Travel Blog

Tesla Roadster

May 10th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle No Comments »

Tesla RoadsterTesla Roadster seen in Palm Springs , owned by a Canadian who plans to drive it back to Vancouver. It requires a charge every 245 miles and does 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds! This is one of the hottest most talked about cars available and Tesla stock is also skyrocketing. I was able to see this car and talk to the owner. Who needless to say was very proud of his car. It is a very hot looking car. This car has all of the luxuries and form fit that you would expect of a car costing $245,000!

Tesla Roadster – Charging

The owner admitted that it is a great car for commuting every day and has more than enough battery power to handle almost all commuting needs. He has some concern about driving it to Vancouver from California and is planning his trip around recharging stations and locations where he can plug-in and top up his batteries.

More and more charging stations are being added every month so this problem will gradually be eliminated. In addition instead of sitting around for a couple of hours while the battery is charged, there is another solution. Tesla batteries can be swapped out in a matter of minutes. You can be on your way in much the same time as it would take to fill up a normal car with gas.

We sincerely hope that this is the way of the future and that these cars eventually come in a cheaper version that the average consumer can afford.


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Tipping Valet Parking

May 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle No Comments »

Tipping Valet Parking

Tipping Valet Parking attendants has always been problematic for me. How much to charge and whether I should even use them. We have had some less than satisfactory service over the years. Now unless I have no choice I refuse to give my car up to the valet attendant.  We will discuss some of these issues in a moment. But back to the main topic, tipping valet parking attendants and how much you should give them. I have been typically tipping $5 each time I use valet parking. Some people may offer more and the attendants will certainly take it. But why should you tip these guys at all and will you get good service.

Some people feel that you should tip up front to make sure that you get good service and they take care of your car when they park your car. Others feel that since they pool the tips you are better off to tip when the car comes back in one piece and they open the doors and help you with your suitcases. Still other groups feel that since they are on a minimum wage and make all of their income from tips that you should feel sorry for them and tip them more than you might otherwise.

Tipping Valet Parking – Poor Service

I have had valet parking attendants roar up to the drop off point gunning the engine and while helping with the bags having their hands out for the tip. It is almost as if they don’t want to give you your keys back until they get their tip. Now I have never had any obvious damage done to my car and it is usually delivered in a reasonable amount of time. But I am totally turned off when they drive my car too fast in an almost out of control situation. Take care of my car and treat it with respect!

Based on this sort of activity I am very reluctant to ever give up my car to an attendant. I have an average car, but it is my car and I bought and paid for it. I do not want anyone to damage it. Can you imagine what they would do if it was a hot expensive car. Some of these guys would take it for a joy ride for sure.

The other thing that bugs me is taking a really long time to deliver my car. Sure it depends on how busy they are, but I could have probably gone and got it myself in less time that what some of these guys can get it for. I also want the parking lot to be covered and my car protected from the elements. It should be secure and regular security patrols should be in place. One time my car was parked in an open parking lot along with everyone else’s cars. What am I paying for? I can do that myself for free and I will get some exercise walking into the hotel.


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Googles Driverless Car

January 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle 1 Comment »

Googles Driverless CarGoogle’s driver less car has been on the road for over 300,000 miles now. A recent update suggests that Google is not in the driver less car business. They are going to focus on the software and not the hard ware. In fact it is several cars that are being tested. But the fact remains they have driven that many miles and apparently without an accident. Well, we heard there was one accident were the human in the car took over control of the car and caused an accident. Now several states have put laws into place that allow driver less cars on the road. But there must be a driver in the car’s driver seat that can take control of the car if needed.

Googles Driverless Car – Other Driverless cars

In addition the major car manufacturers are working on models of their own that can be driven without a driver in control of the car. Just think in a few years the designated driver will no longer be needed. Take me home car and away you go. We are not sure if the laws that have been passed in these states include having a driver that is sober behind the wheel and able to take over if needed. Not sure how that would work, the driver is drunk, the car gets into an accident and who do you charge with causing the accident – the drunk passenger(s), the car, the software maker, the part that failed ?

We believe that they will perfect the driver less car and we will likely accept the notion that you will not need passengers who are able to take over the car if necessary. Remember when there were operators in the elevators. You could not go from floor to floor without an elevator operator running the controls for you. At least they got to talk to people once and awhile.

Will there be Auto Pilots on These Cars

Now let’s imagine you are in Goolgle’s driver less car or one of the other manufacturer’s cars. You are the designated control driver, the person supposed to take over if needed. Does this mean that you must pay attention all of the time so that you can take control based on your judgment or will it be like the auto pilots in planes that sound an alarm to alert you to take control? Sometimes pilots fall asleep while on the job although they are not supposed to. You can bet there will be a lot of people who will be sleeping in these driver less cars. That auto pilot had better be good, reaction time and warning time to alert the pilot.

