Ride with us as we buy and drive a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette for 12,000km across America and into Canada over 7 weeks. Then we ship it back to New Zealand!
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 35 | Provincetown, Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth, Massachusetts
States entered after today: 25
Distance driven today: 100 miles/ 160 km
Total distance driven: 6,876 miles/ 11,065 km
Heading into the centre of Provincetown, I had one aim for this morning: to climb the Pilgrims Monument. Built in 1910, it is 252 feet high and each stone block weighs around 4 tons. I have no idea how they managed to get these huge stones up so high, but I do know that health and safety wouldn’t have been a priority in 1910 when construction ended.
There are 116 steps and 60 ramps to get to the top of the tower, which opens at 10 a.m. each day. It costs US$20 to go up and if you are in the centre of town, this includes a ride up a small incline to get to the base of the tower. The ticket price also includes entry to the town museum, behind the tower.
While buying my ticket, the young woman who drove the incline asked me where I was from. When I said New Zealand, she told me she thought I was, as her father was born in Mt Eden in Auckland and he grew up in New Plymouth. It’s a very small world out there.
After riding the incline (it only takes a minute), I started climbing the tower. It’s not that bad, and the suggested time of ten minutes at a casual pace sounds about right. There are more ramps than stairs in walking distance, making the going a bit easier.
On getting to the top, you are rewarded with some stunning views of the town and Cape Cod. It’s pretty flat everywhere around the tower, so you can see a very long way. After photos, I headed down to the museum. It’s very well done for a small town, with an easy chronological order of things, going through from early colonisation to the building of the tower and then the reasons behind the town embracing all things LBGTQ. Both the museum and the tower are worth a visit if you are in Provincetown.
Leaving Provincetown, we headed to Falmouth and then a quick trip to Woods Hole to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, which is an island just off the coast.
My fault, but I didn’t realise there was ZERO car parking down by the ferry. If you aren’t taking your car on the ferry (it’s US$200 return) then have to park about 5 miles away and catch a free shuttle to the wharf. We’re not staying the night on Martha’s Vineyard, so there’s no point in taking the Corvette across.
So we tootle up to the wharf to ask where to park for the next 6 hours and get directed back to the parking lot. It meant we missed one ferry, but we caught the next one, so no big deal.
After walking off the ferry, we headed into the township of Martha’s Vineyard. While there are around 20,000 people living here year-round, in the summer months that goes up to 150,000.
We’re visiting when it’s just off-season, so that means lots of shops are closed – maybe 70% of them. There are signs on the doors saying “see you in May” – so these shops close for at least 7 months of the year, and make all their cash in a short 5-month window.
Walking around the town, there are the obligatory souvenir shops, and that’s about it. There doesn’t seem to be any character to the town, unlike the great vibe we got in Provincetown or even Montreal. We carry on, but we’re just not feeling anything for this place. It’s a real shame as this was going to be one of the highlights of our trip. Yep, I got the times wrong so we didn’t spend as much time here as we would have liked to, but there’s just nothing here to make us want to come back. Maybe in the on-season, it would be better but part of me just thinks that means a whole lot more people.
One of the things we aren’t going to get to see is the filming location for the movie, Jaws. All those souvenir shops – and I mean ALL of them – are selling Jaws tee shirts, key rings, tea towels; you name it, it’s got Jaws on it. There are some specific points on the island that are key to the movie, but it’s all around 4km from where we are and one of us doesn’t ride a bike, so we’ll have to come back another trip to the USA and take a look.
I think if we had a car with us, we could have explored a lot more of the island, so this is going to be added to our “return visit” list to do Martha’s Vineyard justice.
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 36 | Falmouth, Massachusetts to Enfield, Connecticut
States entered after today: 27
Distance driven today: 160 miles/ 258 km
Total distance driven: 7,036 miles/ 11,323 km
From the beginning of planning this roadie, we wanted to have a few spare days where we don’t plan anything, and just wing it. Today would be one of those days, where we leave the hotel and simply drive in the direction that we need to go, but with no destination in mind.
But first, a quick stop in at the Nobska Light, just out of Falmouth. The lighthouse was built in 1828 and is on immaculate grounds and as expected, some stunning views out to the harbour.
