The Amphibious Vehicle

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James Bond movies aside, the amphibious vehicle has never really caught on. You might associate an amphibious vehicle with a car, but bikes and buses can also be amphibious. Most are developed and used by the militeries of the world. Let’s take a closer look at some Russian, German and American amphibious vehicles.

From the former Soviet Union comes the Vityaz, a the multi-unit ATV and not truly amphibious because it doesn’t really float. It is, however, capable of carrying a monster payload (over 5 tons) through snow or swamp. The Vityaz resembles two carriages from a train with caterpillar tracks. While it’s predecessors go all the way back the the 1960’s the current model has been in production since 1982.

280px-VW_Kuebelwagen_1The German carmaker Volkswagen brings us two offerings: the Schwimmwagen and Kübelwagen. The Schwimmwagen is a squat 4×4 and the Kübelwagen resembles the bottom half of a VW Beetle. Bothe descend from the civilian version of the humble VW Beatle, but the Kübelwagen came first. The Kübelwagen became the Axis version of the allies jeep, sort of an all-terrain swift transport and tow platform. Unfortunately, the bottom design didn’t lend itself to swimming, with lead to the later developed Schwimagen. Over 15,000 Schwimwagens were produced between 1941 and 1944, making it the largest number of amphibious vehicles ever produced.

280px-VW_Schwimmwagen_1The Americans meanwhile developed the DUKW, which is where the story really twists.

The DUKW Story

It isn’t that clear what the DUKW stands for, the official line is that the initialism concerns “Designed in 1942” and “Utility” but the K and the W don’t stand for much at all. It may just be thought of as a code name but if that’s so why come up with code name which resembles what they are?

The DUKW, from this point forward ‘Duck’ was developed by top military and naval pioneers and quickly rejected by the main forces. When several Coast Guards got into difficulty off the coast of Princetown in Massachusetts a Duck vehicle happened to be giving a demo. The vehicle had no difficulty in rescuing the stranded Guardsmen. Later the Duck would show its usefulness by crossing the English Channel as well as manoeuvring on French soil but firstly the initial vehicle was re-engineered by the Yellow Coach & Truck Company.

300px-DUKW.image2.armyTwo thousand such vehicles were used by Great Britain during the WWII as well as 500 being used by Australian forces. Just over 75 years ago they were used in D-Day When the war ended they were used both in the Borneo and the Malayan campaign. These old vehicles seemed remarkably hard wearing, given that many had to undergo the rigor of the tide. The last Duck to be used in the military was in 2012.

There were plans to make Ducks bigger, to turn them into Superducks or “Drakes”. Developments were especially made in what was then the Soviet Union, including the addition of a ramp to the back of the vehicle, which would seem more like common sense than a physical difference.

How Floating Cars Help Regular Cars

As you might guess, there are many factors at play in creating amphibious vehicles that can be used in normal vehicles. Water in the engine is always a bad thing and the developments during the war and beyond were vital to keeping modern cars running smoothly. Then there is the difficulty of what happens when a car not exactly built for it has to drive through water.

The official recommendation is always to avoid driving your car through water deeper than a few inches but even car makers know it’s going to happen. Any water on the road, ford or puddle, may affect your brakes. After going through the water you are advised to check that your brakes work.

A ford is a place you cross a river where no bridge has been built. You should, at least, find a depth gage which marks the current depth of the water. Without a depth gage you’re advised not to try.

The Ultimate Demise of the DUKW

The final resting place in history for the “Duck Boat” has been tourism. Places like Seattle, Washington and Branson Missouri have employed them to take visitors around to see the sights from the unique views available to a vehicle that can go on land and water.

However, these tours have been plagued by tragic accidents, when taken out in adverse weather conditions or when poorly maintained. It will become increasingly more difficult to find an operational DUKW, but that doesn’t mean the world has given up on civilian Amphibious Vehicles.

Quite a few UTV’s are in production with limited amphibious ability, due in no small part, to their ability to help sport hunters and outdoor enthusiasts reach destinations that are otherwise nearly unattainable.

