Using the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment to feed the Black Stallion #CBias #engineluv

The shop described in this blog post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are supremely and awesomely my own.

I was never much of a car guy when growing up, and being an apartment dweller for so many years, I never had an opportunity to work on my car within the comfort of my own property, so whenever an oil change or maintenance needed to be done, I’d just take my ride to the dealer.

It’s a routine that served me very well though: I’ve owned my car for 7 years and counting and it has yet to fail me, needing nothing more than a maintenance schedule I keep track of using software on my PC. Over the years I learned to religiously use fuel injection cleaners after every oil change too, just to keep it all in peak condition.

This time though I decided to up my game by taking a look at the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment, which serves not only as a fuel additive but an oil additive too, touting additional benefits (such as stopping rough idles, preventing fuel line freezes, stabilizing and improving fuel efficiency and more). These were all benefits that weren’t covered by the the run of the mill fuel injection cleaner I usually get, so I was intrigued to see how much of a difference this additive would make, and went out to pick up a can at nearby Auto Zone.

One thing about Long Island though, this may be the only place in the country that could have every imaginable retail and chain store you could think of, and yet not have anything you’re looking for. Sure enough:

Empty Shelf
Sigh.

Walmart was the next closest thing to me, so I dropped by there and THANKFULLY, a few STP cans were awaiting me. I grabbed one and a Pepsi Max, then hit the self checkout machine, (which of course failed on me, forcing me to wait until a cashier finally came around to hook me up). I had my can though, so it was time to hit up my garage and get started. And by garage, I mean the beach:

Captree Bridge on Long Island
Now THIS is where you work on a car.

This is where I usually come whenever I want to spread out and clean up my car without anyone bothering me, and it was a perfect day too. I got out and stretched a bit, then looked to see if I could pour the STP additive in straight from the can. Nope, not quite, the mouth is a little too big and won’t fit through the opening, so I needed to use a funnel.

long funnel
Funny, I don’t remember my funnel being this ridiculously long. Ah well.

After I stuck my funnel in it was an easy pour. The instructions say the 16 oz. can can treat 21 gallons, and while my tank was only 19, I poured the whole thing in anyway. I have no place or room to keep any excess fluids around, and since there were no warnings indicating that my car would explode into a fiery ball of brimstone and death if I used too much additive, I figured I was safe.

I wiped down the funnel when I was done and tossed the can, along with a few other items of trash.

Banana and STP can
I almost slipped on my own banana here.

And that was that. I sat back and let the engine idle a bit before taking off to find a Starbucks and enjoy me some caramel hot chocolate to celebrate a job well done and a Thanksgiving weekend off.

Hyundai Santa Fe and Sunshine
Occasionally, just occasionally, Long Island does give me a nice view.

By the way, If you like up STP’s Facebook page you can get a coupon, so check it out, as well as their Twitter feed for the latest on STP products and promotions.

Not to outdo STP or anything, but I also put together a Google+ Album of my shopping experience, plus an *ahem* blockbuster movie trailer for your enjoyment:

Taking the stress out of your vacation

Been reading a good article on how vacations can stress people out, a lot of it confirming why it always seems to take a while for me to truly unwind when I’m on vacation, you know, right at that very moment when it’s time to go home again.

Although the study cited suggests you need a minimum of 8 days (8 days???) before the recovery effect starts to take hold, (plus a minimum of 3 weeks to experience lasting results), I found it usually takes me only 4-5 days before my body finally starts to relax… which of course seems to completely defeat the purpose of doing a weekend getaway.  That’s basically what happened the last time I made a getaway to Colorado too.  I was there about 4 days before the tension I felt started to ease, but then I had to go back home literally the day after.  Ugh.  Part of it was my fault and my compulsive need to explore because I just GOTTA see what’s out there, when what I should have done was get enough food and supplies to last me a week, and then literally never leave the cabin until the end of my stay. Lesson learned for next time.

