Vehicle Milestone

It’s always fun to see your vehicle hit certain milestones. I was on my way to work this morning when a numerical one hit my odometer.

Yes, I’m a dork and stopped to get a photo of it. Good thing it was 5am on a Sunday and no one was on the roads.

I get pleasure from the simple things. Like seeing my odometer hit 123,456km. Yup, I also reset my Trip counter to add in the 7.8! I’d been planning this moment for a few days. Now to figure out what the next fun milestone will be. I can’t believe I’ve owned this car for three and a half years already.

Do you get little pleasures from numbers and sequences like I do?

Frosty

I find the biggest downside to winter is warming up my car. I can deal with snow and even ice. I just hate waiting for my car to get warm and de-fog.

This morning I decided to sit in my car and write this blog as I waited for my windows to clear up. I did my best to wait for complete visibility, but I’m cutting the blog short so I can start driving as the rest of my car warms up. My seat warmer works really well and I just feel like getting going.

I can’t wait for warmer weather to return.

108,000 Kilometers

I’ve owned my 2016 Nissan Rogue for exactly three years. I bought it the day I took a promotion and became a supervisor at my work: Changing It Up. The car received its regular oil change today. I also had the brake fluid flushed. My vehicle hasn’t required anything major considering I have put on 108,000 Kilometers on it since new. The service department was surprised by two things.

First, that I haven’t had to change my brakes. They told me that most people get new brakes between 50-60,000 Kilometers. Mine are on the verge of needing replacement, but can wait until the new year. The service department said I must be really gentle on my brakes. Um… not really, but I guess the vehicle tells a different story.

Secondly is my tires. They still have quite a bit of life to them. The tires came with the vehicle and are stock as well. Nowhere near high performance or high mileage quality. I’ll probably get some all-season tires in the Springtime. No need to fork over money for winter tires at this time either.

All in all I will say that my Nissan Rogue has been a great vehicle. “Five out of five stars- Would Buy Again.”

I did however forget to put insurance on it again this year. I noticed as I left the dealership that it expired yesterday. Oops. Time to get that rectified immediately. Wouldn’t want to have my car not taken care of since it’s been taking care of me for three years without complaint.

Getting Chipped Off

Over the past month or so my windshield has been getting abused. I don’t much care for it.

It’s very frustrating to be driving down the highway and hear that loud PING as a projectile leaves its mark on your car’s glass. I had three separate small ones all appear at various spots within a few days of each other. Every time I get in my car I think, “I should get that looked at and repaired”. But I never do.

Then this morning as I drove home from work- a massive attack occurred. I was even able to witness the projectile as it flew at my car. It was a dull grey image barreling directly at my line of sight. It wasn’t until it hit my window and scared me that I mentally zoned back in. Now there is a large crescent moon chip in the center of my windshield. The diameter of the damaged area is larger than a quarter- this is definitely a fifty cent piece sized chunk.

So I guess I’m glad I didn’t get the other three chips repaired. It would feel like a waste of time. On my next day off- I’ll be looking to get something done about it. Until then, I’ll just have to do my best to not focus on it… Good Luck Joe– it’s right at eye level. I better not buy a new vehicle like I did years ago when I got our minivan windshield replaced. Even though our Pathfinder was a great SUV and much better than a minivan. I still love my 2016 Nissan Rogue, so just a new windshield shall do.

Car Care Small Business

When my wife and I buy a car, we get it serviced at the dealership for the first few check ups. After the warranty kilometers are gone, it’s time to give the smaller automotive shops our business.

Our Honda Element is at 286000 kilometers now and still runs smoothly. I recently took it to a tire shop to get a screw out of the rubber and the guys were efficient and reasonably priced. They also didn’t try and upsell me on other stuff that I didn’t need. Kudos to them. I’ll be back when I need new tires!

