Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Mug Run

I generally try to keep my "mug run's" close to other business.   This week, my parents decided they wanted to be visited by a neurotic daschund, so I lent them mine.  As such I had to meet my mother in Front Royal, Virginia.  I was hoping that by breaking free of the area largely considered "Washington Metro" I might be able to locate one of these precious, albeit elusive gems.

No such luck.  While the Jetta is a blast on the highway, and not exhausting at all to drive, it was a bit disappointing to learn that I would have to venture farther in my home state in order to snag one of these beauties.

So with that, it looks like a longer trek is in the works in the weeks coming.  I'll likely end up just doing one lap of the state just to see what I can find!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pizza Friday

Oro Pomodoro, Rockville, MD
I love a good pie just as much as anyone.  The downside being that I love one so much that I always end up trying to find some excuse to either order one in, or to go out and find one. 

That said, it's rare a trip passes in which I don't track down a decent pizza somewhere along the trip.  Some weeks (as my ever-expanding waistline can attest) it's more than one. 

As such over the past several months I've built up a bit of a backlog of reviews of pizza places I've discovered.  I expect I'll be visiting several more by the time I "catch up".  As such this feature will probably run for quite awhile.

We will kick this off next week!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On A Mission...

I have a secret.  I'm a crazy collector. 

I absolutely love the Starbucks "You Are Here" collector series of mugs.  I have a dozen or so of them, which I drag to and from work with me every day, serve coffee to guests in, and just generally use in ways one would expect a large coffee mug to be used.

Recently on the Fred Orange Starbucks City Mug website though I noticed that there was a new one I didn't have, and was local!

Starbucks Virginia Mug as appeared on eBay
 As a lifelong Virginia Resident, the addition of a Virginia mug to my collection was so exciting that I immediately started mapping my route for the day in order to discover one.  So, I filled up the Jetta with gas, stopped by the car wash (Jorg needs to be shiny when I find my new mugs!) and set off. 

My first stop was the Starbucks location nearest my house in Herndon, Virginia.  I planned to start off at the places close by, and then work my way towards other collectors who I knew had them, and hopefully find one along the way, but if not, I'd try Dulles airport as a last resort since they routinely have oddball mugs that I wouldn't expect to find in the Washington DC metro region...and they charge a minimum of $5.00 for parking since I didn't have someone to drive in circles until I could run in and check.

When I found out the Herndon store didn't have one, I immediately went to a Reston location, since, after all, it was on the way to the stores nearest someone I found online who actually had one.  After striking out a second time, I continued on to Arlington.

Boston mugs?  At Dulles Airport?
In Arlington I stopped for an early dinner, and then in quick succession stopped into four different stores, many had the Washington DC mug (which I already have) none had the Virginia mug.  Sensing limited additional luck in Arlington, I decided to make a quick run through Falls Church.  Two more stores, two more strike-outs.  After a run through Tysons Corner (three stores), Vienna, (one store), Fairfax (Three stores) and all the way out to Leesburg (two stores), I decided to return towards my house and stop at Dulles Airport. 

While I completely struck out and none of the 18 locations I stopped at had Virginia, I did score a small victory, albeit it wasn't the one I was looking for.  I found Boston at Dulles airport.

Oh well.  I'll take the victories where I can get them.  I'll live with Boston until the next time I get to make a run down south.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

About the New Car: Why I Picked This One.

While I understand that finding a new car is tricky and taxing I also understand the importance of researching the car you buy, I've missed my last Jetta since I sold it in 2006.  While my previous Jetta was a TDI Station Wagon, I decided this time around I wanted to stick with a sedan. 

Most people, unfortunately, are really bad at picking out cars.  After stints in sales at three different dealerships, I quickly lost track of the number of people who came in looking for a very specific vehicle (IE Honda Accord), but in reality their needs dictated they should be looking at something radically different (IE Dodge Caravan). 

Determined not to become one of those customers, I set out with a very in-depth needs analysis on myself which involved multiple trips to multiple dealerships lugging around a 60 lb presentation kit, carry on bag, flip charts, and various other things that are routinely in my trunk.

The ability to lock all of those items away in the trunk or under a cover was the most important item (scratch most hatchbacks, small sedans) , followed by the ease of getting a dog crate in and out of the back seat (scratch all two-door vehicles).  The final item was big since I routinely travel north through New England and have to go in and out of major cities: the vehicle must have the smallest footprint possible, and would ideally be smaller than my 2001 Honda.  All these requirements left effectively two vehicles, the Jetta and the Jetta Sportwagen.  While I liked the Sportwagen better, I could get much better equipment on the Sedan than the Wagon at the price point I was interested in.

While there were 2013's still on the lot, in my preferred color combination, that I conceivably could have gotten even more and better equipment on, the 2014 Jetta comes with some substantially updated features from the outgoing 2013, including a four-wheel independent suspension which dramatically improves the ride and drive, and my favorite feature: Volkswagen's CarNet Telematics system.   After a quick spin in both, the 2014 won the day.

