Archive | Pre-Tripping

Posts where I discuss, research or ponder over future trips I’m either planning, or want to make.

Tying up loose ends

Man, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post.  I’m still hoping to blog semi-regularly, but it’s taken some time to adjust to a new routine, working a job that operates on a completely different level than what I’ve normally become accustomed to.  The mind needed a reawakening period, with synapses that hadn’t been fired in years suddenly being jumpstarted as I take on new responsibilities that require me to actually think about what I do for a living now.

I’m now deep into a transitional period as I try to grapple with what loose ends I need to tie up before I pull the trigger on a permanent move.  Who knew transitional periods could be so… transitional?

One of those things has involved slimming down my stuff even more and maximizing my desk space.  I decided to treat my MacBook as an all in one desktop/notebook solution, planning to eventually ditch the huge desktop PC I have now for a docked solution (called a Henge Dock), something I can easily dock my MacBook to with all the wires already in place.  Kinda cool as I explore this and figure out how to ideally optimize my home office productivity.

It also occured to me that there’s still some unfinished business in regards to New York City.  Despite loving the city (as opposed to hating Long guuyyYYyland), there’s still a few bucket list items I’d like to cross off while I’m here.  I still have yet to visit the Statue of Liberty for one, and it’s been ages since I’ve been to the Met, or explored all of Central Park, or visited a myriad of the other wonders the city had to offer.  Once I leave it’s not likely that I’ll ever come back, so I’m planning to set aside some time and play tourist to rediscover Manhattan… one last time.

I also need to rework my finances and divvy them up according to what I earmark them for (a house, a car, portfolio, savings, etc.)   I’m fortunate enough to be debt-free with enough of a nest egg that I can make a completely fresh start once I move.  Thank you, Lord.

I’m also working on a complete medical workup to make sure all systems are green across the board, that all my rabies shots are up to date, and I’ve been thoroughly de-warted.

And of course there’s my future hearing dog too, who I hope to pick up in Colorado and keep permanently, maybe sooner than expected.

Overall, the tail end of 2014 is going to be crazy, with so many things in a state of transition and upheaval, but I welcome it all, because it’s been infused with a renewed hope that I will finally break out of this wilderness, and into the promised land that I’ve sort for so long.

Beautiful Highway with Sunset and Mountains

Who says you can’t have fun playing with dog poop?

Bought the SKOOP-N-PAK in preparation for my visit to Colorado this May, where I’ll be semi-training with what I hope will be my future hearing dog.

One thing I can’t abide by is the thought of cleaning up after the dog on walks, using nothing but a mere trash bag to grab that ungodly fecal waste of smelly poopie. You know, sort of what it must be like to hug a hippie.

Anyhoo, to address that rather unpleasant part of everyday doggie care, I found out about… THE SKOOP-N-PAK!

Skoop-N-Pak Portable

When a bag won’t do to pick up their poo:


When their steaming love bundles leave you all disgruntled:


When you’re too snotty to clean up the potty:


Sorry, I’m getting carried away with all the jingles here, but you gotta admit, they’re pretty catchy.

Finding areas that have the mildest climates

This chart has been making the rounds lately on social media, and while the data is pretty simplistic (a mean count of the number of days a year where the temps are between 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s nice to have a visual look at what places are likely to offer the mildest climates:

Pleasant Places to Live Map

The bluer the circles, the higher the frequency of pleasant weather.

I’m surprised by just how few days my area gets of pleasant weather (67-70).  That’s basically only 2 months out of the year where the temps are between 55-75.  Wow.  Note southern California, which of course enjoys nearly 6 months of pleasant weather.  I guess the label “Sunny California” really does apply.

What interests me are the barely discernible circles blanketing Idaho and Montana.  Over the course of my research on places to relocate to, I had been considering the possibility of moving to these states, but the norm of less than 3 weeks of pleasant weather for the entire YEAR now has me rethinking the wisdom of such a move.

The darker blues of the coastal regions aren’t surprising given their proximity to water, but I rule these out due to the insufferable humidity.  Plus, no mountains, and I gotsa have mountains.

That leaves the pockets of bluer circles scattered across the Rocky region, so I’m noting the ones that are specifically located in Colorado.  This gives me a pretty good idea of which regions of Colorado have the most moderate climates, especially how given they are to extreme weather.  Then there’s the area of the Appalachians that stretch from West Virginia down to Tennessee, which average around the same amount of pleasant days as downstate New York.

