SiriusXM Seriously?

Recently my wife and I rented a car with a SiriusXM satellite radio package.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for writing this blog post.

Gotta love car rental agencies

The young lady who walked us out to our car knew nothing about cars. She certainly couldn’t answer any questions about the Ford Fusion that we rented.

We could pay $49.98 to return the car on E and not worry about it. But she didn’t know how many gallons the tank held or what “Flex Fuel” meant. To not worry about it, we took the package.

She was good at selling.

We were going to be driving all over the southwest. A colleague told me to never let the tank get below one-quarter since the area we were going to was remote and we might not see a gas a station for a while. This being the case, tank capacity seemed important.

Then she pitched us on GPS navigation. We were going off into the dessert and mountains, so this made sense to me also. That was an easy sell, but they could have offered it when I made my reservation.

Not adding it to the original quote reduced the price by $153.90.

We could have used our phones for navigation, but they have a funny way of running out of power at the worse time. We were spending three days in Death Valley, so navigation was high on my list of priorities.

XM Siriously?

Then she pitched us on SiriusXM Satellite radio.

I’ve driven loaner cars with SiriusXM, but only for a day or two.

Not long enough to figure it out or to find it’s short-comings.

We were going to be in the dessert and mountains of Nevada, California, Utah and Arizona. I love music and know that remote areas often have few choices for music. It’s nice to get the local flavor, but I didn’t want to get stuck listening to country music or The Farm Report.

So we took the SiriusXM Satellite Radio package for $15.00.

Not a lot of money in comparison to what we spent on this vacation. But since I’m paying for something I’m used to getting for free, I get to vent a little bit!

Maybe with the extended test drive we would find out what’s so wonderful about satellite radio.

What we learned about SiriusXM Satellite Radio

You will run out of Channels

Their website says they have 175 channels, but I think we only had 30. Maybe that’s the rental car package or we never figured out how to get the other 140 channels.

If I had thirty solid channels to listen to in Boston I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately we did not have thirty solid channels on the road.

SiriusXM uses themed channels. There was a “Grateful Dead” channel that was pretty good. But I’m not a die hard fan and some of the deep cuts were way beyond me, and my wife doesn’t like The Dead at all.

That channel got about 15 minutes of our time each day.

Then there was a “Jimmy Buffet” or “Parrot Head” channel. Fortunately that was not all Jimmy Buffet all day, but it was that type of music. We may have listened to a song a day on that channel as we searched for something to listen to.

Other channels were themed by the decade. I’m not a big fan of those channels. Each decade has a wide variety of music. If the 80’s channel is playing English Synth pop instead of punk when I dial in it can be a quick stop.

While I enjoy music from the 60’s to today, these channels seemed to have a small rotation of songs.

Short Play Lists

Over 15 days, we listened to some channels almost every day.

We’d listen to a channel and then I’d start to hear the same songs as the day before. I’d change to another channel and the same thing would happen.

The 1980’s had everything from Madonna to Michael Jackson to The Clash and The Eagles. 1,000 bands must have charted at least one song. Some had many top 40 or top 10 hits in that decade. So why repeat?

I thought that SiriusXM would be an endless supply of songs with no repeats. At least not within a week.

Eventually I figured out that there were five or six channels that I could listen to. To keep things fresh I scanned through these channels often.

In Boston I listen to five stations regularly and another five frequently. I’m used to changing the channel, but often this is due to commercial breaks.

Radio Silence

Zion CanyonWhile SiriusXM played some deep cuts, we drove some deep canyons.

I can’t really blame SiriusXM for this one. Some of the canyons we drove through were steep and narrow. FM or AM signals probably would have been blocked also. Often we did not have cell service in these remote areas.

This is a photo from the top on Zion Canyon looking down on the road.

It was still odd to be focused on keeping the car on the road and then realize that the radio was off. It didn’t hiss, satellite radio just goes silent. No signal, no hiss.

Seriously XM?

I must have said this 100 times over fifteen days of driving. When ever songs would repeat or we lost the station or that Dead jam was just too much to listen to.

At the time I didn’t realize we were only paying $1 per day. I thought it was more like $5 or something that seemed way too much for something I usually get for free.

The price of our rental went from $550 when I made the reservation to $849 when we added all of the extras to $770 in a text update to our bill. It was a challenge to figure it out while trying to relax and have fun. So guessing what the radio cost was a calculation I just tossed my hands up at.

What we paid for the rental and what we did with that car is for another post!

Maybe if you get one of their All Access package there is enough to listen to without repeats or songs you don’t like.

On free radio I just hit the seek button when something comes on that I don’t like. I’m just not paying for it.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Travel Blogs

I was at a meeting a few weeks back. As an “ice breaker” the meeting organizer had us go around the table, introduce ourselves and tell us about our most exotic vacation.

I’ve been on a few cruises and spent the day in places like Cartagena Columbia when cocaine ruled that country and soldiers with automatic rifles guarded the mayor’s office. Wild shit, but hardly exotic. People had spent a month in The Amazon, or Bali or Vietnam. A lot of these people had spent more than a day or a week in these exotic locals. I felt like the country bumpkin who never got off the farm.

lubec, light house, down east
Maine St. – Lubec

I had to dig deep and get creative to come up with something even mildly interesting to the room full of world travelers. I decided to go with my destination marathon, The Bay of Fundy International Marathon  in Lubec Maine. Now Maine is hardly an exotic local, but I got to tell my story about running through the border check points on both the US and Canadian sides, twice! I don’t think anyone in the room that night was heading off to Downeast Maine anytime soon but I did manage to get everyone to laugh and they asked some good questions. I’d call that a success, even though my story was as local and non-exotic as you can get.