Today I dropped off the element at a fellow’s shop that he runs from his home’s garage. He’s our neighbor’s son who is Honda Certified and has worked on our vehicle in the past for us. He’s putting in new shocks and the like in order to smooth out the ride. He’s always been able to take our Element in and get it back to us in a timely manner. I appreciate the work he does as well since working on cars is his passion.

Supporting a small business or local shop is important to me. Without these people, who generally take pride in their work, the car dealerships would gouge us every time we dropped off our car for service. Owning a car is expensive no matter what you do. But the freedom that comes with a vehicle is invaluable at times. Especially for my family where we have nonexistent public transit nearby our home.

Here’s to you small automotive businesses! Thank you for being a great alternative to the dealerships.

Off To Fort St. John

Today we are driving North. This will be the furthest North I have ever driven. Prior to this was back in Grade Eight in 1988 when I went on a band trip to Prince George. That was memorable because we stayed at the host homes of one of the schools up there.

But today we are driving for about another four hours past Prince George. Driving North. I can’t get over how far this is from our home.

But it’s not the furthest we’ve driven from our home. We drove South one time almost all the way to the Mexican border. Driving South usually means warmer weather and a more fun destination.

Earlier this year we headed East. Not quite out of Alberta. But getting pretty close. The distance is almost as far as our travels today. But the time to get there is quicker. Most likely due to the route and my tendency to get a speeding ticket in Alberta…

As for driving West- Gold River On Vancouver Island was the furthest so far. Can’t overly drive through the Pacific Ocean. The ferry only gets to the islands nearby.

Do you enjoy roadtrips as much as we do?

What’s the furthest you’ve driven?

Any sights you’d recommend on the drive North through British Columbia?

Let me know in the comments!

Continuous Commute

Commuting alone has its advantages.

I commute 56.9 km from my home to work and the same for the return. It takes about 45 minutes on average each way. I’m lucky in the sense that I usually miss the bumper to bumper driving because of my start and end times at work. Usually.

I don’t mind this commute. I listen to the daily news report on the radio as I drive. It also clears my head after a day of working. This allows me to devote my time to my family when I arrive at home.

Mornings like today are spectacular to drive home in after a night shift. I get to enjoy the sun peering over the trees and casting a light onto my destination- my home. My neighborhood lights up with activity as well. Birds, rabbits and squirrels darting around the streets. As if my drive home has turned me into a Disney Princess and the small woodland critters are greeting me on my journey home.

Or else I’m just really tired and need to get some sleep and stop tripping out. At least I made it home alive…

Roof Racks

Today was a day of roof racks. How exciting! One was for my Nissan Rogue. The other was for our Honda Element.

The Rogue was super easy, but super expensive. I shopped around to find crossbars, however it seems that Nissan Dealers all charge the same. $350 after taxes and five minutes of my labor and the Rogue is ready to start transporting stuff. It does look pretty slick mind you.

The Element was more challenging. Since the vehicle was discontinued a few years ago, accessories aren’t readily available from dealerships or online. So it was time to improvise and see what other people have done. After a couple of YouTube videos and a sense of, “That looks easy.” I took on the challenge.

We had an old display shelf that was the perfect length and the bars are durable. The Element is already boxy, so the square metal tube from the shelf fits in nicely. I hit the hardware section of a few stores to find a metal corner edge, bolts and some pins. I measured out the bracket sizes and cut four pieces with my hacksaw. After filing the edges, I bolted them into the roof. (The Element had bolt holes hidden in the top side panels making it easy to attach these brackets.) I used an angle grinder to slice out the perfect slit in the rails. Then I drilled holes that lined up with the brackets and tested my pins. Everything fit perfectly. Lastly was to remove everything once more and give it the first coat of black paint.

All that’s left is to figure out how to add crossbars in order to retain the durability. So far the roof rack for our Element has cost about $20, some recycled materials, a few fantastic YouTube lessons and a couple of hours of labor. Not too shabby I guess. Plus I really enjoyed working with my hands creating something useful for our car. I can’t wait to see the finished product and go camping!

