Death Valley - Enter At Your Own Risk!
It's the hottest and deadliest national park in America, and it kicked the crap out of this road warrior.
Corny Roadside Attractions
Are they worth the trip? I visit three big ones in one day - the Mitchell Corn Palace, the world's largest ball of twine, and the world's largest frying pan.
I've already learned these lessons on the road so you don't have to. Tips for both personal and business travel.
I got my kicks on Route 66! It wasn't all perfect -- see what happened to me along the way.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 17, 2013
I'm on the road once again! This time it's all for pleasure (well, for the most part). Some might say that I went a little too far for this road trip, but to be totally honest, I've done so much traveling that I have to try something different this time. So what did I do, you might ask? Even though I normally take the road less traveled (both literally and figuratively), most of the roads that I drive down are asphalt or concrete, so this time I decided that I need to take the road hardly ever traveled. What is hardly ever traveled? Dirt, rock, boulders, streams, and other obstacles that most mortal cars cannot even dream about taking on. Yes, I'm going off road -- way way off-road!
In fact I even purchased a new vehicle to tackle this unknown terrain -- a 2013 Lexus LX 570. I know, I know... most hardcore off-roaders use tricked out Jeeps along with an occasional Humvee, but this vehicle has to also double for my day job. And although I wish they still made H1s, I don't think they would blend too well in the parking lot of my next executive meeting. Besides, the Lexus is basically the luxury version of the Toyota Land Cruiser -- one of the most respected and capable off-road vehicles on the planet.
The off-roading is a little later in my trip which will actually begin once I hit the Rocky Mountains and continue with planned trails in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, California, and Utah. I'm starting this epic six week excursion with my most favorite road in America -- Route 66! I'm also testing out some new road warrior equipment along the way. The piece of gear that interests me the most in seeing how it does on a cross country road trip is a ham radio. After reading countless forums and articles about off-roading, I started to see a trend -- most people use CBs and ham radios for communications on the trail and for emergencies. Ham radio, when used through what is called a repeater or repeater system (a big antenna on a mountain that amplifies and rebroadcasts your signal for you), can literally reach hundreds of miles. That is something that can come in real handy when broken down or stuck in the middle of the desert or at 12,000 feet up a mountain with no cell service and no way to drive out. So a few a weeks before this trip, I purchased a book and began studying for my amateur radio license exam, passing it just a week before I left. I will definitely write more on ham radio and will give my honest opinion of it as I use it.
Although I'm not looking to tackle the Rubicon trail, I do plan on doing a little more than gravel parking lots and three inch puddles. I'm going to clearly admit that I've never done any serious off-roading before, so as I see it, I'm going into this trip with adventure already written all over it! I'm not going in blind though. I've read every book I can get my hands on about the subject, and I've watched countless hours of videos. I've read forums and blogs, and I've accumulated the proper gear which includes: a tire deflator, air pump, tire repair kit, shovel, spare 5 gallons of gas, emergency provisions, first aid kit, heavy duty tow strap, my radios, and a few other things that I can't think of at the moment. I just know that I have two milk crates full of stuff, and I should be covered for about 80% of what I might encounter. I am missing a very important piece of off-road gear though -- a winch. But let's me honest here, I'm not going to rip off the bumper of a $100,000 SUV just to stick a winch on that I probably wont use at all. If I get stuck, I have some Powerbars to snack on while I wait for help after I call them on my radio.
At this point, some people are probably thinking that I'm a moron. How am I going to do some serious off-roading with zero experience? Who the hell does that?!? Normally, I would agree that it's a stupid idea especially when rolling the truck off a mountain is a real possibility, but that is where I am hoping technology helps me. The 570 has some serious off-road technology built into it that has received rave reviews from all over the world. I've watched some pretty amazing videos of what this SUV and it's cousin, the Land Cruiser, can do. I'm really hoping the computers pick up the slack here and help this inexperienced driver. With crawl control, locking differentials, height adjustment, turn assist, adjustable suspension, and exterior cameras -- this thing should be like playing a video game all the way up to 12,000 feet. I seriously can't wait!
