PINEHURST, NC — November 22, 2016 — Folks, this week’s car is the Nissan Maxima—but we’ve only had it for a day so we’ll give it a few more days before concluding the review. Instead, we wanted to pass along some observations we’ve gathered over a cumulative century of driving with hopes that tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, will help you stay safe. More than 43.5 million Americans will be driving fifty miles or more from home tomorrow—a million more than last year, according to AAA. That’s probably because gas prices are at a ten-year low, averaging $2.16 a gallon. So consider these things:
1.) Download the AAA Mobile app (for iPhone, iPad or Android) before you leave home. The app can help map your route, find the nearest gas station with the lowest gas prices, and most important, help you get roadside assistance should the need arrive. AAA expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists this Thanksgiving because of dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts. To insure you do not become a statistic, check to be sure your car is in tip-top shape and thoroughly roadworthy.
2.) Pack and emergency kit. Weather should always be a concern. Expect the worst. Parts of the country have already been subjected to early snow. Remember, conditions could change and deteriorate by the time you get to where you’re going. Pack blankets, pillows, non-perishable food, plenty of water, a couple of flashlights with fresh batteries, road maps (don’t ever depend entirely on your GPS system—they often lie), a cellphone car recharger, flares, rain gear, warm clothing if you are heading north or west, moist toilettes, paper towels and yes, toilet paper.
3.) If you’re traveling with small children, then you already know the routine—bottles, fresh formula if you’ve got an infant, a cooler for milk, an extra set of clothes handy (not in your suitcase) in case the child needs to be changed along the way, coloring books and crayons, if you have a portable or car DVD player, plenty of movies (it’s okay, this time), children’s and/or Christmas CDs and storybooks that they can read or thumb through themselves.
4.) If you’re traveling with your dog, pack individual servings of dog food in sealable plastic bags—that way, it’s easy to dispense instead of hauling out a large bag of dog food. Have plenty of water—a gallon jug, at least—and don’t forget the dog bowl, as people often do. Please be sure your dog has on his collar with a nameplate that has your name and phone number on it. And keep him on a leash whenever you take him out of the car. The safest way to travel with a dog is to keep him in his portable dog kennel with a nice warm pad or blanket to lay on—and a dog toy (NO tennis balls or anything that could make a dog choke.) Second to a kennel is a “dog seat belt”—a special dog harness that loops into the car’s seatbelt to keep the dog in one place. Driving with a dog in the front seat or on your lap is an accident waiting to happen—so don’t do it.
5.) If you’re bringing food, be sure everything is stored in plastic containers with lids, swaddled in Saran wrap, and in a cooler, if the dish must stay cold during the time you’re on the road. Put the food in the trunk if you’ve got a trunk. And be sure the dog—or the children, for that matter—can’t get at it.
When you gather ‘round the table with those you cherish, hold hands and give God thanks. And as sleep settles upon you in the silent darkness of night, thank Him once more—for all you have received and will receive, through his grace and love. A Happy Thanksgiving to you all. God bless you and keep you safe, dear friends!
John and Laurie
# # #
John and Laurie are a married couple in their “sensational sixties” who talk about today’s hottest, newest cars—and still manage to go to bed without getting angry at one another at night.
John and Laurie Wiles have a combined driving history of ninety-five years. Laurie is one of only thirty-six journalists who are members of the prestigious New England Automotive Press Association (Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of National Public Radio’s “Car Talk” among them.) Since 1998, Laurie has test-driven and reviewed over eight-hundred new model cars, trucks, and SUVs. John, a lifelong car enthusiast, has owned more than forty vehicles (so far.)
John and Laurie recently got the idea of combining on a weekly car review. Laurie explains. “One day, a gorgeous blue Porsche Cayman pulled in the drive. Johnny slides behind the wheel, cocks an eyebrow, and says, ‘The name’s Bond. James Bond,’ like he’s Sean Connery or something. The next week, a Chevy Camaro rolls in. Johnny gets one glimpse of that muscle car and shouts out, ‘Can you say N-A-S-C-A-R?’ Once I realized he wasn’t speaking in tongues, I realized his voice, together with mine, might be fun. After all, ‘sixty is the new forty.’”
John adds, “Men and women have very different opinions about cars and I think it’s good for people to get an understanding of what a couple think about a car, and what they like and don’t like. Of course, that doesn’t mean they have to agree on everything—you know, like the way it is in a marriage.”
Laurie, whose professional name is Laurie Bogart Morrow, is the author of a dozen books, including The Hardscrabble Chronicles (Penguin Putnam) and The Giant Book of Dog Names (Simon and Schuster. John is a retired program manager in the National Defense contracting industry and a teacher in the public school system. They live happily in Pinehurst, NC.