What Impact will Driver Less Cars have On Supporting Auto Industries

The main assumption is that there will be less accidents with driver less cars. Proper space will be maintained between cars and cars will not run red lights. Drivers will not be drunk behind the wheel, and distracted drivers will not cause accidents. Now you can shave, do your makeup, finish breakfast, even talk on the phone and not worry about driving. If this works as planned, there will be a lot less accidents as a result and that will have a direct impact on auto repair industries, such as windshield repair companies, auto body companies and so on.

There will still be accidents since it will be a long time before everyone is in a driverless car and everyone is forced to use the capability, bit it will come once it is demonstrated that these cars do in fact save lives and reduce accidents. Just imagine on a foggy road, were you can barely see the car in front of you. With radar installed, there will be no problem stopping when needed and not hitting the guy in front of you.

How Long Will it Take for Driver Less Cars to be in the Majority

No one really knows at this point. However it will really depend on just how good these cars are when it comes to control and accidents. If the statistics can prove they have less accidents, the insurance companies may reward car owners with these cars with lower insurance. They may jack up the insurance for people with cars without control. Penetration of this technology will move quickly.

We think that this will be a hot news story for some time to come and we are excited to watch what happens with the driver less car future. For more thoughts about traveling on vacation by vehicle, click here.

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Old Tires Sold as New

January 7th, 2012 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle 1 Comment »

I just watched an ABC report about new tires sold by all of the major retailers that are old tires sold as new when they are actually many years old. Apparently there is a code on the tire that will tell you when it was manufactured and thus how old it is. ABC did this report that looked at tires sold by Walmart, Sears , Good Year and others that were more than 6 years old. They were brand new, but had sat on the shelf for over 6 years!

Old Tires Sold as New – Exploding tires

Now some of you may be saying so what. I can get a great deal with tires on sale at all of these stores! Apparently rubber like everything else will dry out over time and this makes the tire  more unstable and capable of tearing apart at high speed when it gets hot. Tires will get hot if driven at high speed or even at normal speed when they are under inflated. Add to this a dried out tire and you get something like some of the pictures on the left that we uploaded to this post.

When we were looking for pictures of tires that had exploded, there were Old Tires Sold as Newalso pictures of some really grizzly looking accidents that we did not think appropriate to show on this post. Let us just say that the pictures showed mangled cars and trucks, with people killed or hurt very badly. We are showing three pictures that really demonstrate what happens to a tire when it comes apart at high speeds.

Tire Explosions

The ABC video also showed what happens to people driving a vehicle when the tire explodes. They were anticipating the tire to explode and even those the drivers were also skilled test drivers, many had a very difficult time keep control of the vehicle. In fact one person in a test vehicle could not get control of the car and veered off into the side of the road and overturned the test vehicle.

They were ok, however can you imagine what it would be like for you or I driving at highway speeds and your tire exploded! Many people are killed every year just because of this, so if your tires are older than 6 years which is the recommended age for tires, you may want to consider having them replaced before you go on any long trips or drive on the highway at high speeds!

Examine Your Tires

Take a look at your tires to check just how old they are. I just purchased a new car last year in 2009 and I would expect the tires to also be 2009 tires. Not so! My tires were made in the 24th week of 2007. So now they are 4 years old which is not too bad.  I purchased snow tires two years ago in 2008 for another car. I checked those tires and they were made in January of 1997! Wow , these tires in my mind were only 4 years old and the tread is still excellent on them!
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Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Summer Vacation

June 7th, 2011 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle 1 Comment »

It is that time of year when families are planing their summer vacation. Many people are considering short trips with their cars to a camping site or perhaps to one of the theme parks across the country. Getting your vehicle ready for summer vacation is one of the things you need to consider before going on that driving trip. With gas prices high in the spring, and going higher just in time for summer vacation, many people are considering just how far they will go.

Regardless of whether you are planning a long trip by car or just a short one to see the family or visit a campsite, it is always a good idea to have your car checked before you go. If you already hear some noise that does not sound normal, get it checked out before you leave. No one wants a break down on the highway with a load of luggage and the family.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Summer Vacation

In addition the obvious, the following items are worthwhile having your mechanic look at to ensure that you will have no problems while traveling:

  • Oil Change
  • Check anti freeze
  • Check transmission oil level
  • Confirm brake fluid levels
  • Check power steering fluid level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Assess your tires for inflation and unusual wear
  • Check that all of your lights are operating properly

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Summer Vacation

Check for Low Fluids

Low fluids can cause problems that range from irritation to serious issues with your car. Always have these checked on a regular basis, and especially when you are about to go on a long trip.

Look for uneven Tire Wear

Improper tire wear is an indication that your cars alignment may be out or your tires need to be balanced. Failure to deal with this issue will cause your tires to wear out quickly and also may even cause an uncomfortable ride due to the vibration.

Check Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is also important. Better gas mileage and safer driving are the main benefits of making sure that your tires are properly inflated.

