Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Two Bromptons and a smart

Two Brompton folding bikes stow easily in the back of our smart car. We took them for a test drive on the Caledon Trailway and cycled 12 miles (20 km) from Caledon East to Inglewood and back. Glorious weather, interesting scenery and stress free riding - what's not to like? Only thing we had to watch out for were horse droppings as equestrians use the trail too. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

DST Day 18, 27 July 2012:Jamestown, NY to Toronto, ON

Hamburg, NY, impresses us with its tidy streets and multiple roundabouts. We agree there's a lot more to explore in upstate New York, which is doable in a weekend from home. We arrive at the border at 10:17 am and are through in 12 minutes. I'm thankful that we are not on the 401 from Windsor, which is a much busier and more dangerous stretch of highway headed home. The QEW seems tame by comparison.  At Grimsby, we stop for groceries and are home by mid-afternoon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

DST Day 17, 26 July 2012: Waynesburg, PA to Jamestown, NY

At Pittsburgh, PA, we stop in at Bicycle Heaven which is part museum and part mind-boggling showroom of vintage American bikes, parts and accessories. Avoiding the busy interstates converging on Erie, PA, we take the country roads through farm land into Jamestown, NY. There are two attractions in town dedicated to Jamestown's most famous daughter, Lucille Ball. We visit Desilu Studios where we view sets from the I Love Lucy show and learn about its technical innovations and TV breakthroughs. Next we tour the Lucy Desi Museum which focuses on the couple's personal lives and careers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DST Day 16, 25 July 2012: Charleston, WV to Waynesburg, PA

After patient searching, we find the Fuller family graves in the Mt Olivet Catholic Cemetery on the hill overlooking Charleston, WV.
We are careful to avoid the Eastern box tortoises that have a bad habit of trying to cross the road as we head north into Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DST Day 15, 24 July 2012: Lexington, KY to Charleston, WV

We duck into the River & Rail Bakery in the old railway station in Huntington, WV. It's pouring rain while we share a strawberry salad, fresh baked bread and cinnamon bun (above). I want to do some genealogy research so we visit the West Viginia Archive in Charleston, which is a splended facility near the Capitol Building (above). With the help of my trusty assistant (hubby) we gather quite a lot of information.

Monday, July 23, 2012

DST Day 14, 23 July 2012: Franklin, TN to Lexington, KY

We couldn't drive through Tennessee without a return visit to the Lane Motor Museum in South Nashville. They have a splendid collection of vintage vehicles, including microcars, which they strive to keep in full running order. I love their barrier-free exhibits. Makes taking photos and closer looks at details and interiors easy. I'm dangerously close to doing my "happy dance" in public as I get to have my photo snapped in this Citroen 2CV.
Before heading north-east into Kentucky will fill up on diesel which at $3.41 per US gallon is the cheapest this tour.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DST Day 13, 22 July 2012: Tupelo, MS to Franklin, TN

It's Sunday and very quiet at the birthplace of Elvis Presley (above). The family's two room home remains original but a $4 million museum/auditorium complex is under construction just behind it.  It is slated to reopen in August to commemorate the 35th anniversary of his death. We meet a friendly couple from Wales when they ask me to take a photo of them. Turns out he's a teacher and she comes from the same part of the country as hubby's father. They join is in a visit to the Tupelo Car Museum which boasts a complete set of Elvis movie posters and a car that he gave as a present to Denver, Colorado's chief of police. Below are two very rare vehicles in their collection: 1967 Ed Roth Wishbone (front) and a 1985 Triton (behind).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

DST Day 12, 21 July 2012: Dalton, GA to Tupelo, MS

Heading west from Georgia into Alabama we stop to take a look at the Fame recording studios in Muscle Shoals. Unfortunately, tours can only be arranged in advance and there's no one there to help us. We dip south and travel the Tammy Wynette Highway into Mississippi and Tupelo, the birth place of Elvis Presley. Evidence of his presence is everywhere from a lake named after him to a cardboard cut out in the hotel lobby.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Deep South Tour 2012 - Day 11: Augusta, GA to Dalton, GA

At Kennesaw, Georgia we visit the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History which features the story of the "General" seen above and below. During the Civil War, "Andrews' Raiders" stole the General and a dramatic chase ensued north through the mountains. A different perspective from the museum in Strasburg, PA on the "Great Locomotive Chase" is given here. Another exhibit contains only fully restored belt-driven locomotive assembly line in the US which was rescued when the Glover Machine Works in Marietta, GA was demolished. The painting of the general below was done by Wilbur G. Kurtz who was born in Oakland, Illinois in 1882. Kurtz developed an interest in the story of the Andrews Raid as a young man and actually interviewed William Fuller as the conductor of the General  led the pursuit. Kurtz later married on of Fuller's daughters.  Because of his extensive background knowledge Kurtz served as a technical advisor for "Gone With the Wind" and Disney's " The Great Locomotive Chase" film.