After the lighthouse, we drove west and just cruised. Actually, it was a bit of a boring drive as we stopped in a few towns that we thought would be interesting, like New Bedford, but found nothing interesting to look at.
Probably the most exciting and yet disheartening part of today was the hammering the car got on the US roads and interstates. I have no idea how the locals put up with this, as there are humongous potholes seemingly everywhere. We watched a local news item on TV last night where some locals are planting pot plants in the potholes, mainly to show people where they are.
If it was to be considered a positive, then we did cross into Rhode Island, state number 26 for this trip. A while later, we entered into Connecticut, state number 27.
So we drove and drove and ended up in Enfield. With probably not much planning on my part (or was there?), Enfield happens to be very close to the Six Flags New England theme park. And while it’s closed all week because it’s off-season, it just happens to be open Friday night. So we booked into a hotel for two nights, with a plan of me getting on as many rides as possible.
So we’re in Enfield, Connecticut for the next two nights; I would have been just as keen to drive for another ten minutes and stay in Springfield, Massachusetts, mainly because of the name.
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 37 | Enfield, Connecticut
Breakfast was first, and what did we find next to the restaurant?
Because only in America do you see a wiener mobile parked behind a restaurant.
We basically bummed around for the rest of the day, making the most of our last days with the car. That evening I went early and queued up to do all the rides at the Six Flags, and it was worth it. Like almost every theme park, they put Rainbow’s End to shame. I came away satisfied after doing as many rides as I could in the 5-hour window that the park was open. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 38 | Enfield, Connecticut to Albany, New York State
States entered after today: 28
Distance driven today: 192 miles/ 308 km
Total distance driven: 7,228 miles/ 11,632 km
Another random day of driving today, so early on we got out the computer and checked on what direction we wanted to go in, and maybe even a destination. I spotted the Catskill Mountains on the map and have heard it mentioned so many times in movies and books, that it was time to go there.
On checking some of the things to do, I found a cat shop in the town of Catskill (!); the shop doesn’t sell cats, but it does sell all sorts of cat-related stuff, and my wife was sold instantly. This would add a huge amount to my brownie points account.
We hit the road, leaving the state of Connecticut and in thirty minutes we entered New York State, our 28th state of this road trip. Catskill turned out to be an excellent small town with awesome period buildings, friendly people and good coffee. Because of our luck, the cat shop was closed for the season (it did say it was open on their website, though). So we wandered about the town and found a “trunk sale” (or car boot sale to a New Zealander). It was cool looking at everyone’s stuff for sale, but honestly, it was pretty much the same sort of rubbish you’d see someone selling at a car boot sale at home.
One of the sellers saw my camera and tried to get me to buy her old cameras and associated gear. I responded with a “Nah, I’ll just end up with too much stuff.” She threw her arms up in the air, waving at all her own stuff for sale and said, “Yah think?!” At least she’s on the road to recovery, trying to get rid of her own excess stuff.
Nearing lunchtime, we went to Willa’s for some food and to download some java (i.e. coffee). Willa’s was so busy that the wait for hot food was an hour, so we opted for cabinet food, and it was excellent. I love the password for the wifi here; whatyoutalkinaboutwilla
Eventually, we left the town of Catskill and headed to Hunter, where we had two things planned; a ride up the chairlift to look over three mountain ranges and go see a movie in their small-town theatre.
The road on the way from Catskill to Hunter was amazing; finally, we got to see all the trees changing to their autumn colours. Not as in-your-face as when we came in 2019, but impressive all the same. It was like this, corner after corner:
We crossed over the Catskill Mountain and down into Hunter and followed the signs to the car parking for the chair lift. We had expected to be the only ones on the chairlift, and perhaps it wouldn’t even be open. What we didn’t count on was it being the weekend of Oktoberfest and the place being packed. The car park was almost full – it’s a massive car park – and the line to the chairlift was HUGE. We passed on that and instead, headed back into the township to look around.
For some reason, I went into the Piano Museum. I don’t even play the piano, but we had time to kill (my wife had found yet another bookshop) and it was open. I’ll admit, it was pretty interesting and it was amazing to see such a huge range of superbly presented pianos in this small town (population 2,732) basically in the middle of nowhere. There were pianos there from the early 1800s, looking new.
