Posts Tagged ‘ Toyota ’

Family Summer Vacation Road Trip: Sacramento To Lake Tahoe, CA

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

3 years, 7  months.

Dear Jack,

When it comes to family summer vacations, I have always felt that the photos taken during them truly tell the stories better than I could tell them myself. When I think back on this past week, which memories will serve as the forever bookmarks in the history of our family’s story?

For me, it was the quality time you and I spent together. Granted, our annual family vacations also serve as the annual family reunions for Mommy’s side of the family.

(She is number 9 of 10 kids, scattered across the country, so getting the majority of the family together takes some special planning and management!)

With that being said, spending time with my own son during our family vacations can be a challenge, because that’s the only time of year when you get to see your many cousins, aunts, aunts, uncles, and grandma.

It’s something I’m very understanding of. So I wait for those opportunities to get some one-on-one time with you.

We loaded up the Toyota Highlander for the 118 mile/2 hour drive from Mommy’s hometown to Sacramento, CA to Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley), which is near the Nevada border.

By the way, it was the perfect vehicle to take on that road trip: plenty of room for our luggage, as well as a rotating array of relatives who hopped in during the midst of the caravan.
You told me that your favorite part of the Highlander was the windows because you see all the mountains we were driving through.
And that was truly one of the highlights of our vacation: the scenery on the road trip itself.
It’s not everyday that you get to look at the window and see huge rocky mountains and clear blue skies… and not much else. That kind of scenery is very crucial to the psychological aspect of taking a vacation!
As for Lake Tahoe itself, I think you had more fun than anyone- the lake’s sandy coast served as the biggest sandbox you’ve ever seen!
You spent hours burying your plastic dinosaur and Hot Wheels in the sand. It was almost miraculous we were able to locate all your toys by the time we left.
In between “sand avalanches” I helped you locate rocks and sticks to throw into the waves. You declared: “Tomato fight! Potatoes!”
And that’s one of those memories that will serve as one of the forever bookmarks in the history of our family’s story. It really doesn’t take much- just knowing I’ve got some time to hang out with you and be goofy together.
To me, that’s bigger than real life.
Love,
Daddy
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Surviving The Polar Vortex Of 2014, Icicles And All

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

I think it’s safe to say that this is the coldest weather you’ve ever been exposed to, considering it was 6 degrees on the way to school today.

And really, I think these are the most arctic conditions that Mommy or I have experienced as well.

Just look at the car, if you can through all the snow and ice… and icicles. This is the Polar Vortex of 2014.

(A polar vortex is a large-scale cyclone, by the way.)

Not only is it literally freezing outside, but it’s remaining below freezing- for days straight. We’re not quite used to that here in Nashville.

I didn’t even realize we had an “emergency heat” setting on our thermostat until a few days ago; nor did I really know how to use it.

Apparently, if I know the temperature is going to be below freezing, I’m supposed to turn on the emergency heat to keep ice from forming on the fan outside.

Otherwise, it makes this loud “lopsided washing machine” sound. The emergency heat setting both fixes and prevents this problem.

But without any accumulating snow outside, the Polar Vortex of 2014 isn’t that exciting for you- it just means Mommy has to bundle you up like the little brother Randy on the classic 1983 movie, A Christmas Story.

The pictures of the 2014 Toyota Corolla that we’ve been driving this week really do serve as a great illustration of what life has been like during a polar vortex like this.

I’d say that’s the main way life has been altered this week- in regards to our cars. I’ve had to get up early enough to defrost the snow and ice from our cars; definitely not used to that.

The Corolla is actually the smallest and sportiest car we’ve ever ridden in together, so far. I’m not used to being able to so easily squeeze into the traffic flow on the notorious Old Hickory Blvd East merge from I-65.

When we were driving the Tundra during the week of your 3rd birthday, the sheer presence of that huge monster of a truck seemed to intimidate people into letting me merge over. It’s been the opposite with the Corolla because no intimidation has been necessary.

Like a ninja, I have been able to swipe over in front of the car in the left lane before they even saw me coming.

I don’t want to make it seem like the Polar Vortex of 2014 is over; we’re still in the middle of it. But so far, we’ve yet to deal with a dead car battery, busted pipe, or dangerous road conditions. Sadly, I miss 55 degree weather.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:

2014 Lexus LS 460: 2014 Lexus LS 460 Review, From The Dad’s PerspectiveJourney To Howard’s Chapel (The Church Built Into A Rock)Ironically Driving A Lexus To See A Dinosaur Named Junkasaurus WrecksWhat Parents Do When The Kids Are Asleep With The GrandparentsGrandma Regifts As-Seen-On-TV “Perfect Polly” To Great-GrandsonI’ve Heard Of Sleepwalking, But… Sleep-Eating And Sleep-Playing?

