My new ride…the Mazda CX-5 (Grand Touring)

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2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD

I’ve had this car for about three weeks and I must say I ABSOLUTELY love it.  In my life I’ve had two other cars…

First it was a 2001 Kia Rio (aka Josh the green dragon as my friends dubbed it) which sported a fluorescent green color.  The driver’s side door did not open from the inside and the window did not roll down (I know, totally unsafe!) and when getting food from a Drive Thru require the person behind the driver to place and receive the order. Fun times.

Second car was a white 2003 Ford Focus  who spent her last days with my brother in law. (Not quite sure the status of that car or if she has any life left.) I put a lot of miles in that vehicle.  I traveled from Texas to South Carolina in that car to visit my husband after he graduated from boot camp (boyfriend at the time) accompanied by my best friends Isabela and Megan. Fond memories.

NOW we’re going to talk about the newest addition to the family… My Titanium Flash Mica 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD with parchment color interior. She is a beauty.  (If you’re in San Antonio and are in the market for a new vehicle go see Joey Esparza at IPAC Mazda. No he did not pay me to mention him but I thought I’d do him this favor since he had to deal with us and treated us quite well actually.  Not your typical car sales person…no intimidation, no gimmicks, just honest, just facts, good customer service. You’re welcome Joey!)  This is officially the largest purchase my husband and I had ever made together however there is absolutely no buyer’s remorse going on whatsoever.  Note to self: must activate 4 months free trial with XM/Sirius satellite radio.

Gosh… where do I start?  I haven’t really talked about the car much and I’m already at 300 words.  Oh well, I hope this post helps you out if you are considering the CX-5.  When it comes to car shopping it’s important to establish what is exactly important to you.  For my husband and I… considering how many miles we travel per month (at least 800 miles) – we needed a car that has great fuel economy. The idea of a cross over or a SUV appealed to us because we liked the idea of having plenty of storage space.  After research we narrowed down our options to the Honda CRV EX-L and the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.  Something to note for you taller people (I’m 4’11” so it’s not a problem at all for me) but the CX-5 has more headroom than the CRV.  The Honda CRV EX-L was great and had a very luxurious feel with the leather interior and it had FANTASTIC lumbar support that made driving it extremely comfortable.  It was the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring though that offered little things that ultimately won us over and in this post I will cover the features that attracted me the most.

The Command Control
By the armrest there is a multifunction control center where you are able to easily navigate through the functions displayed on the touchscreen monitor. The touch-screen display is deactivated while in motion so the commander allows you to toggle through available options while you’re driving.  Because of its convenient positioning and ease of use it is relatively safe to use while driving.  The steering wheel has multifunction capabilities as well as far as changing tracks, volume adjusting, etc however personally I like to use the phone options and cruise control adjusting exclusively available on the steering wheel while leaving the commander control to assist me in controlling the radio and navigation system.

Ample Cargo Room
Because my husband and I enjoy camping, visiting Costco, and traveling (usually with our dogs) we were most interested in getting a vehicle with loads of cargo space without being required to sacrifice fuel economy. The 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring offers PLENTY of cargo room and features an easy release 40/20/40 fold down rear seats.  It’s incredibly roomie back there.

Bose Center Point Surround Sound System
This is by far the nicest sound system I’ve personally ever had in a car. The 9 speaker setup allows me to hear parts of songs that I didn’t even know existed!

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° Fold Down Seating
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you needed to take a power nap in the car?  We regularly take long trips so sometimes yes we do find ourselves needing to pull into the nearest rest stop to re-energize and this vehicle conveniently offers the ability to lay the driver and front passenger seat all the way back.  Note: I don’t know the exact angle the seats fall at but I thought I’d throw 180° in the description to try and help you paint a picture.

Blind Spot Monitoring
The 2015 Honda CRV EX-L also had a lane departure warning system however it required you to view the display which just felt unnatural to me.  I’m sure in time I could have gotten used to it but this is such a large purchase why settle?  In the CX-5 you are given an audible and visual warning light (on side view mirrors) if there is another vehicle in your right or left blind spots.  You definitely can’t ignore but it’s relatively subtle as to not be distracting either.