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Great Summer Road Trips

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The heat is coming, and you are ready for the vacations to begin. No matter where you live in the United States or what your interests, you can pick any state throughout the country and find something to marvel at. With these odds, you could take a summer road trip for the next fifty years and never get bored. Here are some great summer road trips to interest your whole family.

 

Route 66Historic Route 66

If your goal is to escape the hustle and bustle that is life, Historic Route 66 can offer the perfect summer getaway. Whether you start in Chicago or California, this trip will take you down roads that are far less traveled today than when they were the main roads across the country. This trip takes you through eight states and gives you access to numerous historical treasures.

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Meramec Caverns

Starting in Chicago and Grant Park, you can follow through to the Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri. From there you can see the shortest stretch of the famous route covering thirteen miles through Galena, Kansas. After you meet the tow truck that inspired Mater, you can stop in for lunch at Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma, and marvel at the 66-foot soda bottle before heading out to Texas. In Texas, you can see the Cadillac Museum in Amarillo, then move on to the Mining Museum in Grants, New Mexico. Through the final stretches of this historic route, you can stop at the original London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona and end your trip at the famous Santa Monica Pier in California.

This is a trip that will give you something new to look at every time you make the journey.

 

US 83US-83 The Road to Nowhere

Turning directions, you could also find sanctuary on a trip down the Road to Nowhere. This trek will take you along US-83 from North Dakota down to Texas or further if you so wish. You can take in breathtaking views and historical attractions along your way south.

atkins-2897879_1920Starting in North Dakota, you can take in the 13th-century replica of Gol Stove Church Museum in Minot. From there you can stop for a meal at Mad Mary’s Steakhouse and Saloon in Pierre, South Dakota. Next, you can marvel at the beauty of Smith Falls State Park in Valentine, Nebraska. Continuing south a must-see is the iconic Land of Oz in Liberal, Kansas, that gave birth to Dorothy and all of her friends. Passing through the Oklahoma panhandle and finishing your journey in Laredo, Texas.

There are endless numbers of attractions to see along the Road to Nowhere that is sure to give you enough to talk about to get you through the months until your next road trip.

 

maps-812736_1280Getting Your Car Road Trip Ready

So, you have decided where you will travel this summer and are ready for the fun; but is your car ready to go? There are many things to have checked before you set out on a long road trip, especially in the summertime, when you will be dealing with the heat.

While you are planning your road trip, you should also take the time to schedule a tune-up and any maintenance on your vehicle. Make sure that this service includes checking all of your filters, fluids, and the essentials; because nothing ruins a vacation more than getting halfway through your trip for your car to breakdown.

Don’t forget about your tires either, while you are checking everything. This might be a good time to have them rotated and any tires with worn tread replaced. Recheck the air pressure before you head out on your trip.

No matter where you decide to go for your summer fun, a few small steps before your trip will ensure that you are enjoying the views instead of spending the time looking under the hood.

 

 

The Squeeze – How to Get The Most of Car Space

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You may not be aware of the term “cargo space,” though it’s just a more complicated way of saying trunk space. A similar term used in the motor trade is “cargo capacity” which means the same thing.

Looking at the objects that people put it trunks in the movies it tends to be suitcases, cooler boxes, items like that. Everything you might need for a week or a fortnight away, though the items we’ll need to place in our trunks could be yard trash, a table, chairs… Well, you get the idea.

A way to increase the space is to have storage in the front of the vehicle, as Tesla does. This wouldn’t be possible in a conventional vehicle but because the Tesla is electric the engine doesn’t take up that much space. They nickname this new space as the “frunk,” a portmanteau of “front trunk”.

trunk-1478832_1920As well as the front space, you might look at the under-trunk space, although in most cars this is where the spare tire is stored. Minivans, however, often only use part of the underfloor to store the tire leaving part for additional storage.

Minivans aren’t alone in touting their ample surplus of space. The makers of the Pontiac boast that you could fit a whole mattress in the trunk of their car. This might be too much space for most people, how often do you wish to transport a mattress? But if you require space this is probably the ideal car to get.