2014 Toyota Corolla: Surviving The Polar Vortex Of 2014, Icicles And All

2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Review, From The Dad’s PerspectiveA Family That Recycles Together Doesn’t Decompose

2013 Toyota Rav4: 2013 Toyota Rav4 Review, From The Dad’s Perspective

2014 Toyota Tundra: Dad Gives 3 Year-Old Son A Monster Truck For Birthday… Sort OfNashville Dad Introduces 3 Year-Old Son To Country Music3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Build-A-Bear3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Little River Falls, AL3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Mountain Driving3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Mouth Park

2013 Toyota Sienna: We’re Ready For A Family Road Trip… Minivan Style!It’s Officially Cool To Drive A Minivan Now

 

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A Family That Recycles Together Doesn’t Decompose

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

You would think that after 865 letters from me, I would have mentioned this already:

One of our regular family activities is, as you word it, to “go to the ‘cycling center.’”

When Toyota provided an Avalon Hybrid for us last week for the review I was writing, I deciced it was finally time to mention recycling to you.

It wasn’t until I drove a car that gets virtually the same miles per gallon in both the city and on the Interstate (about 40 mpg) that I really got in tune with how “California minded” I have become, since marrying Mommy 5 and a half years ago.

I remember when when we first got married, she commented that recycling isn’t as much of a part of the culture here in Tennessee, compared to where she’s from in northern California.

As someone who’s lived in the South my whole life, I could see that… especially as I’ve visited Sacramento each summer for the past 6 years now.

So I personally want to do my part to change my own sense of apathy when it comes to recycling.

(If it weren’t for Mommy, though, I doubt I would make an effort to recycle; to be completely honest. She’s a good influence on me, like that!)

Therefore, we collect our recyclables in our pantry all week, then load up the car every few weekends to drop it off about 20 minutes from our house.

Granted, there are definitely weeks we don’t get around to it and it’s easier to just use the garbage bin instead. It’s not something I’m going to beat myself up over, though.

Fortunately, the recycling center is on the way home from church, so we’re not burning extra gas each week to go recycle… that would be a bit counterproductive.

I admit, it’s a sort of a hassle- it’s one more thing that I don’t want to have to worry about doing over the weekend, when we’re already hard-pressed to find family quality time.

But thinking back on each time we go to the recycling center… you actually love it. To you, I suppose it actually is quality family time.

You’re always so excited to watch me toss the plastic, paper, cardboards, and glass items into the appropriate bins, as you and Mommy watch from the car.

So at least in addition to helping the environment, you’re getting free entertainment out of the deal.

 

Love,

Daddy

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2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Review, From The Dad’s Perspective

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Okay, so I think by now, it’s definitely safe to say that I can add “Online Car Reviewer” to my resume on LinkedIn.

Last week Toyota sent us our 4th car to review: A 2013 Avalon Hybrid.

For me, this was pretty epic. If anybody is a huge fan of the electric car, it’s me!

I suppose Toyota has pretty much made it obvious they they have cornered the market of electric cars in America.

Of course, I naturally think of their Prius. So I was really surprised to learn that Toyota also makes hybrid electric/gas Avalons as well.

We tested out the Avalon for its stowing abilities last Thursday when we took your teachers their Christmas gifts. I wanted to get a picture of you next their bag of gifts, but you weren’t interested… not until I popped open the trunk.

You wanted inside, with the gifts. I guess that officially marks the first time you’ve been in the trunk of a car.

Monumental moment… let’s savor it for a minute.

[Dramatic pause.]

Before going inside your school to deliver the gifts, you wanted to go find a brown leaf to put in your cubby.

You found the best one!

I’m thinking that was your attempt at helping me write my review of the Avalon Hybrid.

Yeah, I see where you were going with it…

Leaves are easily associated with “going green.” It’s just that I’m not too sure how a brown leaf plays into that.

Maybe brown is the official color of hybrid cars? Somehow?

Not sure I fully understand your genius idea yet, but if it ends up being a hit with the marketing department at Toyota, don’t worry, I’ll make sure they give you all the credit for it, Son.

In closing, I really liked the Avalon! It was totally up my alley.

Our family drove it for an entire week, plus we took a 2 and a half hour trek to spend Christmas with my side of the family.

As you can see from this picture, we drove 345 miles on it, with still 157 miles before it would have ran out of gas.

How cool is that? The Avalon hybrid can go about 500 miles before needing to go to a gas station.

Yet, it was like driving a “normal” car… except the fact the first time I tried to start it up, it took me four tries before I realized it was already started- that’s how quiet the thing is.