So the adventure begins. The gear is packed, the gas tank is full, and I have nothing but untamed miles ahead of me. I have no set schedule and no exact destination. It's just me, some fellow adventurers, and the LX. It's going to be one hell of a ride this time. I swear nothing beats an old fashioned road trip!
Jul 8, 2013
The CB Radio: Short Range Communications for the Traveler, Road Warrior, Truck Driver, or All around Adventurer
The open road can be a magical place. From dense cities to vast openness, nothing says adventure like getting into your car and driving off to places that you've never been before. Anything can happen along the way from seeing beautiful sights, taking incredible pictures, tasting great local food, to even worse -- getting a speeding ticket, flat tire, or totally breaking down. For those that travel all over the US, you probably already know the lack of cell phone coverage in many areas. And for those that are new to traveling, believe me when I tell you that your cell phone is nothing more than a fancy paperweight in many areas of this country. What would you do if you broke down in the middle of the night on a deserted stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere and you reach for your phone only to see "no service" on the screen? It's a scary thought for many people. In fact it's a common opening scene in many horror movies, and I doubt it's a scene you'd want to experience firsthand. The good news is that you don't have to experience it. The technology is already there to save you from no cell service and more! First up, and the topic of this post, is the Citizen Band radio, aka the CB!
I know, I know... Images of Smokey and the Bandit just flashed though your mind. I used to think the CB was dead along with vinyl records and 8 track cassette tapes, but I quickly found out that wasn't the case once I started becoming a hardcore traveler. Go to any truck stop and look around. You are bound to see an entire section dedicated to nothing but CB radios. Why is that? Well that's simple -- it's the preferred communication system of truck drivers everywhere. They use them to chat with one another when they are bored, to alert other truck drivers of road hazards, traffic jams, detours, and even "bears" (better known to us "4 wheelers" as the police). Having a CB is like being wired into the road and knowing everything that is happening around you. They even give you current local weather reports at a push of a button! CBs typically have a range of 5-10 miles, depending on the terrain. They are also dirt cheap. One can find CB radios for less than $50 -- even the most expensive stock CB is less than $200. And they last forever. Buy one today and you'll still be using it in 20 years -- the technology doesn't change. Here's a great video I saw on YouTube today; go ahead and push play real quick to learn a little more about CBs and then "I'll catch you on the flip flop" back here:
- A CB Radio. Skip the handheld CBs. They look nice but the range is horrible. Glass is an insulator to radio waves: you'll be lucky to transmit a quarter mile with a handheld CB in your car. Just save yourself the money and forget about them totally. Purchase any Cobra or Uniden CB radio. They make larger full sized ones to extremely compact ones. I've purchased more radios that I would like to admit over the past couple of years. I currently have a Uniden Bearcat 980SSB installed in my car and I couldn't be happier. I absolutely love it and recommend it wholeheartedly. The rest of my radios are now collecting dust, and I have no urges to go out and buy any others.
- A Mount. You will need to mount your CB radio. You can't have it sliding all around on your floor or seat. I don't know about you, but I drive a very expensive luxury car and there is no way in hell I'm drilling any holes anywhere. This took me a while to figure out, but I finally found an easy solution. Once you pick out your radio, also buy a "Workman CB Saw Tooth Hump Mount." This will allow you to install your CB and place it on the floor in the mount (it's like a stand). Place it either on the front passenger side floor or right behind the center console on the backseat floor like I did. I just reach my hand back to work it. Trust me, it works like a charm. Just buy it and figure out where you want it. It's $8.99 on Amazon, so you have no excuses not to. It is a universal mount that works with all CBs. If you do actually want to mount the CB directly to your dash, no need to buy anything -- they come with mounting brackets from the factory.