One of the things I’m doing to avoid unnecessary stress for my upcoming road trip this fall is to forgo booking any lodging reservations.  Except for the first night, I have NO clue where I’ll be staying for the duration of the trip, which is exhilarating in a way, but by that same token it also means I probably won’t be able to book a last minute cabin rental in Colorado either.  Once I re-enter Colorado from New Mexico, it’s really up in the air where I decide to stay before I return home.  The only thing I know for sure is that it should be close enough to Denver so I don’t wind up driving 3-4 hours in the early mornings to catch my flight, which would pretty much ruin any relaxation I might have gained from taking this trip in the first place.  Still, that leaves a lot of possible options:  Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Vail, Silverthorne, Dillon, Breckenridge, Buena Vista, etc.  We’ll see where the road ultimately ends.

But before I make that decision I’m literally going to be “pricelining” my way through Arizona and the Grand Canyons in the hopes of snapping up a major steal of a deal due to someone else cancelling a reservation.  Booking ahead of schedule for the Canyons already appeared to be a lost cause even when I tried to book something last month, as traveling dweebs apparently like to book reservations in Grand Canyon Village a year in advance.  A YEAR.  Dweebs.

Still, I’m not worried, if Priceline doesn’t yield anything for me, I’ll just stay in Williams or Flagstaff.  Although I gotta say, Priceline has made me a skippy dippy happy traveler when it comes to landing hoity toity 4 star gigs for less than $100 a night.  I’ve gotten the bidding ninja skills down to something of a science now, so I’m optimistic about my chances of landing a sweet dig within sight of the Canyons.  That’s another advantage to last minute bookings too, because the savings can be tremendous.  That possibility, coupled with keeping to an open ended schedule really does take a lot of the stress out of a road trip, so for me the tradeoffs are worth it.

So with all that in place, here’s hoping I’ll be doing a whole lotta this during my vacation:

Prancing in the meadows under rainbows

And a little bit less of this:

Epic Donald Duck Temper Tantrum

It’d be nice if an outdoor store would actually have the outdoor gear I’m looking for

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. Originally published in 2011.

Finally set aside time to go and grab some free outdoor luggage. I usually like to shop in the evenings during my meal break and after rush hour traffic. There’s a small window of time then where the crowds aren’t as bad as they are during the day, plus it voids the need to do any shopping on the weekend. That means more time to game and Netflix during my weekend down times.  I’m awesome.

Depending on what the store had available, I was probably either going to opt for a backpack to carry my MacBook /future iPad and other gadgets, or get the megasize, who-does-your-daddy-work-for, 28 inch MAN bag. That’s about as max as you can get for the airlines without getting dinged with extra fees.

My first stop was REI on Long Island, decently sized outdoor store (though not as big as Dick’s Sporting Goods), where I basically just waltzed in and headed right for where all the bags were.

Stacks of backpacks and suitcases
Bags, bags, everywhere…

The bags were divvied up by backpacks and luggage, only… there were no Briggs and Riley gear to be found. Like, at all. I circled the store several times but there was just… nothing.

I finally gave up and decided to give Eastern Mountain Sports a try, which, quite literally, was just down the road from REI. The store was smaller than REI, and while they had a few backpacks on display (for the college students since it was that time of year again), there was basically only one wall of bags, and yep, there was no BRX gear to be found anywhere.

Wall of backpacks
Guess what I DIDN’T find here?

I approached someone I was reasonably sure worked in the store, and asked her where I could find the BRX bags.

“Sorry, we don’t carry those in stock. Why not try REI? It’s just down the road from here.”

………. errrr.

I tried one more store (this time a normal luggage place) which, quite oddly enough, ALSO happened to be just down the road (say what you will about Long Island, but you’ll always be within 300 feet of pretty much any store you can think of.) BUT, they were closed.

Of course.

I went back the next day, and thank you Lord, there was a stash of Briggs and Riley luggage sitting pretty in a corner. I asked the lady where I could find the BRX line.

“Oh sorry, we used to have them, but not for a while.”

Seriously?

This is getting rather silly. Ironically, the company that manufactures the luggage is headquartered ON Long Island. How is it that none of these retailers that are also ON Long Island are carrying their BRX line, which I KNOW (at least based on the threads I’ve read at Flyertalk) is a pretty popular line? The only other outdoor retailer listed on the BRX site that was supposed to carry these bags was ExOfficio, which is literally at JFK (yes as in, the international airport). At Terminal 5.  Unless I’m flying, not exactly a convenient stop for me.