A lot of this pretty much affirms what I already know, but it’s also helped me narrow my focus somewhat on picking an ideal area of the country where I can feel most at home.  It looks like Colorado, or the mountain ranges spanning West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and even South Carolina would be my best bet.

Wow, the south really are a bunch of pansies

Intriguing map of counties in the U.S. that indicates how much snow must fall before schools close:

Map of What Schools Close Depending on Snow Amount
See all that green? That’s for “any amount of snow.”

As in, if one special snowflake hits the ground, the world simply stops turning down there.

The dark blue is for 24 inches.  Yes, literally 2 feet of snow has to blanket the earth before they even think about canceling school.  Funny stuff, but I actually find this map quite instructive.  I love mountains, and I love a modest amount of snow (emphasis, MODEST) so I wouldn’t want to live in a state where it didn’t at least snow a few times a year on average.  That’s why I’m noting with interest that small sliver of light blue along the Tennessee/North Carolina borders where the Smokies are located, and gradually deepening in blue as you move up to West Virginia.  This was one of the few places east of the Mississippi that I thought about moving to, and it marks one of the rare areas of the South (or Mid-Atlantic) where I wouldn’t find myself cursing the humidity and the heat 12 months out of the year.

Due west there is of course Colorado, and I’m pleased to see some of my favorite travel destinations in that state have lighter shades of blue.  Montana though, lolz.  Arizona however turned out to be a surprise for me.  I had always written off the entire state as an arid, intolerably hot desert climate but as it turns out, from the central region where Flagstaff is located and going due north, it actually has a much more temperate climate, with sometimes significant amounts of snow during the winter.  I traveled Route 66 going east in Arizona last October, and I was amazed to see how the landscape morphed from brown and dead to a green and lively forest region as I approached the town of Williams.  For that reason I added Arizona to my list of potentials (my current tally is 13 possible states).

I’m not actually moving by the way, this is just stuff I like to think about as I await the day when I can finally leave New York for all time, forever and ever, amen and amen.

Using the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment to feed the Black Stallion #CBias #engineluv

The shop described in this blog post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are supremely and awesomely my own.

I was never much of a car guy when growing up, and being an apartment dweller for so many years, I never had an opportunity to work on my car within the comfort of my own property, so whenever an oil change or maintenance needed to be done, I’d just take my ride to the dealer.

It’s a routine that served me very well though: I’ve owned my car for 7 years and counting and it has yet to fail me, needing nothing more than a maintenance schedule I keep track of using software on my PC. Over the years I learned to religiously use fuel injection cleaners after every oil change too, just to keep it all in peak condition.

This time though I decided to up my game by taking a look at the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment, which serves not only as a fuel additive but an oil additive too, touting additional benefits (such as stopping rough idles, preventing fuel line freezes, stabilizing and improving fuel efficiency and more). These were all benefits that weren’t covered by the the run of the mill fuel injection cleaner I usually get, so I was intrigued to see how much of a difference this additive would make, and went out to pick up a can at nearby Auto Zone.

One thing about Long Island though, this may be the only place in the country that could have every imaginable retail and chain store you could think of, and yet not have anything you’re looking for. Sure enough:

Empty Shelf


Walmart was the next closest thing to me, so I dropped by there and THANKFULLY, a few STP cans were awaiting me. I grabbed one and a Pepsi Max, then hit the self checkout machine, (which of course failed on me, forcing me to wait until a cashier finally came around to hook me up). I had my can though, so it was time to hit up my garage and get started. And by garage, I mean the beach:

Captree Bridge on Long Island

Now THIS is where you work on a car.

This is where I usually come whenever I want to spread out and clean up my car without anyone bothering me, and it was a perfect day too. I got out and stretched a bit, then looked to see if I could pour the STP additive in straight from the can. Nope, not quite, the mouth is a little too big and won’t fit through the opening, so I needed to use a funnel.

long funnel

Funny, I don’t remember my funnel being this ridiculously long. Ah well.

After I stuck my funnel in it was an easy pour. The instructions say the 16 oz. can can treat 21 gallons, and while my tank was only 19, I poured the whole thing in anyway. I have no place or room to keep any excess fluids around, and since there were no warnings indicating that my car would explode into a fiery ball of brimstone and death if I used too much additive, I figured I was safe.

I wiped down the funnel when I was done and tossed the can, along with a few other items of trash.

Banana and STP can

I almost slipped on my own banana here.

