Thursday, December 21, 2017

I'm bored, and browsing aimlessly online I came across this blog again. I had completely forgotten about it.

It's been 5 years since I've posted, and a lot of things have happened since. The Philly road trip? First of many between 2010 and 2013. I went to... It'd be quicker to name where I haven't been! The Philly trip was with my mum, in September 2010.

Apart from that, I went on my first solo trip to Maryland, a Soul meet. There was the first meet in Niagara Fall, on Goat Island. That one was actually an annual thing until a couple of years ago, but my last time was 2013. Another one I've done was a trip to Florida. I drove 18 hours on the first day, Montreal to Northern Tennessee, then 2 more reasonable days to get to Fort Lauderdale, where I picked up my family at the airport, they flew there for a cruise. I went all the way to Key West.

I did a sneaky one and showed up unexpectedly at a Soul meet in Chicago as well, dropped by in New Jersey and Delaware once or twice.

My Canadian Soul had more US miles than Canadian kilometers.

There's more, I have unpublished material I will post shortly, that will be the next one. I wanted to start blogging, but I guess I'll just pick up where I'd left off. I might change the Blog's title though...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I See You Philly!

This post will be about the forum thingy I briefly mentionned last time. Remember?
But don't worry, travel is included, it's still a travel blog!

So I bought this Kia Soul, and being a car guy, I was looking into... tuning. So while looking online, I came across KiaSoulForums. I looked at other Soul's, what people had done. It was relatively quiet, since the car was out for less than a year in North America. 
One thing caught my attention. One of the member was known to be the HID projector guy. I had HIDs before, and I sure loved it, so when I saw this, I contacted the member.

A side note before continuing, for those not too familiar with what I'm talking about. HID projectors are a kind of headlamps producing the best output to date, without the blinding glare of the usual kid tuner and his plug-and-play HID. The secret is the projector.
And it looks like this.
A magnifying lens with an inner shield to put the beam where you need it. you can clearly see the shield on that picture.

Back to the story. I contacted the member. He told me he had a group buy running on this other forum, SoulHamsters, and I could hop in and save some money of the normal price. So I registered and joined the group buy. 
One itch. It was about either having the kit shipped to me, or sending head lights to be fitted and back to me. With the border to cross, shipping is expensive. Too expensive. Not to mention the custom's fees once in a while...

A few messages later, an appointement was set for me to be in Pennsylvania for the fitting part.

A few months later, in September, I was on my way South, once again with my mom. I picked her up in Montreal at 1PM and we were gone. We drove for a while, so much we slept on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in Easton, just a couple of hours away from our destination.

In the morning, we cruised around town a little, then went to the Ultimate Retrofit garage. Time to strip that car! You see, the housings need to be opened to install a projector inside... It took most of the day, about five hours, including some painting. 
I previously did the wiring, so it was some time saved there. I even chose a little extra... Blue halos around the lenses!
I had the chance to take comparison pictures after we got back, to show the difference between a stock Soul and the projector upgrade. The stock one, even with the fog lights on, is far behind and, as you can see, I won't blind the other drivers any more than with the stock one. Now, I SEE the road.

I woke up my mom and we left for Philadelphia. The quest for an hotel took most of the evening, and ended up across the bridge in New Jersey.

We crossed the bridge again in the morning, and head up to the Independence Visitor Center. Then right across the street, there's the Liberty Bell Center, where the Liberty Bell is exposed since 1915, after it was put out of commission in 1846.
We then walked around the Independence district until our guided tour of the Independence Hall began. I had some fun with one of the rangers at the gate... I was wearing a shirt saying, "My parents told me I could be anything. So I became an asshole." He said, "My parents told me I could be anything too, but look, I ended up being not much more than you!" He's a funny guy for sure!

We kept on walking and visiting old buildings and museums during the day, including Betsy Ross' house, the mother of the American Flag.
Truly an interesting visit, unfortunately, not enough time to see it all in a weekend... But there is one thing I could not afford to miss while in Philadelphia.

A big piece of history...


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Break In.

This is my third post. Some of you may be wondering what's with my blog's title... Some of you may guess the answer today.


I bought a car. Joined a forum. Got invited to another one. Joined and found a family. That's the long story short, computer wise.

But here is the long version, at least the first part.
I bought a new car, took delivery on Tuesday May 11th 2010.
10 days and 300 km later, I left home to go to work and came back home a couple days later with 2200 or so clicks on the clock.

Not a bad start...

First Soul Road Trip - Pre-Hamster Era

Time to leave the kilometers behind and put some miles on that Kia Soul...

I left with my mother. Still a newbie at road trips and travelling in general, I didn't know much about all the touristic stuff in the US. I just agreed to the destination...
We drove for a good part of the evening to stop in some town along the way to find out all hotels were full. There was some event there, so we kept on driving until we found somewhere to sleep.

We finally made it in the afternoon, Cape May, New Jersey. A sunny Saturday afternoon to vist the city and enjoy a great meal at Cabanas. The morning after, the weather had changed. It was warm and cloudy. It turned out to be a good thing, because the temperature kept rising, the cloud cover kept us from cooking... We hit the road around lunch time, going back North following the coast line, passing through Wildwood and Ocean City.

We stopped in Margate to meet the famous Lucy. After waiting for our turn in the boutique, we climbed one of the rear legs into the heart of the elephant for our guided tour. All of Lucy's history is presented there, with artefacts and pictures. You can also see the world from Lucy's view!
Unfortunately, the upper story was closed for restoration when we were there. We climbed down the other rear leg and enjoyed the seaside a little.

