Tag Archives: Minnesota

Happy New Year: Reflecting On 2012


Once again I find myself sitting in a plane flying at 30,000 feet reflecting on the past year. It’s crazy to me that it’s already 2013, I mean, what happened to 2012? Let’s take a moment and look back at the year in the life of “J Fed.”

As many of you know, Karen and I moved to Portland, Oregon back in October of 2011. That means 2012 was our first full year living on the West Coast. The best way to describe it would be to say it’s been a year of exploring and learning. We’ve made new friends, tried new restaurants, visited new places, and most of all, made new memories together. We’ve also been called Hotel Feder, as we’ve been fortunate enough to have many friends and family come to visit us in our new home.

The Cottage

I somehow managed to finagle my way to the cabin back in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota quite a few times. My time on Lake Melissa was well spent with a healthy amount of waterskiing, fishing, and relaxing on the boat. Karen and I managed to spend a week there together which was very nice, and yes, Otto came as well. My sister, Karen, and I also surprised my parents at the cabin for their 30th anniversary with an unannounced visit, along with a small gathering of their lake friends. The look on their faces when the three of us walked into that cabin was priceless.

The Car Connection's Six-Month Road Test Hyundai Veloster

Karen and I took our first ever (and if you ask her, last) cross-country road trip this past summer. The vehicle of choice was The Car Connection’s Six-Month Road Test Hyundai Veloster. That’s right, we drove from Portland, Oregon to Minneapolis, Minnesota in an Orange Hyundai Veloster. We also made a stop at Yellowstone National Park, along with Iowa to visit her family, and of course the cabin in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. All in we drove about 3,000 miles during the trip. I thought it was fun, Karen said we made memories, and Otto was just along for the ride.

Joel and Karen in Israel

Karen and I managed to get away this year in the form of a 10 day trip to Israel. We went on Birthright together, and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. We did it all, from riding camels and swimming in the Dead Sea, to hiking Mount Masada and visiting the Western Wall. Memories were made, friendships were formed, and life experiences were had.

This past August marked my second year working at High Gear Media. While my title hasn’t changed from Social Media Manager, I’ve taken on a whole new host of responsibilities. From managing our videos and being our front man with OEMs and marketing agencies, to helping test iOS apps and brainstorming new concepts, there’s never a dull moment. I’m looking forward to even more responsibility and new assignments in 2013.

JD Power Automotive Marketing Round Table 2012

I know you’re patiently waiting for an update on the furriest member of our household, the one and only Otto. We’ve lost count of which Mr. Fox we are on at this point, but it doesn’t seem to matter as Otto always appears to enjoy destroying him. Otto’s continued his travels, and at this point would likely have quite a few doggy air miles, if such a thing existed. Karen reminded me that this year Otto made his first trip to a pumpkin patch. He was a bit intimidated at first, but after a few minutes he decided it was safe to run around all the round things on the ground.

Otto in Pumpkin Patch Karen, Nonnie, and Joel

We had planned to spend Thanksgiving with friends down in California, but unfortunately we ended up making a trip home as my grandmother passed away at the age of 92 years old. She was the matriarch of our family, and the void she’s left can not be filled. She was an amazing woman who taught me so many things. She will never be forgotten.

The silver lining in her passing was that we were able to spend Thanksgiving with our family back in Minneapolis. Everyone really did pull together, and we tried to make the best of it. It was nice to be with family.

I know about this time last year I promised that this blog would receive more attention. If you spend even a few moments on this site, you’ll see that promise was broken. I swear it wasn’t really a lie, but merely something I just couldn’t deliver on in the end. Between work and my personal life, the blog has received less attention. It comes down to a mere lack of time, rather than a lack of motivation. As we go into the new year I won’t be promising that this blog will return to its former glory multiple posts every week, but I can say I’d like to see myself post here more frequently. We’ll see what happens.

While not as many changes in my life as 2011 (moving across the country, getting married, getting a different car, selling a car, etc), I would overall put 2012 in the win pile. It was a great year with some terrific memories.

So once again I find myself wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.

Get Ready Minneapolis, Fiat Is Coming To Town

Luther Automotive group announced today that it will be the exclusive dealer for Fiat in the state of Minnesota. The first dealership will be located in Brooklyn Park and will open its doors in April.