When you have space you might like to utilize it in bizarre new ways.

Are you unhappy with the car’s current speakers? No problem, get yourself a huge pair of subwoofers and stick them in your trunk. Okay, you no longer have half your trunk space, but it does improve your listening pleasure.

Got a couple bikes to transport? You have two basic choices—inside or out. You can install a bike rack on the roof or the trunk, depending on your car’s body type. For those who have yet to purchase a bike rack or wish to carry more than one the bicycle can be a tricky thing to transport. One idea is to use a foldaway bike which not only allows you to store the bike but also, depending on the size of the vehicle, allows room for rucksacks and other items needed for your travels.

If you are someone who needs to look immaculate all the time as you travel around the country you might like to transform your trunk into a walk-in closet complete with space for jackets to be hung up, shoes and ties.

If you are worried about items being broken in the trunk, obtaining a trunk shelf might be the answer, allowing items like eggs and so on to remain in one place and not get crushed by other items. For minivans, a cargo net can be a lifesaver.

A number of the items above may seem like late April Fools but they are available on the internet. Anywhere there is empty space, someone’s going to have an idea of how to fill it.

Chauffeur Driven Limos

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What could be more stylish than a chauffeur-driven limousine greeting you from the airport? The business is all about creating a positive experience which needs to operate 365 days a year, even Christmas Day. But what is the life of a chauffeur all about?

Becoming a Chauffeur:

I addition to passing a background check many chauffeurs have to take a comprehensive test as well. Then they need to gain the knowledge of the streets they will work on and usually have to know them backward. In fact, training is ongoing as construction and driving patterns change with time, and different customers require different services en route.

Types of Gigs:

In some cities, a Limo is nearly as affordable as a taxi and many Limos serve the airport commuter, but we also think of the party limo which is rented by teens going to prom or bachelors/bachelorettes for their last big bacchanal before they settle down for good (or 7 years whichever comes first).

stretch-limousine-2714963_1920These days Limo companies typically diversify into specialty party limos for these gigs. You might see a stretch hummer with a built-in hot tub on the streets of Los Vegas, but smaller towns will still push their basic black stretch into double duty from Friday nights black tie to Saturday nights stag party.

The key to a party/airport driver might simply be patience. If you can drive and you are longsuffering this could be your calling, and the tips aren’t bad either.

The upscale driver will also do Corporate Services, and some chauffeurs work in the diplomatic services. These Limos are now outfitted with access to TV news and radio while you are driving along – well access to radio isn’t that new, but you get the gist. Onboard wifi for internet access isn’t unheard of.

These drivers still need to know where the best places to relax in the city are, but will also know how to find the opera hall and the bank tower buildings. So again training is vital.

Communications:

In the old days communications were down by CB radio, which we probably think of more with taxis, but no, they were also a mainstay in Limos as the company needed to know the whereabouts of their car at all times and provide updates about traffic and road conditions. If this seems counter-intuitive, just think about how often a business person has a change of schedule or a gang of drunks decides to switch clubs. The company needs to receive updates. Also, they need to give them, because speed bumps and potholes that are an inconvenience in a taxis, present a bad limo ride experience and cause costly damage. Of course, now the mobile phone fills in for the CB radio.

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History of Limos and Chauffeurs:

The limousine has a longer history than you might think of being named after the town of Limousin, found in Central France. The most noticeable feature is the partition between the driver and the chauffeur. In Germany, a limousine is referred to a Sedan, though in other countries, sedans refer to a more generalized type of car.

The stretch limo has surprisingly workaday origins, created as it was by a  coach company in Fort Smith, Arkansas and was used by Big Band Leaders. It seems to show that it always had been about style rather than substance, a fun way to travel rather than something more presidential.

Early types of the limousine were the berline and the brougham. The berline takes its name from a type of horseless carriage and began with the driver in the open air and the passenger in the roofed area.  The Brougham was similar but had the driver in the center of the vehicle using a steering wheel which was on a pivot which seems a hell of a job to maneuver. The evolution was to improve life not only for the passenger but also for the chauffeur.

