Adam’s Auto Advice Turns 2 Years-Old Today Along With This 200th Post!

Me and My Dog Cody!

I thought I would share an important milestone with all the fans and readers of my humble blog, Adam's Auto Advice. This blog is now 2 years-old as of today.  Happy Birthday… to myself I guess! 🙂

It's amazing to think that my blog is 2 years old! Honestly it feels like I have been blogging and writing about cars forever, but it really has not been that long.

I look back at all the amazing posts and articles I have written. The articles and posts range from the fun and whacky Charm City Pedal Mill, the interesting Baltimore start-up ParkingPanda, attending the Baltimore Grand Prix, and breaking news about RelayRides. I have even tested automotive products and gone to a few car and auto shows.

Probably the best thing I have written about on this blog was my road trip from Irvine, CA to back to Baltimore.  It was an amazing trip and I hope to do many more road trips and a cross-country road trip again soon.

You know, I started this blog and didn't have set high hopes for my writing but look at me now! I am a full time auto journalist and blogger. I was able to go from writing as a hobby to writing about cars professionally.

Looking back at my first post, and some of my early writing such as this Top Gear editorial my writing has come a long way and fast. I am fortunate to be able to be doing something creative and love what I am doing.

I feel proud of everything I have been accomplished with this blog and other writing I have done.

As well sharing my experience when I appeared on Anderson with Anderson Cooper for the TV show's New Year's Special. I performed “Auld Lange Syne” with my singing dogs, Cody and Sierra, which was an amazing experience which I shared on this blog. (Of course it had nothing to do with cars, but I did drive up to New York-City with my dogs.)

I am glad to have had all these interesting and varied experiences. I hope to share more auto news, advice, tips & tricks, product reviews, with everyone via Adam's Auto Advice. I know I will continue to grow and experience more amazing automotive experiences in the future.

I also appreciate all the people with a shared passion for cars I have meet along my journey. We have exchanged web advice, writing tips, and personal stories of “Auto Awesomeness!”

Someone who deserves credit for my blog is my brother Jason. He helped me get this blog up and running and switch from Blogger to WordPress. He's also helped keep this blog going and updated. Thanks Jason!

I certainly have not crossed everything off on my automotive bucket list. I know I have a lot more great experiences ahead of me.

This is actually my 200th post! I didn't plan that, but it is a happy coincidence.  There will be hundreds of more great articles and posts along the way. I am going to make an effort to post more and most likely shorter articles in the future.

I hope all of you continue to follow my writing and work. Please Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to keep updated.

I look forwarding to writing about cars and on this blog for many more years.

My Brooklyn Roadtrip – Part 1

Back in September I took a roadtrip with my brother Aaron to Brooklyn.  He needed to transport paintings for an art show he was part of.  It was very exciting for him as an artist since it was the first show he had in New-York.  He's how it the roadtrip went.

We got going late around 10:45am or so.  We rented a Uhaul the day before and got the paintings all packed and ready to go so we wouldn't have to worry about it in the morning.  Aaron and I decided instead of spending money on tolls on I-95, we would avoid them.  We set our GPS to “Avoid Tolls” and off we went.  The nice thing about not driving along I-95 is that it's a little more scenic.  You tend to see more interesting things, like a Hydro-Electric plant we passed along Route 1.  One side of the dam was extremely high due to all the rain.  The water was deep into the forest and we saw cops had blocked off a road leading down to that area.

Aaron was doing most of the driving, so my duties mainly were navigating (well making sure the GPS wasn't throwing us completely off track).  For the most part not taking 95 up to New-York was working out well.  Sure it was more slow going, but it gave us a chance to see little towns and places you would never have seen otherwise.  Like a Harley-Davidson dealership, antiques stores, cows, and the countryside.  Driving up 95 is kind of ugly, especially the Jersey turnpike.

Avoiding tolls surprising only took probably about 1 hour longer than if we had taken 95.  Finding Gowanus Ballroom, where Aaron was showing his paintings was fairly straightforward, and dropping off the paintings didn't take long either.  Gowanus Ballroom is an interesting place to show art.  It is a metal fabrication shop, but they also use the space to display art.  They move all the heavy metalworking material away for showing art, then back when they are done.

