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Tag Archives: travel

Are cars all smoke and mirrors?

I’m not talking about mufflers and rear-views.

It’s hard to imagine where we’d be today if not for the invention of the automobile. The car is truly a marvel of technology and innovation, and it’s hard to underestimate the contribution it’s made to civilization.

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The bumper is held onto the vehicle by eight of these push-on clips on top and eight more on bottom, plus 2 bolts.

I’m certainly not a mechanic, and I’m sure that the drivetrain and chassis of a modern vehicle is solid and safe. Yet whenever I do minor repairs or install something new, I’m amazed by just how little material is actually holding the whole thing together. Even auto brands that are known for safety and quality give us vehicles that are surprisingly reliant on plastic pieces that snap into place and are held together by more plastic clips.

To wit, today I replaced the headlamps on our 2005 Honda Odyssey…not the light bulbs, but the entire front headlight assemblies. This job wasn’t difficult, but it was eye-opening. To start, I had to remove the front bumper – which seems like a big, heavy project in itself, right?

Not exactly.

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The bumper is a single piece of soft, molded plastic.

The bumper itself is a hollow, single piece of molded soft plastic which covers a steel beam attached to the chassis. To remove the bumper, you simply pop out eight plastic clips on top, eight more on bottom, and one bolt on each side. That’s it. The whole bumper then peels off the front of the vehicle effortlessly.

Then, to remove each headlight, you only need to disconnect 4 bulb wire attachments, and unscrew three bolts. The assembly comes right out, and the new one fits easily in its place.

Putting the bumper back on the car is as easy as it was to remove, simply reversing the steps.

As if looking out for the other guy wasn’t enough to worry about on the road.

So just be careful out there, friends. And remember that luxury vehicle you’re riding in might just be held together by 10-cent plastic clips.

Well, at least we have new headlights.

Well, at least we have new headlights.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Random, Thoughts, Travel

 

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It should be called “Pretty Good” Wolf

Thinking about taking the family on a road trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX? Here’s what you need to know.

Crowds are the enemy of places like this and can quickly sap the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable experience. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, try to plan your trip midweek and avoid holidays. Otherwise it can get very crowded and you could be stuck driving around the parking lot looking for spaces, standing in long lines for water rides, and at the mercy of the worst manners you’ve ever seen at the buffet.

Still, there’s a lot to like about Great Wolf. You have to hand it to them: they have put a lot of thought into what families with kids need. Namely, comfortable accommodations and activities for children of all ages (though teenagers are probably too cool for most of it)…including the water park, the Magiquest wizard game, story time with animatronic and costume characters, coloring stations, and more.

What that means is there are kids everywhere. Literally. So if you’re the type of person who gets upset at the screaming baby two rows behind you on the airplane, this is probably not the place for you.

But for families there are lots of little touches that you just don’t find at other resorts…covered power outlets for wandering toddler fingers, rounded corners on the furniture and large spacious room with sleeping options. And there is just enough for the adults too – a decent bar, Starbucks, hot tub and a spa. As this was our 3rd visit here, we felt comfortable letting our 11-year old and his friends roam around most of the day without much supervision, checking in occasionally, though some parents will want to stick closer by.

Here are a few more pros and cons…

PROS
– Everything under one roof
– Nice bar, Starbucks for adults
– Older kids can go around on their own
– Life guards are very good and alert
– Free wifi (not very fast but solid connections in most locations)
– Lots of activities
– Can be reasonable if you wait for a good deal

CONS
– Kids running around everywhere (well, what did you expect?) including the hallways outside the guest rooms
– Chlorine smell is overwhelming as soon as you walk in the water park
– Very loud inside water park
– Water is tooooo cold! You might get used to it eventually but it sure is less enjoyable than it could be. Almost everyone agrees it’s just too cold, especially for an indoor water park.
– Food is adequate, but will not blow you away. It’s basically equivalent to a Golden Corral or similar. And overpriced for the quality. But it’s convenient and edible.
– If you have a room at the end of the hallway, you will be in for some very long walks.
– Crowded at times

So what do you think? Have you been to Great Wolf? How was your stay?

