Videos from my Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

For those that follow my blog closely you probably remember my epic roadtrip from Irvine, CA to Baltimore, MD.  On my roadtrip I saw a lot of really cool places, people, and things.  One of the highlights of the roadtrip was my visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado.  A truly beautiful place!

Even though I took a lot of pictures at the Rocky Mountain National Park, some of which you can see here, I finally uploaded videos I took during my visit last summer!

All the videos were taken driving up Trail Ridge Road and as I took in all the sights, sounds, and views of the stunning park.  Getting higher gave you a better view and experience of the nature and surroundings.  Of course driving up the narrow roads with 300 foot drops off the side can be a little nerve-racking.  It was fun as well though!  I highly recommend you go visit if you ever get a chance.

Took me long enough and hopefully I will get around to uploading more pictures and videos I that have languished on my laptop for a long time.  Watch the videos below at least and let me know what you think!

Man Straps Four Kids to the Hood of a Car thinking “They would like it!” … WTF?

Kids Strapped to Hood!

Just when you thought crazy stories of stupid parents doing stupid things couldn't get any worse, Aaron S. Stefanski has surprised Fort Wayne police (and everyone) by strapping his four children to the hood of his car!

Yes, unfortunately you read that right.

The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported that Stefanski, who is 29 years old, was arrested in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Monday night. The police allege he drove out of a liquor store parking lot with his kids attached to the hood of a car secured using a tow strap. The children's ages range from 4, 5, 6 and 7 and it seems Stefanski was under the very wrong impression that they would enjoy.

The journey lasted for only three blocks. Thankfully a US marshal who was in the area saw the ridiculous car with kids strapped to the hood, and had the common sense to pull over Stefanski and call the police.

The kids had been secured, “with one of those straps you crank on a semi to hold down lumber, they were strapped with that thing, wiggling and wobbling down the street,” said Tom Nowak who witnessed the event when he spoke with the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

The newspaper reported that the children were not harmed by the incident.  (Thankfully!)

Not surprisingly, Stefanski was driving intoxicated and had a blood alcohol content of .17, which is twice the state of Indiana's legal limit. This was what the Fort Wayne Police Department reported.

He is being charged with driving under the influence and neglect of a dependent. Jessica A. Clark, another passenger in the car with him, is also being charge with child neglect. Clark is also 29 years of age and it is unclear if the two were in a relationship.

Three of the children were Stefanski's, and they are currently being cared for by her mother. She was apparently not aware of the transportation methods used by the children's father, until police called her. One of the children strapped to the car, along with Stefanski's three children, was Clark's.

Some of you might remember the story of Shawndeeia Joann Bowen was charged with three counts of child endangerment who was driving while texting with her toddler in her lap. Also she did not have her other two children properly restrained in a seatbelt or carseat.

As terrible as Bowen's actions were, at least she had her kids INSIDE her car while it was moving. Unlike Stefanski and Clark who though it was ok to strap them to the outside of the car!

Seriously people…WTF?

Mini John Cooper Works GP will excite all Mini Fans and Gearheads!

 

Ohhh!

Mini fans, get ready for one of the baddest and sportiest Minis that will ever hit the roads, the new Mini John Cooper Works GP.

What makes the new Mini John Cooper Works GP special? The British premium brand has come up with another car of exceptional design paired with exceptional performance on both the race track and the road.

To be clear when Mini says racetrack, they mean racetrack! The Mini John Cooper Works GP set quite an impressive lap time around the famed Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track in Germany. The time? 8 minutes and 23 seconds, making this one fast Mini! This also means the new version has beaten the lap time set by its predecessor, the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, by around 19 seconds.

This is largely due to the performance which underpins this impressive Mini. The John Cooper Works GP features an exclusive powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics technology inspired directly by racing. It also has a twin-scroll turbo engine which generates outstanding torque, displays remarkable elasticity and demonstrates a healthy appetite for high revs. Specially developed, adjustable race suspension channels this superlative output into spectacular yet precisely controllable handling.

Looking at the Mini John Cooper Works GP, it's hard not to get excited by it's aggressive and muscular stance. The design of the body isn't just for looks though, as it gives the ideal aerodynamic balance in extreme driving situations, a key element in delivering precise handling.

Great Looking Butt!

The large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser which optimizes airflow around the underbody. The interior of the Mini John Cooper Works GP also contributes to the car’s inspirational racing feeling; with the rear seats removed, it focuses unashamedly on the needs of the driver and co-driver.

The “GP” tag on the model title tells you exactly where the extreme sports edition of the compact Mini most tellingly reveals its potential. The GP’s chassis configuration, the effectiveness of its race-spec braking system, the grip offered by its likewise custom racing tires, and its aerodynamic properties have been honed into a high-performance whole on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, widely considered world’s most difficult race track.

