Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chi-town hustling

Off to Chicago on Tuesday following an invitation from the Illinois Institute of Technology to show the smart car to their Architecture class. They have been doing a project on "the car dealership of the future" and are inspired by the smartcar. Thanks to Alex Campbell of ZAP in Santa Rosa, California for putting this together.
To get the car into show condition we took her out to the Wash N'Go self-serve carwash at 4000 Dundas Street West in Toronto. We gave her a thorough cleaning inside and out. Several people asked questions about the car including one gentlemen who very politely asked if he could see the engine. Edward Garcia, our sales representative at the Mississauga showroom, recommended Mothers California Gold Showtime Instant Detailer and we have had great results. On the tires, we used Meguiar's Hot Shine Tire Spray. It works well on rubber floor mats too!

Architect Tom Brock, from IIT, phoned to confirm plans for Wednesday's event. At 05:45 on Tuesday I set out from our underground parking garage heading for the 401, turned off on the 402 to Sarnia and across the Bluewater Bridge to Port Huron, Michigan. I rolled into Chicago by teatime covering a distance of approximately 530 miles. It is not our smartcar's first visit to Chicago this year as we started our Route 66 Odyssey on Sunday, July 10th at Michigan and Adams.

Essex Inn, Chicago: "I really got here around 15:15 - I had forgotten to deduct an hour for the time change. Blazing hot in the car - 72F - not October weather at all. I spent two hours detailing the smart car on arrival - the guys at the valet parking are going crazy over the smart - fetching water, shop towels, windolene etc. Short rest then dinner at the Artists Cafe with Tom Brock - he is a very interesting guy - great conversation. The car will be on display outside the school of architecture."

After a long day at the college demonstrating the car we manage a quick dinner at Heaven on Seven, a Cajun Restaurant in town. Alex Campbell heads for O'Hare Airport and a late flight back to California. I'm up at 05:10 and wheels turning at 06:00 - quite like old times - a quick pitstop at the BP garage on Roosevelt and I'm heading through the south side of Chicago in the dark. I busk my way to Gary, Indiana on Highway 20 and eventually join I-94 east, then I-69. I detour off the road to Olivet, Michigan where I take a late breakfast at the Main Street cafe. The friendly locals are intrigued by the smart car. When I ask the address of the cafe nobody knows - "it is the only one in town." If you are going to Olivet it is at 110 North Main.

Back on the highway and I'm nearly suckered into an accident by a lady in a black Chevy Impala who is photographing the smart while driving. I reach Port Huron but miss the turning for Canada as the sign is obscured by roadworks. I have visions of being stuck in Michigan for good. Back across the border and a last gas stop at Zehrs in Strathroy, Ontario - I'm struggling in the Toronto rush hour traffic and glad to be back at 17:30.

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