A Day in the Volt and Giving Thanks Along the Way

"Our day in the Volt" began enroute to Country Chevrolet, where we picked up the electric car called The Volt. The holiday season was gearing up, as it was just before Thanksgiving. Our first stop would be Greenwood Lake True Value where we had some business to take care of. When we arrived, Bernie, the owner of the store, presented us with a check for our advertising services. I asked Kerryl what she might like to purchase as I was intent to give something back to our local merchants. For Kerryl it wasn't an easy decision, as she wasn't used to me pushing her to shop and buy.  But she did finally decide on an outdoor thermometer with one of her favoritie images of a cardinal, along with some batteries and a 10 pound bag of bird seed.


After we posed for a group picture, Frank, one of the friendly and indispensable employees, suggested we take the holiday bow with us, but Kerryl and I had a hard time accepting it, and put it back where we found it.

When we returned to the car, Kerryl revealed to me that she would have liked the big Christmas bow because it represented something special and festive for the holidays. Driving to Country Chevrolet to pick up the car, we discussed our inability to sometimes receive gifts and our desire to do a better job of being more receptive in the future. I knew that she could find many uses for that holiday bow; for me, it was a missed opportunity to lay it upon the Chevy Volt, as part of some kind of happy ending I was projecting into the future.

When we got to Country Chevrolet, owner Frank Petrucci greeted us by first handing me something that was akin to a car key, as we had made arrangements to take the Volt around Orange County, NY. It was raining steadily outside and we were asked whether we might want to reschedule our drive. When Frank assured us that we would not get electrocuted, as that was one of the misconceptions some prospective buyers had about the Volt, we were most intent to go forward with our drive.

Before we left the Chevy building, we presented Frank and Country Chevrolet with a gift, a signed cookbook by Marcello Russodivito of Marcello's Restaurant in Suffern, NY, entitled The Story of My 25 Years as Chef-Owner, which we were promoting the previous week at part of a Booksigning, Cooking Demonstration, Wine and Food tasting hosted by Uncorked Wines and Spirits in West Milford, NJ and produced by Warwick Valley Living.


We then opened up our umbrellas and made way to the Volt where Frank kindly and patiently taught us how to charge it, start it, turn on the heat and windshield wipers, use Sirius radio, navigate with GPS and employ basic functions and other cool features needed to get our journey underway. Kerryl and I were both impressed by the display panel, with its special effects and neat sounds, and I was already anticipating regret that I would not be able to keep the car permanently. Here was the Volt, the future in front of us, technology at its best and we were sitting at its cutting edge feeling much excitement and expectation.


Where would we go, what would we do? A day prior, I had stopped into Warwick Valley Travel for an itinerary, asking owner Carol Laskos places she could recommend. Although she doesn't handle booking local destinations, she suggested the wineries such as Brotherhood or Warwick Valley Winery, Museum Village in Monroe, and the Thayer Hotel at West Point. I was bristling with enthusiasm, thanking her for her input, while kiddingly suggesting that next time she arrange an African Safari for us as I grabbed a brochure on my way out. Then I visited Joe Irace of Irace Architects, whose office was next door, asking whether he could kindly arrange a tour of an equestrian center, one of his specialties as an architect. Kerryl loves horses and I wanted to surprise her with a horseback ride or at least a stroll through a barn where we could pet and watch horses. He gave me a phone number and name to contact.

None of these ideas would come to pass, however. Just as we were getting ready to leave Country Chevrolet, one of their employees mentioned that his father was Nick Zungoli of Exposures Gallery in Sugarloaf and recommended we stop there.  It was late afternoon, with only a couple of hours of light left in the day, and I realized that our plans would change. As we were driving down King's Highway on our way to Sugarloaf with the car nicely gripping the road with Sirius Radio providing great vibes, Kerryl indicated that she wanted to stop and pick up apples at Applewood Winery so that she could make another gluten free apple crisp. I told her apple season was over and to forget about it. Satisfied with my response, as we approached the turn to Applewood Orchards, I surprisingly found myself turning the wheel in its direction, if for no other reason than to show Kerryl that apple season was over and that there were no more apples anywhere to be found.

When we arrived to Applewood Orchards, there were no cars in the parking lot and all lights in their market area were off. I started to gloat, when Kerryl noticed a dim light on in a garage facility just behind the market area, and suggested we knock on the door. Standing before us was the proprietor of the winery, John Hull, master vintner, who said he was making wine. I said. "We were just wondering if you had any apples?" "No," he responded. "We don't have anymore apples. Apple season is over. But if you'd like, I can give you a wine tasting."


David led us in to the tasting room where we tried several Applewood wines and talked about David's uncle, Warwick town historian Richard Hull, whom we admire, adore and respect. I wanted Richard's phone number, desiring to take him for a spin in the Volt, but Kerryl cautioned that I calm down and stay present. While there, we had many laughs together and just as we were getting ready to leave, David offered us one of Applewood's special ciders as a gift. This time, we embraced it, making sure to accept it wholeheartedly and wished their entire family a Happy Thanksgiving before we left.