- Cigarette Lighter Adapter. You definitely need one of these unless you want to wire your CB directly to your car's battery. Trust me, the thought of doing all that work scares me too, so just purchase a "CB Cigarette Power Adapter." The power cords are the same for both Cobra and Uniden radios so you don't have to worry about buying the correct cord. If it works for one, it will work for the other. You can now power your CB simply by plugging it into the cigarette lighter in your car. It couldn't be easier!
- Antenna. This topic is bound to start arguments wherever you go. I'm going to keep this real simple. I have purchased over a dozen antennas already. I'm going to save you a lot of heartache and money: just buy an antenna called the "Little Wil magnet mount antenna" which is made by Wilson Antennas. It is a small antenna that has a magnetic base. It is about the same size as any AM/FM antenna that you would see on a car today. You can attach it to your trunk or roof and take it off when you're done. You can also just leave it there forever -- the magnet is pretty strong and it shouldn't scratch your car at all. In fact I have a magnet mounted antenna on my car as I type this. The antenna comes with a cable and it plugs directly in the back of your CB. No guessing needed.
- SWR Meter. I don't want to scare any new CBers here. So trust me when I say that installing a CB is not that serious. It's about as hard as installing an Xbox in your living room. There's just one slight exception -- a CB antenna needs to be "tuned." You tune a CB antenna by checking it with a meter called a SWR meter and moving the antenna up or down in its mount to lengthen or shorten it. (For the experts that want to chime in, I'm keeping the language real basic here on purpose). You have three options here:
- Do nothing and your antenna should be pretty close out of the box. It's very rare that a Little Wil needs major adjusting. If you ask me, skip this option and pick one of the other options below. I would never run a CB antenna that wasn't tuned, but let's be honest here, even a bad option is still an option; however, this one is not recommended at all.
- Buy a SWR meter, watch some YouTube videos on the subject and go tune it yourself (it takes about 5 minutes with the meter).
- THIS IS WHAT I STRONGLY RECOMMEND FOR SOMEONE NEW TO CBs: Install everything in your car the way you like it and then stop at the first truck stop you see and ask someone behind the counter to help you check the SWRs on your CB for you. You can also do a search and see if there are any local CB shops near you (they can do this as well). They will tune your antenna for you for free or next to free and then you're good to go! One important note though -- Every CB should be tuned so you get the maximum range out of it. Yes, if the SWRs are high, it will still work. But you might only get 1 mile range out of it when you could be getting 5-10 miles. You can also potentially damage a radio with a poorly tuned antenna. Please make sure you get it tuned properly or you will think your CB is a piece of junk that doesn't work. At the very least, there are truck stops every 50 miles or so on every single major interstate. There is no excuse not to have a properly tuned CB. And never ever hit the transmit button without an antenna installed -- you can damage your radio.
- Channel 19 is the universal "trucker" channel. If you're cruising on the interstate, channel 19 is where you want to be.
- Channel 9 is for emergencies only! Do not transmit on channel 9 unless it's an emergency. In many areas, channel 9 is monitored by the police, but that's slowly becoming a thing of the past. If you get in a jam, try 9 and if you get no response, start calling for help on 19. A trucker will pick up your call somewhere and help you out.
- Channel 6 is called the Superbowl, and the same people that broadcast on channel 6 also broadcast on channel 11. To me it's just a bunch of idiots with highly modified and powerful (illegal) radios shouting like morons. Tune in for yourself and see. You'll hear them all over the country. These are NOT your typical CB users.
- The rest of the channels are used by everyone for whatever you want. When you start off I suggest scanning the channels and just listening to conversations for a while. Learn the lingo. When I travel I save every channel into memory except channel 6 and 11, and I let the radio do what is called a memory scan (this prevents my radio from constantly stopping on channel 6 and 11 and hearing the idiots with the "big radios"). If there's an interesting conversation somewhere, I stop on that channel and listen, occasionally chiming in here and there. How I run my radio is just a suggestion, but I found it works for me. Play around with yours and have fun.