Mazda CX-5 Wheels (19-inch Alloy)
I just about died yesterday when I popped a curb but was relieved to find that my rims remained unharmed.  I know this is strictly cosmetic here but I can’t help but ADORE these wheels.  The Sport model’s 17-inch Alloy wheels are cool and attractive (and some say the riding experience is smoother with the smaller wheels) but these 19-inch alloy ones are just plain SEXY.

IMG_20160114_182402Rearview Camera
I don’t know how I managed to get by without this awesome feature all these years.  I was reading on a forum the other about someone complaining that the camera isn’t HD quality.  I found that topic very amusing – I simply need to see if there is anything or anyone behind the car while I’m reversing.  When there is a car moving behind the car a clear warning alert sounds off just in case  you are not looking.

4 Months Free XM/Sirius Radio
I probably will cancel the service near the end of the free trial (because they will charge you as soon as it is over if you don’t) but satellite radio is AWESOME. I probably won’t listen to the 100 sports stations they have available on there but I’m sure the option is ideal for some individuals out there.  There are at least 15 stations that I like so I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this feature during the rest of the next 4 month free trial.

Let’s talk accessories
So some accessories that we have in the car that we like but are completely optional (but I still recommend):

IMG_20160102_1453040Steering Wheel Cover – I bought this one off of Amazon (Leather Steering Wheel Cover for Mazda CX-5 CX-7 CX-9 Mazda5 Mazda6) which I honestly hesitated to buy because I didn’t know how well it would work for the 2016 Mazda CX-5.  Another buyer did leave the comment that it was perfect for their 2014 CX-5 so I decided to take a change, I mean how much different can steering wheels change from year to year?  I am happy to confirm that it is PERFECT for the 2016 model.  Why get a steering wheel cover?  In my opinion the grip on the steering wheel is MUCH better.  Just a hint to those considering the 2016 Grand Touring black leather interior the red stitching on the steering wheel is brighter compared to the red stitching on the black leather seats.

Roof Rack – offers the foundation to store bikes, snowboards, etc. OK so we don’t ski or snowboard but hey the option is there if we decide to pick up those hobbies!

Navigation System – not 100% reliable I’ve found but is good enough to get to where I need to be.  It also indicates traffic cameras and speed limits, which is nice.

Retractable Cargo Cover – allows us to keep our valuable out of plain sight (not that we keep them regularly in the car but hey the option is nice.

All Weather-Proof Floor Mats – Considering how much rain we’ve encountered and we like to hike on dirt trails these floor mats are a MUST.  We are able to simply hose them down to clean them which is awesome.  The cargo mat especially is a MUST HAVE if you have dogs or do outdoorsy things because it is so easy to keep clean. When you have dogs that shed like crazy like ours this is an awesome investment.  The amount of time you’ll save from cleaning the cargo area is absolutely worth it.

I could probably go on and on about this car but I will wrap it up here considering that I am now over the 1,000 words mark!  Are you considering the Mazda CX-5? Do you own this car?  Chime in with your thoughts and leave me a comment.  Feedback is always appreciated. Thank you for reading!

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A Journey Beyond Comfort (CREATIVE ARTS CONTEST – YOU CAN WIN $10!)

A Journey Beyond Comfort
East, West, North, or South
which direction shall I go?
On the road there’s no room for doubt
Countless adventures via flight or row.

It’s important to do something you haven’t done
to experience something you haven’t before,
some journeys will be smooth while others rough
sometimes one must step outside of comfort.

Which path shall we take today?
Shall we remain where we are comfortable?
What is life without risk or mistakes?
No room for regrets – let’s live and learn.

