Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A gift that starts to give....I hope

I recently (like, in the past few days) reconnected with an old internet friend and started sharing memories from the good old days. Part of the discussion turned towards the current games we are both playing. Even after all this time (it's been a few years since we last "hung out"), it seems we still share a lot of the same interests.

We covered a lot of ground, from talking about First Person Shooters and Military themed games, to Puzzle, Survival and Building adventures. However, I managed to steer the conversation towards driving games. We both had a fun time back when Need for Speed World was still active and spent a lot of time racing with and against each other. Those days are gone, so it was time to find a new common experience.

I made mention of Forza 6 Apex and how much I was enjoying that game (despite not playing it in the past while), but I expressed my disappointment with the lack of a Multiplayer component. Turns out my friend had a solution to that....

So, before I went to bed and off to dreamland, I started the download for GRID Autosport. My friend decided to purchase and gift it to me through my Steam account. I figured I would try it out in the morning.

So, where to begin? How about with a video of trying the game out cold?

Now, for my short list of first impressions. Number one, I love the look of the game environment. Although you can't escape or deny that it is a game, the developers have gone to great lengths and effort to make it about a realistic as possible (much like Forza 6 Apex). The sky looks real, the trees are convincingly trees, the grass, everything is on a much higher detail from my good old Playstation 2 days (Need for Speed Most Wanted, on the Wii U is the only console comparison I can make that meets the caliber of detail against these two games). Even my old favorite, Need for Speed World just looks so dated....

I couldn't tell you if this is dawn or dusk, but it's just beautifully rendered in my eyes. Now, for number two, the Multiplayer aspect. After trying a few races in Singleplayer, to try and get a better feel for the game, it was time to spend some time with the friend the bought this for me....

One thing I have missed a lot, playing a good racing game and hearing a voice from another living and real person, talking back to me! Sharing a good time, no matter the outcome, is what will make this experience very rewarding to me.

That and learning how to drive these cars better, for the win!

Monday, 29 August 2016

A dream awakens a memory....

Kinda, sorta carrying on from here http://behindthewheelgaming.blogspot.ca/2016/08/a-dream-come-true.html I realized that my dream of owning my first convertible happened to awaken an old memory of the first car I had named Lebaron....

Although this wasn't my car, it is virtually the same in just about every way. If I remember right, it was the fall of 1995 and I was living the not-so-high life of a single guy. I was working, part time, as a late night dishwasher/prep cook and general jack of all kitchen trades at a local, family owned restaurant. I made a decent wage and was saving up to buy a car, to better cope with the cooling weather walk to and from my job.

I can't recall to clearly how I wound up with the car (I want to believe I came across a good cash deal and just bought it, I am not exactly sure), but it was one of my better ones from those days. Like I said before, it was a twin for the car pictured above, minus the bumper sticker and trailer hitch. No rust to speak of and the 318 cid V8 ran exceptionally well. Not bad for a '78 Chrysler!

Step one, I bought the car and drove it home (no insurance and only straight to the parking lot out back of the apartment building I was living in at the time). Step two, time to save up for insurance. This part is another fuzzy recollection, I can't figure out how or why I never managed to put plates and a policy on the thing. For months, it just sat out back with the occasion visit from me, to start it up and keep the fluids moving.

I do remember the very last day I owned it though. It was late November and the first snowfalls had come and gone, but the early winter that year had set in with some real force. The LeBaron had froze to the ground, thanks to the snow melting, freezing and repeating that cycle. I had this friend who was just starting up a tow truck company and I ask them to give me a hand to pull my Chrysler free from the ice.

That request would seal it's future. The chain was stretched out and hooked up to the back of the car (it was parked "nose in") and I slipped behind the wheel. The car was started and I put it into reverse, my friend got into their truck and started to creep forward. As luck would have it, they spun a single rock back at me. The back window popped and I just sat there, realizing not only what just happened, but also pretty sure how much that was about to cost me.

The next day, I made a deal with another friend to trade the LeBaron for a Dodge Aspen sedan. A new back window, plus the install, was going to cost more than what I had paid for the whole car (I priced it out, over the phone and nearly passed out from the answer)! My other friend had plans for the LeBaron and their Aspen in trade was better suited for what I needed, a complete running car and ready to be insured.

Although I never really drove it and it sat more than it moved, it's funny how a vehicle from twenty years later can spark the movie in the mind about another place and time, just because they share a name.

Friday, 26 August 2016

A dream come true?

So, it been a while, huh? From my last post back in May until now, real life has been rather busy, like switching companies for employment sake, moving, reconnecting with long, lost family, this list could go on.

However, since it's an automotive themed blog (both real and virtual), I will focus more on that.

I am not too sure if I have mentioned this before or not, I have a son who is ten years old (at the time of this posting) and has crossed over a major threshold (at least, in my eyes). He is slowly graduating from the world of pushing small metal cars around on the floor and carpets to sitting behind the wheel of ones that can move on their own. Although a Go-Cart isn't what people would consider to be a real vehicle, per se, it's still a huge step into a bigger world.

This past June, while my wife and son went to visit and see a family member graduate from high school, I remained behind and worked. One day, during a dull and slow moment, I browsed through the local classified ads (can't remember if it was Kijiji, Craigslist or a local offering) and stumbled across this.

I just found an unbelievable deal on a convertible, a high mileage and needs lots of work 1994 Chrysler Lebaron GTC. Like my good old days, when I used to buy "wrecks" that were questionable to be on the road, this one will require a lot of time and attention before any long drives in the country.

However, I decided to surprise my returning family by picking them up at the airport, the same day I bought the car and had a very interesting drive home with them in it. See, I never drove the car before I put down the money to purchase it. In fact, the previous owner drove it to our place and I drove them back to theirs, the airport trip was the first time I even sat in it!

When I was about half my son's current age, this was one of my favorite toys. I "drove" the heck out of this Hot Wheels and it looked pretty much like this the last time I saw it (long since lost with the ages). What does this have to do with a LeBaron Convertible? Well, I clearly remember taking this toy out one day, when I went downtown with my mother and seeing a full sized, real version of it without it's roof!

In fact, this could be the very car I saw way back when (currently owned by Don McClure of Quesnel, B.C.). I was determined to own a convertible or a car with a removable roof, someday....

Over time, that determination faded, since growing up in the colder north meant I wouldn't see very many convertibles, nor would they ever be "reasonably" priced, for my budget. Plus, with the limited amount of warm weather during the year, owning one would have been more of a novelty, not a practical vehicle for the environmental conditions.

I will let the following video explain the dream coming to pass, 37 years later....