The unadulterated transfer of racing expertise into the everyday driving environment has a long history at Mini; it was this approach that made the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit the epitome of extreme driving fun in a small car when it was unveiled in 2006. Specific output of 100 kW/136 horsepower per liter of displacement and similarly impressive reserves of racing technology have secured its status as a sought-after collector’s item today.

The world will have to make due with only 2,000 Mini John Cooper Works GP though. A very sad thought indeed as this sounds like one seriously fun car.

2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest Wants You to Win $50,000 in College Scholarships

Teens Drive Smart Video Contest

Bridgestone recently opened up submissions for their 2012 Teens Drive Smart Video Contest. This contest gives students the chance to showcase their creative movie making skills, while trying to grab part of $50,000 in college scholarships Bridgestone is giving away.

The Teens Drive Smart Video Contest is looking for short automotive safety-themed videos, which encourages drivers to make good decisions behind the wheel. A good example for a theme would be “Don't text while driving.” (Something I am sure you don't do… right?)

Students who are between the ages 16-21 years old are eligible to enter. If you want to submit a video to be judged by Bridgestone the deadline is June 22nd, 2012.

After receiving the video submissions Bridgestone will have a panel of judges determine the Top 10 videos. These Top 10 will then be posted on Youtube, so the public can vote on on their favorites.  The three videos that receive the most votes will win the coveted scholarships; The Grand Prize winner will receive $25,000; second place receives $15,000 and third place receives $10,000. Not too bad if you ask me!

The scholarships are not the only prize in the competition. The Grand Prize winner will have their video air on the MTV Jumbotron in Times Square in New York City during August. Just try to imagine the awesomeness of your video up on a Jumbotron!

Also, the Top 10 Finalists of the contest will have the chance to have their video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the United States.  In addition they will receive a new set of four Bridgestone or Firestone branded tires.

If you are interested in submitting a video, keep in mind your submission should make viewers be more more safety-conscious when using their vehicles. In addition the video should effectively and creatively communicate the message you are trying to get across.  Last year's winner Amber Cullen won with her video, “The Phone Bandit.”  You can also view last prior's winners via Teens Drive Smart website to get a better idea of what you should do for your video.

Each year the videos get more creative, fun, and interesting. I assume this year's contest won't be any different.

I am not eligible for this contest, but if I were I would try to use something crazy and fun.  Like my talented singing dogs! (We even made an appearance on Anderson with Anderson Cooper at Lincoln Center! :))

Anyway, try to remember it’s not just about getting a scholarship for college but helping make people more aware of dangerous driving habits. Your video can potentially create safer drivers on our roads.

For more info and to submit a video visit: http://www.teensdrivesmart.com

C’était un Rendez-Vous by Claude Lelouch is The Greatest Movie Ever Made

Recently my colleague and friend, Nicolas Zart, showed me this short French film from the 70's called “C'était un Rendez-Vous” by Claude Lelouch.  In English this means “It was a date.”  After watching the film, which is only about 8 minutes and 30 seconds, I concluded that this is The Greatest Movie Ever Made!

C'était un Rendez-Vous features fast driving through the streets of Paris and the lovely sounds of a beautiful roaring engine.  What more could you ask for?  There are no stupid story lines that don't make sense with stupid characters and bad actors.  (Anyone remember the original 1976 “Gone in 60 Seconds?”)  C'était un Rendez-Vous starts off with pure driving and ends with a classic French twist.

What's most interesting about C'était un Rendez-Vous is I clearly see where director John Frankenheimer got his inspiration for the chase scenes and some of the camera techniques used in “Ronin.”  Ronin is considered to have some of the best car chase sequences in the history of movies.  Robert de Niro, Jean Reno, and Natascha McElhone were actually in the cars during for those sequences.  Rendezvous, as it is known, has also influenced other car movies and sequences as well.

Watch C'était un Rendez-Vous below and let me know what you think?

For more info about C'était un Rendez-Vous visit the Wikipedia page.

Sylvania Silverstar Ultras Make The Road Bright & Visible

You get into your car after a long day at work. The sun set long ago and it's dark out so you get in, put on your seatbelt (right?), then turn on your headlights. Lights…what lights? You can hardly see anything in front of you!

If you find yourself in this situation with your headlights, I recommend replacing the bulbs asap. If you are going to be replacing your headlights anyway, why not upgrade to some really bright Sylvania Silverstar Ultras?

I have been using a set of Sylvania Silverstar Ultras (#9006) in my Honda Accord for the past few weeks, and I got to say, “Wow!” having a brighter set of bulbs in your car makes a big difference while driving at night.

