U.S. Road Trip Reflections Part I

Ever driven coast to coast in the U.S.? I haven’t, but recently drove halfway across from Boston to NYC and then to Chicago for a spell and then through Canada to Niagara Falls and back to Boston.  All in all, about 3,000 miles – 4,828 Canadian where the speed limits and distances are posted in kilometers without as much as a warning to American drivers. Still trying to figure out how much I paid for a gallon of gas in Toronto. I love Canada. I do. But I don’t dig  Tim Horton’s, the Canadian version of Dunkin Donuts that does not compare favorably, a place my wife calls Tom Norton’s. Tiny coffee cups, weak ice coffee with dainty ice-cubes and small donuts that look and taste “store bought” as a traveling companion put it, with distinctly Canadian flavours like sour cream glazed and maple frosted. And the wait, I mean 15 minutes for a cup of coffee is just not acceptable. Tim Horton’s sounds more like a steakhouse.

Since we were a traveling party of five with a lot of luggage, we took two Honda Fits.  It’d have been a tight fit all of us to go in one and we’d have exceeded the payload of 850 pounds. Our Fits performed admirably, despite the tiny 1.5 liter engine that we had to gun to pass big trucks, but once up to speed, the Fit runs smoothly. We had some pretty miserable driving conditions with driving rain and lightening but never once felt unsafe in the Fit. It handled flawlessly. And we got excellent gas mileage of about 36 mpg in mixed driving and some heavy traffic in spots.

From Boston, we headed to NYC just to stop off at Zabar’s for gifts of coffee and black and white cookies. You can’t beat Zabar’s, unless you happen to be in Toronto where you can beat it if you go to St. Lawrence Market, which is “Zabar’s times 7”, as my oldest daughter put it.

It was getting late and we plowed through NYC and into PA where we stopped in some small town at a Motel 8 or something or other with a number in it. The continental breakfast was a little on the depressing side with stale Cherrios in a giant dispenser and wet English muffins that toasted soggy. The one Red Delicious apple was the loan fresh fruit, and I think all the patrons were afraid to take it, not wanting to be the one to take the last one, which I took to be an act of polite Midwestern restraint. I’d have taken it, but I do not like the Red Delicious. I do not.

We drove past Williamsport the site of the Little League World Series that was about to begin and Bloomsburg, where my friend DH went to school. We rolled past Allentown, the place Billy Joel made famous. I remember thinking a lot about chocolate and wondering whether the Hershey factory was open 24 7 like the local 7 Eleven. PA, the land of chocolate, Rolling Rock, Quakers and three of my FB friends.

Green Cars

An article in the New York Times referenced a list of the greenest cars put out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  At the top of the list is a car that burns gas, rated higher even than an all electric car.  Personally, I’m not big on green cars.  I prefer silver, blue or any of the metallic varieties.  Tan is fine too though many years ago I might have called my grandparents square for owning tan cars including a Plymouth Valiant, a VW Bug, and a Chevy Vega Wagon.  Actually, I’m square too as my first car was a tan Honda Civic Wagon.  To my grandfather’s credit, he also purchased a green VW Bug for my aunt.  Anyway, 30 years later, I’m still driving a Civic Wagon which is now called the Fit.

But as fuel efficient and clean as the Fit is, and it is both in droves, it did not make the green list, though several other Hondas did including the hybrid Insight and a CNG burning Civic.  In fact, this natural gas Civic model ranked as the top green car on the market, beating out the all electric Nissan Leaf.  One question, though.  Where do you buy Natural Gas?  My local Sunoco does not deal in CNG, nor do most of the other stations in the area.  I admit that at the moment, CNG is cheaper and certainly cleaner than gasoline, almost $1.00 per gallon cheaper, if you can find it.

The problem with the Leaf is not the technology, or the hassle of recharging it all the time.  The problem is the name.  Leaf.  A leaf does not inspire confidence.  I don’t like leaves.  I battle them every Fall when they fall off the trees and litter my yard.   And the leaf itself is not very powerful.  It waves in the wind, and blows around on the ground quite irresponsibly without a care in the world.  Nissan could have gone for a better name like the Acorn.  Now that’s an armored nut that packs a punch when falling to the ground.  And they come from the majestic Oak tree.  Maybe Nissan will develop an all electric version for the family Sedan and call it the Nissan Oak.  I’d buy one.

The Honda Fit, not so Fit

Toy or car?

Toy or car?

My daughter is looking to buy a new car and so am I.  We’re thinking to buy two Honda Fits, different colours of course.  Maybe we’d get a good deal, like free floor mats or something.  But I’m having second thoughts.   Don’t get me wrong.  I like the car.  I was inside one and impressed with its interior roominess.  Cavernous actually.  But on the outside, the thing looks like a toy.  Fit for a kid, not an adult.  Like one of the cars I used to pedal around the house when I was 4.   Or a John Deer riding lawnmower with a hardtop.  No, that would describe the SMART car.

The Fit sounds trim and lean and fuel-efficient, but it’s not really.  About 33 average mpg.  That’s just not that good – or I should say not nearly good enough.  The Civic CCC from the 70’s got 54 mpg.  It did.  And the Fit looks  about the same size as the first gen. Civic, but I would be willing to bet weighs 800 – 1,000 pounds more; the unfit Honda Fit.