I was searching for parking meter change one of their staff came out to chat and insisted in paying for our parking. Several folks including one of the directors and the communications head Alex Campbell came to ask questions and take photos. We were impressed with their friendliness and fabulous facility. They had several fortwos as well as smart crossblade, roadster and forfour in their showroom. They couldn't have been nicer and we exchanged contact information.

Excerpts from Zap! News Winter 2005:

"ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution. We believe advanced automotive technologies can lessen our impact on the environment and natural resources. New ideas like hydrogen, electricity and hybrid systems are the fuels of the futre. Plus, tapping into renewaable resources like hydroelectric, solar, wind or geothermal power, we could use technology that is truly Zero Air Pollution."

"Orders for smart cars started flowing in after ZAP unveiled the snappy, ultra-compact, two-passenger vehicle at the San Francisco Internaational Auto Show in November, 2004. The unveiling stimulated multiple fleet purchases from U.S. auto dealers. Buzz created by the auto show also kindled interest by corporate fleets as well as automotive wholeale dealers. By year-end ZAP announced it had received $4.98 million in purchase orders for the car."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

17 Mile Drive

Excerpt from Pebble Beach Company Brochure:

Before the automobile had become a way of life, 17-Mile Drive was navigated by horse-drawn carriages from the famous Hotel Del Monte, now the site of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. It was 1881 and excursions through the Del Monte Forest and along its spectacular coastline usally ended up at a picnic spot at Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach Company has always been focused on the dedicated stewardship of this harmonic natural ecosphere. Samuel F. B. Morse, founder and initial visonary of Pebble Beach, said that the company's primary purpose was the continued preservation of the unique beauty of the coast and forest, and area often described as " the greatest meeting of land and water in the world."

Drag Racing

Quite by chance we found ourselves at Infineon Raceway just north of San Francisco where bracket racing was taking place. For a mere $15 a piece we passed an interesting afternoon. They were racing every thing from motorbikes to 50s Chevies to pick up trucks. We headed into Mill Valley to stay with Dean & Patti on the hill. Their home and hospitality were both wonderful.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

What's the story with Zap?

Excerpt from:

Is smaller better for U.S. car consumers?
ZAP betting on Smart Car’s success, but some observers skeptical

By Roland Jones
Updated: 6:52 p.m. ET July 21, 2005

"ZAP’s plan is to sell 15,000 Smart Cars updated to American road standards through its U.S. distribution network of dealers. Schneider said he already has some $2 billion in orders, far exceeding his initial goal of $300 million, and is preparing the 2005 model year Smart Cars — the first it intends to Americanize and offer through its dealer network by September.

DaimlerChrysler halted its plan to bring the tiny car stateside, and so ZAP has worked instead to buy the vehicles from a network of independent European suppliers, updating them for U.S. use to meet American safety and pollution standards. ZAP plans to sell the coupe version of the car for around $21,000 and the convertible for $25,000. In Europe, the Smart Car coupe sells for about $15,000 and the convertible for $18,000."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sideways at Lompoc

The Santa Ynez Valley has recently be made famous by the feature film Sideways. Folks from far and wide are travelling to this wine region that has long been overshadowed by the Napa Valley. Unfortunately wine tasters who've been on the winery tours too long attempt to emulate film character Miles' breakdown at the spit bucket and periodically cause a kerfuffle.

We stayed with long lost relatives Lynn and John who couldn't have been more hospitable in their charming country home. Many thanks to them both for their kindness.

Now heading north along the coastal highway towards Carmel.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

California Here I Come!

Before we set out on our smart car odyssey, there were two nagging doubts. How would Trudi manage the Mohave desert and how would we cope with big cities like Chicago, St. Louis and L.A.? We had been reading about the old days when drivers tied canvas water bags to their cars prior to crossing the desert. Today there are frequent call boxes and service areas so we felt reassured. We noticed that the temperature gauge went up a notch when we were travelling up hill through the Mohave but would go back down on our descent. The amazing scenery that changed frequently distracted us and we arrived in Pomona where we stayed at the Lemon Tree Motel, without incident.

The following day we visited the NHRA museum which was a real treat. A fabulous collection of hot rods and drag racers wonderfully displayed. The friendly lady at the desk insisted in coming out front to photograph us with Trudi at the museum entrance.