- Learn how to use your squelch knob properly. Turn the radio on and to where you just hear static. Slowly turn your squelch knob until the static is muted. Now your radio will only make noise when someone transmits something. There is no need to listen to static for hours. And if you are ever in doubt, YouTube has plenty of videos!
Jun 18, 2012
I walked back to my car inspired. I realize in life everyone can't be anything they want to be just like we all aren't born equal. We are all born with our own unique talents. If Elvis stayed a truck driver, I'm sure he wouldn't have been the best truck driver in the world. Find your talent, develop it, and let it take you as far as it can. Who knows, someday you might have your own Graceland.
I had an incredible time visiting, and I know my mother did too (even if she wouldn't openly admit it)! If you find yourself anywhere near Memphis in your travels, take a day and go visit. You don't have to be an Elvis fan to appreciate Graceland. I promise you that you won't be disappointed.
Jun 12, 2012
I have to be honest here: I'm not a huge Elvis fan. I mean his music is definitely good, and he has plenty of style, but he was a little before my time. I do respect the fact that he is the King of Rock and Roll, and I believe it's the history and hype of Elvis that is drawing me in to his world a little bit. It is very safe to say that Graceland is on the list of things to see while I'm here!
Another search on my trusty phone turned up a more familiar song that I've heard before, Walking in Memphis. I like this song too and listened to it a few times in a row, studying the sights of the city and trying to figure out other points of interest I might want to check out:
This truly is an incredible song. Regardless of what genre you listen to, one has to appreciate the composition and delivery of this track. It's filled with history, meaning, and emotion, and it just makes me hit the replay button every time I hear it. Memphis has to be proud of this one!
After watching a couple videos, I developed my game plan. You have to realize that it's not like I travel for vacation, so I have to plan the little free time I have wisely. I decided to stay through Saturday instead of my usual Friday so I can take my time exploring Graceland. Unbeknownst to me Memphis is also the barbecue capital of the world, so you know for damn sure my ass is putting on five pounds at the local BBQ joints here this week. In fact, ribs are the menu tonight (and probably every night while I'm in town)! I'm also going to walk around Beale Street and take in the local sights and sounds. Now if only I didn't have to work...
Apr 5, 2012
So there I was sitting behind a desk in Fort Lauderdale thinking to myself how cool it would be to find wild alligators while I'm in Florida. I turned to my travel companion for the week, Chi, and told him my plan: "I'll go to the store and buy some meat because everyone knows that alligators eat meat. Then I'll research where we can find wild alligators, and we'll drive out there and feed them. While we are feeding them, we can snap a few pictures and check another thing off that never ending bucket list of ours. If we are really lucky, maybe we can grab one and hold it while we take pictures!" He looked at me in amazement without saying a word. This expression of amazement was not the kind of amazement that is like "wow, that is a brilliant idea" amazement, but more like "wow, what kind of f'n idiot says things like this" amazement. I told him not to worry -- I have spent years watching the Discovery channel, and I think I know enough to keep us safe. He said nothing and just continued to look at me with that dumbfounded expression.
After many hours of convincing him that this truly is an incredible worthwhile idea, we finished up our day early so we could head off for our alligator hunt. I found the Everglades in my navigation system and we drove off without a second thought. Armed with two pounds of pepperoni, a couple flashlights, our cell phones, and a pocket knife, we entered the Everglades filled with anticipation.
This was the first sign greeting us as we entered the Everglades. I actually snapped the picture without reading it or noticing how big the alligator was on that sign. I learned a lesson here -- READ THE SIGNS!
As we drove down a dirt road deeper into the abyss, the sun started setting. We passed another sign. I read this one simply because the lettering was so large, but I can honestly say I didn't pay any attention to it:
Last chance? Last chance for what? To turn around? There seems to be a lot of hoopla about these alligators. I remember thinking these alligators are probably just like the bears in Yellowstone -- non-existent to the casual tourist.