Now we were on to the next destination, with only 10 minutes to get there, praying that Zungoli's Exposures Gallery was still open. I stepped on the accelerator and opened up the car along one of Sugarloaf's country backroads, gleefully saying to Kerryl, "Let's see what this baby can do." Although the traction was excellent in rain and the car accelerated quickly with powerful pick-up, Kerryl cautioned to slow it down on the slick roads as we continued to make our way towards our destination. Arriving, we were relieved to find the gallery open. We were drawn to Zungoli's fabulous Hudson Valley Photography and a new exhibition called the Mekong Journal, which documented, through photos and writings, Zungoli's two trips down the Mekong River over the course of 3 months, through several Southeast Asian countries, of which he had whittled down a handful of photos from more than the six thousand that he took.

Mekong Journal Exhibition

 Next stop I planned to surprise Kerryl as I headed off through Chester, NY towards the town of Florida driving along Rt. 94. She kept insisting to know where we were going. I turned off on Glenmere Rd. when she realized I could be taking her to the Glenmere Mansion. "I thought we'd have a glass of wine together and some romance," I said. Kerryl had never been inside the mansion. As we pulled up through the gates, we were stopped at the entrance and asked if we had a reservation. "I don't have a reservation," I said. "But I'm doing a special project on the Volt and would like to include the Glenmere." "I'm sorry," he said. "We are all booked for tonight. You are going to have to turn your car around." I wanted to say, "But this is the Volt." I could see that there would be no arguing or pleading our way into the Glenmere, as if Obama himself were on premises and we were up against the tightest of security measures. I turned to Kerryl and shrugged, apologizing for not making reservations and promised her we'd come back another time.

"Just as well," Kerryl said. "We've got the dogs at home. And we still haven't eaten dinner yet. Let's get to Viviano's." On our way back towards Warwick, Kerryl insisted we stop at the Dollar Tree. Although it was steadily raining, the weather outside was balmy and I did not mind kicking my feet through a couple of puddles or standing in the rain. Playfully entering the store, I snapped a photograph of Kerryl but was immediately scolded by an employee not to take anymore pictures, as it was against store policy. We picked up roasted peanuts, sourdough pretzel nuggets, a package of bite-sized snickers, dot candy, refried beans, a glow wand, a fleece blanket, a six muffin tin pan and a couple of other items all for around 10 bucks!


Driving through the town of Florida, I wanted to introduce my girl to the owner of the The Old Vine, a new boutique wineshop specializing in unusual fine wines, and thought we might pick something up in light of our recent disappointment at the Glenmere. Kerryl thought with the holidays and my birthday just around the corner, a bottle of champagne might be in order. Before long we were engaged in a lengthy, educational discussion about the genre of bubbly and sparkling wines. Kerryl narrowed her focus down to two choices, opting for a French Brut over a Spanish Cava.


2050_1231thevolt0061Soon, we made haste to Warwick, where we would enjoy dinner at Trattoria Viviano's, which was across the street from Country Chevrolet, the Volt's home. I made my dinner selection from their special fall menu; Kerryl was anxiously looking forward to their homemade wood fired pizza. We finally settled on a nice bottle of Italian wine and enjoyed the rest of the evening together, delightfully eating and drinking. Owner Rose Viviano so cordially asked us if we would like a fire and we happily consented, as it became the backdrop of our romantic evening.

Our Volt adventure carried over the next day, when we used it to check in with approximately a dozen business owners from West Milford, NJ to Warwick, NY to spread the gospel about this progressive vehicle which operates not only on an electric charge but has a gas tank that covers a distance of approximately 275 miles on a full tank. I wanted to let business owners know that there are a couple of charging stations in Warwick, one at the South St. Parking lot just outside Peck's Wines and Spirits, and the other at Price Chopper while answering questions anyone might have about the vehicle, based on our recent experience. Many were interested to know the range of the electric charge, the price and other details, which can be found at Country Chevrolet's website.

We also stopped in to wish as many business owners a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season as time allotted and to let them know we are thankful for their continued support as we are committed to helping them promote business and our community. We regretfully couldn't get to all of the businesses we wanted to, but if you are interested in a visit or have further questions about the Volt, I'm sure Country Chevrolet can help make arrangements.

It was a fun, eventful 24 hours and we realized our job as publishers at Warwick Valley Living in some ways is like living a dream. Living a dream in an electric car with a future that is wide open with endless possibilities. Around the holiday season, we too are reminded to give thanks for the gifts of family, friends, community, nation and world.

A Day in the Volt gave us much time to count our blessings, helping us to see how rich we really are with respect to all of the gifts we can share with each other. I took a few minutes to pen a thank you note to Country Chevrolet on the back of a postcard that I picked up at Exposure's Gallery. By sharing a portion, it's our way of saying thank you so very much to everyone we touch (and who touch us), near and far. Happy Holidays and all the very best for a Happy New Year!