The Discover North America Expedition is well underway and Blackie is holding up just fine. Blackie has now clocked over 40,000 miles since her birth. The mileage breakdown is as follows – 85% highway, 10% city, (we try to avoid them) 5% unimproved road and off road. We change the oil every 3000 miles and so far have had no serious niggles. We expected to replace the brake pads but upon inspection found they still had 50% left- amazing! Fuel burn is around 18 MPG and the 4000-mile old Pirelli Scorpion Asimmetrico “All Season” tires are doing well. We found these tires to handle well in snow, ice and torrents of rain. They are low profile tires really intended for on – road service so if we venture off road we carry a shovel to help out if necessary but watch the terrain carefully to avoid chewing up the wheels or getting stuck. We did add a full sized spare tire since the 08’s didn’t come with one. We feel it is essential equipment for long hauls especially in remote areas.
Blackie handles like a dream and Jay has been known to drive 900 miles at a shot without dozing off! Her super charged engine keeps us ahead of the dangerous tractor – trailers and she hardly notices hilly terrain. Since she is a “Sunshine State Sport” she has to be properly prepared for northern expeditions in the winter. We found out on a frigid foray last winter that the deicer additive, which claimed to make the windshield washer winter- proof, did no such thing. Even the slightest amount of water in the well will result in icing below 20F and destroy your visibility – treacherous! We now travel with 100 proof blue kool-aid. Don’t settle for less!
N41 29’00/ W71 19’00
Weather – not as hot, humid 88F wind east 15K
We aim Blackie at the historic yachting enclave of Newport, Rhode Island. Located on Aquidneck Island along the beautiful Narragansett Bay, Newport’s first English settlers arrived in 1639. Other Europeans followed some escaping religious persecution. By the mid 1700’s this bustling, protected harbor and deep-water port became one of the top 5 ports in the US. Simultaneously pirates infested the area and piracy was viewed as a way to boost the local economy and lower unemployment among the seafaring men. Newport became a refuge for pirates and their booty provided untaxed goods to the town. The British took a dim view of this activity and occupied the port to try to regain control of this unruly group. This only inspired the patriot movement and resulted in a bond with French forces that helped the town boot out the Brits. British occupation damaged Newport’s economy and the Industrialization boom bypassed the town. Not all was lost as this set the stage for the development of this now famous summer resort. Wealthy southerners and northerners built summer “cottages” which are now the massive mansions of the rich and famous. Some mansions are open for tours. In the 1930’s, the New York Yacht Club introduced the America’s Cup Race to Newport and held on to it until 1983 when it sailed to Australia. Newport is currently vying to host the upcoming 2013 America’s Cup Challenge, stay tuned.
We pull up to the demure appearing Forty 1 North hotel. While resembling a clapboard barn it is anything but. The ultra modern, trendy and totally tech interior feels more like it should be in South Beach, Miami. The luxurious room comes with your own iPad, iPod and fully stocked bar (not with the little snorts either). Set on Newport Harbor it’s smack in the middle of the action. There is an outdoor partially covered bar/restaurant on the dock level as well as one on the indoor upper floor. The food was great. For a more historic, local fare stroll along the docks to the Cooke House and go upstairs for a drink overlooking the harbor (ask for Ken). Next-door is the Black Pearl. If you like clam chowder this is your place. The place is thick with history and character. It’s like going back in time. There are plenty of things to do here, shopping, museums, etc but there’s nothing like a cruise around the harbor.
The bay and nearby Atlantic Ocean provide great cruising grounds and as a result today the harbor is a constant hubbub of activity. Boats of every size and shape occupy every milliliter of water. Classic yachts carefully restored to mint condition not only grace the mooring field but are sailed frequently. The famous America’s Cup contenders of the past cruise in and out of the harbor. There seems to be a sailboat race happening every day. You can charter a 12-meter, do a sunset cruise, or just ride one of the water taxis. For $3.00 you can ride the launch across the harbor to see Fort Adams. Just do get out on the water! Wandering around historic downtown reveals a patchwork of carefully restored buildings and is best accomplished on foot. It seems that things turned all right by not getting swept away in the Industrial Revolution, see what you think.