Personality Types for a Chauffeur:

Unlike taxi drivers, chauffeurs know where they are going before the day and can plan for it. So you don’t require quite as much desire for an unscripted workplace. Limo drivers’ personality tends to be available but not too sociable as they need to know when to keep quiet. The other three primary character needs are knowledgeable, professional and prompt.

prom-264219_1920We have this mental picture of chauffeurs as crisply professionals though that is not always the complete picture. Whole books have been written talking about unreliable drivers who are not given adequate rest breaks, so accidents are waiting to happen, such as a 1908 book called Motor Age. As with anything, you get what you pay for.

Another interesting character trait often found in chauffeurs is natural networkers, One reason is that chauffeurs be the last profession to rely on word of mouth to get new clients? Lately, though, everything seems to need to surrender to social media, and limo drivers remain avid networkers. So it’s likely that the profession draws people who like to be near people of influence.

Wherever you want to go, be it a concert, the airport or just round in a circle it is reassuring to know that there is someone to drive you.

Winter Roads and Ice Roads

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Most of the time when we’re talking about winter weather and roads we’re talking about getting rid of it’s effects on the road to improve safety. However, there is a type of road which is built over snow or a similar substance called a winter road due to their reliance on seasonal climate. A special type of winter road is called ice road and this is what the majority of this article is in reference to.

If you live in a temperate region you may live your whole life without seeing an ice road. It is a road built over a frozen lake or even a bay of the ocean, though the word “road” may be pushing it somewhat.

Ice roads can be permanent or temporary–some only exist between late Fall and early Spring. Even when they are melted the lack of vegetation in a specific part of the water shows where the road used to be.

But why use an ice road when you can wait until the thaw occurs? As with many other things it comes down to expense. It’s cheaper to transport things by truck than by air freight. The other concern is that for some items, carrying by air is impractical. But the basic reason is the old adage, “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” If you can drive straight across a lake instead of taking a twisty road around it and a mountain you save a lot of time and fuel.

Making an Ice Road

In order to keep the road as traversable as it can be this routes are often snow plowed. Most people consider ice to be level, but not all types of water being frozen provide a level surface–snowplowing helps make it level.

To create a road takes more than plowing a couple lanes. Often you need to thicken the ice by drilling holes at intervals. The water from these holes floods out and in turn thickens the ice.

The vehicles on the ice road tend to be big trucks, though smaller pickups are also used. The speed limit for ice road is about 25 mph to help prevent the truck from falling through the ice.

Because you can’t just drive out onto most lakes you need some bizarre engineering. One way is a ramp made of slush. It doesn’t sound like a good solution, but it seems to work.

History of Ice Roads

Perhaps the most famous ice road in history is the 900-day siege of Leningrad. In June of 1941, the German and Finnish Army attacked and ultimately blockaded the city where many munitions were manufactured for the Red Army. The attempt to starve out the army and inhabitants failed in large part to allies driving supplies across Lake Ladoga at night. The Nazi Army simply didn’t think anyone was crazy enough to do it so they didn’t waste bombs breaking up the ice.

The ice roads in Canada have a long history going back to the 1930s. These weren’t used by trucks though but by caterpillar sleds. A number of them can be traced back to Al Hamilton of Grimshaw Transport, which still exists. Their main business is to transport fish from the topmost parts of Canada to the USA and beyond. These roads have since been improved by other trucking companies.

Stunt Driving

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At one-time stunt driving was only for the chosen few, but now in the age of experience gifts, it is possible to experience stunt car driving for yourself. They are especially popular for bachelor parties and few bachelorette parties. Perhaps in the age of the virtual more of us yearn for a real day out.