DST Day 10, 19 July 2012: Fayetteville, NC to Augusta, GA

"South of the Border" (above) billboards proliferate the highway as you drive south from North Carolina into South Carolina. It's got more kitsch than a Route 66 attraction and it's in the middle of nowhere.  At Darlington Raceway we visit the musuem which is small but has an impressive, historic collection of stock car racing exhibits. The Hall of Fame (below) is presented in a room full of columns with sound bites activated at the press of a button. At the top of each column are artifacts from the inductee's career. The excellent pencil and ink portraits were done by local artist Jeanne Barnes.  Pictured here is Marshall Teague known as the "King of the Beach" who was born, raced and died at Daytona.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DST Day 9, 18 July 2012: Kill Devil Hills, NC to Fayetteville, NC

We met up with Tracy who has known hubby for over 40 years and go out for brunch. Greatly enjoyed chatting and getting caught up on news.  She's lived in KDH for many years and it was interesting to hear about the local scene.
A heavy driving day in the over 90 F heat we cover 416 km before checking in to the Comfort Inn. Avoiding the interstate, we pass fields of tobacco, cotton, peanuts and other crops. Diesel prices range from $3.75 to $3.58 per US gallon ($3.73 is currently the national average). We hear it will be cheaper in South Carolina where the tax is lower.

DST Day 8, 17 July 2012: Georgetown, DE to Kill Devil Hills, NC

Lewes, DE is twinned with my hometown of Lewes, East Sussex, England. The former is the smaller of the two and, founded in 1631, only a third the age. Friendly folk greeted us at both the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society who do a fine job of promoting the town, once you find it and a place to park ,which proved tricky.
Continuing south down the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) we drive through seemingly endless beach resorts crowded with holiday makers. It's hard to imagine a sharper contrast to the Amish farmland we left yesterday. At a stoplight I snap the photo below of a scooter in the bike lane. These little buggies are available for rent all along this coast.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is truly an engineering marvel. We pay a $12 toll to cross the 20 mile stretch of bridges, man-made islands and two 1 mile tunnels. It's hard to believe it opened in 1965.

Monday, July 16, 2012

DST Day 7, 16 July 2012: Ronks, PA to Georgetown, DE

We take in two excellent attractions located across the street from each other the privately owned Strasburg Rail Road and the state owned Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  Both venues are packed with beautifully restored and maintained trains, rail road paraphernalia, photographs and art work. Staff and volunteers are friendly and helpful. We buy a $21 combination ticket each and enjoy a 45 minute journey on the steam train above. By touring the museum both before and after our ride we manage to see it all. A wonderful experience for train buffs and families.
Continuing south, we exit Pennsylvania and enter the state of Delaware near Wilmington where highway signs warn drivers of state laws that prohibit texting and cell phone hand use while driving. Shortly after reading the signs, we see two people on a motorbike without helmets. Only 18 states require all motor cyclists to wear helmets by law.

DST Day 6, 15 July 2012: Wilkes-Barre, PA to Ronks,PA

Hubby gets interviewed by local TV station at Giants Despair Hillclimb, Laurel Run, PA. He's in his element talking about hill climb racing in the UK, Ontario and the US. After a day at the races we head south first through mining territory then Amish farm country to Hershey Farm Restaurant and Motor Inn, Ronks, PA. For $88 per night we have a comfy, quiet room and enormous buffet style breakfast with, you guessed it, the first grits of the tour. We get caught up on laundry and enjoy the beautiful gardens and animals at the petting farm. Below is "Amos" a 15 foot fibreglass Amish farmer who was originally a landmark at Zinn's Diner in Denver, PA. He now makes his home at Hershey Farm Restaurant and Motor Inn.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

DST Day 5, 14 July 2012: Wilkes-Barre, PA

At the Giants Despair Hillclimb, Laurel Run, PA the array of competitors ranged from vintage British Jaguars, like Gracie (top picture) to open wheeled racers like this Indy car (middle), trucks, American muscle cars and even a few Mini Coopers (bottom). The mile long (1.6 km) race has six turns, rises 650 feet (200 m) and is organized by the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association. This smart car (below) was seen in the paddock but, as far as I know, is not competing.

