Across the USA: Must-See Summer Road Trips

Must See Road Trips
As July comes to a close tomorrow, you’re probably thinking of how you can soak up the last of your summer. Before schedules are overtaken once again by school and work, take time to get away one more time by hitting the road. Road trips are perfectly suited for quick, end-of-the-summer jaunts. With minimal planning, you can be on your way to exploring local destinations from the comfort of your vehicle. Here’s a few of our favorite spots.

Mid-Atlantic Magic
If a beautiful mountain drive sounds like your style of road trip you are in luck, Maryland is home to a portion of the Appalachian Mountains and has many wonderful sites to offer. Begin your journey in Baltimore headed west towards Frederick. Stop in for lunch at the Zagat rated restaurant The Tasting Room. Situated in Frederick’s historic district, the Tasting Room is a sophisticated Frederick favorite that has been described as the place to see and be seen. The restaurant offers modern American cuisine.

From Frederick, continue to Cumberland, Maryland, where you can learn the history of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal at the C&O Canal National Historical Park and Visitors Museum. Visitors to the museum can explore interactive exhibits and view a life-sized section of a canal boat.

Cruise down Route 70 to the town of McHenry to enjoy the great outdoors by scenic Deep Creek Lake. The town offers a host of seasonal attractions to satisfy any adventurer. Wisp resort’s mountain coaster is not to be missed. Riders enjoy a trip through the woods as the coaster zips down the mountain side. Visitors seeking a slower tour of the countryside will enjoy a scenic chairlift ride up the mountain. Enjoy a picnic on the mountain top and then either hike or ride the lift back down the mountain.

Enjoy a thrilling ride on the Mountain Coaster (Picture Credit)

Enjoy a thrilling ride on the Mountain Coaster. (Picture Credit)

Wilderness explorers will enjoy a visit to Cranesville Swamp, which is a 20 minute drive to the west of McHenry. The swamp results from a rare combination of altitude, temperature and precipitation which allows for a habitat that is usually found much farther north to develop. The landscape is reminiscent of a Canadian wilderness scene but can be viewed right in your backyard.

New England Adventure
New England is renowned for its stunning fall scenery, but in late summer, when everywhere else in the country is sweltering, this region’s more temperate climate is the place to be. Set out from historic Boston, Massachusetts on the 83 mile journey to Cape Cod, a road trip sure to delight summer travelers. Along the way sail, swim and snorkel along the over 600 miles of cape coastline. Be sure not to miss Chatham Lighthouse, a fixture on the cape since 1808.

The picturesque Chatham Lighthouse (Picture Credit)

The picturesque Chatham Lighthouse. (Picture Credit)

Grab a bite to eat at the Chatham Fish and Lobster Company, a local Chatham restaurant that offers a selection of fresh seafood. Be sure to try the restaurant’s lobster roll, heralded as the best on Cape Cod by the Cape Cod Times. After savoring one of the Cape’s famous “lobstah” rolls, be sure to carve out time off the road to go whale watching. Excursions offered by locals depart from various points along the cape.

Mid-West Exploration
America’s heartland offers road trippers plenty of room to roam and lots to see and do. Begin your journey in Cincinnati, Ohio and head towards Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, traveling the scenic byways across the picturesque Mid-West. If you take Route 71 out of Cincinnati, you can swing into Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby.

While in Louisville take time to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum. Learn the history of the Derby and follow the path a horse takes all the way from being a foal to standing in the winner’s circle. Swing by the museum gift shop to pick out an official Kentucky Derby Hat for next year’s Triple Crown races.

Hop back in the car and onto Route 65 from Louisville on your way to Mammoth Cave National Park, home to over 30 miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers. Visitors are welcomed to explore the river by either canoe or kayak. The rivers also offer muskellunge, bluegill, catfish, bass, perch and crappie fishing. Explore the cave’s more than 4400 miles of routes, both above and underground before setting up camp along the Green River for the night.

