Thursday, July 16, 2009

Five Perfect Things - Road Trip Edition

We're heading up California's Central Coast on a trek to the Bay Area starting tomorrow morning. Here goes with a few things that'll make a great trip even better...

Driving Albums

As I previously wrote, music is an essential part of any driving trip for me. I simply can't hit the road without great music as it motivates me, keeps me alert and forms the soundtrack to so many great memories that are gathered while racking up the miles.

Rocket Box
Our trusty nine year-old Yakima Rocket Box has been a godsend, especially when our "large" car consisted of an efficiently-sized Subaru Forester that generally had a large black lab riding in the cargo area.

These days we're fortunate enough to have Klaus the EuroVan, so the box isn't quite as necessary. However, it does allow us to stretch our legs in the passenger compartment without stuff getting in the way. We also don't have to shuffle the camping gear around as much when we configure the van for dining a the fold-up table or sleeping in the van's bed.

Polarized Sunglasses
I'm constantly amazed at the fantastic glare reduction afforded by my Oakley Five(squared) sunglasses. The key are the polarized lenses that drastically reduce strain on my (very) light sensitive eyes.

I wasn't fully sold on the benefits of GPS when I bought my low-end Garmin last summer prior to making the move out to California. However, I've grown to love using it on longer trips to unfamiliar areas. Especially useful is the ability to find gas stations, restaurants, loging and other points of interest. Still, I'd be foolish to leave home without the excellent Michelin road atlas and a California Gazzeteer complementing the technology.

Red Bull Sugar Free
"Go juice" for someone that (sadly) never acquired a taste for coffee.

and one bonus Almost Perfect Thing...
VW EuroVan MV
(obviously an older photo - it's never that lush out here!)

Our EuroVan MV (Multi Van) is a great road trip machine. It's especially roomy, fitting seven adults comfortably (try cramming seven "regular" Americans into a three-seater bench in any typical minivan) and having the added benefits of a fold-out table, snap-in curtains, accessory slide-in window screens and the pièce de résistance - the previously mentioned rear bench seat that folds into an almost queen-size bed that's far more comfortable than you'd ever imagine a "sofa sleeper" could be. Powered by a peppy and wonderful sounding 24v 2.8l VR6 engine and giving the driver and passengers commanding views of the scenery through panoramic windows while perched upon seats that are designed for all-day stints behind the wheel.

So how does it fall short of perfection? Mainly due to fuel consumption. US-spec EuroVans only received the 201 HP gas engine while other world markets were able to choose from three diesels, netting mileage figures over 30 MPG. If we're lucky we'll likely get about 17-19 MPG (on premium fuel to boot) during this trip. But still, we plan on holding on to this rig for the long haul.

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