This is a poem that I wrote for the Creative Arts Contest being held at http://forum.languavel.net – the theme is Language or Travel.  I can’t win because I’m a staff member.  HOWEVER, you can win $10 via paypal and you can enter any creative art (graphic design, writing, drawing, etc).  You can find more details here: http://forum.languavel.net/showthread.php?tid=2627&pid=14516#pid14516

Languavel is a forum dedicated to Languages and Travel enthusiasts all over the world.  We started in October of 2014 and we already have over 14,000 posts! …and the community is growing larger every day.  What’s really cool is with every post that you make you can earn Languavel points which you can eventually exchange for prizes (even cash via Paypal).  Check it out and register if you like what you see – it’s totally free. 🙂

Amazing how one feels after being ill!

IMG_1992 So today I woke up feeling MUCH better.  I was even able to fully enjoy breakfast and coffee without fear of throwing up.  We went whale watching, ate lunch, and drove around Big Sur.  It was a fantastic day.  I still haven’t got my head around the iOS software so I’m finding it difficult to upload my pictures but hopefully I will figure it out for the sake of my future posts.  I am so glad that it was a beautiful day today otherwise I don’t think we would have enjoyed walking around so much.  It’s a bummer that I let my fitness band run out of juice because all of my steps were not recorded today.  I must pay more attention that in the future!

Princess: Whale Watching Excursion
IMG_1997We wanted to catch the early 10:30AM trip today but we ran a bit late and didn’t arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf until 10:25.  We didn’t want to rush so decided to just wait for the 12:30PM trip.  Which worked out fine because it gave us a chance to look around the Wharf.  We visited the candy shoppe.  The Caramel apples looked amazing but I didn’t like the idea of spending $7.50 on one.  (I’m fairly sure I can spend that kind of money making a few caramel apples.) The hubby decided to buy an avacado buba drink but was disappointed (what do you expect from powder and ice?) it did not taste that great.  After visiting a gift shop and over looking the pier we decided to go ahead and get in line for the whale watching so we can get first dibs on the boat.
IMG_1998We were in line by 12PM and not too long after signing in others followed.  It was 68F degrees and it honestly started to feel hot so I removed my hoodie (I know I sound like a complete pansy to my family and friends back in Texas).  Finally got on the boat and we (my husband, mother-in-law, and myself) decided to sit in the front of the boat.  The trip took about 3 hours but we didn’t even notice it until we looked at the time.  It was so nice being out in the water.  It was so exciting spotting the humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, and even the group of birds out in the water indicating that these large sea creatures were nearby!  I took many video clips and pictures I want to see if I can make a slide show and include it in this post somehow (I will attempt that tomorrow because I am beat tired now).

Sightseeing at Big Sur
IMG_2238This is our second time sightseeing at Big Sur and it just as beautiful as the first time we saw this area.  I swear if you ever had the chance to visit you really should.  When life gets too overwhelming and stress is all you seem to think about if you can come out here and stand near the cliff and watch the water – none of that matters. The things that are bothering you today does not have to take over your whole being.  Watching the waves and looking around at the beautiful landscape it’s so calming and makes you feel so small that anything that seems so big does not seem that big anymore.

I wish I could write more about all of this but I can barely keep my eyes opened right now. For all that have left comments for me so far thank you so much.  I know I’ve been neglecting you guys that’s my bad.  I will get to your comments as soon as I can – I really do appreciate hearing from you!

San Jose Airport – is tiny. :)

The two main airports that I frequent are: Boston Logan International Airport and Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.  So I half expected San Jose International Airport to be somewhat like that when we picked up my mother-in-law today.  I half panicked when I realized that we passed Terminal A and that we would have to circle around again but have to go through the entire airport to do so. Well… it turns out that there is Terminal A and then there’s Terminal B …and that is all!  Literally not even a minute later we were back to where we started and stopped where we needed to.

I am one of those people that hate being late for anything… for instance if I am to meet a friend at the movie theater or for lunch I am there promptly at the agreed time or earlier.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when people are late or completely flake out of agreements so it bothers me ten fold when I am late even if it’s situations due to circumstances I cannot control e.g. traffic and such.

So… I’m glad that I was able to meet my mother-in-law at baggage claim. 🙂

Yosemite National State Park – One more for the memory books!