Modifying Our Honda Element

Last year I made a quick bed and storage space for our Honda Element. Read about it here: Camperizing Our Honda Element. I did this design to maximize our storage inside the Element for our camping trips.

Last month I installed a Keyless entry: Keyless Entry Install. At that time I also replaced the tail light super quick since it was cracked.

I want to do more to the car now. I was hoping to add a roof rack. But our local Honda Parts dealer doesn’t carry the crossbars since the vehicle has been discontinued. My next step was to watch videos of people who made their own roof racks and bars. It doesn’t look too difficult, just time consuming to find the parts and put it together. Once done- I’ll be able to put a carrier basket on top or use our car topper again.

To get to the top of the car, I am wanting to add a ladder from Gobi Racks. It is a bit pricey, but fits perfectly on the back of the Element. It will add to the ruggedness look of the car. And add ease to climb up.

Our oldest daughter who will be driving the vehicle the most doesn’t seem impressed with my plans. She thinks it’ll turn into a “Hippy Van”. I’m wanting to keep the car for many years after she is done driving it. Plus, technically it is my wife and I who own it- we will modify it to our choosing. Perhaps some daisy decals and peace signs stickers?

I’m looking forward to camping this summer. I am picking up crossbars for my Nissan Rogue with a hope to purchase a kayak or two in the future. There’s something about living in BC that makes me want to be more outdoorsy. Having roof racks on vehicles makes it easier to transport stuff as well.

Soaring Gas Prices

Like many of my friends living in the Vancouver and surrounding areas- we are feeling the pinch of astronomically high gas prices. Current prices are anywhere from $1.55/L to $1.70L. Of course the Long Weekend is here which always sees an increase in pump prices as well. Ugh.

My work week has me driving 110km each day- just to and from work. I also don’t live anywhere that has decent transit. I have now resorted to making a weekly trek across the border to the USA to fill up my car. After exchange rate, today I paid approximately $1.25/L. For me is about $15-$20 of savings every fill. That is a significant amount of money in the long term. After filling up this morning, my car has informed me that I can get almost 600km from this tank of gas. That gets me through the weekend and work week until I have to fill it again. I’m lucky that I only put on 40km round trip from my home to earn those savings.

Looking at going electric in the future is definitely something to consider. Yes, I’d love to own an electric car. But I have two major issues: Nowhere to charge it at work and my home power fails in the winter regularly. That would kind of leave me stranded. So until I can figure out a more permanent resolution- punching pennies at the pump is the way to go.

Or stop driving.

Feel free to complain in the comments section.

Honda Element Keyless Entry Install

We’ve had our Honda Element since 2003 when the first model came out. We picked up a mid price range Element EX in five speed manual transmission. A fantastic crossover suv with hardly any issues. The only thing that became bothersome over the years was the door locks.

Having the key stop working to unlock the doors began within the first couple years. Twice the dealership repaired the locks at no charge. I guess it’s a known issue for Hondas. Eventually we just became accustomed to not locking the car or restoring to crawling in through the trunk. I’m too old for that. Time to see about a keyless entry for the vehicle.

Last week I went to one of those car audio places to see about getting a keyless entry installed. Cheapest unit and time was going to cost me $500. Ugh. Time to search the interwebs. I found a couple of videos on YouTube of people who had figured out how to install the keyless entry. I picked up a genuine Honda part on Amazon and had it arrive at my home two days later.

I came home from work yesterday and picked up the mail to discover the package. Alright, Amazon is pretty awesome. After watching videos of other people installing this part, I figured I could hammer it out before dinner.

Reading online and watching videos saying that it can be installed in five minutes meant the challenge was on. I hit my stopwatch from the moment I opened the car door to the time it took to install the part and put everything back.

2 Minutes 23 Seconds.

We can now lock and unlock our door. Best $140 I have spent in a long time. The part had a spot all ready for it. Now I see why people love owning Hondas. Our Element is essentially the same as a CRV with many of the same parts interchangeable. Keeping costs way down on repairs.

I’m happy again with the car. Now to possibly upgrade the stereo!

