This quote, “Is there a 4WD in the range? Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t” is from Top Gear magazine.
Top Gear is more than a popular British TV show — it started as a magazine and expanded into television, garnering a far wider audience than the magazine could ever hope for.
Back to the quote — you would never read that in an American magazine, but it makes sense in a British context because:
- It rarely snows in the parts of England where people actually live.
- Fuel economy is a smaller deal in the States, since fuel is (currently) so cheap.
- To an American, owning a front-wheel drive crossover or SUV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.
- Because of these two reasons, 2WD crossovers and SUVs are very hard to sell — think of selling bags of ice to Eskimos. So if you buy one new, you are dooming yourself to a larger loss of money when it comes time to sell it on the used market.
Having said all that, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t live in a place that gets a ton of snow, I would urge you to consider a car that is front-wheel drive.
I live in a suburb of Denver and have never owned a 4WD vehicle. We get an average of 57 inches of snow a year. In my 20 years of commuting here, I have only gotten stuck in snow about two times.
We bought a set of snow tires and wheels for one of our cars and even take it up to ski. We’ve never gotten stuck.
I’m not condemning anyone who has a 4WD or AWD vehicle. They’re great. I’m just asking you to consider a car if you are in the market for a different vehicle. And if you like off-roading, you can rent a Jeep.
Krest Bitter Lemon is a drink that’s widely available in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
While living in Kenya for five years, I developed a taste for the drink. It’s bright, refreshing and not too sweet.
But you can’t buy it in my town in Colorado, no matter how hard you try.
You need to travel. You’ll see, feel and taste things that you won’t experience in your hometown. Guaranteed, you will encounter life in ways you can’t where you live.
Travel can be expensive, but it’s a better way to hit the reset button than almost anything else I know.
- My son Benjamin brought this plastic Krest bottle back after his time in Uganda during the summer of 2015. When he brought it, there was liquid inside. That wasn’t for long.
- Krest (and Schweppes) Bitter Lemon originally contained quinine, a malaria preventative substance.
- My post at My Part of Nairobi about Krest Bitter Lemon received more visits than any other post in history. Here’s why.
I had a free week.
I won a visitor’s pass to a luxury athletic club not far from where I work. It was like getting to test drive a Ferrari — something mere mortals like me rarely experience.
If I were to rate the establishment on Google, I’d probably give it 5 stars. But would I ever join? No.
One simple barrier keeps me from making that part of my lifestyle… I can’t afford it.
Yes, it was great to put my clothes in a mahogany-faced locker. I loved the gourmet shampoo and body wash (in two flavors). I liked the fact that I could get a few free initial consultations with a professional trainer, so I could learn how to exercise better.
But for approximately five times what 24-Hour Fitness charges, I can’t justify the hit to our monthly expenses.
Heck, I can’t even justify 24-Hour Fitness at the moment.
Gotta stick with free bicycle commutes.
(I took the photo from the balcony, overlooking the tennis courts.)
Portland is a crazy place.
(We just returned from a family vacation that included a few days in Portland.)
I knew that I wanted to get to know the city ever since seeing Portlandia.
I was not disappointed.
- Powell’s is perhaps the finest bookstore on the planet. Besides stocking an amazing range of books (both new and used), they have the most incredible array of stuff from interesting water bottles to funky backpacks to weird socks.
- Food trucks (often food trailers): a huge collection of semi-fast food outlets are all over the Portland, often in collections filling whole city blocks. Wide offerings of ethnic cuisine are available.
- Shops: If I were rich, I would have gorged on the incredible variety of clothing, trinkets, hand-made art in many useful forms such as furniture and all manner of hipster-oriented stuff. One of my favorite shops was Boys Fort.
- Bicycling: In spite of the generally dreary weather, bicycling is a huge part of life in Portland. Bike paths are prevalent across the city, and as our Airbnb hostess explained, bicyclists there often feel like they rule the world, whether or not that is the case.
- The river: Bike paths go along the Willamette River, allowing you to explore the waterway without getting wet (unless it’s raining).
- Trash: There are very few trash cans around the city. Thus, trash accumulates in all the nooks and crannies. Seattle, in comparison, seems to have a normal amount of places to dispose of your waste.
- Homelessness: I’m not sure what attracts so many homeless people to Portland. Denver, the city near my suburban home, seems to have a smaller homeless population. I have nothing against homeless people — drug addiction and mental illness are crippling — but perhaps Denver provides more places for the homeless to find a home. Or possibly Colorado has more restrictive laws governing homeless activities (like no sleeping on sidewalks).
- Maybe a little too much indie-hipster-ness: Though I love supporting small businesses and appreciate creativity, I was almost overwhelmed at the extreme hipster-ness of Portland. One morning, I even wanted to visit Starbucks, believe it or not.
If you can, you simply must visit greater Portland.
Footnote: I only spent a few days there, so these are just a few surface observations.