Monday, April 13, 2009

From Ohio to NY and back again in my smart car

My trip to NY and NYC over spring break was everything I hoped for. Saved a bundle by driving my smart car there and back. Averaged 47 mpg and spent 60 bucks on gas for the entire trip of over 1100 miles. That made it possible to splurge on excellent theatre tickets and enjoy time with friends in upstate NY as well as in the city.

The trip provided just about every type of driving experience imaginable -- I really got to know my smart car and bond with it! We drove through the mountains in high winds, rain and flurries, as well as through balmy and sunny weather. I highly recommend taking a trip on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. The views are stunning and the small forgotten cities and villages along the way are a delight to behold.

ON this entire journey, I only saw two other smart cars. One amazingly, appeared in my rear view mirror along a stretch of route 6. The other was in NYC, and bore the name of a business. Got lots of looks and comments along the way. The best was in Manhattan, where a traffic cop stopped me and came over to my window. She asked about the mileage and went on and on about how great that is, then waved me on. The worst encounter was on the way home, when a crazy old trucker appeared out of nowhere at a rest stop. He started in on my "tonka toy" of a car, finding great delight in putting it down with no basis in fact. I tried to give him a smart brochure to quiet him, but that only got him going more. Why do certain men seem threatened by a cute little micro car?

I drove up to Albany and then down along the Hudson and into Manhattan. Truly the smart is meant for urban driving. I never thought I'd want to drive in NYC, but in the smart, it was really fun and parking spots were there for the taking.

Here's a photo album of scenic views along the journey. A charming diner on the Grand Army of the Republic Hwy, otherwise known as Route 6. Stopped here for a grilled cheese with pickles.

Gorgeous brick work in an old building along the Grand Army of the Republic Highway:

Signs of decay along the way. People are still living in this building:

Mr Flash poses under the Lackawanna Railroad bridge:

A visit to Russell Sage College in Troy, NY where I found beautiful architecture:

and a sign commemorating the filming of The Age of Innocence:

and here's a snap of my friend Ron the actor in front of the New York State Theatre Institute's regular performance venue on the Russell Sage campus.

Staying with Dred in Brooklyn, I managed to find a good parking spot. One has to pay attention to the parking signs. There are certain days and times of days when cars have to be moved from one street to another. I visited Mr Flash everyday to make sure he was OK. One day, a man was walking down the street ahead of me, trying every door handle to every car. When he got to Mr Flash I wanted to scream out at him, don't touch it! But I restrained myself and was glad that the doors were locked and that the alarm system was installed and working.

I didn't take many photos in Manhattan. I went there for theatre and music mainly, not sightseeing. However, I did walk past the Swatch store in Times Square and took a photo in acknowledgment of Swatch's involvement in the design of the smart car. Did you know that the name "smart" comes from Swatch + Mercedes + art? I went inside the store and looked at the watches. Very colorful and clever designs, but I would rather spend 125 bucks on a theatre ticket than a watch.

Here's a photo of Dred Scott at the Rockwood Music Hall. You can catch the Dred Scott Trio there every Tuesday night at midnight. Most of the pictures (taken without flash) turned out lousy, but this one has a kind of artsy feel to it:

And finally, if you saw a red and black smart car tooling along the highways and byways of PA or NY last week with the following emblem, then you saw me!


KevinBBG said...

Glad you had such a good trip, and great mileage. They are only rated at 41 mpg on the highway.

And really, can anything good ever come from an encounter with a crazy old trucker at a rest stop?

Village Green said...

HI Kev, I have found my gas mileage has improved the longer I have been driving the car. Basically, I have learned to drive with a light foot on the gas pedal and I always use the auto-clutch. But I"m nowhere close to the achieving some of the mpg totals of some of the most dedicated hyper-milers.

Dave P. said...

Fun trip report! I saw a dark blue (or black, I can't remember) Smart Car on Market Street in front of the Highland Square library a couple weeks ago and wondered if it was you. Next time I'll look for the Kinks sticker. ;-)

Village Green said...

Dave -- I've seen a yellow and black (bumblebee) smart on Manchester Rd. Saw a white one while driving to Hudson last Friday. A friend saw a black cabriolet on Sandrun Parkway last week. It's great to see more of them bopping around Akron!