After we left Gowanus, we had to return the Uhaul truck.  We went to the Uhaul center, which was a few blocks away, and then the attendant pointed out we had not filled the tank.  I think it was a $50 surcharge to fill it, so we decided to find a gas station.  We found this run down on nearby, and to my delight there were a few cool and interesting cars there.

After we returned the Uhaul truck we headed to the train station to go into the New York City to catch the Bolt Bus back to Baltimore.  For $19 bucks 1-way, it is not a bad deal.  Only thing is we didn't realize how long we had to wait to catch the train into the city, and that it took us about 30 minutes once on the train to get where we needed to go.

When we emerged from the dirtiness of the NY subway system, we had a little trouble finding the stop on 7th and West 33rd.  Aaron kept trying to use his smartphone but it was not loading the map or something.  It kept getting closer to 6 and our bus was leaving at 6:15pm.  I was getting nervous and was saying “Let's just ask someone!”  after trying to ask several people on the street who ignored me with a New-York attitude, I went into a Gap store.  I asked a clerk folding clothes “Where is 7th and 33rd?” he pointed and said “That way!”  We got to 7th and 33rd no problem.  Smartphones are not all that!

When we got to the bus stop, it was in front of Sbarros.  I hadn't eaten lunch and went in to get 2 pieces of cheese pizza.  Aaron went to get some snacks at a convenience store close by.  I think at that point it was around 6:10 or slightly later.  There were tons of people waiting for different buses there.  So many that they were blocking the sidewalk, so the bus moved down a block.  Then we got on, and the bus left later than 6:15.

The buses are ok, but my expectations were higher from what I had heard.  I thought my seat was a bit uncomfortable.  I noticed that every other seat had a power plug, while I got stuck with a seat without one.  The nice thing was the bus had Wi-Fi, so I checked my email.  Then I attempted to sleep, but you are always in that half-awake mode on a bus.  We stopped once in Delaware, then continued on to Baltimore.  I think we got in around 11, and the bus drops you on Saint Pauls right near Penn Station.  So it is easy to get a cab to where you need to go.  We had a family member pick us up from the train station, then went home.

ParkingPanda strives to Revolutionize parking

The Panda!

A recent Baltimore-based start-up called ParkingPanda.com, run by Nick Miller and Adam Zilberbaum, has definitely piqued my interest. Why? Because they aim to revolutionize parking as we know it.

The idea is simple. You need a space in Downtown Baltimore, say for a Ravens or Orioles game. You don't want to spend 30+ minutes driving around aimlessly looking for parking. So you log onto ParkingPanda and find someone who might have a parking space downtown, but is away for a few days or just might not need it. They rent out their parking space to you, for less than what it would cost to park in a garage. That person makes a little cash on a personal parking space they otherwise would have not been using and you get to find parking quickly and cheaply! It's great for all parties involved!

Nick Miller is the Co-Founder and CEO of ParkingPanda. Like most great internet ideas, the company was conceived during his college days in our nation's capitol, “I went to Georgetown.  I was living in DC and I didn't really need a car. So I was sitting there with an empty driveway and I wasn't doing anything with it.”  Then he had the challenging experience of trying to find parking. “After I had moved out I was up here [Baltimore] at a Raven's game and there was a guy standing there with a cardboard sign that was like, “Park Here $15 bucks” over at Federal Hill, way cheaper and way faster to do that, so I parked in the driveway.” This got Nick thinking, “Why can't I just put this guy's driveway online, and not drive around and hand this guy some cash! So it was actually having experienced both sides of it. It made it apparent this needed to be done.”

This led Nick to take part in Startup Weekend Baltimore, an intense 54-hour technology competition where teams build a website or application over the course of a weekend. Nick met Adam [Zilberbaum] and told him about his wild idea for a peer-to-peer online parking community. The two hit it off and spent the weekend developing the idea. Needless to say, ParkingPanda won the competition! For winning they received the necessary funds to incorporate ParkingPanda. Once incorporated, the company got additional money which led into marketing and building up the website.

