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!
Yesterday I finally switched out my license plates from the California ones I had on my Honda Accord, to the Maryland ones I got from the MVA awhile ago. It was bit a sad for me, since I kind of liked having those CA plates on my car. I guess it made me think of how nice CA is and how I want go back there.
The new redesigned MD plates are kind of fun though. They have this red, white, and blue Star-Spangled Banner theme.
You might think an auto writer/blogger would be able to find some way around the terrible experience of going to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Unfortunately this is not the case. I had to go to an MVA office today to get new Tags & a Title for my Honda Accord. Here is the story of my experience.
I went late in the day, probably around 3pm. Always a bad idea. It is a better idea to go earlier in the day. This is when people are just trying to make it afterwork or taking off early to go to the MVA. Instead of going to Mondawmin Mall, where the Baltimore City MVA office was, I went to the new Hilltop Shopping Center office on Reisterstown Rd. Apparently the Mondawmin office closed in May and they moved to the Hilltop location.
I waited in line for the information desk for about 20-30 minutes. What I found strange is when I got up to the desk I told the lady, “I need to register my car and get Tags.” I handed her the California title and inspection certificate, she took both and looked at the title like it was some weird document. Without saying anything she went over and starting talking with the supervisor for 5 minutes. I was thinking, “Really? They don't see out-of-state titles?” She came back to the desk and just said, “Fillout the information on the back as well.”
I took my ticket and sat down in the waiting area. I started filling out the Title form and making sure I had everything set. I realized I needed to go get the mileage from my car. I thought I might not have time to do this… then I realized I was at the MVA. There was plenty of time!
When I came back in from getting the mileage out of the car, I looked around at all the people in the MVA. It didn't matter age, race, gender, whatever because everyone has the same exact look at the MVA! “I just want to get out of here!” Why won't this line move?” “Why is it taking so long?”
Luckily I brought a book ‘Real Money' by Jim Cramer, but it is hard to read in there. There is the automated voice that goes off every 20 seconds “Now serving C45 at number 12.” After another 30+ minutes I finally got my number called. You feel like jumping and up down when that happens.
I handed the lady my title, form, and bill of sale. She was pretty helpful and nice. She commented about my car, “Wow! The mileage on this is really good!” I told her the story of how I drove it across the country and that it was my Grandma's car. “Oh so she just used it to drive to Church and the Grocery store?” I replied “Yeah, pretty much!” She told me her Grandma had a Mercedes that had very few miles on it too. When I got out my credit card to pay I gave her my business card and said I was an auto journalist. We talked about that for awhile and I told her about how I got a media pass to the Baltimore Grand Prix. She seemed enthusiast about it and asked me some questions.
So I spent about 2 hours getting to the MVA office, waiting, waiting some more, and actually doing what I needed to do, before getting back to my house. It cost $266.40 to register, get a title, and for 2 MD license plates. Since I was smart enough to get a bill of sale stating the car was bought for $0 and therefore a gift, I was not charged 6% sales tax. It would have more expensive if I did not have that. Of course I still spent too much time there!
Baltimoreans… our humble city has been rated the 2nd worst driving city in the country! Why such a rating? Apparently drivers of Baltimore get into 88% more accidents than the rest of the country. “Charm City residents apparently see their vehicles as just another crustacean waiting for its shell to be cracked open” is the way Jalopnik put it. Somehow there is some truth to that statement. The rankings were taken from Allstate's data, which insures 10% of all US drivers. Jalopnik sorted through the data to compile the list. It's hard for me to believe we are the 2nd worst in the country, but I guess the numbers speak for themselves. No wonder insurance is so expensive here!
The first city on the list is Washington DC. All the super yuppies (as I like to call them) are apparently twice as likely to get into an accidents as the rest of the nation. “There are so many possible reasons — the city's cross-hatch street layout, it's population of drivers with diplomatic immunity, tour-bus related congestion — that it's hard to assign blame, exactly the kind of problem Washington excels in creating.” commented Jalopnik. Essentially this means the Baltimore-Washington Metro area is the worst driving area in the country!
I would definitely like to hear people opinions on this. Do you agree or disagree?
Yesterday I go started off later than I wanted to around 11:30 am. It's hard saying goodbye to your family and making yourself actually leave. I went to the supermarket got some ice, bananas, sandwich bread, and turkey meat. I put ice in the cooler with Gatorade bottles I had gotten from before and put meat in there. Having the cooler came in handy later in the day when I stopped for lunch around 2. Most people would have gone to a fast-food place, but I did not. Well… I did get some fries at In-N-Out for $1.51 when I stopped in to use the bathroom. My lunch expenses though were minimal compared to buying a meal. Having the cooler was also great for keeping myself hydrated. I drank several of the Gatorade bottles from the cooler. If you are taking a roadtrip, buy a cooler! It's a great investment.
I was able to drive just over 400 miles today up I-15. I was quite pleased with myself and my progress. I made only 3 short stops. I saw some beautiful mountains and scenery driving. Especially the sunset coming into Utah. I drove up Las Vegas Blvd. Better known as the “The Strip” in… Las Vegas. It's quite an interesting and strange town. Everything is over the top and gaudy. I would have liked to stop, look around, and try my hand at poker. I did not want to get tempted though and make a stupid decision. For a young single guy in Vegas with no support team, it could happen. That would have been baaaad!
I passed through Vegas and kept driving. Driving on I-15 with barren dessert, makes you think it would have been a good idea to stop in Vegas for some fun. Funny thing is you get really tired and then all of a sudden you perk up. Might have been from my blaring radio. Don't know how anyone could drive so far and long without one. The best music to keep you up is pop, classic rock, and rap. If you want to fall asleep listen to C-SPAN, NPR, or Classical Music. Not to say those don't have there place and value, but to keep you alert while driving it is not the best. Tomorrow I will most likely hookup my iPod and listen to Podcasts.
I stopped in St. George, Utah. I used this great website called Couchsurfing.org. It's a website where people who need a place to stay can find peoples couches who offer them. I sent out a few couch requests for people in Utah, but came up empty. Then a great guy named Lex who works for a regional was nice enough to offer his place to a traveling writer. He was really cool and told me all about the differences in airline industry, which I found very interesting.
Denver is almost 10 hours away from St. George. I don't think I can do that in 1 day. I think tomorrow I will stop in at a motel. I will stop at a Zion National Park since it's close and right off I-15. Check back for some great pictures of that.