Check out last year’s Camperizing a Honda Element or a couple of years ago where we couldn’t decide if we should Repair it or Replace it.

From One Fan To Another

Hey person who owns that white car with the “Empire” logo. I like your style. Even though yours is on a Mazda, that’s totally cool! I wish I could’ve had a “geek moment” with you standing in the parking lot. Maybe one day we will meet each other. But I doubt it. All I have is this photo.

You see, I saw your car and parked next to it. Just so I could get this photo. I went shopping and when I left the store- your car was still there. Exactly like a Storm Trooper, you missed it. A fleeting moment that my Instagram followers got to enjoy along with me.

Havelka Hearse?

For a few decades now I’ve wanted to own a hearse.

What?

Ya, one of those vehicles that drive dead people around. I have a few specific models that I’m interested in. But I’m not really a “car guy” so I’d probably have to spend a good deal of money on a used one in great condition.

There’s something about the look that I just admire. From the curtains on the windows to the fake top and landau bars. There’s always a new design coming out that showcases both the elegance and the celebration of life that once was.

From a modern Tesla Hearse- Check out the windows. Simply stunning.

To traditional looking Funeral Coaches that more resemble a temple on wheels.

Hearses tell a story as much as those that ride inside.

I hope to not have my last ride in a hearse be my first. Of course with Halloween around the corner- it gets me thinking about owning one more often. It’d be a great Halloween decoration! Maybe my wife will buy me one for my 45th birthday? Hint-hint

Jacked

We insured our Honda Element today in order for our daughter to learn how to drive a 5 speed manual transmission. I thought it was a good idea at the time of deciding it. Only cost us $708 for four months insurance. OUCH. But at least it won’t cost us much more… except…

Whattheeverlovinghell?!?

Ok, not gonna lie. I knew we would need a tune up service for the car. It had been sitting for about 18 months. So no big deal. Really. I have started it up and moved the car a few times. My daughter and wife had driven it a bit today. They filled the tires and got some gas. I decided to take it out for a drive when I came home from work.

It probably wasn’t the best idea. Lots of driving for a car that has been stationary for far too long. That “Check Engine” light did not disappear. On my drive back to the house from the store, my little Element began to “Jack Rabbit” when I was in 2nd and 3rd gear. I pulled over and shut off the car for a bit before driving again. The car ran smooth for a bit, then began Jack Rabbiting once more. I made it home and have decided that I won’t drive it this weekend until after I get it looked at.

Hopefully it won’t cost a small fortune and that all it takes is simply a couple of twists and turns to tune it up right.

Hmmm now I want to watch “Pulp Fiction” again.

“In The Shape of An L On Her…”

Car!

Random did it. She turned 16 yesterday and went and got her learners permit today! She passed the test without issue.

So my oldest is now learning to drive. I raced home from work so that I could take her out for a spin. She slapped the “L” on the back of my car and we got ready to head out. Being her first “official” driving experience (she may have moved the cars a few times over the past year in our driveway, but I won’t tell) she did everything by the book!

She walked around the car- twice. She sat in the driver’s seat and adjusted her mirrors, steering wheel and seat. Her seat belt went on, she started the car and the radio got turned off. As we drove, she used signals, drove just below the speed limit, shoulder checked, and focused. Our trip up the road to the gas station was one of the most perfect by-the-book rides I have had since probably my road test 35 years ago.

Starting with the good habits is difficult. I know how I drive. I know what my car is capable of. I also know how to *ahem* bend the rules a bit. I had to put all of that behind me and talk with her about how to drive properly. She did great- and her smile afterwards was worth it all. Like back when I taught her how to ride a two wheel bike. She was so proud of herself. That was eleven years ago…

But she’s still my little girl. And I am proud of her accomplishments as well.

After Market Accessorizing

I’ve owned my car for about a year and a half now. I have given my car an oil change and put aftermarket air in the tires. Time to start thinking about adding a bit more flair to it.