Other than traffic volume, we had no problems driving through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to the Pacific Ocean. It seemed quite anticlimactic as there was very little Route 66 content on the final miles of the mother road. We set off north on the Pacific Coast Highway for the second leg of our triangular journey.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Road Food

Montezuma's revenge, Delhi Belly, any name a traveller's worst fear. Eating properly when you're travelling takes real effort especially when you are tired and out of familiar territory. A combination of high altitude, hot temperatures and road food can conspire against you so obey your body's warning signs.

Road Food Survival Tips:

1. Choose salad, pasta and/or rice over "fries with that".
2. Avoid cheese smothered entrees and snacks.
3. Stay away from "veggie free zone" restaurants.
4. Cross all-you-can-eat places off of your list.
5. Share a dessert.
6. Cut down on caffiene, carbonated drinks and alcohol.
7. Unsweetened ice tea is very refreshing.
8. Never be without bottled water.
9. Trying local delicacies can be fun but be careful. Think twice about chilies for breakfast if
you' re not used to it.
10. Fruit and veggies are out there if you look carefully. You can always pick some up at a farmer's market or grocery store. Dried fruit and nuts travel well too.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Arizonan gets smart

Camped at Flagstaff KOA among the ponderosa pine trees. The smart car drew a lot of attentioin as usual. One camper tipped us off that she had read an article in the Arizona Republic newspaper recently about an Arizonan owning a smart car.

See the complete article here: July 13 Arizona Republic

"After abortive efforts by DaimlerChrysler to import the car, ZAP stepped in last year with plans to bring the ForTwo up to U.S. standards. That involves such things as adding front-seat airbags, changing headlights and electronic components, and other modifications. When ZAP is finished, they meet the U.S. safety and pollution standards. "

After a specatularly scenic drive throught Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome we are resting up at the Holiday Inn Express in Prescott, Arizona.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Standing on a Corner

Stayed last night in Gallup, New Mexico at a 2 month old KOA with teething pains. Breakfast at Earl's, a long time Route 66 eatery, was excellent. The local native people have craft stalls set up outside and some come in to tempt buyers with their wares: jewellery, pottery, leather and beadwork. I'd much rather buy from these craftspeople than at some roadside curio shop. We happily answered their questions about the smart car.

Have driven through the Petrified Forest National Park which is a “must see”.
National Park Service brochure:

"Fossil remains of a 225-million-year-old floodplain, forest and its inhabitants lie scattered across northeastern Arizona. Today, fossils provide the clues that allow us a glimpse into the past. The Late Triassic was a time when crocodile-like reptiles, giant fish-eating amphibians, and some of the first dinosaurs roamed along a landscape of ferns cycads, conifers and other tropical plants. This now dry tableland seems inhospitable for human, yet archaeological artifacts indicate that resourceful people have in habited the area for 10,000 years."

Words can’t do this national treasure justice. You could easily spend the day here but being on a road trip we made the best of photo ops and oohed and aahed at the fabulous landscape.

Now in Winslow, Arizona made famous by the Eagle’s song: Take it Easy. Going to find "corner park" and take photos.

Golden Rules of Travel

1. Don’t go backwards.
2. Get it while you can. (AT)
3. Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. (RLT Sr)
4. Never stand when you can sit, sit when you can lie down, lie down when you can sleep. (RLT Sr)
5. Don’t analyze in the field. (ALT)
6. Stop before you get too tired. (HH)
7. Don’t go into a big city without a full tank of fuel. (The Chicago Manouver)
8. Use the restroom and get water any chance you get.
9. Don’t rely on just one guidebook.
10.Ask the local people where they eat.

Best Comments About the smartcar: Week One

1. That’s almost a car!
2. Where do you put the key?
3. It’s top secret, the only one in the USA. (RLT)
4. Is it a Ford?
5. Is it solar powered?
6. How did you get a smartcar into the USA?
7. It’s the first time I’ve wanted to take a picture of your car
8. If they’ve got a tent in there I’ll eat it!
9. With a name like smart it can’t be made in the USA.
10.I got a call that somebody was driving a golf cart down the boulevard. (State Trooper)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Tucumcari, New Mexico

Camped last night at Tucumcari, New Mexico where it was much quieter than the Amarillo KOA where we could hear either planes or trains nearly constantly. The eerie howls of a pack of coyotes pierced the night and we awoke to a pre-dawn chorus of birds.