As much as I’d like free luggage, I’m not wholly sure I want it THAT much that I’d be willing to subject myself to being fondled and groped by Bruno the TSA agent.

But thankfully, I had one more recourse: E. Vincent, which was also the home store for Luggageguru.com. In a fit of pure irony, this was also where I happened to get my Eagle Creek suitcase before I went to SXSW, and it looks like they are once again coming to my rescue.

Sure enough:

Briggs and Riley sign for luggage
Yaaaaay!

And at long last, there they were, the BRX line just sitting quietly amongst the other B&R bags.

BRX Luggage and Bags
There you are!

The 28 inch rolling duffle wasn’t on display though, so the sales guy went in the back to see if there were any more. I looked through the BRX bags including the backpack, although I was still unsure of what to get. The backpack was alluring, but it was a little small and didn’t have a hidden compartment for a MacBook like the STM bag I carry now did, and since I’m already used to hauling that around, I took a look at the wheeled luggage instead. They looked ideal for short trips, say one week or so, but the trip I was taking to the Rockies would last 15 days. I mean, I guess I could make do with a smaller carry-on, but my philosophy is that I would rather have that extra space and not need it, than to need it, and find myself running with my arms flailing to the nearest FedEx because I don’t have enough room to bring back all the 10 gallon cowboy hats I bought.

Of course, I’m pretty sure my philosophy is going to change REAL fast the day an airline loses my baggage.

But in the meantime, I decided to roll with a slate colored 28″ inch Expedition after all, but of course, they were sold out. The sales guy placed an order for me though, and the bag will be shipped directly to my home. Finally.

All this time, and I could have just ordered the bag online. LOL. Honestly though, this is why I rarely shop at retailers.  I don’t know why, but retailers here seem to be very adept at stocking just about everything EXCEPT what I’m looking for.  Thank God for online shopping.

Game On: Planning My Fall ’13 Trip to…

VEGAS!

Boy oh boy, I can’t wait to get there so I can FLEE the city as quickly as possible in my rental to kick off my road trip!

“But Frank, you’re a single and ruggedly handsome dude, Vegas should be the PERFECT place for you to meet hot girls!”

Why yes, I’m sure Vegas is rife with beautiful, sweet, modest God fearing girls who are just waiting for someone like me to come along and sweep them off their feet.  Said NO ONE, EVER.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Vegas will actually be the launching platform to kick off a road trip that will take me from Sin City all the way to Denver in Colorado.  If you took my Fall Trip poll (in the sidebar) you can see the winning vote was for the Canadian Rockies instead, and in fact that’s where I actually plan to go next year.  But for this year there were a couple of reasons why I wanted to do Las Vegas to Denver instead.  One, I had meant to go to the Grand Canyons during my road trip in 2011, but after traveling literally near 2,000 miles on my own, I was too wiped out by the time I reached Salt Lake City to keep going, so I had to cut that portion of the trip out.  Visiting the Canyons will finally finish what I started back then and cross another item off my bucket list.

The second reason basically sealed the decision for me, and involved quite possibly meeting THE girl of my dreams.  Her name is Bonnie Lee:

Bonnie Lee in the Mountains

Bonnie Lee represents an emerging breed of dogs known as the American Alsatian, bred to resemble the looks of the Dire Wolf and with all the traits needed to make it an ideal companion dog.  That means a lower energy dog with a markedly reduced work drive that the average family can better handle.

I’m planning to meet up with one of the breeders who is president of the Vallecito Alsatians kennel in Durango, Colorado, and because Durango would have been one of my stops even if I hadn’t found out about these dogs, it looks like it was meant to be after all.  I’ll have a chance to familiarize myself with this amazing breed as well as have a chance to meet Bonnie and see how we hit it off.

In addition to meeting the dogs, my trip will also include sightseeing at Hoover Dam, visiting Sedona in Arizona (as well as the Canyons obviously), passing through the Four Corners to Durango, then visiting Pagosa Springs, then Santa Fe in New Mexico and finally a relaxing stay in Colorado before I return home.  I can’t wait.