We continued down the bumpy dirt road foregoing our last chance to go back to civilization. The vegetation around us slowly got thicker and thicker. At times the vegetation was like a solid wall filled with gigantic palm leaves and other interesting trees that I have never seen before. We came to a clearing a few miles down and I stopped the car. "We might be able to spot an alligator here," I said. We were surrounded by water on both sides of us with just a thin strip of dirt road between the two large pond-like openings. It was now dark, so we had to use the flashlights as we exited from the safety of our vehicle. We both walked slowly to the water's edge -- I was on the drivers side, and he was on the passenger side. I walked slowly, listening for alligators (I say this like I actually know what I'm doing. I honestly have no idea what alligators sound like, but I just know that it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time). I was standing at the water's edge with the flashlight pointed at the treeline in the distance about 25 yards out across the water. I stood there scanning the water, straining my eyes in the darkness hoping to catch a glimpse of an alligator. I saw nothing but lightning bugs. I panned my flashlight from left to right, as if I was vacuuming the water with it, working it closer and closer to me with every pass. I assume Chi was doing the same thing on his side of the road.
As I scanned the water, I remember feeling a little disappointed because I felt that we wouldn't see any alligators. It was almost the same feeling I felt in Yellowstone when I didn't see any Grizzly bears when I wanted to. I brushed off the lurking disappointment and concentrated on the narrow beam of light projecting out from my hand. I started to feel a little hope and anticipation as the light slowly scanned across the water, but I figured that the night has just begun and I couldn't reasonably expect to find an alligator the very first time I stopped my car.
The light was now three feet out and closing towards me. "Ahh, there are no alligators here," I mumbled to myself. As I dropped the flashlight to my side I saw the most terrifying thing I have ever seen in my life. I stood there for a second trying to make sense of what was happening. I remember exactly what went through my head at that moment: "What the... What the fuck is... OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!" I let out a scream as I jumped back in terror. "Get over here! Get the hell over here!!!" I screamed out loud at the top of my lungs. There I stood, staring down a seven foot gator inches from me.
Our eyes were locked on each other. I was thinking how the hell do I get away when he decides to attack, and he was probably thinking which part of me he wanted for dinner and which part he wanted to save for desert. I have to say that that was the first time I was ever scared that I could actually be eaten. Fearing death is one thing, but fearing being eaten alive is whole other thing. It's a weird feeling to have. I felt helpless in a way and in control in another. At any moment this gator could have lunged at me and went for the kill. I truly believe he would have the upper hand here, for this is his territory. I knew that once he digs into my leg and hits an artery I would have minutes at most to live before I bled out, that is if he didn't pull me into the water first for that infamous death roll. On the other hand, part of me felt in control because although he is more powerful than me, I am smarter (I think) and hopefully I could control the situation. Either way, neither one of us were backing down. We both stood our ground staring at each other in the eye.
There aren't too many wild animals in America that refuse to back down from humans. It's calming to know that when a you walk through the woods everything usually runs from you: deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, wolves, almost everything runs except for a select few. These few animals know for a fact that they are a little higher up on the food chain than you. You can clearly see it in their eyes. That pissed off black bear that I encountered in California had that look. The great Bison of the American west have that look. And this scary looking beast inches from me had that same terrifying "don't fuck with me or I will kill you" look. Trust me, the message he was sending was clearly understood.
My partner in crime slowly came across the dirt road to see what I found. He was more cautious than I was. He actually refused to cross towards the water for a moment. I had to scream at him once again: "get the fuck over here!" He crossed cautiously and jumped when he caught his first glimpse of the prehistoric beast.
We cautiously stood there inches from this gator. After the alligator and us realized neither one of us were going to move, we put aside our differences for a moment and calmly stared at each other. It was a surreal moment. It's one thing to see these creatures in a zoo, but to experience them in the wild is whole other thing. It's a rush because your body is on full alert the entire time, for danger could be lurking anywhere. Yes, we saw this guy right here, but then it dawned on me... who else didn't we see? We quickly checked our surroundings a little more carefully now that we knew what we're looking for. That's when shit got real scary.