Not so far away, after being caught in some city traffic, we stopped in Atlantic City, to get a room for the night at the Caesars Palace. We got a great price for the street view room, to find out what was the catch.
I found it pretty funny to have one of the columns blocking most of the view. But since the room is not the main destination of the trip, we left.
We hit the Boardwalk, visiting a lot of small shops and seeing some attractions, such as the Ripley's Believe it or Not! and the Steel Pier Roller Coasters.
The cloudy weather stayed for the Monday morning, but it didn't prevent a couple of surfers to challenge a few waves.

We roamed around the boardwalk a little more before heading home. We drove around New York City just in time to hit the rush hour, and enjoy the fact that it's way less painful than the ones we have here. We barely noticed it was traffic...

Friday, October 19, 2012

On foot. Kind of...

Second trip. Great trip. Here's the view: 

In the middle of nowhere, alone in the middle of the night... Just the silence and the wind for company. Still wondering? OK, I also have a day shot of the same decor:

Yes. Water and sky, with nothing in between. Awesome time, on a tiny boat. I flew to Fort Lauderdale with some family members, spent a few days there before going on board. We had a good time between the Sawgrass Mills Mall and the Seminole Casino, riding the Water Taxi... 

Saturday morning, the bus picked us to take us to Port Everglades. We made it on time, even if the driver didn't know where the hell he was going... He even destroyed part of the bus and some flowers because he couldn't reverse the luggage trailer. We then met with our ship, The Oasis.

I explored the ship in less than three hours, becoming my family's guide on board. Lots of things to do and see. Surf, zip line, mini golf, basketball, hot tubs, pools, etc.
And that's just Deck 16.
It's in one of the pools that I had to reveal my first tattoo... It was 4 months old by then, and my family didn't even know I wanted a tattoo! All went pretty well, even with my grandmother...

There's also the Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade the Aquatheater, the Ice Rink, the Vitality Spa and all the entertainment venues, such as bars, clubs, even kids and teens reserved sections.
It also has a park with actual plants and trees, with birds taking vacations between the Caribbean islands and even an elevator with seating that serves drinks! And it's all you can eat! Not just the buffet, even the formal dinners. I had a seven services meal one night!

5 PM, the ship set sail. First destination after two days at sea is St. Thomas. There is a nice little market right off the ship, built on purpose at the new pier, made for the Oasis, because the other one is too... small. Plenty of transportation to Charlotte-Amalie touristic quarter. Jewels, clothing, jewels, souvenirs, jewels... Shops everywhere. Lots of pirate stuff there too, probably related to the movies. I honestly didn't spend enough time there... I came back to the ship too soon.

The Wednesday, we got  to visit the island with double citizenship, Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten. The port is on the Netherlands' side, once again with lots of boutiques. I went on a tour around the main part of the island with a local driver/guide, who took us to some of the French side, showing us all the good spots... including the French free beach, where there was nothing interesting to see...
Part of our group went to the beach next to the Princess Juliana International Airport, you know the famous beach where planes fly only a few meters above people on their approach to land just on the other side of the small fence? Check out some videos if you don't know that beach...

After another day at sea, on the way back to Florida, we entered the Bahamas. A late arrival in Nassau, noon compared to 6 AM on previous islands, left us with just enough time to do a quick tour of the city. Where I discovered Tortuga... A little storefront on a side street, with a pirate holding the sign. Very addictive. Caribbean Rum Cakes are so good...
After the tour, back to the port to catch a boat to Paradise Island and visit Atlantis. Casino, hotel and aquarium all in one, we walked through the slot machines to see sharks and rays. 

We walked back to the ship, had to get ready to leave the following morning. The week is over, we have to leave the ship once in Port Everglades, with a plane to catch in the morning, there is no time to loose. We received our purchases (read Rum and other funny liquids) that evening, packed everything and went to sleep. 

After a way too early breakfast, we sat down in the dinning room, waiting for our turn to disembark...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

There's a first time...

They say there's a first time for everything. It was certainly true in my case...
I was all into cars, the magazines, video games, the Internet, all the info and pictures I could find and collect...
I even been laughed at by relatives because at 15 because my "career" had nothing relevant, my "field of work" was pure fiction and I should find any job instead of looking in shops to work on cars before having a driver's license. It didn't worked well at first, so I worked as bus boy while completing high school.
I then got to learn the real stuff:

"C'est pas une science, tabarnak" -M. Tanguay

Loosely translated it gives, "It's not a fucking science"... Best lesson ever. Really. 

This is from my vocational studies, to become a mechanic. That teacher led more students to Gold in the national contest than any other in years. You can trust this guy. And it applies to anything. It means you NEED some stuff to make something happen. If you don't have it all, IT WON'T WORK. It's that simple, find what's missing and fix it, it will work again.

While learning that, I also had some holidays. Like labor day, Christmas... And Easter.

Yeah, Easter weekend... Friday morning, it's like 10 AM, phone rings. My mom. "Hey, wanna go to a Muscle Car Museum?
-Yeah, where?

Quebec-Tennessee. 17 hours one way. Why not? After all, it's a long weekend. We were gone by 2 PM. 
Simple trip, I-87 to I-90 then all the way down I-81. But, a stopover at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut to try that restaurant, the SolToro Tequila Grill was in order... Great food and that loco hot sauce is... loco hot!

All day Saturday on the road, we stopped in Abingdon, Virginia for the night, just before the state line. This is where I saw Fast and Furious... With Brian yelling at his GPS, the same way my mom did on the way down...

Sunday morning, we were at the Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville. I touched that '70 white Challenger, you know which one... I bet you even know the plates on it. Tour done, time to go home? Not quite. South it is, to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg. I saw the Buick from the movie I saw not 24 hours before!

Sat in Eleanor, the Eclipse, Bandit's Pontiac, KITT...