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March 2011

March 29, 2011

2011 Nissan Rogue Road Test


by Bob Plunkett

On the Oklahoma prairie state highway 20 cuts through the Osage Indian Reservation northwest of Tulsa, and we're following this two-laner while steering Nissan's 2011 tricked-out crossover utility vehicle (CUV) in the compact class.

It's the streamlined Rogue for model-year 2011 in sporty new Krom (say "chrome") edition.

The Rogue S Krom issue wears a unique front grille and bumper with integrated fog lamps, special fascia at the tail with a sport-tuned exhaust mounted below-deck center, a rear spoiler and body-colored power outside mirrors plus 18-inch brilliant-finish aluminum alloy wheels capped by 225/55R18 Dunlop SP Sport 7000 tires.

All Rogue editions for 2011 score new exterior styling points, cabin upgrades with added comfort items, audio and entertainment system enhancements and revised model names and equipment options.

[Full Story]

Emergency Car Kit Must Haves


If you’ve never broken down in your car, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. But keep in mind luck has a tendency to run out, usually at the most inopportune times. Winter months and dark country roads seem to be when Lady Luck takes her vacation. Cold weather, road salt and mud, ice and slush can all cause a plethora of surprises, even if you take care of you car. Be prepared.

The first thing you need to understand and accept is that this can happen to you. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that false sense of security that it won’t because you take your car to the shop for all its maintenance check-ups right on schedule. That’s hogwash. Sure, as long as you keep the car on clean roads in mild weather you can be relatively confident you won’t get stuck. But that’s not reality for most Americans. We’re a nation of active people who go places and do things with our cars.

Before we get into the list of what to always keep in your trunk or back of your SUV, here are a few scenarios of what can go wrong that might cause you to get stuck and have to wait for help. First, there are the traditional challenges such as flat tires, engine overheating, running out of gas, or an electric failure. You may be able to fix or prevent some of these things yourself; others will require you to wait for help. All will have you stranded by the roadside for at least an hour.

Next are weather-related problems such as running off the road on slippery roads, an accident, windows too dirty to see through, mud sucked up into your engine, heavy rain, blizzard, tornado; weather that would force you off the road until it passes. Any one of these situations could detain you for hours.

Most of these things are preventable, however, impossible to predict. Think back into your own driving history or that of someone close to you. Has this happened to you or them? [Full Story]

March 28, 2011

Parents, Teens & Texting - New Program Educates

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports today announced a new partnership to educate parents, teachers, and teens about the dangers of distracted driving. Consumer Reports released the results of a new poll that shows younger drivers are more likely to use handheld devices while driving — and less likely to view them as a danger.

Starting today, a free guide for parents and educators called “Distracted Driving Shatters Lives” is available at the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s web site and at Consumer Reports/ Distracted. Copies will be distributed to schools and volunteer groups by the National School Safety Coalition. The DOT and Consumer Reports are sending a public service announcement to TV stations nationwide, and the guide will be highlighted in a Consumer Reports video to air in retail stores across America, April, where it is expected to reach as many as 100 million people. [Full Story]

March 25, 2011

2011 Dodge Journey Test Drive

By Bob Plunkett

A particularly warped and winding section of California's Pacific Coast Highway north of San Francisco runs along the eastern side of Tomales Bay while passing through crossroads communities like Marconi and Hamlet on the way to Tomales.

Coursing over humpback hills and cutting acute-angled corners to chase the ragged shore, this twisty ribbon of asphalt serves us well to show off the sticky four-wheeling agility of one sporty new crossover utility vehicle (CUV) built by Dodge.

A chrome badge on the tail-side hatch door reveals the name:  Journey.

Dodge originally rolled out the Journey for the Class of 2009 with front-wheel-drive (FWD) traction or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) for three different versions -- the price-leader Journey SE, an upscale Journey SXT edition and a sport-tuned Journey R/T (the initials signify "Road and Track" in recognition of Dodge's muscle car heritage).

Scroll your calendar forward for two years and you'll discover that Journey for the Class of 2011 gets tuned and tweaked in a major overhaul with a redesigned and retuned suspension, a new optional V6 powertrain and handsome new fittings for the passenger compartment. [Full Review]

March 24, 2011

Tips for First Time Campers

Womancamping If shopping the day after Thanksgiving is your idea of the call of the wild, then perhaps it's time you head to the great outdoors for some real adventure. Even if you weren't a Girl Scout or never received a Brownie badge, a working woman can still get in touch with her wild side while mastering the basics of camping.