With it being a hybrid, it apparently knows when it’s better to kick back and forth to “gas” or “electric” mode, accordingly; because each time I stopped at a red light, you always responded the same way:

“Daddy, I hear an owl. I think he has a whistle. Is he flying over us? Where is he? Where’s the owl?”

You were hearing the transition into electric mode. And that transition translates into dollar signs being saved…

I’ll put it this way: The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid gets 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 on the highway. Basically the same! Annual fuel coast is only about $1350.

So… up to this point, I think this is not only my favorite car I’ve reviewed yet, but Mommy’s too. I’ve got a little more to say about it, but I’ll save it for my next letter to you, about us going to the recycling center.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

 

P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:

2013 Rav4

2013 Toyota Rav4 Review, From The Dad’s Perspective

2014 Tundra

Dad Gives 3 Year-Old Son A Monster Truck For Birthday… Sort Of

Nashville Dad Introduces 3 Year-Old Son To Country Music

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Build-A-Bear

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Little River Falls, AL

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Mountain Driving

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Mouth Park

2013 Sienna

We’re Ready For A Family Road Trip… Minivan Style!

It’s Officially Cool To Drive A Minivan Now

 

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2013 Toyota Rav4 Review, From The Dad’s Perspective

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

Last Tuesday when the nice man came to take back the Toyota Tundra (which we used for your monster truck road trip in to celebrate your 3rd birthday), he randomly replaced it with a new 2013 Toyota Rav4. I was totally not expecting that!

But, I’ve learned that sometimes in life, it’s just best not to question things…

With that being said, for the past week now, our family has got to drive around in our 3rd Toyota. (The 1st was the Sienna minivan.)

Therefore, I suppose, by default, I am becoming a car reviewer; analyzing cars from the dad’s perspective, as I see how the vehicle works for the whole family, not just the driver.

I will start out by saying this, the Rav4 is definitely my favorite Toyota I have driven so far in my small list of reviews. The Rav4 is a perfect physical and pscyhological fit for me.

At 5’9″, which happens to be about the height of the average American man, I found the vehicle to have the ideal amount of space for me. If I were an SUV, I think it’s safe to say I could very easily be a Rav4.

Small SUVs have always been my personal preference as far as the actual car I drive: My first car was a 1988 Ford Bronco II and my current is a 2004 Honda Element.Basically, I love a good “commuter SUV.” I don’t need a big engine or a lot of power, but I do like a little more cargo room and height that an SUV offers compared to most cars.

Plus, most importantly, getting good gas mileage is very crucial to me. The 2013 Rav4 gets 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway, for an average of 26.

Something else I should point out about the new, 4th generation, 2013 Rav4 is this: It’s feels plenty masculine enough for me. I had always tagged Rav4s as a “girl SUV,” like the Nissan Xterra. (I don’t know why that is, but that’s what I’ve always thought.)

But this newest rendition of the Rav4 looks a lot different than its predecessors, so I want to say “good job” to the people who designed this one. I would very proudly continue driving the Rav4; again, it’s a perfect fit for my lifestyle and personality.

So, what did you, the 3 year-old little boy who is obsessed with cars think about the Rav4?

Well, you said out of the 3 JToyotas (Sienna, Tundra, Rav4), your favorite was actually the Sienna minivan.

You didn’t give me a reason, but I think it’s because the Sienna is “all windows” and you were better able to see all the other cars on the road during the drive to and from school each day.

But of course, you were satisfied simply because of the fact that the Rav4 is an SUV… and that our model has a moon roof. (You love SUVs!)

The Rav4 was our vehicle for Thanksgiving weekend so we definitely had a lot of family fun in it.

Mommy got to drive us to Starbucks on Thanksgiving to buy the newspaper with all the ads in it. She accidently wore your bear hat inside the store and didn’t realize it until she came back to us in the parking lot.

Plus, the Rav4 became the 1st vehicle to transport you “diaper free” to a public place, where you successfully didn’t have an accident. More on that tomorrow; I’m not completely finished talking about the Rav4 yet.

Okay, so, tomorrow the nice man is supposed to pick up the Rav4 and take it back to Atlanta. We’ll either be back in my Honda Element… or we’ll both be surprised and I’ll end up writing another car review about a different Toyota.

Maybe I’ll do this car reviewing thing enough to where people actually start seeing me as a serious family car reviewer?…

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.

 

P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:

Tundra

Dad Gives 3 Year-Old Son A Monster Truck For Birthday… Sort Of

Nashville Dad Introduces 3 Year-Old Son To Country Music

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Build-A-Bear

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Little River Falls, AL

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Mountain Driving

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Land Park

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Canyon Mouth Park

Sienna

We’re Ready For A Family Road Trip… Minivan Style!

It’s Officially Cool To Drive A Minivan Now

 

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