After dinner, we took a cruise down Old 66 through town to admire the neon lights. TeePee Curios was the clear winner.

Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce Brochure:

Tucumcari, originally called Six Shooter Siding, was a tent city at the foot of 4,999 Ft high Tucumcari Mountain for the Rock Island Railroad. Tucumcari owes its beginnings to a snowstorm and the railroad. In 1900 tow men stayed with A.D. Goldenburg during a bad three-week snowstorm. In return for A.D.'s hospitality, the two men told him that a railroad would soon be going through the area establishing a stop four miles from Goldenberg's home. Goldenburg, his brother Max and two other businessmen purchased the property where they felt the railroad would have to lay its tracks. By 1902, four passenger trains, two mail trains and two freight trains made daily stops a the new city. By 1910, almost 70 businesses had been established.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cadillac Ranch

Travelled through the Texas Panhandle and camped outside Amarillo, between the airport and the train tracks. Met Jo and Jason who are on their way to a wedding in California and are having a great Route 66 adventure. Stopped just south of town at the Cadillac Ranch.


"Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas. The cars as you face east, towards Amarillo. It was created in 1974 by an artists' collective named Ant Farm, and consists of ten "junker" Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Its original location was in a wheat field, but in 1997 it was moved two miles to the west, to a cow pasture along Interstate 40, in order to place it further from the limits of the growing city. Both sites belonged to the well-known local helium tycoon and eccentric Stanley Marsh 3, a supporter of the project.

Cadillac Ranch is visible from the highway, and though it is located on private land, visiting it (by driving along a frontage road and entering the pasture by walking through an unlocked gate) is tacitly encouraged. In addition, writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is also encouraged, and the vehicles, which have long since lost their original colors, are wildly decorated. The cars are periodically repainted various colors (most recently white, and pink before that) to provide a fresh canvas for future visitors."

We made the required photo op stop at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian where the proprietor rushed out to take a photo of our smart car with the sign that states you are half way between Chicago and LA.

From there we detoured south to Clovis, New Mexico where we had a fabulous tour of the Norman Petty Studio where Buddy Holly and many others recorded hit records in the late 50s and early 60s.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Follow our Route 66 Journey

See my husbands blog: for a more detailed description of our trip.

El Reno, Oklahoma

Amazing driving on old alignments of Route 66 where neon signs still stand over now defunct motels, restaurants and gas stations through Missouri and Oklahoma. Getting diesel is not always easy even at major chains located at interstate service areas. Some advertise diesel, which has run from $ 2.39 to $ 2.74 (US) per gallon (US), but at the pump we find that the nozzle is made for the big rigs.

Stayed the the Best Western Stroud Motor Lodge, Oklahoma last night. Hotel clerk gave me free postcards that show the hotel and the 53 store Tanger Factory Outlet Mall that used to be behind it. On May 3, 1999 a tornado touched down, flattened the mall and tore over half of the roof off of the hotel where guests sheltered in the restrooms. The mall owner collected the insurance money but has not rebuilt. It had been the town's largest employer and 350 workers were out of jobs. Thank God that there were no fatalities. The massive lot is now up for sale. Any takers?

Now in El Reno ,Oklahoma where the smart car continues to provoke questions. Many are curious about the gas mileage, who makes it and where it's made.

Excellent local history museum housed in the Rock Island Line train station. The El Reno hotel was moved to this site from three blocks west. Upstairs the rooms are set out for various travelers including a doctor. The Possum Valley school house is a real gem - smells like a school inside too. Unfortunately the Heritage Express Trolley is not running due to failure of the drive shaft. A new part is being crafted in either Colorado or Nebraska depending on who you listen to. This historic town is in Canadian County between the North and South Canadian Rivers and has played an interesting role in local history.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bradbury Bishop Deli - Webb City, Missouri

Meremac Caverns

This building at 201 N Main was a bank built in 1887. Mr C. S. Bradbury bought it in 1916 and opened the Electric Company. In 1916 he build a wooden soda fountain that relied on regular deliveries of ice blocks as it had no refridgeration. It was renamed the Bradbury co in 1931 and in 1939 Bradbury took on his son-in-law Harry Bishop as a partner. Shortly after Bradbury retired in 1945, Bishop upgraded to a stainless steel soda fountain. Bishop died in 1987 and the store has been a deli since 1988.