Camping provides an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Fresh air, endless hiking trails and a campfire for roasting marshmallows can help you rediscover the simple pleasures of life and reinvigorate even the most worn out work horse. But before heading out to blaze your own trail, there are some camping basics you should know. [Full Story]

March 23, 2011

Best Family Vehicles for 2011

The expert editors from Kelley Blue Book’s, the leading provider of new and used car information, today named the Top 10 Family Cars of 2011.  In this annual list, editors recommend what they feel are the very best of the best vehicles for families this year, highlighting specific important attributes for each car and detailing why it made the Top 10 for 2011.

More than ever, families now come in all shapes and sizes, so it only makes sense that the family vehicles of today follow suit.  Whereas back in the dark recesses of time the typical family owned a sedan or station wagon, now contemporary families can choose among SUVs, crossovers, minivans, wagons and hatchbacks, in addition to the prosaic family sedan.  While it certainly can be nice to have options, a wide variety of choices also can make the choosing all the more difficult, so each year the editors of Kelley Blue Book’s pool their collective knowledge and expertise to decide the Top 10 Family Cars. [Full Story]

March 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Car

Spring Cleaning  Car Care

After a long winter, it's important to get your car back in tip-top shape. Here are some car care tips to help you out.

  • A good hand wash of your vehicle is very important in the spring. Take the time to check out the condition of your paint while you're washing and make note of any chips or scratches.

  • If you do find some minor damage to your paint job, buy some touch-up paint as soon as possible. It's important to prevent rust from forming!

  • Spray the salt and dirt out of your wheel wells ( a favorite hiding spot for rust) and repair any rust if necessary.

  • A good waxing is great for your paint job after winter.

  • Check the windshield for stone chips or cracks. It often isn't necessary to replace the entire windshield, just repair the chips.

  • This is also a good time to replace worn out wiper blades

The INTERIOR - Click here for more tips.

March 21, 2011

10 Unique Summer Camps for Kids

With more than 6 million kids in the U.S attending camp every summer, camp remains one of America’s favorite pastimes. Yet there is a new camp experience that has dramatically increased in popularity over the last decade - and that is the “specialty” camp. Never before have kids and teens had so many one-of-a-kind camp options to choose from.

While traditional camps offer programs that encourage kids to try a variety of activities, a specialty camp focuses on one topic - or a few related topics. There are now thousands of unique (and sometimes unusual) day and overnight summer camps inspiring children and teens to learn more about what they love.

After considerable research, we’ve gathered a list of some of America’s most unique and rewarding specialty summer camps. Click here for more info.

March 18, 2011

How much worse can it get for one nation and its people? First, a 9.0 earthquake, the largest in Japan's history, 4th highest in human recorded history. Next, a devastating tsunami that wipes out entire towns killing more than 7000 people, SO FAR. Thousands more missing and presumed dead. Then, a nuclear power plant meltdown followed by a snow blizzard? Is it not enough that all these things have devastated the people of Japan, their lives and livlihoods stripped away in an instant? Now, without shelter they freeze, without water and food, they starve. Imagine if you will, when you lay in your warm bed tonight with a full stomach from a nice dinner, what these people are enduring without food, water and shelter, not even blankets to fend from the cold. Ask yourself, what can I do to help? Read about this on CNN - Shelter in a Box: . Ask what you can do, how you can help, how can you give of yourself in any way humanly possible to support our friends of Japan.

March 14, 2011

Tips for Dining on a Dime When Traveling with Kids


After a long morning at the Louvre museum, tromping through room after room of priceless goodies, we were starving. My boys were in that state, "if I don't get food instantly, I'm going to turn into a growling alien with eight mouths and arms." From the museum, we headed to the rue de Rivoli.

On a side street, people streamed in and out of a sandwich shop. We ducked into the shop, and 10 minutes later, my food bag was stuffed with baguette sandwiches and cold drinks. We hustled over to the Tuileries Gardens. Despite a cool October day, the park benches were filled with local Parisians, having their lunch outdoors. We had a wonderful impromptu picnic. The boys gobbled their food standing up (atrocious table manners), while I gratefully slouched on a park bench, enjoying my sandwich - tender French ham and good cheese on a chewy baguette.
Food is one of most pleasurable and potentially most irritating aspects of traveling with kids. When kids get hungry, they get cranky or picky, and it doesn't matter where you are, it's no fun. Food is also a big chunk of travel expenses for a family. Eating out in restaurants all the time can cost a bundle and little kids may not want to wait for infinity and beyond to eat a meal. Here's some tips to help you to have fun and save money. [Full Story]