3 I actually thought that this camping trip was going to be a bit more brutal considering how much travel time we were anticipating.  With my friend flying in from Dallas we had to drive about 2 hours to the San Francisco International Airport then from there drive another 3 hours to Yosemite.  I think it helped that my husband and I got adequate sleep the night before.  We did not book a reservation for a campsite in Yosemite because you have to do that months in advance (and even then you must time it right and be ready to book when the spots open up).  Our hearts dropped a little when we arrived and the sign said “All Camps Full” however after walking around the park we were a bit relieved to find that we didn’t have to stay the night there.  Don’t get me wrong the places is BEAUTIFUL however it was packed with A LOT of tourist and parking was a nightmare.

4 We stopped at a campsite near Yosemite I don’t remember what it was called but we decided not to camp there; not because there weren’t any spots open but simply because it felt like we would be setting up camp in a middle of a field with someone’s generator at a constant hum next to us.  I’m glad we kept going because we ended up staying at a place called “The Pines” and we were able to secure site 8 which was located in the far back and we felt pretty secluded considering no one ended up staying at site 7 which was located closeby.  We were able to set up our tent and get the fire going relatively quickly and I cooked some sausage hot dogs for us.  It was a fantastic night just catching up with food, water, and beer.

2  My dog Kimo scored some pretty awesome points with us.  We discovered that he could be trusted not to wander off on his own (we somehow let the leash get undone from the table leg).  He did wander off momentarily but really impressed us because he managed to find my husband who had went on a walk and discovered that the nearby trail was relatively long and had many different paths and somehow our dog figured out which one  he took and despite the steep inclines he had to endure he found my husband and actually led the way back when Jared suggested to him “C’mon Kimo, let’s go back”.

1 If you enjoy camping as in real camping with tents and sleeping bags and are wondering if it’s a good idea to just ‘wing it’ and visit Yosemite don’t stress about reservation unless you are traveling far and really want to stay IN Yosemite then try to book in advanced. However, if you just want to stop by and spend the day hiking around the park and take pictures and are totally cool with just setting up camp and aren’t too picky about where; you really do have options.  I am so glad we finally got around to going to Yosemite!

Zion National State Park

IIMG_0479 remember falling in love with a picture that someone took while they were on their visit in Zion.  We decided to go to Utah for our honeymoon.  It was pretty amusing to see people’s reaction whenever they would ask where we were going for our  honeymoon. “What the heck is in Utah?”

Actually, Utah left a VERY good impression on us.  We stopped by a city called “Hurricane”.  The people were so friendly there.   At a Walgreens when we were checking out the lady behind the counter shouted to another lady to grab her coupon book then next thing we know she was pulling coupons left and right and saved us some money with our purchase!  I mean, who does that?!

Zion was absolutely beautiful. It’s one of those places where you HAVE to see it in person to appreciate its beauty.  These pictures that I took with my old Samsung camera just doesn’t do the place justice.  We will most likely visit again in the future.   When we do I hope to be able to get my endurance up by then.  Those hiking trails kicked my butt back then!  We were a little concerned that there would be a lot of tourists considering that it was summertime.  It wasn’t too crowded at all.  We did stop by the Grand Canyon as well however I must say personally I was more impressed with Zion.

We love visiting state parks and don’t mind spending the money to stay at each one.  Some day I would love to say that I’ve visited ALL of them.

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Languavel – An online community established for language and travel enthusiasts.

10000 I wanted to talk about Languavel.  It is a forum community that my friend Cierra and I have established in hopes of catering to language and travel enthusiasts all over the world.  When Cierra invited me to join her in this venture back in October of last year I was delighted to find out that we share the same interests which ultimately became Languavel. (She gets all the credit for that catchy name!) Today we hit an amazing milestone – we now have over 10,000 posts in our forum community.  To have this many posts in a forum that has been open for less than a year is such a huge accomplishment.  Every day people log in to talk about various topics.  I am so proud to be part of this amazing forum. We have many plans and hopes for Languavel and we’re just trying to iron out the details.  If this sounds interesting to you – I invite you to join us!  http://forum.languavel.net