Visit the home of the historic Kentucky Derby (Picture Credit)

Visit the home of the historic Kentucky Derby. (Picture Credit)
California Cruising
Take advantage of the beautiful west coast on this drive from Santa Barbara to Monterey, California. Enjoy wonderful coastal scenery on this 4 hour, 15 minute drive. The hiking trails of Big Sur offer travelers a wonderful opportunity to explore the local terrain and stretch their legs. After working up an appetite, pick up some of the freshest local produce every Sunday at Monterey’s local farmers’ market. Monterey eatery LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle offers waterfront dinning, delicious food and a casual atmosphere that is sure to make visitors feel welcomed. Try their clam chowder, awarded first runner up in the West Coast Chowder Competition.

Take in the views at Big Sur. (Picture Credit)

Take in the views at Big Sur. (Picture Credit)

The local town of Salinas offers something for every art lover. The first Friday of every month the town hosts their “First Fridays Art Walk.” Artists, vendors and performers take to the streets the first Friday of every month to display their works.

No matter where you find yourself in the United States, there is surely a wonderful road trip destination to be seen. See all the sights across the country from the comfort of your own car. Road trips offer you the flexibility to cater the trip to fit your needs, making them perfect for short, spontaneous getaways. Live up the remainder of the summer by sneaking away on a road trip and take in these sights and scenery, guaranteed not to disappoint.

See America from the comfort of your car. (Picture Credit)

See America from the comfort of your car. (Picture Credit)


Freedom of the Open Road: History of the American Automobile

Ever since its debut in 1886, the automobile has been a symbol of American freedom. With the automobile, Americans were empowered to travel wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. This Fourth of July, let’s take a look back on one of America’s most important innovations, the automobile.

Hitting the Road
The first automobile was actually not invented in America. The honor of first perfecting the horseless carriage goes to Germany. In 1901, designer Wilhelm Maybach designed what is considered the first modern automobile for Diamler Motoren Gesellschaft. His vehicle was powered by a 35 horsepower engine and was capable of reaching speeds of 53 miles per hour.

Henry Ford stands next to a Model T

Henry Ford stands next to a Model T. (Photo Credit)

The age of the American automobile truly began with Henry Ford’s utilization of the assembly line to mass-produce vehicles, allowing Ford Motor Company to provide these vehicles at an affordable price. The Model T first hit the market in October 1908. It cost $825 and came equipped with a four-cylinder, 24 horse-power engine. The Model T was designed using interchangeable parts which made repairing the vehicle very simple. As production volume picked up, the price of the Model T began to decrease. In 1912 the Model T cost $575 which was less than the average American yearly wage. The Model T stayed in production until 1927 when it was pulled from the market. The final price for a Model T was $290. When production of the Model T stopped, 15 million units had been sold. Access to mobility had been made possible for most Americans through Henry Ford’s Model T.

Utilizing Ford’s assembly line technologies, other domestic manufacturers began to come into the market. General Motors, founded by William “Billy” Durant, began in 1908. When it was first founded, General Motors had only the Buick Motor Company in its holdings. In subsequent years, GM’s holdings would expand to include companies such as Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Pontiac. Chrysler Corporation joined the fold in 1925. Together with Ford, GM and Chrysler accounted for 80% of the automobile industry’s output in 1929.

Swings in Supply & Demand
By 1942, automotive sales had plummeted due to the Great Depression and World War II, which caused a large drop in civilian automobile production. After the war was over, Americans were ready for their next automotive purchase.

The post-war years saw great demand for automobiles. Companies offered many models and even more options to equip those models. Each year saw vehicles becoming longer, heavier, more powerful, equipped with more technology and increasingly more expensive to purchase.

The Age of the Muscle Car
The 1960s saw the emergence of the muscle car. These cars came as a response to pent up American consumerism that had been repressed in the decades prior. Detroit manufacturers saw the muscle car as a way to stave off the invasion of foreign makes such as Volkswagen, Fiat, Renault and Datsun. In addition to the muscle cars of the 1960s, domestic manufacturers began to produce lightweight cars like the Corvair, Falcon and Valiant. These models were Detroit’s answer to small, fuel efficient foreign makes.

