• Hints & Tips

    5 Considerations About Driving in the Pacific Northwest

    Every region in American boasts its own driving style: rural drivers in the Midwest take it slow and steady, while perpetually stressed dwellers of the Northeast can’t get anywhere fast enough. Even as millions of Americans immigrate to the Pacific Northwest for its hip atmosphere, the driving culture in Seattle, Portland, and other big Northwest cities remains stubbornly the same.

    If you are following the exodus to the Pacific Northwest and will soon be in dire need of a vehicle, consider the following before simply jumping on the best deal.

    1. Some Roads Are Steep and Curvy

    Unlike the flat land of most cities in the country, the Pacific Northwest is marked by its mountainous terrain. Despite attempts to create straight, level roads, civil engineers and city planners simply had to work with what they got, which meant organizing towns around hills, rivers, rocks, and more. Thus, roads in the Pacific Northwest don’t exactly provide the smoothest of driving experiences.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 11.43.13

    Though you likely won’t encounter the likes of Lombard Street in Portland or Seattle, you and your vehicle may face a fair share of steep climbs and sharp curves as the road accommodates the natural terrain. While most cars will be competent enough to see you through these driving feats, you likely don’t want to lose a fight with Newtonian forces on your daily drive to work. Thus, you should look for a vehicle with a powerful engine and low center of gravity to keep you always upright and moving forward.

    2. Pedestrians Are Righteous

    Dwellers of the Pacific Northwest are artsy, cool, and progressive — which often makes them feel enabled and entitled to fulfilling their own needs. As a positive, this means that many citizens eschew gasoline-powered vehicles in favor of more eco-friendly modes of travel, especially biking and walking that don’t require a public timetable. As a negative, this means Pacific Northwest cities are absolutely bursting with pedestrians and cyclists who always believe they have the right of way.

    No driver wants to hit a pedestrian, but it seems utterly inevitable when everywhere you go they are disobeying the rules of the road. To keep you, your car, and any and all pedestrians safe, you should invest in a car with a fast and responsive break system. It is also of paramount importance to keep all of your car’s safety devices, including bumpers and airbags, in efficient working order.

    3. Traffic Can Get Heavy in Big Cities

    During rush hour, traffic is agonizingly slow. This universal truth is evidenced in every big city around the world, but the Pacific Northwest is particularly guilty, given that natural landmarks like tunnels and channels at times restrict important roads to a single lane.

    If you work a job that has you commuting during regular rush hours (between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m.), you should expect to regularly become lodged in an interminable traffic jam. Unfortunately, there is no way that a more powerful vehicle or more advanced driving strategies will save you from this horrendous fate. The best course of action is to find a car that has a comfortable cabin and to bring along necessary entertainment for the potential hours of waiting you’ll endure on the road. Here are some of the most commonly sought cabin features for an enjoyable ride:

     

    • Cup holders, and plenty of them.
    • Adjustable cruise control.
    • Leather seats with lumbar support.
    • Seat heaters.
    • Touch infotainment system with satellite radio, navigation, and more.

     

    4. Cars Go the Speed Limit

    Some argue that it is the result of the amalgamation of immigrants’ disparate driving cultures, while others say that the laid-back atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest chills road rage. No matter the reason, drivers in Washington and Oregon tend to be overly cautious, driving the speed limit or slower and obeying any traffic law they’ve ever learned.

    This is beneficial to migrants, who must only slightly tweak their previous driving style to adhere to go with the flow. Fortunately, because speed limits are calibrated for gas consumption as well as safety, this means that finding a car with excellent fuel efficiency shouldn’t necessarily be high on your list.

    5. Drivers Still Have Trouble With Inclement Weather

    You might think that drivers in the Pacific Northwest would become proficient at driving in rain, sleet, snow, and other forms of inclement weather — but you would be wrong. Any time the sky is not free from some type of precipitation, Pacific Northwestern drivers go absolutely nuts, straying from their typical safe driving style to create an erratic, frenzied mess on the roads.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 11.44.36

    The lesson here is that you cannot neglect to purchase a car and accoutrements that will keep you safe in any weather conditions. Despite the expense, the all-weather tires are worth it in the Pacific Northwest, and four-wheel drive will also help prevent slipping and sliding when the roads get wet. The more in-control you are of your vehicle, the less you’ll have to worry about what other people are doing with theirs.