We had a wonderful sandwich lunch listening to Buddy Holly and taking in the 50's memorobilia. We struck up a conversation with Dick - a real car nut - who has one of the few remaining Ford Talledega cars.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Route 66: on the trail of giants

Toronto to Los Angeles via Route 66 off to a flying start. Trudi attracting much attention where ever we go. I was most amused by a motorcycle rider -- no helmet-- who was concerned about the safety of driving a smartcar. Passengers are leaning out of windows to snap photos on their mobile phones as we whiz along the highway. We pulled into a campground just north of Springfield, Illinois last night and the proprietor turned to his wife and said, " If they've got a tent in there, I'll eat it!". Not only have we packed a tent but also airmatress with pump, sleepingbags, butane stove, cooking equipment and, oh yes, our luggage. I'm keeping souvenier shopping limited to adding to my playing card collection.

Excerpt from: Motoring the Mother Road by Jerry McClanahan : Mega Men

" Oh, Have you seen the Muffler Men?" The most celebrated tribe of roadside giants is the "Muffler Men," so named because of ther tradition of posing in front of muffler shops. Acutally, the first muffler man was really a lumberjack, and he hefted his mighty ax on the side of Route 66. In 1962, Prewitt Fiberglass of Vencie, California, installed a huge lumberjack at the Paul Bunyan Cafe (later called the Lumberjack Cafe), along the Mother Road in Flagstaff, Arizona.

We spotted the Gemini Giant who holds a rocketship in Willmington, Illinois . Later the same day we found his twin "Tall Paul" holding an enormous hot dog in Atlanta, Illinois. Paul originally hoisted an ax and stood outside Bunyon's Hot Dogs in Chicago suburb, Cicero. He was relocated in 2003 when Bunyon's closed. Now in Springfield, we are on the trail of the Lauterbach Giant who stands in front of Lauterbach tires.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terratec's customized smartcar and trailer. Posted by Picasa

Get Mystified.

Established in 1994, Terratec Electronic is a German manufacturer that makes high quality sound cards, webcams, video editing solutions and more. It has quickly become one of Europe's leading multimedia brands and has won acclaim for its commitment to the environment. Since 1998 a wind generator, with a hub height of 32 meters, has provided the company's electricity. Their free range chickens have become a conversation piece. Many Terratec employees drive company supplied smartcars with specially designed trailers. The one pictured here promotes their "Mystify" range of game gear that includes game cards, mice, speed pads and the amazing game claw.

Where is trudi?

You can send a short text message to our mobile phone from your email to:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Diesel Fuel Conditioner

We've noticed that VW drivers use a diesel fuel conditioner. They claim a 10% improvement in gas mileage and better winter starts. VW recommends Stanadyne One Shot Performance Formula All Season Diesel Fuel Conditioner. Has anyone tried this in their smart?
Smart Car by Mercedes utilizes Bio Diesel! Bio Diesel Runs on 100% Vegetable Oil recycled from Maui's Finest Restaurants!
 Posted by Picasa

Would you like fries with that?

Imagine your car running on the vegetable oil recycled from fast food deep fryers. Made from a variety of plant and animal sources, Biodiesel is typically blended into regular diesel fuel at concentrations of up to 20%. In short, the advantages of using this renewable fuel are: less pollution and improved engine lubricity. Country music legend Willie Nelson has invested in America's first branded biodiesel blend-- "BioWillie"-- available at truckstops in Texas. In Continental Europe, biodiesel is commonly available in a 5% blend.

Please do not try this at home!

As we understand it, using Biodiesel will violate the warranty on your smartcar.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

FlyMe to Sweden

FlyMe is a Swedish airline that has operated on regularly scheduled domestic routes and connections to a few other European countries since March of 2004.

This smartcar advertises flights between the Swedish capital, Stockholm (pop. 758,000) and Malmö (pop. 265,000). Malmö , Sweden's third largest city, is ironically much closer to Denmark's capital Copenhagen (17 miles or 27.35 Km) than it is to Stockholm (319 miles or 513.27 Km).