Like other forms of enhanced driving, you do need to know how to drive before you attempt stunt driving. The broad category might be called precision driving and includes such things as racing and the obstacle course work used by law enforcement. However, stunt driving is the form of precision driving where the goal is to create the illusion that your vehicle is out of control when in fact you’re driving at the edge of what the vehicle can handle.

automobile-automotive-car-804130.jpgMany courses offer small class sizes and you are taught by professional stunt people (sometimes, people who work in Hollywood) to get the tricks right. Some of the stunts referred to on their website are the J-turn, Drifting and Threshold Braking. It is a bit confusing for someone who is not familiar with stunts to work out what these are. The names combine aspects of precision driving with the visual effects it creates for an audience or camera.

To do a J turn first you need to reverse and then turn 180°. You should continue driving forward in the same direction as if nothing has happened.

To drift or to counter-steer is drive in one direction while the car wheel s are facing in the other direction. It employs using the car’s inertia to perform a controlled skid around a corner instead of breaking into the corner and accelerating out like you learn in regular driver’s education.

Threshold braking is to slow the vehicle at the maximum rate using the brakes. Many states require a form of this during your driving exam, but it’s done from the speed of 10 MPH. Real threshold breaking is done from high rates of speed. If you have to use it in real life, be warned that it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle.

There are additional moves such as the slide 90s but the stunt driving websites seem a bit cagey about what kind of move this is. If you know perhaps you can comment below?

Obviously, you don’t do any smashing out of a ten story building with your car on fire as part of these stunt days, it’s only the basics. But you get to learn more about how to control your vehicle and you also have a fully immersive experience with your friends.

Tanner Foust is one of the more well-known stunt drivers to the public. Despite his degree in biology, he is better known for rally driving, which he started as a way to off steam. Since then he became an ice driving coach, which led to his destiny as a Hollywood stunt driver on films, including Need For Speed and Iron Man 2. Foust keeps his skills sharp at the race track.

Should you take up further stunt experiences be warned, the prices racks up considerably for the more advanced seminars. You can also take a refresher course at some schools. The best places to learn tend to be the coastal states though it is not clear why.

The Truth about Renting a Car

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If you need to rent a car you’ve probably either taken a trip or had an accident. When you take a trip, and you’re footing the bill, you probably have some control over the type of car you get but when the insurance company is supplying a replacement vehicle you may discover how little input you get.

Driving a car you are not used to can be tricky, especially if it’s manual when you’re accustomed to automatic. Another curveball can come when the rental is five or eight years newer than you’ve ever driven. Many of the new bells and whistles, like autonomous driving or keyless entry, have an adjustment period.

So do what most folks never do when negotiating your insurance rate and research what the rental clause actually covers. One of our writers recently activated the loaner vehicle clause in his insurance during repairs and discovered that a “mid-sized” car is actually tiny and has only three doors.

Most Overlooked Thing

It’s important also to make note that you will need to give the car back not only when the car is fixed but alternatively when the car is considered non-repairable by the mechanic in question. It is therefore vital that you make any contingency plans (looking for cars, etc.,) while you still have access to a vehicle. While most people are optimistic that something might be done by the garage. It’s just that not having a car makes it much more difficult to shop for another car one.

Some of the more strange but somehow frequent issues while using a rental include that you’re more likely to lose your keys, you won’t recall your license plate number if you need to fill out paperwork, and not being able to fit your child’s car seat into it. Granted, these are not world-ending issues, but they stress your day if you don’t think ahead a little.

When traveling, most people default to big brands such as Hertz or Enterprise. In reality, you might be better off doing some digging on the internet to find a local company. Why choose a name you are unfamiliar with in a foreign town? Well, you might find a better deal for one thing. You might also get some good local advice, like “there is no parking for large cars in our town so we recommend our small cars” or “gas here is cheap, so why not use the largest option you can.”

If you must use an international company trying to reach a local branch directly When you reserve through the national switchboard or website you get the official rate. The local office may be slow at the time and ready to talk deals. They may also advise you on the best places in the area to visit. (PS going local is always good advice, flowers, for example, are always cheaper local than national.)

Another Tip

If you happen to be traveling you may note that airport rental companies are more expensive. This includes services that come pick you up at the airport. So one technique is to hire a rideshare to a close by the hotel. Then stand in the lobby and order your rental car delivered there. The price per day is generally worth the effort. Do a little research though because occasionally you’ll find an airport where they competition is intense and drives prices even lower than elsewhere.

