ouray

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It's me doing a little posing while taking a break at the Ouray, Colorado Jeep Jamboree in 1995.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Braving the Cold Is Easy, Even for a South Florida Weenie, With the Right Equipment

Historically, I'm not the kind of guy who has had to give much thought to heated seats, heated outboard mirrors or heated steering wheels in cars. I mean, I lived in South Florida for 25 years, for crying out loud. 

This is what January in South Florida typically looks like.

Admittedly, living for years in an area where the monthly average low for January – historically the coldest month of the year in Palm Beach County – is a balmy 57-degrees can make a winter weenie out of the hardiest of northerners. And that's the low. The average high is 75-degrees. It's small wonder that every time the temp drops below 70, furnaces kick on all over Florida's Gold Coast, as people ransack their closets searching for sweaters and leather jackets they haven't laid eyes on since the last time the mercury dropped to 68-degrees a year earlier.

Needing to don sweat pants rather than swimsuits to sit out by the pool incites whining that echoes all the way to Jacksonville.

I was one of those people – well, except I didn't own a leather jacket then.

The good news for folks in such climes: The cable-knit sweater purchased 10 years ago is still in good shape. That's what happens when you only wear an item three times a year. Even living in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where we do get a winter of sorts – much more of one this year than any in the seven years I've lived here – my winter clothes don't get much of a workout. 

Here I am standing atop a glacier in 1999 or 2000. I still have every piece of clothing in this photo -- including the socks -- and they are all still in very good shape!
I have photos of myself from 15 years ago in cold-weather clothing that I still have. A couple of my sweaters are showing their age, but for the most part, I haven't had to chuck any winter apparel due to wear in two decades.

But we've had some record lows in Greenville this year with temps dipping into the single digits. Thank God, Al Gore invented global warming or we'd really be in deep doodoo. 

The "Great Greenville Blizzard of 2007": It dumped a whopping four inches of snow at my house.
 So, although I went years and years in Florida without ever once wishing the test car I was currently in had a heated steering wheel, or heated seats for that matter, I certainly do now. Of course, I also have to run the furnace, which I never did in South Florida either.

As a recovering South Floridian, I am even a bit more sensitive to temps hovering around the point of freezing. The only thing worse than sliding between the sheets in my bed at night in this kind of weather is sliding into the ice-like slab of a leather car seat when it's 12-degrees outside; followed by grabbing an equally frigid leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Holy snikies that's cold!

A prayer answered: the heated steering wheel and seats buttons in the all-new Kia Cadenza.
 Suddenly I've been converted. Now the first thing I do after climbing behind the wheel of a freshly delivered test car is search for the heated-seat icon imprinted on a toggle. Once I've located that, my search expands to identifying the control for a heated steering wheel – the greatest invention since scoopable cat litter.

I have been very lucky in recent weeks to have had a number of vehicles equipped with both these life-saving features, as well as a few more with just heated seats. 

The 2014 Ram 1500.
 Currently I have a Dodge Ram 1500 with both functions. Last week I had an Audi Q7 crossover with both, overlapping a Kia Cadenza that also had the ability to keep both my hands and keister toasty.

This has become a big deal in my day-to-day living as the temperature remains stubbornly around the freezing mark.

Heated features in cars make me, well, happy.

It takes so little any more.

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