Posts from ‘Travel’

Silverado police package

In which states are you most likely to see this in your rearview mirror? Read on.

According to the folks at the personal-finance and research website WalletHub, the average American spends about 18 hours a week in his or her vehicle. That’s a bunch of time. Enough time to make plans for the upcoming weekend, call your parents (hands free, of course), or to wonder, “Why am I wasting all this time commuting?”


Rick’s ride to Michigan was this 2013 Chrysler 300 Glacier

Compared to most people, I do quite a lot of highway driving. Unlike most people, I usually do it in silence. That would probably bore most folks on the bi-weekly, two-hour trek down to my weekend farmette, but for me, it’s a welcome chance to clear my head and think about things that matter … like how I’d spend the vacation time I rarely take.

But for longer drives, I have a different strategy. Before I even leave the garage, I plug in my stone-aged MP3 player that contains a collection of favorite road tunes and crank up the volume.


My wife and kid and I are vegetarians, which can complicate road-trip dining. For non-vegan meatless meals, let me recommend the Country Sampler at Cracker Barrel. It’s just a plateful of not-especially-healthy side dishes, but they’re really good side dishes, and hey, we were on vacation.

My kid has been horse crazy for most of her 13 years. As a parent who is more or less responsive to the wants and needs of my child, I donated a precious week of vacation time to a spring-break, horse-country road trip.

As luck would have it, Consumer Guide’s long-term Nissan Pathfinder arrived right around the time I was setting up my out-of-office voicemail greeting. Our handsome red test vehicle came well equipped, though not quite loaded. (Getting lost in St. Louis is still pretty much my fault—what was life like before navigation systems?)


Tom and the Durango pull the Punjabi float down State Street during the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago.

On my car-guy bucket list, somewhere between driving around in a gold Firebird with James Garner and driving a Gullwing to Chicago’s legendary Superdawg after dark, you’ll find, scratched out, “pull a big float in a major parade.” Done. Been there, done that.

Lake Michigan boat ride, car ferry, SS Badger

Entry to the SS Badger car ferry is via a hatch at the rear of the ship.

This past Saturday, I did something I’ve been dying to do for several years now: take a car ferry across Lake Michigan.

The boat that caught my fancy, the SS Badger, has been ferrying vehicles, and people, since 1992. Before that, the ship was a train-car ferry, and the rails those cars rode on into the boat are still visible on the cargo hold’s floor. At 410 feet in length, the Badger isn’t an especially large ship; still, the hold has space for up to 140 vehicles.


Six Flags Autoworld

The year 1984 wasn’t a good one for domestic automakers. That was the year that General Motors stripped Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac of stand-alone status, lumping them together into a single, seemingly characterless marketing arm of the maker.

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