In other news, you will soon be able to purchase a Fiat 500 in Minnesota. The two nice looking ladies in the above picture are not an available option.

Soon after the launch of the 500, we will see Fiat bring the Cabriolet and hi-strung Abarth versions to our nice country. An EV 500 is also in the cards for the near future.

Should MINI be scared? That is yet to be determined, but the Abarth version should be a hot little number.


Minnesota Gumball – Oh Yea, We Have One

So turns out that Minnesota has it’s own Gumball run.  Who knew!?  This event was created last year and is planned as a yearly event.  MN Gumball run offers the only road rally event spanning the entire state of MN (rally distance = 700+ miles) for one amazing day in the beauty of Minnesota’s fall.  Beginning the evening before with Large Party Downtown, tech inspection in morning, ending with car show, prizes and THE FINAL CRUISE

Date Sept 25th

  • Pre-registration involves insurance waiver, proof of car insurance and drivers license
  • Distance 700+ miles around state, last year was Northern, this year, N. Central, SW, SE and S.Central.

Four different categories in which to compete-

  • First to Scene – As stated, the first to arrive at destination will be rewarded.
  • Gas Sipper – The most fuel efficient team throughout the run.
  • Spirit of the Run – The team who perseveres the most throughout the journey’s tough 700 mile run.
  • Cleanest Wheels – There will be a car show at the end-point of the run, this is where prep work and pit stops may come into play.

Two drivers per team though additional members can be added. Cost of event is $1,500…NOW by open invitation as opposed to last year.

To RSVP or for more information email mngumball@yahoo.com

Focus of event is on pit stop strategy, navigation and longevity in day, not to mention having fun…

Roads were chosen for specific reasons.  This will be a scenic drive through MN fall to embrace our state.
Prizes will be contingent on how many people we have participating.

MN UNDERGROUND DOES NOT ENCOURAGE ANY LAWS TO BE BROKEN, this is a rally/navigational event, with no awards presented for time of completion.

At last year’s event, over $20,000 was given away in prizes!
EVENT IS OPEN TO ALL U.S. Citizens, with majority of participants hailing from our great state

They are trying to plan out a huge ripper downtown to kick off event and then people can officially pay then…hopefully a week before event.
Beginning in Bloomington, Minneapolis direction.

Cars & Café – September 4, 2010

Another month has come and gone which means it is time for yet again another Cars & Café.  Unfortunately this month the Saturday happened to fall on the holiday weekend known as Labor Day.  Most people in Minnesota that have a cabin know Labor Day weekend as a work weekend and I fall into that category.  As I was cleaning up boats, many auto enthusiasts in Minneapolis were gathering for coffee and doughnuts.  Oh and there were cars as well.

The weather was gorgeous (where as last month is was *ahem* crappy) and the cars flowed in.  Luckily for us my friends Ross and Alex Bellus both were in attendance reporting back.

The good is a long list this month.  The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake made an appearance again as did the Aston Martin DB7 Vantage.  The Bentley Continental SuperSport made an appearance along with three Porsche GT3 RS’s.  These are all super but the Mazda Miata with a LS3 V8 shoved in it, well that really takes a special place in my heart.  The amount of awesomeness that oozes from that is off the charts.

I’m told little to no head scratching vehicles made an appearance, so I will just have to take the word that there were few.  I did hear about a VW Golf that had digital camouflage (what!?).  Also, the above VW something or another that was chopped and had a small bed welded on on the back made an appearance.  Oh and that VW something or another had full hydraulics in the front which the owner lowered down once parking.  Also a BMW had a very unique sound system in the trunk that payed homage to BMW’s M division.

From the Super Seven to the Yenko Camaro, the cars were all there and the weather cooperated.  Many thank’s to Ross and Alex Bellus for providing the photo’s.  Until next month when the enthusiasts gather again for a cup of coffee and doughnuts, oh and the cars.

Photography- Alex Bellus and Ross

First Drive – 1967 Ford Mustang: The Sun Bums Mustang

This past weekend I had the honor of driving the Sun Bum’s 1967 Ford Mustang convertible.  You see the Sun Bum’s own a cabin across the road from my family’s cabin up in Northern Minnesota.  I have eyed this yellow 67′ Mustang from afar ever since I was a kid.  When I was old enough to cross the road alone, I ventured over and stuck my nose to the glass, gawking at the leather and vinyl interior.

