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September 2015

4 entries from August 2015

Monthly Poll: What's Your Biggest Parking Pet Peeve?

Bad Parking

Probably the worst parking job my better half and I have ever encountered happened the last time we were in Calgary. It was at the end of a loooong drive from Vancouver and for some reason, we couldn't find a parking spot outside our hotel, even though there didn't seem to be that many cars.

After circling a couple of times, we figured out what the problem was - one pick-up truck had parked straddling the line between two spots and was also over the dividing line between the parking spots facing it, so that it was taking up FOUR WHOLE SPOTS. Blood…boiling…

We were naturally tempted to leave a nasty note but instead, we were very Canadian and complained to the hotel manager.

As summer winds down and we all reluctantly return from vacations, finding a parking spot at work or school might become a more annoying part of your day. In the spirit of reminding ourselves - and each other - to be conscientious when parking this fall, I thought a parking pet peeve poll was in order. Over to you, drivers - what's your biggest pet peeve when it comes to parking?

Don't see your biggest parking pet peeve on the list? Share it in the comments. Good parking behaviour, whether on the street, a parking lot or a parkade, benefits all of us! Be safe out there, parkers!

- Rose R.


Road Trip Inspiration: Great Canadian Beaches

Great Canadian Beaches

A few weeks ago, we asked our fans over on our Petro-Points Facebook page about their favourite Canadian beach and why they love it so much. We got so many responses that we felt inspired to do a "best beaches round up" post - just in time for your last summer road trip weekend!

A few well-known spots and some hidden gems below:

Singing Sands Beach, Basin Head Provincial Park, Souris, PEI: This beach draws its name from the sand that seems to “sing” when the wind blows or when you walk on it; no one knows for sure what causes the phenomenon but it might be the quartz content in the sand. Singing sand isn’t the only reason to visit this beach – another unique feature is that it boasts some of the warmest water temperatures north of Florida.

Murray Beach Provincial Park, Little Shemogue, NB: Murray Beach is one of New Brunswick’s best-kept secrets, offering amazing views over the Northumberland Strait, warm waters, sandy shores and great bird-watching. The park has a seaside campground, so you can sleep under the stars and wake up with the sun. The surrounding area is replete with picturesque lighthouses and covered bridges.

Lawrencetown Beach, NS: If beach means “surfing” to you, then Lawrencetown has you covered – the 1.5 km beach is beloved by local and international surfers alike and it’s just a short drive from Halifax.

Havre-Aubert Beach (Sandy Hook), Iles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands), QC: You may have caught some of the gorgeous scenery of the Magdalen Islands on Episode 5 of this season’s The Amazing Race Canada. Twelve kilometres of gorgeous sandy beach makes this destination worth the ferry ride. The warm water doesn’t hurt either. Plus, this beach plays host to one of the best international sandcastle contests, the Concours de Châteaux de Sable. Check out the video for some amazing creations! 

Sandbanks, Prince Edward County, Ontario: Hiking trails, sand dunes, great swimming, windsurfing, boating, bird watching, camping – there’s basically something for everyone at Sandbanks. There are also all kinds of food, music and other events in the area throughout the summer. For a preview, check out the Sandbanks Pinterest page.

Sauble Beach, South Bruce Peninsula, ON: Sauble Beach boasts 10 kilometres of sandy goodness, so there’s plenty of room for your beach umbrella, volleyball game or picnic. Sandbar deposits building out along the Lake Huron shoreline make the water shallow and warm - perfect for swimming. The town’s motto is “Live life slow”, so if you’re looking for a laid-back beach town vibe, it’s worth checking out.

Grand Beach Provincial Park, St. Clemens, MB: Routinely touted as one of the best beaches in Canada, Grand Beach is on Lake Winnipeg and offers tons of activities for every beach lover. Fly a kite off the white sand beach, take a refreshing swim, walk along the boardwalk or try to scale the huge sand dunes nearby.

Manitou Beach, SK: Often referred to as the Dead Sea of Canada, Manitou Lake’s salty water makes even the clumsiest swimmer feel unsinkable. The water is also said to have healing powers and was a popular tourist destination a hundred years ago. You can bounce around in the water of the lake or visit the mineral spa for a good soak. Check out this video for some interesting Manitou Lake history. 

Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park, AB: This is another spot for birding fans – the area has been designated an “Important Bird Area” and is popular stopping point for tundra swans and a diverse array of other species. Lesser Slave Lake is also the largest car-accessible lake in Canada; Devonshire Beach offers 1.5 kilometres of sandy beach and the area is famous for fishing, hiking, paddling and, of course, its natural beauty.

Bennett Beach, YK: Looking for a white sand beach with a snow-capped mountain as a backdrop for your beach selfies? Visit the village of Carcross (on the route between Skagway, AK and Whitehorse) and head to Bennett Beach. Fishing, swimming, canoeing and hiking are popular summer pastimes here – and if you want a change of scenery, Carcross Desert, recognized as the 'World’s Smallest Desert’ by Guinness World Records, is a mere 2 kilometres away.

