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.