This summer Sandy (the owner of the 67′) walked over to me and said “You wanna drive it?”  I of course said the words I have waited to say since I was a little kid – YES!  This past weekend Sandy ran an errand and when she came back she pulled the Sun Bum’s 67′ Mustang into our driveway and honked the horn three times.  I was down the road talking to a family friend.  Immediately looking at him, he knew and said “Go.”

As I slid into the drivers seat, I got goosebumps.  I’ve stared at this car for years from across the road.  The interior is all original!  The seats are *ahem* cushy with little to no lateral support.  The dashboard has no cracks nor did the seats.  The door panels were in terrific condition.  We lowered the windows, turned up the tunes on the radio (oldies of course) and we hit the road.  Sandy was wearing a sun hat and I had a big stupid smile on my face.

Sandy had a lone speaker in front of the automatic shifter.  Yes, this Mustang is an automatic and yet I still enjoyed myself.  Sure I wouldn’t have minded a third pedal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Regardless we hit the road and the engine purred.  As I mentioned, the car isn’t rebuilt but the engine is. This is a rebuilt 289 which replaced the original 289 V-8.  With only two rust spots on the whole car, the thing is cherry.

The V-8 isn’t powerful enough to snap the rear end loose off the line, but she’ll go.  We got onto a two lane highway and hit about 60.  But honestly, between the wind noise and the sloppy steering, it felt much faster.

Oh that sloppy steering? It probably had the loosest steering I have ever driven, yet I didn’t care.  We cruised around a local lake and then through town.  As we headed back to the cabin I noted the similarities between this 1967 Mustang and the new 2011 Mustang.  From the dual cowl dash and two main round gauges, to the lines on the exterior.  The bloodline seems to have continued and the new Mustang is still a true thoroughbred.  Back to the Sun Bum’s 67′.

Sandy and her husband named themselves the sun bums due to living in Mexico sixty percent of the year and the rest in Northern Minnesota.  This weekend was a work weekend at the cabin, what with pulling boats and starting to close up for Labor Day, which is a mere week away.  But a car I have admired from afar and up close alike, I finally had the opportunity to drive. And that my friends made the weekend special.

Ford Ranger Plant in Minnesota Still Set to Close

We have all heard from sometime that the Ford Ranger plant here in Minnesota is going to close.  Some wondered if the recent tax breaks that went into effect in April would keep the plant open.  The Detroit News reported yesterday that Ford officials met with Governor Tim Pawlenty to discuss the future of the St. Paul plant.  The plant only builds the Ranger which has been slated for death for quite some time now.  With the F150 continuing to get more and more fuel efficient, the Ranger’s role is becoming less necessary.  Despite meeting with the Governor and the recent tax breaks, Ford continues to say they plan to shutter the plant.  The date of closing has not been given though neither has the death date of the Ranger.  I am betting those two dates will be somewhat close to each other when revealed in the future.  It has been said numerous times that the new larger Ranger that will be sold around the world will not be sold in North America.

Source- The Detroit News

Minnesota Dodge Viper Club Gathers at Waconia Dodge

This past Saturday the Minnesota Viper Club gathered at Waconia Dodge to show off their toys.  My friend Ross was on hand to report on the mayhem.  At least 2o Vipers showed up (probably more he lost count) and most were unique.  Vipers are a unique type of beast, brash and unforgiving they will bite you and leave the venom so you will never forget.  Everything from a chromed out engine bay to a custom painted interior nothing was too out there.  A few were up front about the fact that they tracked the cars regularly, which is as it should be.  Enjoy the mini gallery and drool at the V10 awesomeness.

Photography- Ross Meuffels

SPOTTED – Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine!

That is right folks!  Over the weekend I spotted The Mystery  Machine right here in Minnesota.  While Scooby Doo and the crew were no where to be seen the woman and child inside the van seemed to enjoy the attention.  Funny because I spotted them again later  in the afternoon on the highway.  Oh one last thing, I am no expert but I am fairly certain The Mystery Machine was not a Dodge….

