Blackbird, meet Canada. Canada, meet Blackbird.

I’ve had my 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS, nicknamed “The Blackbird,” for at least six months now.  And now comes its first true test.

Road trip to Canada.  Specifically, Saint John, New Brunswick, home of this week’s National Basketball League of Canada All-Star Classic.

Why am I here?  Trust me.  It’s an All-Star Game.  Actually, counting Continental Basketball Association games and the one Premier Basketball League All-Star Classic, this weekend will be my sixth All-Star Classic weekend.  As for the “Albany Patroons” factor – you know, keeping tabs on the former wearers of the gold and kelly green – the Central Division All-Stars will be coached by Micheal Ray Richardson, former player and coach of the Patroons.  And one of the all-stars on the Central Division team?  Marvin Phillips, who played for both the CBA and USBL Patroons during the 2006-07 seasons.

Plus, it’s an opportunity to take some pictures.  I’ve brought several of my cameras – the Nikon D700, the Nikon F100, the Kowa Super 66, the Sprocket Rocket and the Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic “Modern-Day Warrior” camera – for the trip.  I’m sure I can find a beach or some funky architecture in this town somewhere.  Chuck needs some Chuck time to take some photos, don’tcha know.

But you’re saying, “Chuck, you’ve been to Canada before.  You’ve watched minor league basketball before.  You’ve photographed before.  What’s the big deal this time?”

Well… this time I’m doing it while using the Blackbird as my travel device.

Hey look, it's a Canadian landmark, eh?

And in comparison between the Blackbird, my 1991 Pontiac 6000 (“The 6”) and my 2005 Saturn Ion (“Cardachrome”), I can say that there have been some noticeable differences.  Major noticeable differences.

For example…

Gas mileage: On its best day, I squeezed 20 mpg out of the 6.  Maybe 25 on average from Cardachrome.  Highway travel with the Blackbird – thirty-five miles per gallon. And it only took one and a half tanks of fuel to go from Albany to Saint John – in fact, I could have stretched the fuel to get to Bangor, but I decided to top off at a Citgo station in Waterville.  Holla!

Comfort: The 6 had no adjustable driver’s side seats.  Cardachrome had an adjustable seat, but there were times when I think it adjusted for itself.  But neither could top the super-comfy leather interiors provided by the Blackbird.  Mmm…

Radio: The Pontiac did have an aftermarket Alpine deck, which allowed me to integrate my iPod into the sound system.  The Saturn’s sound system was stock.  The Blackbird?  Clear XM satellite radio for the entire trip.  I listened to a full two-hour Superman serial on XM Radio Classics, caught the entire four-hour banter of Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio, and even tuned in for Jay Mohr on Fox Sports Radio.  Very few drop-offs, mostly in the Berkshires, but nothing that wasn’t too distracting.

Driving ease: No question.  Blackbird all the way.  The Saturn’s electrical problem made me lose confidence in the car, and the Pontiac’s power steering meant that it took a lot of power for the driver to turn the wheel from left to right.

Cupholders: Four beverage cup holders in the Blackbird.  I think there were two in Cardachrome, and “beverage holder” in the 6000 meant someone held your drinks while you drove.

I know that in the past, I’ve extolled the virtues of the Pontiac… and then after that, I thought the Saturn was the cream of the crop.  But with unvarnished and unpurchased testimony, let me state for the record…

I’m seriously digging the Blackbird.  And that’s more than I could have ever asked for in a car.

Almost makes me want to say, as I start the key in the ignition…

Chuck is happy.