Previously I thought these strange lights that I was seeing in the Everglades were lightning bugs all around us. I actually didn't pay much attention to them until I met my first gator. It was then that I realized the severity of what I just got us into. It turns out not only do lightning bugs light up, but so do alligator's eyes!!!
We then re-scanned the water and reality quickly sank in. We weren't hunting gators; the gators were hunting us:
This discovery of all these hungry eyes closing in on us immediately brought me to these interesting facts that I had the pleasure of finding out first hand:
1. Searching for wild alligators by yourself without an expert guide is stupid.
2. Do not go into the Florida Everglades carrying 2lbs of fresh meat because alligators have noses.
3 Alligators swim surprisingly fast.
4. There is no such thing as a lone alligator, for they must enjoy hanging out in large stealthy groups which probably number in the hundreds.
5. Alligators are incredibly silent.
6. Alligators do not like fresh pepperoni.
7. Alligators prefer to chase humans over eating pepperoni even if pepperoni is launched in their direction as a distraction to try to escape from being eaten.
8. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your flashlight before you attempt risking your life with prehistoric man-eaters because shit gets extremely scary when you are surrounded by large beasts and everything goes dark.
9. Grown men screaming like little girls miles from civilization do not scare off alligators -- it only worsens the situation.
10. When in doubt, run your fucking ass off quicker than an Olympic gold medalist and lock yourself in a car.
11. Check for pee stains before embarrassing yourself by going back into civilization with wet pants.
Enough said about that. I am retiring my alligator hunter dreams and going back to being a city boy for a little while. My advice? Save your underwear: visit these things in a zoo.
Feb 6, 2012
The one man then turned to me and asked if I have any coins in my pocket. I normally don't have any, but luck must have been on our side because I had visited the vending machine this morning to get an iced tea and was given a single quarter as change. I pulled that shiny almost new quarter out of my pocket and gently set it in his open hand. "We'll leave it up to fate. Heads and he is hired; tails he goes home. Deal?" We all shook our heads in agreement and watched with bated breath as the coin launched high into the air almost touching the ceiling. It sparkled like a diamond underneath the harsh fluorescent lights as it tumbled...
My job is quite satisfying at times. Although for the most part I am employed to teach various classes for organizations, many times I am employed to hire new talent. It is an interesting job. I meet so many different types of people, and I hear all kinds of personal stories along the way. The American Dream is alive and well, and I see nothing but hope and ambition in these people's eyes. I listen to their dreams, from having families to driving Lamborghinis, and for a few of the extremely ambitious and driven ones, I help those dreams become reality.
This week I found myself in New York City. It is a city of big dreams, for anything can happen to anyone here. The population is so diverse -- from homeless to certified billionaires. There aren't too many cities that are as diverse as NYC in the world. With that diversity comes some really rough areas. I met a girl not too long ago that told me her fiance was murdered just by walking down the street -- he was randomly shot in the neck. Gangs are an everyday thing for many. For many people, the only way out of such a harsh environment is to become a thug just like the rest and hopefully move up and move out. You can't be a good boy in a land of monsters, and it is that same attitude that excels someone up the corporate ladder -- if only one could get past that someone's obvious humble beginnings.
This potential new hire has a lot going for him though. Despite his poor grammar, he still has an honest shot in NYC. One doesn't need perfect grammar here. In fact, perfect grammar and pronunciation almost raises red flags. This isn't Harvard Square -- New Yorkers expect a tone of toughness in one's voice. This city tends to eat up weak people: if you want to make it here, you have to go all out. That includes applying for positions way above your current skill set.
...I watched as the coin tumbled. It seemed to hover in the air for a few seconds at the very peak of its arch. On its way down I glanced at their faces. They were just as captivated as I was. The coin hit his palm with force, and he quickly slammed his hand down on the table to reveal this man's fate. It was as if a gavel struck as his slap reverberated around the room. He left his hand over the coin for a second as we all stared in anticipation. Slowly he raised it, and for a brief second I thought I saw George Washington smiling, for this candidate just turned into a new hire. We all laughed. It was a feel good moment. "The gods have spoken," I said, "He's hired!"
