road

We drive all the time and for everything in our modern American society; for work, errands, to get to fun places, but what about driving for the fun of driving itself? Well it’s hard to do that on the familiar boring roads you take to work every week, which is why you need to take a road trip! Whether you’re working in heating and cooling in Birmingham, AL or coding in California, take the time to make driving fun again by taking a spin on one of these fantastic stretches of asphalt.

1. Tail of the Dragon (Devil’s Gap, The Dragon) – North Carolina / Tennessee

Drive through ancient Appalachian country mountains on this 120 mile loop through the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee national forest. The best time of year to go is in the fall when the leaves are changing and the scenery is stunning with crimson red and bright yellows leaves. But not only is the scenery amazing, the drive itself is incredible. The trail is known for it’s curves, and it’s most famous section boasts a whopping 318 curves in a mere 11 mile stretch. Your adrenaline will pump as you push your sportscar to the limit and accelerate into those curves!

2. Big Sur California Highway 1

If you happen to find yourself on the other side of the country, then head out to the Big Sur region of California. Northern California’s highway 1 offers spectacular coastal views as you race through endless road. The variety of curves, turns, and views will be sure to leave a smile on your face for days to come.

3. Blue ridge parkway

This scenic highway boasts close to 500 miles of breathtaking views through north carolina and virginia along the blue ridge mountains. The stretch of highway is the best way to see where the blue ridge mountains get their name from. From scenic vistas from the highway you can see the seemingly endless rippling mountains on the horizon. As the many mountain ridges stretch out in between the sky they seem to take on a blue hue.

These are travel worthy destinations that offer a great experience, but you can find a great drive closer to home too. To do so you just need to remember two things. One, is to try and get off the highway, change your map settings to exclude highways to find some off the beaten path rural roads. The other is to make sure you are driving with no where to go. Even a curvy stretch of asphalt can lose its appeal when you’re late trying to get to an appointment. Make sure you take the time to drive just to explore with no real expectations and you are sure to have a good time.

corsica

Lemons, junkers, clunkers, jalopy, POS, call it whatever you want, but everyone has at least taken a ride in a, shall we say, less than well maintained car. But for being so terrible, drivers seem to have a certain affinity or nostalgia for their junky cars. There is a certain pride to it, a satisfaction in driving something that shouldn’t be driving, making something work that seems broken.

I remember the worst car I have had. It was a 1989 Chevy Corsica.  It broke down on me more than I’d care to admit, but it was fun to drive. There’s also an underdog quality to it, like the little engine that could.

When I got somewhere I was thankful. It’s also fun to simply not care at all about the life of the car because you know it’s not going to last. The usual worry with maintenance and car care is put aside.  While it is true that carefree feeling is replaced with “oh my god please let me make it home, please let me make it home, don’t stall at this red light!”, it still feels good to let go about something.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t put any effort or  love into it. I tried to fix the problems. Mainly it would stall when stopped. The car had one previous owner, an elderly lady who only drove to Church and the grocery store. It had about 60,000 miles on it and was 18 years old at the time. It had manual windows and locks, a tiny radio, no airbags, a faux velvet interior and it was perfect for me.  We assume it had issues because it was just never driven enough and sat, wasting away for too long a stretch of time. We thought it was the alternator, but after investigating it, that proved to not be the case.

Then one fateful trip, it stalled and wouldn’t start for hours. Once started, the RPM’s were all over the place, revving up and down and stalling when getting too low. I had to press down on the gas at red lights and stop signs to keep the engine idling and prevent stalling. The car only cost 1000, so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend too much money on it. So once it died, it was dead. But it was sure fun while it lasted.

stick shift

The title doesn’t exactly say it all. You don’t need to exclusively drive a stick shift, or ditch your automatic car. But everyone, for at least some part of their driving career, should drive a manual transmission car. But why you say? Why would I revert to older technology? Well there are several reasons!

  1. Because it’s fun! Driving a stick shift allows you to feel the power of your engine and become more aware of your driving. The movement in shifting gears; moving levers with your hands and kicking the clutch, make for a more engaging driving experience.
  2. Before it’s too late. Technology is great, we all love our smartphones, and it’s advancing faster every year. Self-driving cars are a focal point of discussion as both car companies and tech companies make plans to introduce automated cars to the public. It’s not hard to imagine a not too distant future where people simply don’t drive themselves very often, if at all. So experience the fun in driving stick while you still can!
  3. It’s more economical. Driving a manual transmission is actually the more economical choice for two reasons: one, driving a manual transmission and shifting gears yourself is more fuel efficient and improves your MPG, and two, because manual transmission cars are cheaper to buy than their fully automatic counterparts. However, this is mostly true for cars before 2014 at this point, as automatic transmission technology has improved. But, this usually holds true, especially when looking for used cars.
  4. Theft-deterrent. Thieves are usually not the brightest people around, that is why they have resorted to stealing cars. They are also lazy, going for the easiest heist they can pull off. Learning to drive a manual does take some work, and if you have a stick shift, there’s at least a chance a thief who breaks into your car won’t know how to drive away with it!
  5. Emergencies. The last, and probably the most important reason to drive a stick shift is so that you know how to drive one in case of an emergency. Most cars these days are automatic, but not all. If you’re in the car with someone driving a manual transmission and they have a heart attack or become unable to drive, then knowing how to safely drive a manual car can become a matter of life and death. Hopefully you never find yourself in this situation, but it never hurts to be prepared.

So if you don’t already know how to drive a stick shift, find a friend or make your next vehicle a manual transmission, you’ll be glad you did while you can!