My stickers were the first addition. Just to make it more “Star Wars-y“. Because, well I’m kind of a fan of the franchise.

Now I have a set of metal dice hanging from the passenger side visor. I don’t know what else I can add to my car. Maybe it’s time for a steering wheel cover or license plate frame. Or something ridiculous like a door light.

Ok, those are cool. Hmmm…. or I could go very crazy and change the look of my car:

I could sport one of these! Or just buy another sticker… I could afford that aftermarket addition.

Winter Wash

I don’t like the winter at this moment. It means my car is dirty more often than it is clean. It feels like I’m neglecting Rogue One because I don’t wash it. But there isn’t any point to washing it.

First of all- it’s cold outside. So I don’t want to stand out there with a bucket of water and a hose.

Secondly- the sun is only out for a brief moment or two. That means cold nights and a possibility of rain or snow again. Which means dirty roads causing dirty car.

Thirdly- I’m not the only one driving around in a muck-colored vehicle. So I shouldn’t show off my bravery/stupidity of a washed car.

However, it is a gorgeous vehicle when clean. Maybe I could survive some frostbite and freeze my garden hose for another evening of joy until it gets dirty tomorrow morning driving to work…

It’d be totally worth it.

Luxury Automobile?

Often when I am sharing stories about my father, they aren’t always in the best light.  But I have learned a few things from him that stick with me to this day.  The one that sprung up in my mind today was of how to properly wash a car.

1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL similar to my father’s car.

 

In the mid 1980’s my father bought his “Dream Car”- or rather, bought a car from an automaker that he felt portrayed luxury.  He bought himself a 1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL convertible in white with both a soft top and hard top.  He babied this car for the first couple of years that he owned it.  He taught me how to wash the car with care and diligence.  I was about 9 years old at the time and had washed cars before, just not very well.  

He explained the need to clean the car panel by panel, door by door, top to bottom.  He showed me how to use a shammy with a bit of water on it to dry the car in perfect swipes.  He explained how to care for the black soft top and how to properly clean the glass.  I learned the right way to “ArmorAll” the leather and vinyl interior by spraying on a rag first to avoid overspray.  This car was my father’s pride and joy.  The first summer he owned it, he drove it everywhere.  Every chance he had to take the top down, it was down. I associate automobile luxury with that white car.  A car that was about nine years old when my father bought it.  I believe he spent $20,000 on it and within five years had added another $12,000 in maintenance and engine repairs.  He finally traded in the car for $7,000 towards a minivan. The minivan was purchased because my sister was hit by a truck on my 17th birthday & suffered two broken legs.  This was the easiest way to transport her around. (Future blog post idea…)


I associate luxury cars with the color white now.  That’s probably the reason I bought my Nissan Rogue SLawd in Pearl White.  It was top of the line and luxurious to me.  I have babied this car since buying it a few months ago.  It is my Mercedes Benz.  

At least I don’t think of Yugos as a luxury car.  My father owned a white one back in 1981 that got in a bad accident.  

It’ll Buff Out…

It finally happened.

A dent in my new car.

It wasn’t even my fault.  My wife was driving at the time.  She bumped into a cement pole.  Ever so slightly, but enough to cause a dent.


She felt so awful about it she had to call me and let me know right away.  As crappy as the situation is, I’m not angry about it.  Stuff happens.  My car is bound to get more dings, dents and scratches as the years go on.  The first one always sucks.  At least this time I get to tease my wife about it.

The car doesn’t just have a backup camera, it also has two side cameras and a front camera.  It also has sensors warning when you are getting to close to an object.  Yet somehow, my wife was able to ignore all of these safeguards and hit a pole.


I’m not perfect by any means.  The majority of the dents and bumps on our Honda Element came from me.  I scraped the front bumper along a cement wall, I caught the front wheel well on a cable ripping out a bunch of bolts, and I once backed into a pole and damaged the tail light.  None of these ever got repaired.  They stayed as reminders of how stupid I’ve been.