I do not travel very much but I enjoy reading travel related blogs. I’ve collected some of my favorite travel blogs here. Take a peek at them and see if they spin up your wonder lust.

Travel Blogs

Stretching Into Infinity is written by a Melbourne based teacher who posts photos from her global travels. Her blog is very well-organized. You can look at photos from her home town, or go to “Places” and see her collections of photos from the countries she has traveled to. Her “Photos” page has a seemingly endless stream of very well done photos.

Another favorite is The British Isles are the limit, but soon the world!. Dan and Gemma write about their travels throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Their posts always include great photos of the locations they visit and a history of the area and major buildings. They also write about English history, the Scottish Referendum and such. It’s not all travel articles.

They did a series “Faith & The British” where they highlighted the cathedrals, churches and Abbeys in their travels. As an American I always find it fascinating when Dan and Gemma reference a building first built in 900, rebuilt in 1050, bombed by the Germans in 1941 etc. I love the history and the rich details they provide.

They also have pages where you can learn about the different regions of the UK, overseas territories and the Republic of Ireland. Where they have visited locations in a county or country they have a link to their blog post for that area.

If you are fascinated by English history or are planning a trip to the UK, this is a great site to check out.

A traveler in the Northeast US is My Travels North. In this new blog, David Medici chronicles his travels in the Adirondacks of New York State, and New England. He always has great photos and provides information for those of us who are interested in camping and the great outdoors, but might need a little advice.

Bucket List Publications is written by Lesley Carter. She chronicles her travels and adventures to 44 countries! She always engages in interesting activities to numerous to list here, and includes some great photography of her travels as well.

Pro Active Outside is mainly about hiking and mountain climbing. Bob writes about safety in the outdoors as well as hikes and climbs he has made. I’m pretty sure that I found Bob’s blog through one of his posts on running. Bob Doucette uses a lot of great photos and offers advice on gear for your adventures into the Great Outdoors. Bob has been “Freshly Pressed” and after reading a few of his posts you will see why.

The Friendly Giraffe has traveled the world. Several times over it seems. She recently had a baby but still manages to get in quite a bit of traveling. Those of you who travel with, or plan to travel with infants, might pick up a tip or two from her. The rest of you will enjoy reading of her adventures and cultural experiences as well as her great photography.

There are hundreds of thousand of travel blogs out there. I have been lucky enough to discover these writers and wanted to share my wealth with all of you. Sometimes it is difficult to read their travel posts while I’m sitting in my home with no big plans in the works. But I can’t resist!

Live well my Friends,

Andy

© 2014 anagelin

Vancouver Running

I’m in Vancouver, BC for the next few days for work.

It’s a long flight and I had a two-hour lay-over in Chicago. I didn’t see any deep dish pizza places in the terminal, so I bought a pizza from an Austrian dude named Wolfgang. Mr. Puck makes a pretty good pizza.

The hotel I’m staying at, the Pan Pacific, is fantastic. Two years ago I was here for work and stayed at the same place. The views are captivating. I had barely set down my bags when I looked out the window and saw an American Bald Eagle fly by! That was worth nine hours of travel time. I’d post some photos but I’m on international roaming and the fees are ca-razy.

From my window I can see across the harbor to North Vancouver. It looks like residential neighborhoods nestled up the side of the mountain. I’d love to get over there and explore someday, but I am here for business now.

North Vancouver
North Vancouver

Running Vancouver

Like any good runner, I packed my gear. I even wore my running shoes for the trip out here. I just got back from a 6.09+ mile run out to Stanley Park and back. I didn’t go all the way to the Lion’s Gate bridge, but I was pretty close. When I made my turn to head back I walked for a bit to take in the view.

Vancouver reminds me a lot of San Francisco. The harbor, the hills, the vibe in the air. It’s just a cool city. I know there were a lot of tourists out walking and on rental bikes, but the place seems very active like San Francisco and Boston. I even saw a few people swimming!

Vancouver, BC, Canada
Canada Place, Vancouver Harbor

As I was walking back I saw a Holland America cruise ship heading out. They let out a blast of the horns that reverberated across the harbor. As I started jogging, I glanced back at the ship a few times. As it approached the bridge, I wasn’t sure they would fit underneath it. The tide was low or going out. At first I thought it would be riskier to take a ship of that size out of the harbor at low tide, but as they approached the bridge it began to make sense.

On my way out I had passed a large group of young people dressed to the 9s. I wasn’t sure if it was a prom or wedding. I saw several older people dressed as well as the kids. On the way back I got a better look at them, and it was definitely prom with a few moms or teachers dressed up. Sharp looking bunch.

As I approached my hotel there was a limo out front with about 8 guys dressed for the prom hanging out. Not sure if the prom is here tonight or if everyone just wants to get their picture taken on the waterfront. Who wouldn’t?

As I write this it is almost 9:30 EST, but only 6:30 and sunny here. Time for a quick shower and then time to hit the streets and look for something to eat. Tomorrow (Sunday) is a full work day for me, so I need to get some sleep.

Run well my friends!

Andy

The journey begins

journey,vancouver

Journey to Vancouver begins

My cab was a little late, but we got to the airport in plenty of time.
Security was a breeze and we were through the lines in no time.  United and TSA staff were friendly and efficient.
I usually pack for safari, but for this trip I’m going minimal.
Loving my new bag which auto correct keeps changing to Sanskrit. Sounds like Samsung but makes luggage. Hopefully I have enough clothes.

Run well my friends

Andy

© anagelin 2014