Busy! That has been my word for the month of May. Since the end of April, work has kept me in the office, and away from any major road trips during the weekends. While that is coming to a close after this weekend, I realized that it had been quite a while since I had last written a post. “Use it or lose it,” my grandmother would always remind me, so I thought I’d offer a brief post with some updates on all things automotive, along with some good food, and a very cool cultural festival near my home.
An Anniversary (A car-iversary?)
May the 1st was an anniversary of sorts – it marked four years since I first purchased my car. I asked my wife if we should take a drive to mark the occasion, and she suggested dinner at the Jersey Shore (how appropriate!). So after a day of work, we set off for Asbury Park, NJ.
May 1, 2015 – After taking delivery of my car from Burns Honda, I set off for a family get-together in Cape May, NJ. Four years later, another trip to the shore seemed fitting.
Less than an hour from our home, Asbury Park has become one of our go-to Jersey Shore destinations.
Harkening back to Asbury Park’s heyday as a 19th century summer vacation destination, Hotel Tides, built in 1886, is one of the last remaining hotels from the Golden Age of Asbury. I read that in 1915, room rates here were between $2.50 to $3.00 a day – that’s only $74 in 2019, adjusted for inflation. Reasonable luxury!
We dined at the Tides Restaurant, an elegant location that specializes in seafood. The tinwork on the walls and ceiling are original to the hotel, as are the chandeliers. Talk about history!
We began our meal with steamed mussels served with andouille sausage and red peppers. As good as that was, the main course was even better. My wife ordered the fluke livornese, which was served with a side of clams and mussels. My entree, however, was the pinnacle of the meal: delicious crab cakes, served with seasonal roasted vegetables and a jalapeño aioli.
Arriving at home that night, I snapped a photo of the odometer. In 4 years of ownership, I’ve driven my car 87,005 miles… an average of almost 22,000 miles per year. Without question, this Accord is the best car I’ve ever owned. An oil change???
I recently took my car to a new dealership for service – Keenan Honda in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Why does a stop for an oil change and tire rotation merit mention in the blog? Just wait and see…
This is the service driveway for Keenan Honda. Designed to look like a street in a European city, the facade and sky really make you feel like you’ve traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for an oil change!
As nice as the showroom is, I mean… it’s just a car dealership. Why would I make special mention of it in the blog?
Because on a balcony overlooking the showroom is a small museum of classic and antique cars. My service advisor recommended I check it out. In the foreground is a Mercedes-Benz 220. This car, built in the early 1950s, is based on a design that stretches back to 1915.
This first-generation Chevrolet Corvette was pretty sweet, too.
While cars like the Mercedes and the Corvette were cool, it was the collection of classic Hondas that made my day. This little car, the Honda N600, was the first model imported to the United States. In Japan, it is classified as a kei car, the smallest class of cars legally permitted in that country. The tiny 2-cylinder engine, which is more like a motorcycle engine than a car motor, produces a dizzying 45 horsepower. Still, given the tiny dimensions of the vehicle, the little two-cylinder will get the car up to a maximum speed of 77 miles per hour.
Where it all started for me… a first generation Honda Accord (1976-1981). My family’s first Honda was a 1980 Honda Accord hatchback, in beige (similar to the one I saw in RADwood last October). This red sedan was in immaculate shape.
The interior looked showroom fresh. Whoever cleaned and detailed this car… I salute you, sir or ma’am. Well done!
On the opposite side of the balcony from the Accord was this first-generation Honda Prelude, Honda’s first mass-market sports car. Built on the same platform as the first-generation Accord, this vehicle was designed to compete with the Toyota Celica. In all seriousness, I would someday love to have one of these in my garage as my post-retirement hobby.
Aside from the rearview mirror needing to be reattached to the windshield, the interior of this Prelude was as spotless as the Accord.
The museum also had a large collection of Honda motorcycles. Honda began as a motorcycle manufacturer, and the Super Cubs, pictured here, were credited with helping to establish the brand as a worldwide success. This bike’s advertising slogan, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” was so successful, it has been used as a case study in business school programs to demonstrate effective advertising (and you can see some of the vintage ads here).
The owners of Keenan Honda have long been involved in auto racing. Although there were several Dodge and Mercedes race cars in the museum, my personal favorite was this Honda S2000.
Where it all started… the D-Type motorcycle, known as the Dream. It was the first motorcycle manufactured by Honda, beginning in 1949. This 3E version is from the early 1950’s.
A few more classics were on display on the showroom floor, such as this early 1973 Honda Z600 coupe. It would be replaced in 1974 by a car model still in production today… the Honda Civic. You can tell how tiny the car is when you compare it to the grandfather clock in the background.
For me, the highlight of all the classics was this 1966 Honda S600 roadster. Drawing heavily on Honda’s experience as a motorcycle manufacturer, the car has a small engine that revs, motorcycle-style, to high rpms (in this case, 9,500 rpm) and produces 57 horsepower. Also drawn from the world of motorcycles, it uses a chain drive to move the rear wheels.
I don’t know if this photo captures the scale of the vehicle. It’s absolutely tiny. I’m not a big person by any means but I would struggle to fit in the seat.
After about an hour, my car was delivered to me on La Rue de Honda. Keenan even washed it before returning it to me.
What I like to see – a healthy vehicle report!! A fun festival!
For the last forty-six years, St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Piscataway, NJ has held a Greek festival during the month of May. The festival celebrates all things Greek, from food, to music, to cultural heritage. My wife had wanted to attend the festival for the past several years, so we decided to make an impromptu visit for dinner this past week.
We arrived early in the evening on the first night before the crowds got too large. Organizers expect over 20,000 guests will visit the four-day festival, making it one of the largest Greek festivals in the state.
Souvlakia? Gyro? Moussaka? Spanakopita? Kataifi? If you like Greek food, you can find it all here!
Given the beautiful weather, most people opted to eat outside. Those who sat inside, however, were treated to live Greek music. Listening to it made me want to dance the sirtaki!
For dinner, my wife had sliced lamb with a small Greek salad. I went all-in with a Gyro platter (pictured). The verdict? Delicious!
Of course, we had to sample the bakery afterward!
As we were leaving, we stepped into the sanctuary of St. George Orthodox Church. The vivid colors and iconography of Eastern Orthodox Christianity are both beautiful and fascinating. A few odds and ends…
With winter now finally in the rear-view mirror, I spent a gorgeous afternoon in May detailing both my wife’s Jeep and my Accord. The Jeep was the first to have months of winter gunk removed..
Armed with auto cleaning products from 3M and Meguiar’s, both cars received a top-to-bottom cleaning. Perhaps I can get a part-time job detailing those classics at Keenan?
And during the past month, my car passed the 130,000 mile mark. My goal for the Accord is 200,000 miles… so less than 70,000 to go!
Thanks for taking the time to catch up with a quick automotive update. I have some fun road trips planned for the coming weeks and months, so please do check in from time to time!
And thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!
‘Til next time.