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  • Top 10s

    5 Epic Road Trips You Need to Take in Your 20s (VIDEO)

    5 epic road trips

    Leave everything behind, except your best friend and embark on the road trip of a lifetime.

    1) The Pan American Highway – The World’s Longest Road (Argentina-Alaska)
    -30,000 miles
    pan-american-highway

    2) Highway 61 “The Blues Highway” (Minnesota- New Orleans)
    -1400 Miles
    Route 61 road trip

    3) Ancient Greece (Athens, Greece – Thermopylae, Greece)
    -400 Miles
    greece road trip

    4) Highway 1 “The All-Amercian Road” (San Francisco – L.A.)
    -450 Miles

    highway 1 road trip

    5) Namib Desert (Windhoek – Sossusvlei, Namibia)
    -450 Miles
    Namibia road tripNamibia-road-trip

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  • Features

    The Most Spectacular Roads in the World | (Article)

    1.    Heaven Linking Avenue – Hunan Province, China

    This truly is a path to heaven, with 99 turns to symbolise Heaven’s nine palaces, leading you on a windy upwards road directly into the clouds. Despite its beautiful title (and ironically perhaps), it is in fact China’s most dangerous road. Is this your idea of heaven or hell?

     

     Heaven Linking Avenue China

    2. China’s Guoliang Tunnel – Taihang Mountains, Henan Province, China

    It seems China is the place to visit if you’re looking for extreme roads. This road was carved through a mountain and was dug out by 15 villagers, taking them five years to finish the 0.8 mile stretch. It’s not quite “heaven” like the first road but I can imagine it would be a thrilling experience and a very scenic one at that! Just don’t look down!!

     

    GuolaingTunnelChina-MAIN

    3. Stelvio Pass – Eastern Alps, Italy

    This road is situated on a beautiful mountain landscape and has 48 hairpin turns – maybe not the best idea to travel it if you experience motion sickness! It is however a very picturesque route, and another intimidating one too. Maybe they come hand in hand?

     

    StelvioPassItaly-MAIN

    4.    Yungas Road – Bolivia

    This doesn’t quite have the beauty appeal like some of the other roads on this list however it certainly has the “wow” factor – as in “wow people actually drive on that!?” With no barriers and literally nothing stopping you from plummeting a long (long) way down, it has been deemed the most dangerous road in the world and has even been given the name “Death Road”. One estimate is that 200 to 300 people are killed yearly along the road. It’s maybe not worth a visit but it’s definitely worthy of being on this list!

     

    Yungas Road Flickr

    5.    Route 163 – Utah, USA

    Ok, now you can relax, we have a nice peaceful road for you to look at! This is a 64 mile highway that cuts through Monument valley and has been featured in films such as Forrest Gump. It’s an open road… perfect for cruising along and taking in all of the sites.

     

    Route163UtahFlickr-MAIN

    6.    The Atlantic Road – Norway

    This is a 5 mile stretch of road connecting the towns of Kristiansund and Molde. This road has been awarded the status of national tourist route due to its panoramic views and its architecture. On this road you could experience anything from birds to whales. Even without that, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking! If you’re feeling extra daring then you should visit it during the autumn so that you can experience the road as powerful storms strike the road!

     

    Atlantic Road Norway Flickr

    7.    Big Sur – California, USA

    Big Sur“, meaning “the big south”, is a fantastic drive with a road that twists and turns for 90 miles along the Californian coast. It is part of Highway 1 and the views are truly stunning! If you’re looking to get that convertible out on the road then here’s the place to do it! How very California chic!

     

    Big Sur California

    8.    Thunersee Road, Switzerland

    This is another “on the edge” road, with spectacular views of Lake Thunersee. In this area you can also stop by and visit one of the many castles… scenery and culture, what more could you want?

     

    ThunerseeRoad-MAIN

    9.   Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Austria

    Another windy road for you! This one leads you to the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner and its glacier, the Pasterze. Enjoy the 36 bends as you witness nature at its best!

     

    GrossglocknerRoadAustria-MAIN

    10.  The Blue Ridge Parkway – USA

    We’re going to finish this list with a nice tranquil road. It’s a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, which runs for a grand total of 469 miles. This connects Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a long stretch of road so if you find yourself getting bored (unlikely) then counting trees should keep you fairly busy…!

     

     BlueRidgeParkway-MAIN

    Images Courtesy of: Mark, Wilson, Marino, Harris, Hill, Getty, Gray, Globetrott, Ferraz and OTR.

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