A road trip. The quintessential American adventure, getting in your car and heading to new destinations, seeing amazing sites as you travel the highways and byways of our nation. However, the current global pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including greatly reducing our travels, as many of the destinations we would choose to visit are currently closed. For much of the past two months, New Jersey was in a state of lockdown, with only essential services remaining open. However, as my home state’s fight against COVID-19 has taken a turn for the better, the governor has begun a phased re-opening. With parks among the first wave of openings, my wife and I were able to plan a small road trip to Gateway Recreation Area, Sandy Hook, our first visit to a national park in over two months!
As you dive into today’s post, you’ll read of our continued exploration of the parks of Middlesex County (as detailed previously in Walk This Way and Weekend Wanderings). Then, we’ll take you on a trip to a national park at the Jersey shore. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a special feature of a unique high-mileage Honda!
And without further ado, let’s begin:
The Parks of Middlesex County (Part III):
Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook
A High Mileage Interview:
Q: When and where did you get your car? What made you choose the V6 coupe?
A: August 2003 from Pensacola Honda in Pensacola, FL. My wife and I had only been dating for a few months at this point. This was her car purchase and her decision. She liked the re-design of the 7th Gen. It was the first year of the 6-speed (manual) with the V-6 and that’s what she wanted.
Q: Most of your miles have come in the past five years. Overall, how would you say the car is holding up?
A: Our car is and has been phenomenal. I’d say even with the miles I have put on it during the last five years, the problems have been very minimal. I have averaged very near or over 100k miles per year for going on five years. In one year, I’m putting on what the average driver would do over a six to seven year period. The general condition of the car is still very good for its age. There are no lingering issues that make me think it’s going to need major work to reach one million miles and beyond. It doesn’t run or drive noticeably different at nearly 650k miles than it did at 150k miles.
Q: What’s been the biggest repair to date?
A: Hands down – the transmission. The original transmission developed a slight grind around 280k miles as I would shift into 3rd gear. Fresh transmission fluid didn’t fix it. I’ve read about some Honda transmissions having synchro issues with 3rd gear and there were articles online that made it look like Honda might repair it for goodwill. I tried our local Honda dealer for that, but they said I would have to pay to rebuild the transmission. I specifically remember a lady in the service department telling me how the car had lasted 281k miles and that was pretty good. Little did she know what our car was capable of. I drove the car with the 3rd gear problem for awhile. I had a friend tell me he’d help me swap the transmission. By 320k, the car needed multiple items including the transmission so in December 2016 we replaced the transmission and everything else that needed fixing. I sourced a junkyard tranny that supposedly had 52k on it. It has been problem free ever since.
Q: What do you do that puts so many miles on your vehicle?
A: I work “part time” as a courier. I mostly deliver medicine to nursing homes and transport items between hospitals. Some of the trips are pretty long and the miles add up quickly.
Q: With all the time you spend on the road, what do you do for entertainment?
A: I installed SiriusXM in the car and it has been my favorite thing I’ve done to the car. I’m a rock/metal guy. I mostly listen to Octane, but I also enjoy Hair Nation, Turbo, Lithium, 80s, 90s, and Rock the Bells (old school rap).
Q: What’s the furthest you’ve had to drive for a delivery?
A: McAllen, TX to north Alabama. That was a long weekend trip.
Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen on the road?
A: I saw a semi fully engulfed in flames with cars behind it and traffic in the opposite direction. As far as I know, no one was hurt or killed. It was quite odd to see this at a stoplight in a small TX town. Honorable mention goes to driving down a remote stretch of highway doing 75mph and seeing a cow walk in the other lane and almost cause its own (and our car’s own) demise.
Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve with other drivers?
A: People who speed up when you try to pass them. If you can go faster when I’m next to you, then go faster when I’m behind you.
Q: What’s your dream road trip?
A: Southern CA up the coast into the Olympics in Washington. Another good one would be Knoxville, TN and wind my way up through the northeast to Niagara Falls.
Odds and Ends:
With the state of New Jersey gradually emerging from a months-long lockdown, county and state parks (along with national parks that follow state guidelines) are increasing their hours and the number of services and facilities available. If you are going to go out exploring, do check the websites for the parks, as there can be a wealth of information to help you plan your trip. Have a great time, follow all safety protocols, and enjoy the fresh air! After two months in our homes, time outdoors is not to be taken for granted!
Thanks for coming along on yet another journey down the open road ahead.