Renting Trucks?

It might surprise you to know that trucks are rented a great deal more than cars, especially by huge companies. Penske and U-Haul, for example, can be found everywhere helping people move.

For those not looking to move house, but simply trying to haul a piece of equipment or load of bark dust, for example, you can often rent a pick-up truck, the most common rented vehicle of all.

A group of antique scavengers, known as “pickers,” often rent trucks instead of buying their own. This allows them to drive a more economical car while on the hunt around the country and only bring in a truck to move something big. Money is always tight when you are running a business, it seems.

There seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to rental car treatment. The more famous kind, abuse the daylights out of it, but surprisingly most people use kid gloves. Partially because we want to avoid any fees for nicks and scratches, and partially because most people treat things they don’t own with respect. If you do create a particular mess it could be worth a vacuum to avoid spending money. If you scratched the paint somehow, consider getting a little wax and buffing it out. Many tiny cosmetic issues disappear when they don’t catch the light.

Whatever your reason for renting a car it can feel good to get back behind the wheel of something you own. Life seems much more normal.

 

Converting Ambulances?!

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There are many vehicles which can be converted to ambulances. Though modern readers probably envision a large van, believe it or not only a few decades ago they used station wagons. Most ambulances these days start off life as an ambulance though they’re built on a van frame. The only real reason to alter a vehicle to an ambulance would be if you were transporting it to a foreign nation that didn’t have a local manufacturer, and then it is relatively simple to just get an old ambulance and save all the effort of converting.

ambulance-168279_1920So if converting a van seems a fruitless task what about ambulance cars? They are more widely known as a non-transporting EMS vehicle, or perhaps “rapid response vehicle.” In other words, they are a way to get the doctor to the scene of an accident. In Germany, they are also known as “Physician Cars” though clearly when you translate that into English it conjures images of a luxury vehicle a well-paid doctor might use might drive for day to day use.

They convert vehicles like the Renault Scenic, maybe due to the ease of size. The problem again that they are generally bought from the supplier as ambulances, though it goes without saying that the supplier needs to work out how best the vehicle will work as an ambulance car.

As for motorcycles you might need to change the traction control to deal with the new use. You also need foot shields, hand guards and fairing protectors. To clarify “fairings” are extra structures used to aid streamlining of the vehicle. The biggest noticeable change is the color, as ambulance motorcycles are never black; they are by and large a luminous yellow shade.

What about the other way around? How do you convert an ambulance into a regular type of vehicle?

First things first, licensing requirements vary state to state. Some states go off the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and once something was born an ambulance it will always be one. Therefore you can turn it into anything you want for all anyone cares, but you still have to acquire the proper license to drive it. You need to make sure that you are licensed to drive such a vehicle.

What to turn an ambulance into? Good question. There aren’t that many other uses really, it’s too small for freight for instance. Possible other ideas would be a furniture truck or a catering van.

ambulance-2214593_1920However, one of the most common uses for an old ambulance is a camper van. The big draw here is that it’s a high-end van, with upgraded load capacity, and best of all, it’s already wired for the additional electric needs of a camper. You’ll need to do some additional outlets and such but it’s a lot less work than starting from a basic van. No doubt you also have to add some kind of oven, some beds, and the odd table.

Another good point about an ambulance is that it already has a backup battery which is a lifesaver if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere. You may also be able to repurpose built-in overhead lighting and heating, as well as cupboards.

You may have to change the insurance if you want to alter the purpose of a vehicle, as a camper van is classed as HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle), whereas an ambulance is not. The distinction here is that an ambulance would have a commercial vehicle policy in addition to regular coverage. A camper van is hauling a lot of expensive equipment that you own like microwave, toaster ovens, etc.

It will be quite interesting to drive. An ambulance has a number of buttons on the dashboard that you don’t find in regular camper vans. Removing the sirens might also be something the law requires when privately owned.