The Pontiac GTO appealed to youthful buyers of the 1960s

The Pontiac GTO appealed to youthful buyers of the 1960s. (Photo Credit)

New government regulations and foreign disputes caused the vehicles of the 1970s and 1980s to undergo a drastic change. American consumers began to crave more fuel efficient and reliable vehicles due to the increase in the cost of fuel resulting from the Oil Crisis. Detroit manufactures failed to recognize this shift in consumer desires and continued to produce large, inefficient vehicles. As a result, domestic auto sales plummeted. Sales peaked in 1978 at 12.87 million units, and then dropped to 6.95 million units in 1982. Import makes increased their share in the market to 27.9%. Japan took the lead as the world’s leading automotive producer.

The Electronic Age
The automobile has been constantly developing and improving since its inception. Advances in electronic and computer technologies found their way into vehicles of the 1990s and 2000s. A push to develop electric cars in the early 1990s resulted in some of the first practical electric vehicles. GM, Chrysler and Ford all debuted new electric models. In 1997 Cadillac became the first American car manufacturer to offer electronic stability control in its vehicles. Vehicles continued to become more and more technologically advanced throughout the 2000s with the inclusion technologies such as satellite navigation and park assist features.

The evolution of technology continues to make its way into more and more aspects of the car. Now manufacturers are pioneering technology that will allow cars to drive themselves.

The automobile provided Americans with the freedom to go and see places that had otherwise been unattainable to them. America’s love affair with the car continues on till this day. From humble beginnings, the automobile has grown to become a fixture in the American lifestyle, and we at CARCHEX wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Fourth of July From CARCHEX. (Photo Credit)

Happy Fourth of July from CARCHEX. (Photo Credit)


Softening the Impact of an Accident

Liability insurance can be likened to a financial airbag, softening the impact of an accident on your wallet. Liability insurance is something that all drivers are legally required to have, but do they really understand what liability insurance does? This short video from our friends at Allstate explains what liability insurance is and what it covers.


Keep Your Car Cool in the Summer Sun

Different sources have different estimates for how hot your car can get on a hot, sunny summer day. A study by Stanford Medicine stated that a car can heat up 40 degrees in the first hour – making even a 70 degree day prime for overheating your car’s interior. We’re going to give you some tips for getting and keeping it cool when parking all summer. First, a quick reminder, never leave your child or pet alone in the car. Even with the windows open, the car cannot remain cool enough for the car to be a safe environment for a child or pet and the heat increases the most in the first half hour. Always be mindful and safe with your little and/or furry passengers.

 Car-Care[Image Source]

Before You Go

Before you hit the road, there are a few things you can check or install to make your car cool more efficiently.

Car Refrigerant: Check that your air conditioning system has enough. If you’re not car savvy, have your mechanic do a quick check. If you’re a DIY-er, check your owner’s manual for the type of refrigerant your car takes. They are usually available at your local car parts store. Check out these two videos to give you an idea of the task at hand.

Window Tinting: The sun, not the outside temperature, is the main reason for the heat spike in your car. Tinting your windows will decrease how much sun can get in, and decreasing how quickly your car heats up. We’ll cover less permanent and less expensive options later.

Cloth Seats: Especially in hotter and sunnier areas, think about getting a car with cloth seats instead of leather. Leather absorbs more heat and will be very uncomfortable to sit on after being in the sun all day.

Parked Car Ventilation Systems: Some new cars offer parked car ventilation systems. This is available on higher end cars but there are portable options, as well.

Self-Cooling Seat Covers: There are many versions of aftermarket seat covers, some that circulate are, some that have cooling crystals. The prices range based on the type and caliber of the seat covers.

While Parked

When you’re leaving your car out in the sweltering heat, there are a few ways you can reduce the amount of sun that gets in.

Circulate Air: Crack your windows slightly (less than an arm’s width), to allow air to move through your car while you’re away.

Sun Shades: There are sun shades for every size car, often metallic, but also in patterns if you want and funky look.

Towels: If your kids spent some time at the pool in the morning, do double duty by covering the seats with the towels. It will allow the towels to dry out while keeping the seats cool. Make sure to crack the windows open so there isn’t a damp smell when you come back to the car. If you’re not using damp pool towels, it’s still not a bad idea to have a few in the car to cover your seats and dashboard. Be sure to cover dark plastic and metal pieces that can get hot enough to burn you and your passengers.

