GETAWAY IN THE PT CRUISER

Apart from our first day’s drive through Shenandoah, and even during that drive, we’d been constricted by varying degrees of heavy traffic. It was time to breakaway.

The PT Cruiser was serving us well, and we could already see that the gas gauge (skewed though they all may be) was behaving friendly. On Wednesday, May the 23rd we checked out of our hotel in Chantilly and made a beeline for Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets was a must see – and must buy – during our 12-day vacation. We resisted the urge to spend like crazy, and during a long trot back to the PT we were grateful we hadn’t. Unseasonably warm temperatures made lugging a dehydrating experience, and so we were once again appreciative of the Chrysler’s good air-con system.

PT Cruiser’s MSRP’s begin at a notch over $15,000 in the States, a speck over $20K in Canada. The engine room holds a 150bhp 4-cylinder that really should make more power, considering its size, but it does punch out healthy torque. 165 lb-ft right in the midrange at 4000rpm. At the bare-bones pricing you ought to expect a bare-bones vehicle, because a bare-bones vehicle is what you’ll be getting. Considering you’re at the price of a fully-equipped Honda Fit, power windows and AM/FM/CD aren’t overwhelmingly convincing pieces of equipment. Cruiser’s have never been considered luxury vehicles, though. Spacious style statements, yes, luxury cars, no. Most switches and knobs for such practical things like folding seats and door handles are where you’d expect them to be located, and regardless of your perch; you will have space.

All of this is noted because from Leesburg we had a bit of a drive. After passing through Maryland we were soon in Gettysburg, home to the most momentous Civil War battle of them all. From Gettysburg we traveled to Pittsburgh on a mixture of fun, impressive roads and turnpike. Uck, turnpike.

We were welcomed onto the Penn Turnpike by wailing sirens. Siren sound derived from a bunch of emergency vehicles heading for the site of six tractor trailers piled up. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or cold, but truck drivers on the pike drive with high levels of aggression, impatience, and disregard for dangerous situations. Bumper-to-bumper when traffic is light, bumper-to-bumper when traffic is heavy. They’re frequently cruising at higher speeds than the rest of the car traffic. In retrospect, the six trucks piled up was not surprising whatsoever.

Highway ’30’ from Gettysburg leading to the turnpike station in Breezewood was epic. Spiraling downward hundreds of metres, little-to-no-traffic, and quaint homes everywhere we looked. The town of Chambersburg fit the all-American image to a T. We had a few short minutes in the Fort Loudon forest, which did not fail to impress us with the thickness of its trees and eye-opening surroundings. (I had a Benadryl in me, it takes something to fully open one’s eyes when Benadryled up.)

Chambersburg Road, Lincoln Highway, Highway 30… whatever name you use for that road, I suggest you travel it when given the opportunity. Chrysler PT Cruiser not required, and maybe not even suggested. Perhaps the use of a turbo would help, as in the GT. The convertible Cruiser would do fine, too. Some aspects of the road truly inspired roof-down moments.

Top right – most roads surrounding main battlefields in Gettysburg
will lead to Highway 30. Above, wish there was more time for the PT Cruiser to be
parked in front of La Bella Italia, the must-eat location in Gettysburg.