This is probably a gold mine; after all, there are many ambulances for sale. But like with any gold mine it involves a certain amount of spade work. Still, you might be able to get brilliant vacations and even money from selling such vehicles on sites such as eBay. In a crowded market, it helps to have new ideas.

The Desert Drive

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Because only 30% of America is desert, it is unsurprising that most Americans do not have to drive through these types of conditions. If you find yourself in need of a trek through the wilderness, here are a few survival tips for the desert.

When Crossing the Dessert Via Highway:

It is vital that you bring both your cell phones and a charger. They now sell solar-powered chargers, like the 8000mAh, BESWILL 3 USB Ports and 21 LED light Portable Solar External Battery Power Bank Phone Charger for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Android and other Smart Devices.

The most important thing you need is water, tons and tons of it, as it is your number one method of survival.

It is vital you check your cooling system and your battery before you start off.

You should never touch hot parts of the car. You should NEVER leave children or pets stuck in the car, they could die.

Tar can bleed in the heat. How does tar bleed? It’s due to the upward movement of asphalt in sunny conditions. The more hours of hot weather a surface has to deal with the worse the bleeding will occur. Roads become so slippery it cannot be traveled.

When Crossing the Desert Off-Road:

When it comes to traversing the desert you need a powerful car including…

4 wheel drive (4×4), which increases overall traction by applying power in more than one place

Carrying Capacity-Ability to support additional fuel tanks and spare tires, anything that commonly goes wrong.

Torque-It might be hard to understand what torque is all about. Its rotational force around a specific object (rotation around a specific axis). A car traveling through the desert needs a certain amount of torque in the wheels to negotiate obstacles.

Clearance-You also need to look into the size of the tires. If a car has large tires it is capable of clearing the bigger sized rocks.

As with any off-road vehicles they need to be large but easy to operate. Basically, if it’s built for speed it’s probably not built for crawling the desert. To be more precise any vehicle built for street use is impractical as a desert vehicle.

Wheelbase-It can help you negotiate an obstacle to have your tires spread further apart. So when one tire loses traction while others do not. However, sometimes people choose to forgo wheelbase, so let’s examine some of those exceptions below.

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Typical Off-Road Vehicles:

Many designs of off-road vehicles start on the idea of the pickup and extra features because it has a long wheelbase and carrying capacity. There are also exceptions…

One of the weirder types of vehicles built for the desert is the Baja Bug, Herbie Goes Trekking you might say. Unlike the usual type of VW Beetle the Baja Bug has a tubular cage fitted so when should it flip over you will be perfectly safe. There are also longer shock absorbers. (Most bugs can be divided into narrow eyes or wide eye varieties.) The narrow eyes have the headlamps on the front apron, much closer than on the usual bug. The first Baja was created in 1968, originating in California.

jeep-3266350_1920The car most people might associate with the desert is the Jeep. Many jeeps are still used on desert safaris. Jeep is a trademark vehicle but it’s also a style of vehicle made by many makers. It started by an American company called “Willys MB.” First used in 1941 it is still used for negotiating hot conditions. However, when WWII ended, a Willies Jeep was abandoned on an island in the Pacific which was reversed engineered by Toyota to create a line of jeeps. There are a number of different desert jeeps on the market, such as the Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk and Desert Jeep Wrangler.

The desert can be cruel to the unwary, but if you are prepared to take precautions, your exploration and activities may be exciting.

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Family Road Trips by Age

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In this first installment of our 2018 road trip series, let’s tackle the all-important question–destination.

Baby

Oyster.com recommends taking infants to Norway! Sounds crazy? Well, their point is that babies don’t really remember. This is one of the last chances you have to go somewhere you want to go. After this, your child will start factoring in more. If this is your first child it may not seem like it, but in many ways, your life is less impacted by your infant now then it’s going to be when he/she has the ability to go find trouble whenever they aren’t entertained.

rv-2788677_1920So how are you going to road trip to Norway? Well, you won’t, but the point still stands. As does Oysters next recommendation. Take the train. Lot’s of places you explore with lots of sitting and resting while you get to the next location. That’s not quite how the train works in the US, but the point is a good one. This could be a good time to try out an RV. Cruze America offers the chance to take a small RV anywhere and the added flexibility of being able to just stop when you need to could make it a good option.