Park Smart: If possible, park under shade. However, if there isn’t shade available , park with your trunk facing the sun so the front seats and dashboard will be covered. If you’re parking for a long time, park so your trunk is facing where the sun will be when you’re returning.

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Returning to the Car

As you’re walking across the hot asphalt of the parking lot, you know your car will be blazing. Here are the best ways to get it cooled off and ready to drive.

Blast the AC: People often believe you should wait until the car warms up to blast the AC but it will begin to work immediately if you blast it right away. Even if it blows hot air for a minute, it will move the air around. Crack the windows a bit to allow the hot air out and close them as the car begins to cool.

Air it Out: If it is a particularly hot day, open doors blow the AC for a bit to allow the car to cool off before you and your passengers get in the car.

Wipe Down: You can use a wet towel to wipe down the wheel and gearstick. It will dry quickly and take some of the heat with it. Don’t do this too often though, as it can begin to wear down any finish or material.

 

Remember that the metal and plastic pieces can get hot enough in direct sun to burn your skin, so be extra careful with seat belts as you get in the car! We hope these tips help you and your car stay safe and cool this summer!


Quick Tips for Buying a New Car

Does the warmer weather have you dreaming of hitting the road in a new ride? If you’re thinking about buying a new car this spring, you don’t want to miss these key steps!

Research

Research is the most crucial part of the process and it is multifaceted. There’s a lot of research that needs to happen before you even step onto the dealer’s lot.

Know what your budget is. Go to Edmunds.com to see what you should pay for a car. From there, figure out your budget, think about what types of makes and models you can afford. Don’t forget to take into account the sticker price vs. what you’ll end up paying over the years in interest if you finance your new vehicle.

Know your credit score. Don’t go in wondering what the number will be. You credit score could make a world of difference in the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.

cars

Research the kind of car you want and need. A sales person’s job is to get you to sign on the dotted line before you walk off the lot. They’re going to tell you that the car you’re looking at is the best car for you. But what you need to know is the facts about all the cars you’re interested in before you head to the dealership. This also means knowing the difference between what you want and what you need. Knowing which specs are would-likes and which are must-haves will make your position stronger during the entire experience. This will also make sure you come home with the car you want and not be victim to crafty upselling.

Make sure you’re going to a reputable dealership. Lots of dealers sell lots of cars and if you’re too focused on the lowest price, you could end up with a bad deal. Look at reviews from customers and the Better Business Bureau to make sure there isn’t a pattern of bad business practices.

Have a plan of attack with your buying partner (and don’t go alone). It helps to have a partner as you go into the car buying experience. It will make you feel more confident to have a teammate, which will help you stand your ground and negotiate a better price. While it isn’t exactly battle, it is similar to a game of chess. The better your strategy and preparation, the better negotiating you’ll do. Here is a list of things NOT to say when shopping for a car.

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Test Drive

Test drive the car more than once. The excitement of driving a new car will last through the first test drive, but you will own this car for years and it needs to be more than just exciting. If you’re going to be mostly commuting to work alone, then that’s how you should test drive it. But if you have children, commute in a group or go on trips with friends a lot, you’ll need to bring the whole crew to make sure they comfortably fit in the vehicle. They will notice things that you might not have seen from the driver’s seat. You also need to know you can drive the car as safely with no passengers as with a full group.

Have a list of things you want. And when you’re looking over the cars and test driving them, double check the car against your list. Some people have a tendency to plan well beforehand then get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the car buying process. However, with list in-hand, you’ll make sure you cherish your investment for years to come because you’ll get everything you know you wanted.

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Buy

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Now that you’ve done the research, driven the car a couple of times, have compared it to your other cars, you’re ready to sit down and talk about price. Like it says in the list of things not to say, don’t tell them you want to keep your payments low. Be firm about a reasonable price. If you have the time, go to a couple of dealers and see who has the lowest price. Remind them you have a lot of options and be ready to walk out if you feel you’re not getting a fair price.

Ask them how much the dealership paid. Pros say the dealer must provide the dealer’s price vs. the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) upon request. Start your negotiations at $500 above that price. They don’t need to sell it to you for that, but it’s a good place to start.

 

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