Up State New York Road Trip Ideas for Fall

Up State New York Road Trip Ideas for FallRemember when you were a kid and your parents would pile the whole family into the old station wagon and take an impromptu day trip to Upstate New York?  If you were really lucky, your father might have turned it into a two-or-three-day event, complete with an overnight stay at a Howard Johnson hotel.   Mom would pack a picnic lunch of sandwiches and a Thermos of coffee or hot chocolate.  A blanket was spread on the ground for this picnic lunch after everyone climbed out of the cramped car to stretch their legs and give Dad a respite from the driving.
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New Jersey Road Trip Ideas for Fall

New Jersey Road TripNew Jersey is the fourth smallest state in the union, but has the eleventh-highest number of people.  In fact it has the highest population density (or number of people for the amount of land) in the U.S.  So here’s a hint – be sure to visit this state in the off season when the tourists have all gone home.

Because the Garden State is so small, it will take you approximately four hours to get from High Point, in the Skylands Region, which is the highest elevation in the state at 1,803 feet, all the way to Cape May Point in the south, but, unbelievably, if you cross New Jersey in an east to west direction, it can be done in just one hour.
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Basic Road Trip Safety

Basic Road Trip SafetyThe movies and television have done a great job of providing entertainment surrounding the details of a road trip gone wrong… at least a half-dozen come to mind and you probably laughed out loud at all of them.  But to avoid encountering a vacation filled with the likes of “Thelma and Louise” or “Road Trip” there are a few precautions before you set out to make that journey as safe and enjoyable as possible.
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How to Pack for a Road Trip

How to Pack for a Road TripAs a driver in a four-season state, you are well aware that you have to be prepared for Mother Nature’s wrath at all times.  Surely there was enough of that fury the past two Winters in New Jersey, when snow and ice entered the equation in early November.  If your folks didn’t counsel you about what emergency gear to carry in the car when you bought your first vehicle, a handy list of items is listed below.  Make sure you have them with you at all times, whether it is day-to-day driving or a road trip.

Don’t let a road trip be daunting

Above all, when renting a car, don’t forget the transfer your emergency items from your car to the rental car!  Of course if you keep your vehicle’s insurance, registration and your driver’s license in the car, as opposed to your wallet, make sure to grab that first, as well as your motor club card so you are covered for any vehicle emergencies.  Most motor clubs permit using the card for other vehicles besides your own.  While you’re transferring those cards to your wallet or purse, make sure to take some cold hard cash with you as well.  You never know where you might develop car woes, and, if it is in a small town, some car repair places do not take personal checks and not all repair shops, will take debit cards or certain credit cards (like American Express), so always ensure you have some cash on hand.

Before the first frost hits, be sure to put your ice scraper, snow brush and a child-sized snow shovel in the back of your car.  It’s always a good idea to carry along a small can of lock de-icer, kept separately in a purse or a bag, if traveling in cold or snowy weather.

You can purchase ready-made auto emergency kits, but it is just as easy to get a tote box or duffel bag and store all your gear in one place.  Your emergency kit should include a variety of items at all times, but in the Winter you should ensure you carry a large warm blanket, extra woolen items (such as gloves or mittens, a hat, scarf and extra socks) to keep you warm in case you are stranded for a long period of time.  These woolen items are designed to keep your extremities warm, but you can also get added protection against the cold, by purchasing portable hand and foot warmers and/or an emergency Mylar emergency blanket at a local sporting goods store to have in your emergency kit.  A cheap plastic rain suit is also handy to keep your clothes dry should you need to exit the vehicle.

If thinking about potential disasters seems to be the theme here, well… it is supposed to sound like that.  As a driver, you must be proactive to ensure you and your vehicle are protected no matter what transpires over the course of your road trip.

You might recall the story that made the rounds on the internet last Winter when a pair of sisters who were traveling together were lost for two weeks after their vehicle got stuck on an unplowed and seldom-used road in a remote area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  They survived on snacks like Girl Scout cookies and a bag of cheese puffs washed down with melting snow.  A few granola bars or high-energy protein bars are a good idea to keep in your vehicle at all times to give you sustenance and it is always wise to bring along some bottled water with your gear.  When the colder temps would freeze that bottled water making it undrinkable, always make sure you have a clean bottle or some type of vessel to melt snow to use as drinking water in an emergency.