Business smarts 50: Harrold's Pharmacy

Spotted at Giants Despair Hillclimb, Laurel Run, Pennsylvania. No, this car wasn't racing; driver asking for directions as the route he'd planned to use to make a delivery was being used for the hillclimb.
See: Harrold's Pharmacy

Friday, July 13, 2012

DST Day 4, 13 July 2012: Corning, NY to Wilkes-Barre, PA

Portraits of customers and employees painted in oil by owner Harold "Whitey" Carlton adorn the walls of Light's Bakery and Coffeeshop in Elmira, NY. He sometimes works from life but now more often from photographs as, "no one has the time to pose anymore". I highly recommend their thick cut, cinnamon raisin french toast with a bottomless cup of coffee on the side. Unhurried drive on county highways south through the hills of Pennsylvania.
At the Comfort Inn in Wilkes-Barre, PA I need to print a letter to mail home. I go down to the lobby and within 10 minutes return to the room with two copies of the letter, an envelope, directions and hours of the local post office, a copy of today's Wall Street Journal and two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies - all complementary. Gotta love the service. Room rates are very good and we have a fridge, microwave and hot breakfast to boot.

Today's Distance: 252 km Total Distance: 628 km

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DST Day 3, 12 July 2012:: Corning, NY

Took the free shuttle bus to the CMOG. Fabulous glass work (above) at  the Frederick Carder Gallery of the Corning Museum of Glass which is a world class facility. The "Flood of '72 Community, Collections and Conservation" exhibit at the Rakow Research Library is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the museum's staff and the people of Corning. "On June 23, 1972, Corning and the surrounding communities were devastated by a major flood, as a result of the tropical storm Agnes. At the Museum, hundreds of objects were broken, more than half of the Library’s materials were saturated with flood water, and the facility was covered with a thick layer of slime and mud. This exhibit chronicles the determination of Museum staff and the community to rebuild, and sheds light on the unique conservation techniques that were used to restore Library materials." Source - cmog.org

We purchased a combination ticket and took the shuttle to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, another attraction well worth the visit in Corning.  This view is from the patio roof.

Today's Distance: 0 km Total Distance: 376 km

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DST Day 2, 11 July 2012: Hammondsport, NY to Corning, NY

At the Glen Mountain Market Bakery & Cafe in Watkins Glen, NY we meet Don H Maas, a retired high school art teacher who has been sketching portraits of the regulars for many years (above). On to the International Motor Racing Research Centre where hubby "hits paydirt" in his research and enjoys chatting with the staff and volunteers. Staying in Corning, NY at the Radisson which is in the centre of town so you can walk out to restaurants and shops.

Today's Distance: 72 km Total Distance: 376 km

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deep South Tour Day 1, 10 July 2012: Toronto, ON to Hammondsport, NY

Getting across the border at Fort Erie was a breeze this morning. Stopped at Mama's Home Cooking in Arcade, NY for coffee and yummy apple crisp $6.33 for the two of us. The Glenn H Curtiss Aviation Museum at Hammondsport, NY was fascinating. His contributions to aviation history are staggering. Pictured above is a replica of his 1907 V8 2 Curtiss motorcycle (the original is at the Smithsonian). At Ormond Beach, Florida, on January 23, 1907, Curtiss officially clocked at 136.3 mph on a measured mile, with this bike, earning himself the title "Fastest Man on Earth".

Staying at the Keuka Lakeside Inn at Hammondsport where it's comfy and quiet in an old fashioned kind of a way. During a stroll around the town square in the evening, I was captivated by the "Palettes of Keuka" art tour. Some 50 local artists have created works of art on metre tall palettes in this sixth year of the event. Below are works by Stefanie Weaver and Jeff Perrault.

Total Distance: 304 km

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Tanner Zurkoski is living in a car for a month to show how bad Toronto commuters have it

Tanner Zurkoski is praying for rain.
His 6-foot-3 frame, cloaked in a polyester long-sleeved shirt, is folded in the driver’s seat of a small car that has been his home for eight days.
“Do I feel gross?” he says, touching his arm, shiny in the humidity. “Um, yes. I do. To be honest about it, it feels a little scummy.”
But this is his prize. Zurkoski, 22, competed for the privilege of living in a car for a month, in order to show Torontonians how much time they lose to commuting every year. The region’s average daily commute is 82 minutes, according to Metrolinx. Spread out over a year, it works out to almost a month in a car.

Read full article here.  See Facebook page here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

smart fortwo edition iceshine Available in October

The latest smart fortwo special model is the ‘edition iceshine’, which combines a fresh, cheeky look with chic equipment details. This exciting special model can be preordered in white or exclusive azure blue from June, while the first vehicles in this limited series will be rolled out to dealers in October 2012. The smart fortwo edition iceshine is available as a coupĂ© or cabrio, with a 52kW mhd petrol engine or a 62kW petrol engine. Prices start at €14,490 ($18,186). See full story here.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Nissan is reviving Datsun brand