The dent on our new car is getting fixed in a couple days.  My wife doesn’t want the reminder.  I’m ok with that.  My baby will look brand new again.  Maybe even a car wash is in its future.

What?  What?  Let Me Turn This Down…

Never too old to crank the tunes.

 

I have a tendency to enjoy my music really loudly.  Our home is wired up as well.  However, having four other humans living here makes it difficult to agree on what to listen to.  My children are also constantly practicing piano, guitar, flute, bassoon, clarinet or sime other instrument. So usually the music isn’t played at home.  


Driving alone is my time to enjoy music.  Loudly.  No matter what style of music it is.  From bluegrass to disco, metal to classical- if I’m listening to music, guaranteed everyone outside of the car is as well.

This is what Supernatural has taught me.

 

The music goes on when I’m enjoying a drive with my family.  Usually at a comfortable volume.  But… I’ll turn up the music when I really like a song.  Or… I feel like pissing off my family in the car.  This is especially fun to do to my oldest.  Nothing like cranking out some 80’s hair band music while dropping her off at school.  

It’s a vicious cycle.

 

Music is meant to be enjoyed.  I enjoy music.  I always have.  As a teen, I had a car with two 12″ subwoofers that rattled the trunk something fierce.  My stereos have refined over the years and I enjoy the Bose speaker systems that came in our vehicles.  The Sirius XM has been a pleasure as well to enjoy.  I’m not sure I see a value in paying for a subscription radio though.  The regular FM channels are good, except for the commercials.  I do have plenty of music in MP3 format I could use.


Honestly, what am I supposed to do with my old cd collection? 

Toys

As I grow older I find that I have less free time to play around.  Also, the toys that I find myself longing for are getting more expensive.  Having toys occupies your free time.  Having free time is a hot commodity in this day and age.  Most people, myself included, feel that there is never enough “me time” left in a day to enjoy.

Having a family, ie: kids & wife/girlfriend (I don’t have both,that’d be crazy!) takes up most of the time left after working or sleeping.  Even those people have work/school/homework/etc that takes up their precious time.  Over the years, I have found that any leftover time is spent thinking about what to do next.  Not very often do people, myself included, take a breath and just enjoy the moment for longer than a few seconds.  I digress, let’s get back to toys!

I am often taking time to search Craigslist for stuff.  Stuff I think would be neat.  Stuff that would make me feel young.  Stuff that would make me feel like I deserved it.  Mostly, stuff I can’t afford.  


I always wanted a pinball game.  There are about four styles that I’d like to own.  However, after working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I know they are expensive and a bitch to maintain.  But lights and sounds!


A NEW CAR!  Teslas are nice.  I’d love to own one, not because of the luxury, but because in the long run it would be cheaper than gas.  I just don’t have the initial lump sum payment to justify one.  At this time…


I love this Mercedes Gazelle Replica.  It is much cheaper than a Tesla.  I could find a decent one for about $9000.  However, I don’t have a garage to store it over winter.  That’d cost me a bit to build one first.  Plus, this would only be a “Sunday driver” and I can’t justify that.


Since we do so many road trips, I’ve been trying to convince my wife that we should buy an RV or travel trailer.  My wife made a good point though- our trips usually have us in major cities, RVs don’t belong there.  The kids and I want to do camping more, but my wife doesn’t like tents.  She’s only half sold on “Glamping” so this battle is still in the works.


Finally, the last true expensive luxury item I’d like is a boat.  Maintenance, fuel, more maintenance, more fuel, food, maintenance again- it costs money. But again, it’d be unused most of the time.  My wife and I also don’t agree on what style of boat would suit us.  She would like a bow rider for the lake, I’d like an island hopper with moorage for a weekend getaway.  Another stalemate.

Toys are fun.  So I’ll just stick with the ones I have.  Like our theater room and my train garden.  I get more use and joy from those than I probably would a boat or an RV.  It won’t stop me from searching Craigslist or eBay though.

Oh look!  A DeLorean for sale…