I knew my wife would be in the Hunter Public Library, and she was. While waiting for her, I asked the librarian about the tie-in with Rip Van Winkle. All through the Catskills, we’ve seen references to Rip Van Winkle – bridges, lodges, ranches, real estate agents, country club, monuments, and more. You name it, the locals have stuck Rip Van Winkle on the front.
He mentioned that the only reason was that the fictional story of Rip Van Winkle was set in the Catskills and that was enough for people to cash in on it. I can’t blame them for that but at least now we know.
The movie we went to see was Jules, about a retired man who finds a UFO has crashed landed in his flower garden, and he ends up befriending the alien, that his friend names Jules. A feel-good movie and worth watching. I think the biggest surprise for us both was the theatre; rebuilt from a very old building but with 4 screens inside. Impressive for such a small town.
After the movie, we drove north to the capital of New York state, Albany, for our hotel for the night. We’re mainly staying in Albany as accommodation anywhere near the Catskills is booked out due to Oktoberfest. Tomorrow, sadly, we have our last day driving, as we do the 3.5-hour drive to New Jersey.
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 39 | Albany, New York State to North Bergen, New Jersey
States entered after today: 29
Distance driven today: 151 miles/ 244 km
Total distance driven: 7,379 miles/ 11,876 km
We’re not driving far today but we won’t be hurrying. This is our last day travelling in the Corvette and we want to stretch it out.
We call into towns like Hudson and Kingston but don’t find anything interesting so carry on. One thing we do find is so many more potholes. Those who believe the USA has great roads are living in a dream world. They are either very good, or more often than not, rubbish.
This is now a Sunday we are arriving in New Jersey, and the traffic is crazy busy. There are a large number of quick changes left or right, and it’s a mission – but we finally get to our AirBNB in North Bergen.
2023 USA Road Trip: Day 40 | New Jersey
States we entered in total: 29
Total distance driven: 7,379 miles/ 11,876 km
Fuel Economy: 8.5L/100km
Sadly, we dropped the Corvette off today for shipping. I guess on the plus side, that means it will hopefully be on its way to New Zealand soon. We weren’t sure how many states we would end up crossing, but 29 of them is a great result. Sadly, it’s 28 more than probably half of the Amercian population will get to see. So many we spoke to simply can’t afford to travel, or don’t get enough time off work for it.
We got to Kiwi Shipping USA’s east coast drop-off point in New Jersey and the process couldn’t have been easier. We called in with our shipping number, one of the team went over the car to mark down any scratches, and we left. If it took ten minutes, I’d be surprised.
I think I’m still stunned by how little fuel the Corvette used. To achieve 8.5L/100km for a 5.7-litre V8 is outstanding. It was hovering around 7.9L/100km for a while, but as the boot got loaded up with more stuff (cough – books! – cough) the total weight went up and so did fuel consumption. Regardless, 8.5 is superb.
The boot (sorry, trunk) is an incredible 702 litres. For a 2-door coupe, that’s mind-blowing.
From the outset of the buying process – no matter what car we purchased – I wanted a manual. Back in 2016 when we bought a brand-new Dodge Challenger, at the car dealership where we purchased it they had over 70 new Dodge Challenger V8s in stock, and just one of those was a manual. The gearbox in the C5 isn’t the fastest or easiest manual to use, but it could be a whole lot worse. I guess more impressive is the very low gearing, meaning so few RPMs when doing 80mph or more. It’s a far more pleasant experience than the standard 4-speed slushbox – for me at least.
The ride is nowhere as bad as the C4 Corvette we did our last cross-USA trip in, in 2019 but if the USA’s roads were better we wouldn’t have got as hammered.
For now, that’s it. Our 2002 C5 Corvette is sitting across the oceans, some 14,372km away from us (I left an Apple AirTag in the car). We’ll wait for shipping and track the car as it crosses the world. Our next article will be on the compliance process, and as we did in 2019, we’ll let you know exactly how much it costs to get our C5 on the road here. So stay tuned to see how that pans out.