A walk in Providence -- 11/16/03

I mentioned yesterday that Nancy and I had gone on a walking tour of Providence. A tennis friend of hers had arranged with David Brussat, architecture critic/columnist [note: newspaper requires free registration] for the Providence Journal, to guide a half dozen of us on a Saturday afternoon walk around Providence. I thought this was really cool because I've been a big fan of his for a long time, look forward to reading his column each week, and also because Providence has an incredible amount of lovely 19th century and early 20th century architecture, a marvelous visually interesting city.

We wandered about through the Downcity area (the local term for a major section of downtown Providence) and then crossed over the Providence River to the College Hill area (so-called because it is the home of both RISD and Brown University. One of these days... well, probably not until spring... I'm going to bring a camera and take some pictures in that area to post online here. If you ever watched any of that silly Friday night soap opera that ran on NBC for a few years, let me assure you that the various shots they showed of Providence were not created on a computer; it really is an interesting and scenic city. Among the buildings we saw yesterday were the Arcade (built in 1828, it is the oldest shopping plaza in the country), the old Industrial Trust Company building (known as "The Superman Building" because it played the role of The Daily Planet building for Superman), and the John Brown House (John Quincy Adams called it "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent.")....

I sometimes do the Friday Five, although not recently (not since a month ago). Today, however, Nance (of Disfunction Junction) did the Sunday Brunch questions. This was the first I'd seen them, but they piqued my interest, so I thought I'd answer them.

1. The first car I ever drove was a...
1955 Chevy... three on the tree (i.e., standard 3 speed transmission with shift lever mounted on the side of the steering column.
2. My dream car is...
Hmmm. With some degree of reality, probably a Suburu Forrester (at least, that's what I really wanted to buy when I got my Toyota Corolla)... leaving reality behind... I'd like a two-seat sports car, not one of those exotic half million dollar things, something semi-reasonable that could actually be driven daily... let's just say that Porsche and BMW and Ferrari and Alpha Romeo and Jaguar have produced vehicles that I find interesting... and there are a couple of Japanese vehicles I wouldn't mind owning.
3. Can you drive a vehicle with a stick shift? If yes, how long did it take you to learn?
I learned on a stick shift (see #1 above) and the first car I owned was a VW Beetle. I have only owned two automatics in my life (a big Chevy station wagon and a Dodge Caravan), otherwise they've all been either four-speeds or five-speeds. (Currently all four vehicles at our house are five-speed standards...Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and a Mazda pickup truck.)
4. What is the fastest you have ever driven?
Close to 120 mph in a Ferrari (the owner raced it on weekends, I totally terrified myself by briefly hitting that speed on a highway, just a glance to see the needle passing 110 but I was too scared to take my eyes off the road to see if it hit 120 or not, although I'm pretty sure it did) -- I also just edged over 100 mph in a Toyota Celica illegally on an interstate highway in Pennsylvania and was somewhere in that speedometer neighborhood on the Watkins Glen Grand Prix course (probably also illegally since technically I was trespassing, but you won't tell on me, right?)
5. How many people you have crammed into a vehicle at one time?
When I was a passenger, not the driver, probably a dozen guys to get from campus to bar when in college (including two guys in the trunk) -- As a driver, I am a big believer in seat belts. I probably had six people (counting myself as driver) a few times in my old (pre-seat belt) VW.

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