And that was that. I sat back and let the engine idle a bit before taking off to find a Starbucks and enjoy me some caramel hot chocolate to celebrate a job well done and a Thanksgiving weekend off.

Hyundai Santa Fe and Sunshine

Occasionally, just occasionally, Long Island does give me a nice view.

By the way, If you like up STP’s Facebook page you can get a coupon, so check it out, as well as their Twitter feed for the latest on STP products and promotions.

Not to outdo STP or anything, but I also put together a Google+ Album of my shopping experience, plus an *ahem* blockbuster movie trailer for your enjoyment:

Prepping for my road trip, plus my new travel stream

I was expecting to rest today before I fly off to Vegas tomorrow for my road trip tomorrow, LOL, yeah should have known that wouldn’t be happening.

Anyhoo, blogging will probably be light and filled with short, funsie type anecdotes until I get back, but in the meantime I created a Travel Stream page you can check out to see where I am and what I’m currently up to.  Nothing fancy really, just a mashup of my Twitter stream, Foursquare map and Flickr photostream.

To sum up, I’ll be starting from Las Vegas, then driving due east to:  Hoover Dam, the Mohave Valley, parts of Route 66, Flagstaff, Sedona, Grand Canyons, the Navajo Nation, then to Durango in Colorado, Pagosa Springs, down Santa Fe in New Mexico, and back to Colorado to visit the Great Sand Dunes, before finally taking refuge in a cabin rental deep in the Rockies (but close enough to Denver) before I head home.  I hope.

It all begins tomorrow. Light a candle for me.

View Larger Map

This road trip brought you by Mad Max. Because it just fits.

Taking the stress out of your vacation

Been reading a good article on how vacations can stress people out, a lot of it confirming why it always seems to take a while for me to truly unwind when I’m on vacation, you know, right at that very moment when it’s time to go home again.

Although the study cited suggests you need a minimum of 8 days (8 days???) before the recovery effect starts to take hold, (plus a minimum of 3 weeks to experience lasting results), I found it usually takes me only 4-5 days before my body finally starts to relax… which of course seems to completely defeat the purpose of doing a weekend getaway.  That’s basically what happened the last time I made a getaway to Colorado too.  I was there about 4 days before the tension I felt started to ease, but then I had to go back home literally the day after.  Ugh.  Part of it was my fault and my compulsive need to explore because I just GOTTA see what’s out there, when what I should have done was get enough food and supplies to last me a week, and then literally never leave the cabin until the end of my stay. Lesson learned for next time.

One of the things I’m doing to avoid unnecessary stress for my upcoming road trip this fall is to forgo booking any lodging reservations.  Except for the first night, I have NO clue where I’ll be staying for the duration of the trip, which is exhilarating in a way, but by that same token it also means I probably won’t be able to book a last minute cabin rental in Colorado either.  Once I re-enter Colorado from New Mexico, it’s really up in the air where I decide to stay before I return home.  The only thing I know for sure is that it should be close enough to Denver so I don’t wind up driving 3-4 hours in the early mornings to catch my flight, which would pretty much ruin any relaxation I might have gained from taking this trip in the first place.  Still, that leaves a lot of possible options:  Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Vail, Silverthorne, Dillon, Breckenridge, Buena Vista, etc.  We’ll see where the road ultimately ends.

But before I make that decision I’m literally going to be “pricelining” my way through Arizona and the Grand Canyons in the hopes of snapping up a major steal of a deal due to someone else cancelling a reservation.  Booking ahead of schedule for the Canyons already appeared to be a lost cause even when I tried to book something last month, as traveling dweebs apparently like to book reservations in Grand Canyon Village a year in advance.  A YEAR.  Dweebs.

Still, I’m not worried, if Priceline doesn’t yield anything for me, I’ll just stay in Williams or Flagstaff.  Although I gotta say, Priceline has made me a skippy dippy happy traveler when it comes to landing hoity toity 4 star gigs for less than $100 a night.  I’ve gotten the bidding ninja skills down to something of a science now, so I’m optimistic about my chances of landing a sweet dig within sight of the Canyons.  That’s another advantage to last minute bookings too, because the savings can be tremendous.  That possibility, coupled with keeping to an open ended schedule really does take a lot of the stress out of a road trip, so for me the tradeoffs are worth it.

So with all that in place, here’s hoping I’ll be doing a whole lotta this during my vacation:

Prancing in the meadows under rainbows

And a little bit less of this:

Epic Donald Duck Temper Tantrum

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