Then the dynamic duo spent the summer in a tech accelerator in New York City.  This gave them three months of office space in Times Square and the chance to make connections with well-known entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  They also got $25,000 in seed money. The culmination of the tech accelerator was giving a pitch to all the companies involved, and to potential investors.

The company launched at the Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. “The first weekend at the Grand Prix we booked about 117 spaces over the course of the weekend.” says Nick. Not bad for a first weekend.

Currently ParkingPanda operates exclusively in Baltimore, but they hope to expand. “We will be in DC soon,” Nick says, “We will probably roll out to DC in 2 months or less.” ParkingPanda has big aspirations for getting into other cities and markets as well. “After DC we will go to Philadelphia, Then we will expand more: Boston, Chicago, San Francisco.”

Even with big aspirations and hopes, the duo want to get the formula right. “We will focus on close markets first [Baltimore, DC, and Philly], because it is a great way to optimize what works, what doesn't. We can refine what we are doing.” says Nick.

Nick Miller, Co-Founder & CEO

During my conversation with Nick, we drew comparisons to Airbnb, a website where you can rent out rooms from people, Couchsurfing a similar service but free, and RelayRides a website that enables you to rent a neighbor's car. “People really see the value of earning a little extra cash with their assets and with helping out the community in general. If people are willing to let you share their car, I feel like there are people who are certainly willing to let you use their driveway. You have to be confident in letting someone get behind the wheel of your car, but your driveway… there is a pretty low barrier to entry there.” says Nick.

We also discussed other parking websites, which enable you to reserve spaces in a garage or parking lot in advance.  Nick pointed out the advantages of ParkingPanda. “They offer you the ability to reserve a space and know exactly where you are going. We also offer the ability to save you money and to avoid the traffic associated with the garage or the parking lot, and the idea is it is peer-to-peer so you are supporting your community. Someone can be renting your driveway when you are renting someone else's.”

ParkingPanda is such an intriguing idea, I actually signed up to use the website. In the future I will definitely look for parking through the Panda! I might even list my parking space during Hopkins lacrosse games, due to limited parking in the area when games occur. I see people driving up and down our street looking for parking all the time. You can find free street parking but as Nick points out, “You risk getting towed or ticketed. Particularly if you don't know the law.” The advantage to using a service like ParkingPanda, is that you don't need to worry about that.

Nick lays out ParkingPanda like this, “You can sit down with someone and in two minutes they know what we are doing. It is not some crazy ad-technology, where two months later they are like, What are you talking about? How does it work? This is a community marketplace for parking. We want people to share their parking spaces with one another. It's straightforward!”

Want to know more about ParkingPanda?  Read my interview with Nick Miller, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Day 7 Downtown Chicago

Buckingham Fountain

Last Friday I went around Downtown Chicago.  It was awesome.  Chicago is a great city.

Public transportation is really easy.  I took a train from 91st – Beverly Hills to LaSalle Station right downtown.  I got on the 12:35pm trains and came back on the 5:20pm train.  For the most part the trains are clean and comfortable.  The trains are actually Double-Decker so you can sit up high.  It's nice, easy, and efficient.  Wish Baltimore had good public transportation like Chicago.

I mainly walked around downtown with no finite plan on what to do or what to see.  First I was aimlessly walking around then saw the Chicago Public Library building on State St.  It's an absolutely beautiful building.  I would recommended stopping in there.  I did walk and see Buckingham Fountain (pictured above) and stopped in at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  I wanted to do a tour, which is a highly suggested thing to do in Chicago, but it was too late in the day.  I also considered going to the Art Institute of Chicago but you know it was 3:30 and the museum closes at 5.  I did walk around the to on the “Magnificent Mile” which is the shopping center of the city.  It's got some great stores, most which I would not go into, but it was fun to see it anyway.

What do I not like about Chicago?  Gas prices!  They are ridiculous.  Over $4!  No thank you Illinois.  I will not be moving here.  If there were lower… I might consider it.