Brady’s Beach, Bamfield, BC: Hard-core adventurers – this is the spot for you. The best way to access this secluded Pacific Ocean beach (or rather, the nearby town of Bamfield) is by ferry, float plane or by hiking in off the West Coast Trail. Brady’s Beach is a bit of a hike from town and the water’s generally too cold for swimming – but the scenery more than makes up for it. The area is teeming with wildlife and offers world class scuba diving. A good spot to add to your bucket list!

Are you heading out on one more road trip this summer? Where's your favourite beach? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.


Road Trip Interruptus: 10 Indications That You Need to Pull Over Pronto

Pulling over safely

They say that half the fun of road trips is the journey, but you and I both know that sometimes, you just want to GET there. At ANY cost. But there are some situations where pulling over and taking a break - either for you or your car - is the safe thing to do. Here are 10 good reasons to pull over - on a road trip or any time.

1. Steamy engine. If you see that steam is escaping from under your hood, that's generally an indication that your coolant is leaking. Depending on how fast it's leaking, you could be in danger of overheating your car, which can do serious damage to your engine. Find somewhere safe to pull over and let the car cool off before having a look. Check out our previous post on how to avoid having your car overheat and what to do if it does.

2. Lack of visibility. Those of us who love to leave early for road trips often get caught in early morning fog or mist; and summer weather can be unpredictable. If visibility diminishes quickly in the fog - or in a rain or snowstorm - try to find a safe, legal place to pull over as soon as possible. This is especially important if you don't know the area - no one wants to drive off a mountain because they can't see the road ahead.

3. Losing something on the driver's side. If you drop a French fry on the driver's side, the only damage will be to your floor mats. But if you drop anything solid, like a phone, an empty soda can, a bottle of water, those items will a) distract the driver and/or b) get caught under the gas or brake pedals, impeding the driver's ability to stop or go. Don't fuss around trying to retrieve the item while the car is in motion - find somewhere safe to pull over and get it then.

4. Change in car handling. If the steering wheel suddenly feels like it's pulling to one side or the other; if the brakes aren't catching well or you can't break evenly; if the car is juddering and you're not driving over rumble strips - pull over.

5. Oil light. It's a running gag on The Big Bang Theory that Penny's "check engine" light is usually on in her car. Driving around with your "check engine" light on isn't a great idea but a check engine light means you have a few minutes to drive it over to the mechanic. If your oil light comes on, however, investigate right away! Driving with a loss of oil pressure can several damage your car after only a few minutes. Pull over and call for roadside assistance as soon as you can do so safely.

6. Hitting or rolling over something. First of all, it's best to avoid hitting things altogether, so here are a few tips from a previous post on how to avoid hitting a deer It's going to be pretty obvious if you hit a deer but hitting other things - debris other drivers have left on the road, a rogue construction sign, a smaller animal - can potentially be cause for pulling over. If you're worried your tires have been compromised or if something may have bounced up into your undercarriage, take the time to pull over and check.

7. Medical problem. Our instinct as humans is to "try and make it home" when we're feeling ill or in crisis. But obviously, that's crazy and dangerous to yourself and others. If you suspect you're having a heart attack or some other medical emergency, pull over. "Medical reasons" covers other less dire problems as well - anything that forces you to focus more on your body than on your driving means that you need to take a break. Whether you have a migraine or even just have something in your eye, pull over.

8. Bathroom break. Basically, anything that makes you feel desperate and distracted makes you a bad driver. You should have gone at the last rest stop but you didn't and now there's nothing for miles? Time to pull over and find some bushes.

9. What's that noise? Any loud and sudden noises that your car makes while driving is a cause for concern. You might have just driven over a rock that bounced off your underside - or something in your engine may have blown or come loose. If you can't immediately identify what happened, it's worth pulling over and checking things out.

10. What's that smell? When you're driving through farmland, you may expect to smell manure; driving through the mountains last weekend, we expected to smell woodsmoke from forest fires. But if you smell something unusual - burning plastic or rubber, or a gasoline odour - pull over as soon as possible to assess where that smell might be coming from. It might just be the dog, but better safe than sorry.

With any luck, you'll make it through your road trip without having to pull over for any of these reasons. But before you leave on any trip, make sure your emergency car kit is up to date and make sure you have all the necessary info to get in touch with your roadside assistance provider.

- Rose R.


The Ultimate Road Song?

Last year, we posted some tips for creating your ultimate road trip playlist and after seeing this video, I think this OK Go song might be at the top of mine.

If you're interested in how they did it, here's a great article with some background information about the band, behind the scenes photos and a map of the route they took.

Probably not something to try at home - but an innovative way to make music with your car!

What's at the top of your road trip playlist this summer? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.