Updated 8h 34m ago
After abandoning Datsun nearly 30 years ago, Nissan is reviving the brand for economy cars sold in developing markets, according to Reuters.
The Datsun brand would return to countries like India, Russia and Indonesia on cars priced around $6,200. Nissan wants a sub-brand that will help the carmaker sell inexpensive cars in developing markets, but, at the same time, it doesn't want to damage Nissan brand's reputation. Toyota and Honda are also facing similar challenges in developing markets, according Reuters.
French carmaker Renault, which has a strong alliance with Nissan, currently builds cheaper cars under its Dacia brand, with such cars as the Dacia Logan or Nissan Aprio (for Mexico). Similar models could be considered for Datsun. Nissan hopes to sell about 300,000 vehicles a year under the Datsun brand, according to sources.
Datsuns were essentially rebadged versions of Nissan-brand cars that were mainly used for export but also for sale in the United States until the early 1980s. It's still widely remembered by Baby Boomers.

By Colin Bird/Cars.com's Kicking Tires

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Peel out.

We found this Peel P50 is at the Mistequa Auto Museum in Chewelah, Washington in August 2010.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

We enjoyed seeing the Peel Trident [top] and P50 [below] at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee in March 2008.

Peel to make a comeback

LONDON — Plans have been announced to reprise a limited manufacturing run and sale of the smallest-ever production automobile, the three-wheeled, single-seater P50 from the 1960s.
The microcar had a cousin, the bubble-top two-passenger Trident [seen above], which will also be offered for sale in resurrected form.
The original little cars were two of the products of Peel Engineering, on the west coast of the Isle of Man in the town of Peel. Other products were the Peel Manxcar and Peel Viking Sport, as well as prototype Minis for BMC.
The original Peel Engineering was the producer of the only motorcars ever built on the island perhaps best known for the legendary Isle of Man Tourist Trophy motorcycle road race first held in 1907.
According to Peel Microcars, a Web site claiming to be "the site for Peel microcars built in the Isle of Man," the original designer was Cyril Cannell.
Car enthusiasts Gary Hillman and Faizal Khan have acquired the company, and the new Peel Engineering, billing itself as "Home of the World's Smallest Car — Since 1962," is accepting orders for both models.
View source.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Smart Fortwo third generation spy shots

Earlier this week, spy photographers from WorldCarFans managed to catch a glimpse of what is supposed to be the next gen of the second gen Smart Fortwo microcar. From the spy images here, we can see that the new Smart Fortwo has been installed with daylight running LED's and minor cosmetic changes. It is also believed that Smart Fortwo microcar third gen will also be available in new and exciting color choices.
View source.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Chrysler CEO: 'Blame me' for missing Fiat 500 sales target

By James R. Healey, USA Today

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says he grossly overestimated the degree to which Americans would embrace a super-small car. But even though the Fiat 500 fell well short of predictions, Marchionne says it won't hurt the automaker's fortunes.

Marchionne admits he was way off when he forecast that 50,000 Fiat 500s could be sold in the U.S. every year. Until the Scion iQ came along, the stylish Fiat 500 reigned as the second-smallest car on the U.S. market after the eight-foot, eight-inch Smart.

The Fiat 500 is important because it fills the gap for a small, fuel-efficient car in the otherwise Hemi and truck-heavy Chrysler Group line-up. But the brand only sold 19,769 of them last year, 2,325 in December alone.

"Blame me. I'm the guy that came up with the 50,000 forecast," he said today in a session with reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The good news? He says the Fiat 500 is made at a plant in Toluca, Mexico, that's flexible enough to make 500s for other markets and didn't cost a lot to tool-up to build the 500 in the first place.

Smart For-Us Pickup Concept Debuts At 2012 Detroit Auto Show

By Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Fresh from its win in last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge, Smart has unveiled a funky electric urban pickup concept at this week’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
Yes, this tiny concept car is an open-top pickup complete with a sturdy tray, which Smart claims is ideal for holding a pair of bikes or whatever else the vehicle’s two passengers may wish to carry--along as it’s small.
The electric drive of the For-Us Concept is based on the electric drivetrain that will feature in the latest-generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive due this spring.
It consists of an electric motor rated at 73 horsepower and 95 pound-feet of torque and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 17.6 kWh. In the For-Us Concept this zero-emission drivetrain will see the vehicle reach a top speed of 75 mph.
One innovative feature is the vehicle’s charging outlet in the cargo area. Smart suggests carrying a pair of electric bikes, so that any driver of the For-Us can also reach destinations that are out of bounds for cars--for example traffic-calmed zones in the city or isolated park trails.
While we don’t expect Smart to launch a pickup model anytime soon, we can envisage the For-Us Concept’s open-top design featuring on a sporty new roadster model. Following the success MINI has enjoyed with all its variants spun-off the basic Cooper hatchback design, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Smart follow the same route using its next-generation ForTwo as the basis.
View source.