Even just 2500 miles into this car's life, it's arguably the best car I've ever owned.  It's certainly not as exciting as the 2006 BMW I once had, but it's comfortable, confident, and the fuel mileage is incredible.  All great points for a car you plan on driving for a long time.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The First Road Trip

I've always been a fan of long pointless day trips.  Driving four to five hours for lunch or an early dinner is something that I commonly do, likewise it's not unheard of for me to drive 12 hours, have a rest, and drive 12 hours back to waste away an entire weekend.  On Christmas Day I was left completely alone.  The fiancee was working, my parents were on a long trip, and my sister was with her husbands family.  That left me stuck in DC with nothing to do, and no friends or family around.  So what's a boy to do when that happens?  Why of course, call your geographically closest Jewish friend. 

It just so happens that this friend lives in Delaware, but whatever,  there was a Deli in New Jersey calling my name.

We planned on meeting up at about 1 in the afternoon.  While I was driving he would call around and find a deli.  The whole trip up the thought of hot pastrami on rye had my mouth watering. 

The drive flew by.  Around the Beltway, north on I-95 through the Baltimore Tunnels without delay, across the mile-wide Susquehanna and into the Delaware Welcome Center for the first Starbucks of the trip.  The only traffic delay happened when in all three rows of the parking lot, there was someone sitting with their turn signal on waiting for someone else to vacate a closer parking spot.  I found this incredibly annoying because there were four others merely feet away. 

Apparently the Starbucks held within the Welcome Center was the only one on the east coast open on Christmas morning, because the line not only filled the Disneyworld-esque queue, but wrapped around the Poinsettia Christmas Tree, and nearly ended up out in the parking lot.  I was too impatient to wait through that line for my coffee, so off to Bear, DE I went. 

When I got there, Andrew welcomed me warmly with a fresh cup of coffee, sat me down and then told me the bad news:  it was now 1:15 PM, and all the open Deli's were and hour away, and closed at 2:30.  He did have a alternate suggestion.  There was a Chinese restaurant he had heard good things about in Dover, DE and we could go there.  I wasn't thrilled with the suggestion of Shopping Mall Chinese food, but off to Rice we went anyway.  

After the meal it was back on the road to Bear, and then I was on my way back home. 

At 10:00 I pulled back into my parking spot.  While it was a long day, it was well worth the trip.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Car's First Snow

One thing you can almost set your weather forecast by: When I buy a new car (to me or otherwise) within a week there will be snow.  I've only ever owned one car where this wasn't the case, ironically it was a Subaru. 

One of the first things I did with the car was take it to the local elementary school and try to lose control in the parking lot.  Where in the Honda, just a tap of the gas pedal or brake was enough to nearly completely break the car loose, this vehicle held tight.  The electronic safety systems held tight, and made my goal of losing control very difficult to attain. 

After about three spins around and no skids, I yanked up hard on the e-brake which did, fortunately, result in a beautiful back-end slide. 


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I broke my own rules.

What it all boils down to, whether you like it or not, it's my blog, they're my rules, so I can do what I want.

Jorg the Jetta: First Day off the truck!

That said, I still am a strong believer in buying an older car with more miles on it.

There are a few exceptions that I make for that rule however.  In my case, because of a new job I needed to drive a vehicle made by one of the manufacturers that my company works for, which was a driving force.  I strongly debated keeping the Accord, and buying something "interesting" from one of those manufacturers, but the downside becomes that the longer I kept the Accord, the odds that something bad would happen to it grew.

Even with my somewhat insane maintenance schedule, at 162,000 miles and 13 years old the chances of a substantial repair were enormous. 

After the Accord left me stuck at home one day because it wouldn't start, and put my job into jeopardy because of it I decided the time to get something newer and more reliable was upon me.  When I ran a five year cost comparison of what a 2 year old Jetta would be, vs. a brand new Jetta, the five year cost of each vehicle was roughly the same (The new one was only a few dollars more) and with the additional equipment I'd get on the new one, the brand new Jetta was just a better deal.

Only 8 Miles!
So in Late November, I called Paul Turk, my Volkswagen Salesman at Stohlman Automotive,  and  said I wanted a Black on Black 2014 Jetta SE with Sunroof and Connectivity.  Lucky for me there was one on the truck on the way in from the factory, so just a few days wait and there it was!

The car was so new that when we signed for it there were merely 8 miles on the odometer.  Fortunately it did not stay that low for long.  By the end of the first month I was somewhere around 2000, and within a week after that I was hovering close to 2500.  I figured out that if I keep driving like this, I expect the car will breach the 100,000 barrier sometime around 2017. 

I fully expect this vehicle will take me beyond 200,000 miles, so perhaps some day in the not too distant future we'll be back to the original intent of the blog!