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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Family, Travel

 

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Suburban creep

I enjoy traveling. And I like living the suburban life. But when I travel, I don’t want to visit suburbia.

Recently we traveled to New York City, and while visiting the borough of Queens, I was struck by how suburbia is encroaching on the character of places like this. Next to the row housing and tenaments is a brand new CVS store (with parking!). Alongside the subway tracks, street-front delis, and bagel shops are Home Depot and Best Buy.

Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to find places with pure character and original vintage? What’s next – Starbucks in Philly’s Independence Hall?  Walmart at the bottom of Niagara Falls? A mall next to the Alamo? Oh wait, that already exists…

While modern outfits like these are sometimes convenient to have, they drain the appeal of visiting a place that’s supposed to be a getaway – different from home.

After all, I could save a lot of time and money by going to the Target down the road instead of the one on the volcano of Hawaii’s Big Island.

On one side is the housing you’d expect in Queens, NY…

…and on the other side is a CVS store tucked under the elevated tracks of the subway.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Random, Thoughts, Travel

 

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Reflecting on The 2010 Brody World Tour: Some for work, all for fun

2010 was quite a year!  Reflecting on The 2010 Brody World Tour: Some for work, all for fun.

The numbers:

  • 32,186 miles
  • 14 cities
  • 7 states
  • 9 shows
  • 1 5.7-magnitude earthquake

The places:

  • New York City, NY
  • San Diego, CA (twice)
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Ft. Myers, FL (twice)
  • Orlando, FL
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Miami, FL
  • Key Largo, FL
  • College Station, TX

The shows:

  • Jason Mraz (twice)
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Rush
  • The Hush Sound
  • Jonas Brothers (for the kiddo, of course 🙂
  • Demi Lovato
  • Selena Gomez

…and I’m probably forgetting some…

On tap for 2011 so far:

  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tampa, FL
  • Maui, HI
  • Bon Jovi
  • Train
 
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Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Family, Thoughts, Travel

 

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Ode to Chicago

I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on the pulse of this city.  Maybe that’s because it is at the same time so many different things.  Downtown is huge and vibrant, but without the hustle and bustle of NYC or Philly. The vibe is young and active, fiercely proud, with clear bent toward party town. Arts and culture abound, while sports, signature foods, outdoors, architecture, and natural beauty give it character. The lake is enormous. The pubs are ubiquitous. There’s not enough time to experience it all. And something tells me even if I had enough time I still wouldn’t get to know this city completely.

I think Mark Twain had it right: “It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago – she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.”

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Random, Thoughts, Travel

 

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San Diego and L.A. 2010

Finally back home – what a trip – both exhilarating and exhausting. Can’t believe how much we squeezed in. Some highlights:

  • Two Padres games
  • One 5.7 earthquake
  • La Jolla beach, seals, caves
  • Visiting San Diego relatives Marv, Elaine, Serena
  • Beers at The Tilted Kilt with @johnhancock61
  • Visiting med school friend Dawn
  • Gaslamp dinner at Rockin’ Baja
  • Legoland
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with set tour
  • Dinner at Prosecco in Teluca Lake with relatives Penny, Les, and Briggs
  • Santa Monica pier, beach, dinner
  • Biking from Santa Monica to Venice
  • California science center
  • La Brea tar pits
  • Watching Lakers win and not starting a riot
  • Vintage car show in Pasadena Old Town
  • LA Opening of Toy Story 3 at El Capitan with Fun Zone
  • Hollywood and Highland
  • Hollywood sign
  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • Malibu Paradise Cove beach
  • Pepperdine area/dinner
  • Star party at Griffith Observatory

Oh, and I worked for 3 days, too!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2010 in Family, Random, Travel

 

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