Jan 24, 2012
So you have your CCW permit and you're ready to take your trip? Before you decide to head off, you have a few hours of research to do. The very first thing you should do is look up which states have a reciprocity agreement with yours. Believe it or not, all states do not currently recognize each other's CCW permits. To make a long story short, the state Attorney Generals negotiate with each other and decide who they like or don't like and then decide which state permits they will honor and who will honor theirs. To find out which states honor your CCW permit, you can look it up on your state's attorney general's page. Here is a link to Pennsylvania's: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/crime.aspx?id=184
If you are traveling to a state that does not honor your CCW permit, you cannot carry your firearm concealed there (you might be able to open carry -- more on that later). You also must look up all the states that you are traveling through to make sure they honor your permit. For example, If I was to travel from Pennsylvania to Indiana, I must travel through Ohio. Indiana recognizes my PA permit but Ohio does not. This means I must stop at the PA/OH state line and disarm, locking up my firearm and ammunition separately in the trunk (I always carry two small lock boxes so they are there whenever I need them). Once I pass into Indiana I can reload my firearm and rearm myself. Failure to disarm before I hit Ohio could mean a possible felony and jail time even though I am licensed to carry in other states. Bottom line -- if a state does not honor your CCW permit, you cannot conceal carry there at all.
You must also research magazine capacities. In my Pennsylvania to Indiana example, PA does not have any magazine capacity law. My Glock 19 has a 15 round magazine. I also have a factory 33 round magazine which is totally legal in Pennsylvania and Indiana, but it is illegal in Ohio. So if I was traveling through Ohio, I must leave the 33 round magazine either locked up in the trunk or at home. Is this starting to sound confusing? This is why a few hours are required to plan your trip.
So what if I had a Pennsylvania CCW permit and I wanted to carry in Ohio, what do I do? Nothing. I can't carry there. However, I can look up which states Ohio honors and see if any of those states accept CCW applications from non-residents. Well what do you know, Florida happens to be one of those states that accepts non-residents and is allowed in Ohio! I now have to apply for a Florida non-resident permit. Once that permit is received, I can carry in Ohio on my way to Indiana (but I still cannot carry that 33 round magazine). Holding multiple CCW permits is common practice for travelers so we can maximize the amount of states we can travel in. Here are the states I can carry concealed in with my PA CCW permit:
Now look what happened to the map after I received my Florida CCW permit:
If you weren't confused before, you are probably confused now. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to find out all this information, but there are a few sites I can recommend to get you started. The first site I always use is: www.usacarry.com (the maps above). This is an interactive map that will highlight which states honor your CCW permit(s). Just remember that even though a state may honor your permit, it does not mean your firearm is legal there. To dig a little deeper, I then go to www.handgunlaw.us and read through the state laws. If I am still confused, a simple phone call to any police station in the state should answer any remaining questions I have.
Beyond finding out if your permit is honored in any given state, you must also note where you can and cannot carry your firearm. For example, I can carry my firearm in a bar in Pennsylvania, but that is illegal in Ohio. Some states allow open carry and some do not. It is perfectly legal to carry a firearm in plain sight in PA, but it must be concealed in Florida. The site I use to check open carry laws is www.opencarry.org
In some states you must inform an officer that you are carrying when pulled over, while other states have no such requirement. In Ohio I must inform immediately, but in Pennsylvania I don't have to mention it at all. Do you see a trend happening here? Every single state has different laws and you must research and abide by those laws. It basically comes down to the timeless expression "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." Failure to do so can bring drastic life-changing events, including mandatory prison time. This is exactly what has happened to several people recently in New York City.
Ryan Jerome, a former US Marine, traveled to Manhattan and was arrested on September 27th, 2011 when he decided to visit the Empire State Building and tried to check in his firearm. He now faces a mandatory 3.5 to 15 year sentence for carrying a firearm in NYC, even though most of the country honors his Indiana CCW permit.
