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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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April 8-11, 2006: Winslow, AZ to Washington, D.C.


Washington, D.C.

Early this morning I triumphantly pulled into Washington, D.C. With that move, my part in the ZAP Across America rally by SMART cars is almost complete.

People love the SMART car. Everywhere I stop people come over and ask about the car. There is no such thing as a quick photo op or gas and go.


When I last wrote to you I was still in Arizona with a long way to go. It was Saturday morning and I needed to rack up some serious miles in my SMART car if I was going to make it to New York today in advance of the Press Days (tomorrow and the next day) of the New York International Auto Show. Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Achieving that major goal, which will mark my successful completion of this rally, is now clearly in sight. All I need to do is quickly submit this column, get on the road and finish the last short leg -- Washington, D.C. to New York City.

So much has happened in the past few days that I hardly know where to begin. I've been making regular entries into a tape recorder as I've been driving along. I just tried to rewind the tape but stopped doing so after letting it rewind for what seemed like several minutes. Somewhat to my surprise, there is so much on the tape that my reviewing it to tell you what's on it, selecting accompanying photos (from approximately 1,000 that I've shot since Saturday) and writing a comprehensive update for this column would probably take me the better part of today. That would, of course, cause me to blow my opportunity to successfully complete this rally.

National Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma

Don't worry, I won't let that happen. No way. My SMART car has dutifully done its part without so much as a hiccup between Arizona and here. So, instead of trying to go over my electronic notes now and telling you my full story, I'll let a few choice photos tell a very abbreviated version of that story. I'll also share a recollection or two to hopefully whet your appetitive for more, later. That will let me finish this installment in enough time to get back on the road in time to reach New York by mid-afternoon, to get changed and ready for today's pre-Press days opening event of the big auto show. Then later, perhaps when I'm back home in San Diego and have a lot more time, I'll go over that tape and tell you the full story in words and pictures. Who knows, it make take several more columns to do so. I wouldn't be surprised.

Texas & Tennessee highway rest stops

My plan was to kick things into high gear by not spending any more nights in hotels until I was back on schedule. I tried that idea and it worked. I drove until I started to get tired, pulled over at the nearest rest stop, napped until I woke up and continued on.

3 days on the road (note the stubble on my face on the third photo)

Sleeping in my SMART car meant trying to sleep in a barely reclined position. The car is so loaded with stuff that I can't recline my seat back very much. I must have been quite a sight to see, as I tried to make up for not having enough room to recline my seat very much by sliding it way forward -- to give me more room to recline it. Doing that meant that I needed to put my legs over the gearshift lever and place my feet in the passenger-side footwell. That worked but it was not particularly comfortable. What it did do is ensure that I would wake up after only a few short hours of sleep. That was enough to rest me for the next leg, without using up too much of my precious remaining time. Well, it worked. The most I ever slept at a time was about three hours, giving me plenty of time to drive the speed limit and get to Washington in the wee hours of the morning.

Check on the other members of the ZAP Across America rally and what they have been up to in their SMART cars at  

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to Enjoy the archives and more at Drive safely and do join me again next time.


Copyright 2006 Jan R. Wagner #187 AutoMatters

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