Check the Lights

Check all of the lights as well including brake lights and turning lights. A faulty light may cause you to be in an unsafe situation if someone does not see your car at night or fails to see that you are turning or stopping due to a light not working. Some police forces will also stop you for lights that are not working properly. Usually they just give you a warning and not a ticket.

Get an Oil Change

New clean oil will not only make sure that your engine runs more smoothly, it will also deliver better gas mileage and emit less pollution. My car once failed an emission test much to be disappointment. The attendant suggested that I get the oil changed and that I make sure that I had clean fuel in the engine. I followed his suggestions and my car passed with flying colors next time it was tested for emissions.

If you are going on a long trip, always make sure you have fresh oil in the engine to generate better gas mileage and less pollution! For more tips about travelling by vehicle, click here.

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Traveling by Car

December 21st, 2010 ernie Posted in Travelling by Vehicle 1 Comment »

Traveling by CarMany people travel by car every year to their vacation destinations across the US and Canada. Some trips are short, perhaps to a local camping site or to visit family, while others travel all across the country from one end to the other and back. Preparing for trips when Traveling by Car is important if you and your travel companions are going to enjoy the experience. Most people can handle a day trip easily even if it lasts a few hours, but how about the trip that lasts several weeks with travel every day? Is your car ready for the trip?

These trips can be wonderful or they can be an ordeal for the driver and the passengers.  Some drivers feel that they must get from point A to point Z as fast as possible even if that means driving through the night to get to their destination. Traveling by Car in these conditions is not fun!

Other drivers will take their time, especially on a long trip, stopping when they get tired, stopping when there is something interesting to see and taking a break when they get feel like it. This latter approach is by far the best approach, however not everyone has the time to travel in this manner.

I know of two guys who on running low on money in California, decided to drive non stop home to eastern Canada! Took them 51 hours with a few breaks to grab something to eat and use the bathroom. Traveling by car in this situation is not fun at all.

Long distance Traveling by Car

Trips like this have to be planned carefully. Not only the route you will take, the hotels you may stay at but also the maintenance of the car and planning for emergencies. Whether it is a short trip or a long trip many of the preparations are the same.

Check the tire pressure, check the fluid levels, gas up and make sure that anything needing repair is completed prior to leaving.

Planning your trip is important. The general route needs to be determined and if you will stay overnight you may need to make reservations. I like to decide around 3 pm in the afternoon were I will stay and then phone ahead. Most of the time, I have no trouble finding a suitable place, however there have been time when I had to drive an extra hour because all of the hotels are full.

Where to Stay

We try to see the sites along the way and as a result we might drive an average of 4 to 6 hours a day. The rest of the time we are looking for a good restaurant or visiting some tourist activity or stopping at a shopping mall. Traveling by Car allows a lot of flexibility.

One thing to mention is that it is a good idea to get out and walk around for a few hours to keep the circulation going in your legs. It also helps with the boredom of driving and getting drowsy as you are driving.

Some folks will book all of their hotels along the way ahead of time. They like to know where they are staying and know that they have a place to stay. Traveling by Car is a great way to travel and usually a low stress way to do it. You do not need to worry about finding a place while you are en-route.

Occasionally travelers will encounter bad weather or other problems and will be unable to get to their destination. Most hotels will cancel rooms at no charge if you cancel prior to 6pm on the same day, however after 6pm they will charge your credit card the full amount whether you get their or not.

Maintenance on Long Trips

Occasionally you will have to arrange for some maintenance on your car Traveling by Carover a long trip. We have had flat tires, oil changes and even a cracked windshield that was needed.  The picture on the left is not the way you want to have to change a tire! All of these things can be handled easily, however we suggest that you ask the front desk at your hotel that you are staying at if you can for a recommendation on were to get the repairs or maintenance completed. We have received some really great advice over the years.

For a tire repair we were told to go to America’s Tire. We did and because I brought the tire in myself, they repaired it for free! I went back to them the following year and bought 4 brand new tires just because of this service. Another example was for a cracked windshield. We went to one company who replaced our windshield for half the price that it would have cost me in Canada! Excellent job and a very clean shop!

Final thoughts about Traveling by Car

Always take water with you in the form of water bottles. If you travel in the winter time, always take boots, gloves and warm clothes for emergencies. Even if they are in the back seat or in the trunk, at least you have them if you end up stuck in a ditch.

Recently a man died of hypothermia because his car ended up in the ditch in the middle of a snow storm and no one found his car until a few days later when they were clearing the road. It is always better to be prepared when travelling by car than not even if it is a hassle.

Same thing with being in the desert areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. If you are breaks down, you want to have water with you and also warm clothes. Believe it or not, it can get quite cold in the middle of the night in the desert!

Write in your comments about traveling by car and your own preparations. Ideas that will help our readers are appreciated.

For more thoughts about traveling on vacation by vehicle, click here.

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