On December 22, 2011, medical student Meredith Graves traveled to New York City for a job interview from Tennessee. She decided to stop by the World Trade Center memorial and noticed a sign stating "No guns allowed." She immediately asked someone where she can check in her firearm and was arrested on the spot. New York City does not honor her CCW permit. Meredith now faces the same minimum of 3.5 to 15 years in prison and will be labeled a felon if convicted. I'm pretty sure she can kiss her medical career goodbye if that happens.
Fred Vankirk was arrested on January 7th, 2011 for possessing firearms in his NYC hotel room. Fred, 59, from Ohio, is legally allowed to posses and travel with his firearms, although NYC feels that he is not. He now faces the same fate as Meredith and Ryan -- mandatory prison.
These are just a few of the many that are arrested every year for doing something they thought was perfectly legal -- carrying a firearm. I mean, who would have thought that the Second Amendment is not universally understood and recognized by all in America? It is only in our Constitution! Why is it that every single state will honor each other's driver's licenses, but they won't honor each other's CCW permits? In fact, Tennessee recently urged the state of New York to drop the charges on Meredith. They even went as far as to threaten New Yorkers:
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 585
A RESOLUTION urging the State of New York to use common
sense and sound judgment in the disposition of
the case against Meredith Graves.
WHEREAS, on December 22, 2011, Meredith Graves, a registered nurse, fourth-year
medical student, and Tennessean traveled to New York City for a residency interview at
Brookhaven Memorial Hospital on Long Island; and
WHEREAS, while in New York City, the soon-to-be doctor and her husband, Richard
Disharoon, decided to pay their respects to the victims of 9/11 and attempted to enter the
hallowed memorial at Ground Zero; and
WHEREAS, believing the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was still
in effect and possessing a fully authorized license to carry from the great State of Tennessee,
Ms. Graves arrived at the memorial with her .32 caliber pistol stored in her purse, never
imagining the mayhem that would shortly ensue; and
WHEREAS, as she quietly approached the sacred landmark, Meredith Graves caught a
glimpse of a sign, warning, “No Guns Allowed,” and, as any law abiding citizen would do, she
quickly reached out to a security guard and inquired as to the proper procedure for checking a
WHEREAS, the guard directed her to a separate section and explained that she was in
luck because it just happened to be “Law Enforcement Day;” and
WHEREAS, with no reason to be concerned, Ms. Graves followed the guard’s
instructions and respectfully asked a police officer the same question; and
WHEREAS, reacting with undue haste, the officer immediately arrested Meredith Graves
on a weapons-possession charge, and she was subsequently held on a $2,000 bond; and - 2 - 01098550
WHEREAS, despite having no prior criminal record, Ms. Graves must report to court on
March 19, 2012, when these charges will be prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney, who
plans to pursue a conviction on felony gun possession. This serious allegation carries a
minimum sentence of three and one-half years; and
WHEREAS, clearly, this incident was simply an unfortunate misunderstanding and any
attempt to pursue legal action against this devoted health care professional would be a grave
miscarriage of justice; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED
SEVENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE
CONCURRING, that we hereby urge the State of New York to use common sense and sound
judgment in the disposition of the case against Meredith Graves.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we remind the citizens of New York, especially those
residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great State of Tennessee, paying extra
attention to our speed limits.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City.
I feel like we're going back to the times of the North and South here. Why do we have to have states threatening each other over a right bestowed upon us in our constitution? All this might come to an end soon, for there is currently a bill waiting to be voted on in the Senate that was Passed through the House that will force all states to honor other state's permits, just like they do driver's licenses. We'll save H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, and how that would change all the confusion of where one can and cannot carry for my next post. For now, as far as we are concerned here, make sure you plan your trip carefully before heading out with your firearm or you might suffer the same consequences as the few mentioned above. Do not take any website for granted and always double check your information. When in doubt call the police and document everything, including which websites you got your information from and which police officers you spoke to. Cover your ass and have safe travels!