After driving around for awhile with such awesome and bright headlights, you tend to forget the dimness of the old bulbs. For comparison sake and for this review, I decided to put one of my old lightbulbs back in my headlights and drive my Honda Accord around. The difference between the Silverstar Ultras and my old bulbs would be much more visible side-by-side.

It was a bit hard to get a good picture at night (even with my Canon Rebel), but the difference is clear and incredible!

Bright!

You can see how the Silverstar Ultras fill out the headlight more, while the old bulb just doesn't cut it.  Honestly the one Silverstar Ultra bulb lights up the road well and compensates somewhat for the old bulb's lack of brightness.  The Silverstar Ultras were bright enough for to me realize my lights were out of alignment too.  (That was nothing that a screwdriver and a bit of patience couldn't fix.)

The only problem I have read about with these Sylvania Silverstar Ultras is a lot of people complain that they don't last long.  If you look on the back of the packaging there is a graphic that shows the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras are indeed bright, but show their life is much shorter.  Also “SYLVANIA Silverstar Ultra lamps are engineered to achieve the highest performance possible, which results in product life that is less than standard lamps.” is also printed on the back of the packaging.

That doesn't really bother me as I would rather replace really bright bulbs more often, than drive with bulbs that don't light up the road well at all.  So far I have experienced no issues with the bulbs deteriorating in brightness or going out prematurely.

The Silverstar Ultra packaging does claim to improve your forward visibility by 40% and side visibility by 50%. I think those claims are a bit lofty. After making proper adjustments, my guesstimate would be that Silverstar Ultras improve forward visibility by 30%-25% and maybe 30% on the sides.

Of course there is no easy way for me to truly measure or test my guesstimated numbers.  Getting out a measuring tape was futile!

The brightness of the bulbs makes for a much more enjoyable and safe night driving experience though.  The light that the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras bulbs puts out is much more focused, clear, and full then what I had before which was terrible.

Results can vary depending upon the condition of your headlights. If you have cloudy or yellowed headlights, getting a set of Silverstar Ultras bulbs will not improve visibility too much. The best thing for you to do is buy a headlight restoration kit and spend an afternoon restoring them to a clear and visible condition.  Then buy new bulbs if they are not good.

Bottom line, I used to dread having to drive my Accord at night or in bad weather because I thought I would hit another car, person, or object. Now it's not as much of a problem with the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras installed.

5 Most Dangerous Countries to Drive In

Driving can have its share of dangers, but there are certain countries where drivers have to take special care. These places have roads and other conditions that make them more of a challenge when taking to the road. If you are traveling to these countries, be sure that you are aware of traffic laws, safety precautions and prepared for any emergencies that could arise. All figures in this article are for the period from 2006-2007.

United Arab Emirates

1. United Arab Emirates
This country is in the top ranks of the most dangerous countries to drive in. It has more than a million vehicles that are registered to drive on the roads. The United Arab Emirates also has an astonishing 1,056 car-related deaths, with a rate of deaths in accidents at 37.1 per 100,000 residents in the country. This number of accidents also leads to a higher rate of filing auto insurance claims.

Gambia

2. Gambia
Gambia has a large population of over 1,000,000 people with over 14,000 vehicles that can legally be on the road. There have been at least 54 deaths in vehicle accidents, with an accident death rate of 36.6 individuals out of 100,000. This makes for a lot of traffic and busy streets while driving, so if you are visiting, watch for possible accidents on the road.

Niger

3. Niger
This is a beautiful, prospering country that boasts a population of over 14,000,000 people who drive over 76,000 vehicles on its roads. The busy traffic has led to a total of 570 deaths in car accidents, with a vehicle accident death rate of 37.7 per 100,000 people.

Iraq

4. Iraq
Iraq's population of over 28,000,000 people has had to contend with war over the years, and have also garnered a top spot on the list for being dangerous to drive in. There are over 2,000,000 vehicles on the road daily, with a total of 1,932 deaths from accidents. Every 38.1 out of 100,000 people die in vehicle crashes.

Egypt

5. Egypt
Egypt is a country that is popular with tourists, since it has the pyramids, its history and beautiful cities to tour. It has one of the highest spots on the list of dangerous countries to drive in with a total of 15,983 deaths from automobile accidents. This is possible with over 75,000,000 people in the population and more than 4,300,000 cars on the road. There is a mortality rate of 41.6 per 100,000 people.

If you are planning to travel overseas, make sure that you are prepared for the possibility of an accident. Preparation includes knowing the traffic laws, having good car insurance and being aware of the heaviest traffic zones. This knowledge is vital to making your drive overseas smoother and safer.

Written by Christina Jones