The Minneapolis Boat Show

Most people do not know it but Minnesota has the highest boat per capita in the United States.  Further then that Minnesota boats have the lowest average hours used on those boats in the United states.  It all stems from us having so much water (i.e. Land of 10,000 Lakes) which leads many people either to have a cabin up north or just enjoy time out on a lake somewhere during the summer months.  The reason we have the lowest average hours on those boats is simple, we have a short summer.  Since we have so many boats/boaters the Minneapolis Boat Show is one of the best places for boat sales men to meet quotas.  Many of the sales people on the floor at the show actually told me that this show is where they sell the most boats out of the entire year.

When I started this blog I said I would write about anything with a spark plug.  The first comment I got back was, well diesel engines do not have spark plugs.  To that I say touché.  I also say boats have engines, some of them massive, and those engines have spark plugs so here goes.

I ran into Cydney at the show!

There were many vendors as well as boats at the show.  The state of our economy was evident a the show most noticeably some prominent OEM manufactures were absent due to bankruptcy filings.  These included Crestliner, Lund, Glastron, and many more.  One of the first things that struck me as I was walking the show floor is the jet skis.  When I was a kid jet skis were quickly becoming popular.  Years ago they were  truly personal water craft.  Sure some said they fit three but that was in a pinch.  Now these things are literally huge!  If you saw a jet ski from 15 years ago next to a brand new one you would be shocked at how much they have grown in mass.  Along with the mass is the engine.  The average jet ski in 1995 would top out around 45-50 mph.  That was fast enough for a recreational small water craft.  Now if you buy a jet ski they can top out at over 80-90 mph!!  I ride jet skis during the summer and know exactly what people do when on them including full throttle 360’s.  I do not know if doing a 360 at 80 mph would be considered safe.  I can throw myself off a jet ski doing a 360 at full throttle as it is, now if I was going twice as fast, I could imagine a trip to the emergency room or worse.  I can see on open water why going fast in a straight line would be useful, but I know what many people do on jet skis and this could get dangerous!

Blown Small Block V8

Like cars many people buy old boats and restore them.  One company in particular that stood out to me was Shipwreck Boat Repair.  They had a 1990 Donzi Classic 18 on display that had been fully restored.  With a small block V8 that had been completely redone including a pro charger supercharger.  This engine had already been hooked up to a dyno and is putting out 575 hp with 11 lbs of boost after all modifications and restoration.  A mere four months and now the boat is gorgeous and looks like new.  With a great white on blue color scheme the boat is terrific looking.  The total bill came to $30,000 for the restore including the engine.  While some of you may think that is a ton of cash on a boat, you do not even want to know what a new Donzi would cost.

1990 Donzi Classic 18

Many thanks to Cydney Wuerffel for taking the video.

The show had more then just boats and jet skis.  Two huge tanks of water were set up with ramps in between them.  This was used for wake board shows.  Top professionals were on hand doing multiple shows for crowds.  Using a machine to tow them through the first tank they would launch off the ramps doing flips, twits, and much more only to land in the second tank.  It was a very cool extra to have at the show.

The Screen in between the Tachometer and Speedometer has the Video Camera Feed

The biggest trend I saw at the show was technology.  Many manufactures seemed to be working hard to incorporate technology into their boats in any way possible.  I saw one ski boat that had a small camera in the wakeboard/ski rope tower at the top.  The camera relayed a feed straight to the center console between the tachometer and the speedometer.  This allows the driver to see what is going on behind the boat.  I can only assume this video can also be recorded and taken off the boat for use on a computer.  Another use of technology was having the same screen in the same spot on other boats but without the camera.  The screen would be used for GPS navigation or radio functions.  As a tech guy I love the idea that these manufactures are trying new ways to incorporate technology into the boating experience.  The camera idea, just pure genius.  What an easy way to video tape yourself or a buddy water skiing or wake boarding.

The last thing I wanted to note was the marketing of the show.  This year the Minneapolis Boat Show struck a personal cord with me.  They embraced social media.  I saw someone retweet them and instantly started following the account.  Upon digging further I saw they had a Facebook fan page.  When I walked into the show the first thing I was greeted with was a sign proclaiming that the Minneapolis Boat Show was on Twitter and has a Facebook fan page.  This to me is great.  Showing that they are trying to embrace new ways to not only market but to engage with the consumer.

The show overall had many people in attendance.  I saw everyone from young couples to families.  At about the price of a movie ticket, the boat show was a great way for people to get out and do something different.