Monday, December 31, 2018

How I Spent My Winter Vacation


Did you ever have to write a report in elementary school at the start of the new year about your summer vacation? Do you remember anything about hearing any other classmate ever read theirs? Are there any top selling books based on a great summer vacation? Well, Jaws probably counts!

We loaded up the mighty Camry, fresh on a new set of brake pads, filled up the tank, loaded up the presents for relatives, and headed out to PA, OH, MI, IN, and back thru OH, PA, NJ, and NY to complete the circuit. I didn't count the miles, but it was more than 50 and bigger than a breadbox. Along the way we enjoyed scenic vistas on I-80, had a great Christmas, and had a great time. I really enjoyed the driving, with lots of cruise control interstate time to observe the driving habits of Americans in their natural state too, and if I was Santa, I'd be passing out a lot of Driver's Education Textbooks!

It's an easy concept to drive on the highway but let me just offer a few top tips to round out 2018, tips that should make every day driving safer for all of us.

1. If it's dark, raining, and/or foggy, turn your lights on! Yes, I'm talking to the dozens of folks I saw driving in rain or dusk who might have even had their daytime running lights on, but NO BRAKE LIGHTS, so it's hard to see you in reduced visibility. Hey, didja know that many states have a law that says to turn on your lights (all of them) when your windshield wipers are on? FACT!

2. If you need to exit the interstate, and we'll assume here that your exit is on the RIGHT like probably 95% of them are, then why don't you consider (I'm being polite here) moving into that right-hand exit lane well before the actual exit? I'm talking mostly to the Jeep driver somewhere in Ohio that passed me on the left and then immediately cut back in front of me to cross over to the right-hand exit. No, I wasn't impressed with your idiotic double-lane-shift at the least second, so I'm happy that I was able to get out of your way. Oh, and thanks for the nonverbal communication you sent my way after driving like an idiot!

3. Some general winter driving tips: SLOW DOWN when it's icy, clear ALL the snow off your car (not just your front window), and make sure your windshield wipers are working. Along the way on our trip we noticed our wipers were kind of doing a C- "blah" job, so we visited the AutoZone store in Clarion PA. After buying some new wipers, our friendly AutoZone guy Tyler offered to put them on the car for us. He had those blades on so fast, I'm sure he's done hundreds of them before, and we just wanted to thank him and point out what great service we got! And, the new wipers work great, and made the rest of the trip much more visible!


4. On this trip we managed to focus on visiting the family, but as you might imagine, there were some automotive highlights and trivial tidbits of driving fun too. While we didn't see a ton of billion dollar cars on the road, we spotted this truck that might have been hauling millions of dollars worth of cars!


On I-70 outside of Dayton Ohio we passed the exit for Brookville, which would be fun to visit again some day and check out the folks at Brookville Roadsters. If you need any parts for your Ford Model A, or in fact an entire A body, they can take care of you!


On the opposite (East) side of Ohio on I-80, we've always noticed the big Lordstown Ohio GM factory right along the road, and you've likely read about this and other plants in the news lately since GM is planning to halt production at several locations like Lordstown (home of the Cruze). In a way our trip around the Midwest could have focused on a lot of the USA's auto industry, since the factories and parts suppliers are all over the place. You might have  heard of a place called "Detroit" too.


Back in PA, we passed the exit for Pocono Raceway, and while we didn't get to hit the track this time, we filled up on gas at this exit and helped the local economy a little bit at least.


Just north of Indianapolis and the famous Motor Speedway, we had some awesome pizza with my brother and his family, and just as a reminder of the Indy 500 found this framed race car in the men's room. I didn't check the ladies room, but I'll guess there was a race car in there too. People in Indy love their race at the Brickyard.


On the journey home, we spotted an exit for Tallmadge Ohio, and you might recognize that name as the home of Summit Racing. If there is something that makes your car go faster, the fine folks at Summit probably have it in stock! They are also located right on the interstate in Eastern  Ohio, and while we didn't visit the retail store, we managed a quick photo.


On the final leg of our trip we were just a few miles from  home, had just survived the George Washington Bridge, and then we spotted this car. I think it's a sign that I need to buy a Porsche! Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2019!


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