Now that you’ve taken care of your personal comfort, you should take care of the car’s needs as well.  Before a road trip, while fueling up, wash and squeegee those car windows to ensure you get a good view of what is going on around you.  Check your oil and check your windshield washer fluid.  Stick a roll of paper towels and another gallon of washer fluid if you have the room for it into the car.  A set of jumper cables to fix a dead battery is a great idea but if you’re stranded and no one is around, it is pretty handy to have a portable battery jumper on hand.  Be knowledgeable about your spare tire, and tire jack should you need it.

You should compile some smaller necessities in a fisherman’s tackle box.  Be sure to put in a flashlight and some extra batteries.  A Swiss army knife, tire gauge, wrench, pliers and a pair of screwdrivers (Phillips head and slotted) could come in handy, as will a pair of heavy outdoor gloves in case you get a flat tire.  A pair of rubber gloves are also handy, as is a rubber mallet, not as a weapon to hit someone on the head with, but, it is handy to have in case you lock bumpers with another car, i.e. a minor fender bender or bumper crunch, not needing the appearance of a wrecker to the scene.  You merely bump the metal out and be on you way, that is… after the necessary groans and auto paperwork are exchanged.  A sign that says “emergency” can be purchased in an auto supply store and you should put it into your back window.  Likewise a white handkerchief tied onto your open car trunk will do the same trick, or, simply keep some flares so that they are at the ready should you need them.

You got this

Now you’re ready to roll… you’ve got all your bases covered, and you’re prepared, just like a Boy Scout.  So grab your sunglasses and your camera and get ready to enjoy your road trip.  Whether you prefer the old-fashioned means of navigation, i.e. a map, you use directions from Google Maps, or rely on a GPS device, they all will serve to get you to your destination.  Do consider having printed-out directions or keeping a paper map on hand in case of internet connection failure.

Now to be extra safe, no matter how many precautions you’ve taken as listed above, do yourself one more favor and listen to what Mom said and don’t pick up any hitchhikers.

The Life Cycle of a Car

Life Cycle of a CarIt’s hard to believe that the shiny and sleek new vehicle that you so coveted one day will fall into disrepair and you will be making its “final arrangements”.  May your car and you travel many safe miles together and may the parting at the very end be bittersweet.  You know… if you stop to think about it, the life of your car takes on many phases from the very moment that it is a concept on paper in some automotive engineer’s mind, to an idea shared via a storyboard or slideshow during a meeting of the minds, to the actual construction of that vehicle, and the eventual purchase of it by you. Continue reading “The Life Cycle of a Car”

What Materials is a Car Made From?

Everyone is familiar with how a major thoroughfare will close down after a fully-loaded tanker truck or semi-truck flips over.  It contents often are strewn across the expressway or highway necessitating detours for drivers.  But hand-in-hand with those detours is often the need to declare a hazmat situation.  “Hazmat”, as you know, is the common term to describe hazardous materials.  A fuel spill, followed by a nasty quick-starting fire, could close down a busy thoroughfare for hours, if not days.

But surprisingly, hazmat situations on the highway are not limited to fuel haulers or large trucks that have lost their load.  A violent crash of two passenger vehicles can just as easily cause a hazardous materials situation.
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What is a Junk Car?

What is a Junk CarIt seems that everyone has a different opinion on the definition of a “junk car”.  To the little old lady who only drove her Buick to church on Sundays, even though that car may be pushing classic car status (i.e. a car that is 25 years old), it is her “wheels” – her only mode of transportation – and, if she has faithfully maintained her vehicle at a trustworthy repair shop, she may have that car for many more years to come.  Someone else may scoff at the idea of keeping a vehicle for more than a few years and will insist on buying a new one that has all the bells and whistles on it.

While these are two factions of vehicle owners, obviously at opposite ends of the spectrum, actually, the truth is, that older vehicles were easier to maintain and less likely than their modern counterparts to develop electrical issues causing serious malfunctions.  With older vehicles, there certainly were no worries about lights flashing off and on that need your attention and have you worrying, then scurrying, to the dealership to determine if the vehicle is safe to drive.  But… newfangled satellite radio and wireless connections will make you feel like you are a pilot in the cockpit of a jet airliner.
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