GoRVing has a ton of resources and destination recommendations.

Toddler

Toddlers need to experience smells, textures and tastes to be entertained, making the beach the perfect option. There’s something about the coast. It slows you down. The rhythmic melody of the waves. The squawking of seagulls overhead. The smell of salt and fish in the air. Everywhere you turn there is something completely new for your toddler to experience.sand-166897_1920

It doesn’t have to be an ocean to have a beach. If you live farther from the coast than you want to be couped up with a two-year-old. Pick a lake or river with a sandy shoreline. Just the feel of sand between their toes is great and sand castles are a chance to create, or better, DESTROY!

Don’t forget your floaties. If the water is too cold or the waves too strong, the hotel will probably have a swimming pool and this is a great chance to learn to swim.

Elementary

Disneyland/World! It’s time for your child to make a life memory and to believe in magic. Life’s realities are going to settle in all too soon and this is your chance to take a stand for the things that can’t be proven, (but that we’re better off believing in any way.)

disneyland-105271_1920.jpgIt’s not only aimed at entertaining kids, it’s safer than many forms of vacation. For all the hype about kids being stolen at these theme parks, the reality is that they are hyper on guard for it. Your kids will also have the stamina to stand in the hot sun now.

Reputable Hotel accommodations are close by. Transportation isn’t too big a hassle with shuttles. And they can rent you things like strollers if you don’t want to lug it back and forth.

If this is a short section its because I don’t really have to really have to sell you on Disneyland. If your daughter is a princess, or your sun is Tarzan all you need to know is the best age to take them.

Middle School

This is the age when adventure really takes point. Opportunities to engage with active learning could make the difference between your child enduring school and your child falling in love with learning.

Camping can make it more affordable to pull off a series of smaller vacations, which could look like a long summer tour or one extended trip each year for four years. Either way it’s worth spending some money on proper equipment to make your experience more enjoyable. mt-rushmore-2437860_1920.jpg

The two factors that make camping a great adventure are 1) the experience of camping itself and 2) the destination you go to.

No matter where you go, camping provides a chance to learn skills like fire building, hiking/orientation, plant identification, animal observation, fishing, and so on. Middle school kids thrive when given challenges so don’t be afraid to include an element of danger or an obstacle to overcome. Of course, at the end of the day temper your efforts with the reality that this is still meant to be a vacation. Don’t exhaust your kids or turn it into a chore.

Destination ideas include…

Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, etc. etc. The list is endless.

High School

It may actually be time to buy that timeshare resort. We’ve all known people who felt burnt by there timeshare, and people who thought it was the best investment they ever did. It is true that vacations, in general, are something you’re either into or you just never quite fit them in.

pool-2128578_1920So now that the kids are only a few years from college why would you plunk down that kind of money? Well, because your vacation needs and your teen’s vacation needs are now a world apart and you want to rack up wins wherever you can. Pick the right location and your kids won’t mind hanging out with mom and dad through their first few years of college even.

Most resort packages include the ability to take friends along, giving your teen the option of a friend. (Try to steer them toward the ones that are a good influence.) This allows you to get your message while your kids are at a kids-only pool. The ability to vacation at a different pace than your teen while still combining for an excursion or meals will ease tensions for both parties.

Well, we hope this has given you some things to think about. It’s never a bad idea to have a game plan for your time off in the next dozen years. Even if you ultimately opt for something different, the goal is to be intentional about your opportunities to connect with your kids. They aren’t young for very long and it goes quickly. Up to 80% of your time with them happens before they turn 18.

If you are wondering where all this vacation money is coming from, consider how much money you can waste overpaying for vehicles, or repairing a lemon. Have your cars inspected before you buy them by a reputable inspection service that works for you like our sponsor Tire Kickers.