I never forget my first pumping a gas in the USA.
I did what I used to do in Europe: I simply started to pump a gas but it didn't work. Once again - nothing, back and again - nothing. Supreme instead of Plus - the same. What was going on? PREPAY, PREPAY you sucker!
My suggestion: if something is wrong don't dance like crazy around the pump hehe, even don't go to the cashier but READ information on the screen first - look at my picture. Wow, our gas pumps in Poland don't have such screens :-(.
From Brian (Arizonarat) from Phoenix, Arizona:
I am still laughing. Your experience with the fuel pumps made me laugh. I am still trying to teach my elderly mother how to use those gas pumps. The pumps will take AMEX/VISA/MC/most debit cards/private name cards. The screen usually asks if you want to pay with debit or credit. I usually choose credit and I would not be required to use the card as a debit and would avoid having to use my bank provided P.I.N. (a debit and or credit charge both comes from my checking account anyway. Also, many retailers will give you "cash back" from your transaction if using your "debit" card (usually, up to $40.00) with no additional charges! Oddly, if you choose to use that ATM machine for cash it will add a fee with your withdrawal. You did just fine by "pre aying" for your as just another option for ya : ) Also, it is fine to use the cheaper grade of asoline.
I saw the traffic signs with explanation that speed is controlled by an aircraft.
But please, do NOT look for planes while you are driving too fast especially on bends, simply don't drive over the speed limit.
Btw I have never seen/heard any plane driving from Yuma via Tacna to Tucson. Hmm... how high must they fly to be able to mesaure your speed and transfer that info to highway police on the land.
From my friend Al Graichen from Danville, California, USA (Agraichen):
Matt...most of the "air" survailance is done by small planes or helicoppters. Even at 2-4,000 feet they are quite tiny to try to spot...
Thank you for your explanations, Al Graichen :-)
Do not expect great variety of food available in Tacna neither in Food Markt of Chevron gas station nor in Basque Etchea restaurant. Remember, you are in American nowhere!
Ursula was looking for fresh salad in "salad bar" hehe in Basque Etchea and there were only two simply salads to choose from and not of her taste so she decided not to eat them.
It is not so easy to take a good picture in sunny day (are there any others?) in Tacna.
First of all there are BIG contrasts between sun-lighted areas and shadows, look at my bad picture - can you see what's going on in the shadow? Haha, I will tell you: Ursula is washing our car windscreen :-).
My top 5 advices:
1. avoid taking pics in midday, better just after sunrise or before sunset,
2. avoid making pictures with objects of large contrast (white and black) - enlarge my picture to see such pic,
3. use sun filters if possible,
4. use manual white-black balance if possible and if you know how to do it hehe,
5. keep smiling :-))) and follow the links below BEFORE you go to take pictures in southern Arizona.
- Digital Photography Review - the world's best internet service on digital cameras;
- ShortCourses - a complete guide to digital cameras, digital photography, and digital video;
- Digital Photography. The Textbook - for beginners in photography,
- photo.net - one of the world's largest photo portals online.
Have a great fun :-)
I tried to pay for a gas using my credit card but many gas stations don't accept (IN A PUMP) Visa and/or Mastercard. Chevron accepts its own cards in a pump (look at my picture). Surely the other cards are accepted but inside at cashier's.
So, if you want to pay by other cards you must give your card to a cashier (instead of prepay). Hmm... it's NOT secure to give a credit/debit card to anybody so I didn't do it. It seems that Americans pay for a gas by cash as well.
Fortunately there are ATM cash in many gas stations although they often surcharge you a little bit more than other ATMs: they often have limit of $100 for one operation so if you want get more dollars you will be surcharged more times, smart? Hehe.
There are exclusively self service gas stations in Arizona (or I haven't seen any other).
In most of them including that one Chevron in Tacna you must prepay = pay cashier before pumping gas.
I always wanted fuel up my tank full so I prepaid (in cash) more than I expected to spend on a gas. Sometimes, especially in bigger/busy gas stations the cashier gave me a receipt confirming my prepay. After pumping a gas I had to come back to a cashier and give him the receipt to get a change. Not very confortable at least in comparison to Poland and most of Europe, I suppose (NO prepay).
Although I must admit that prepay is the only effective (and cheap) way of preventing gas thefts. Am I wrong?
Look at my picture (wear good glasses and/or enlarge it hehe). The police car standing on the right side of I-8 is watching the traffic and waiting... to help or to punish you hehe.
There were road constructions there (right lane was closed for traffic and there was lower speed limit - 40 mph or so).
I noticed that in such segments (of lower speed limit) on a freeway police often watched the traffic. More: in New Mexico there were traffic signs warning that fines for speeding were double in such places.
There are seperate pumps for diesel in gas stations in the USA (at least at Chevron station in Tacna) - do NOT mistake them.
There are always 3 kinds of gas (surely always unleaded):
1. SUPREME (min. 92 octane)
2. PLUS (min. 89 octane)
3. REGULAR (min. 87 octane)
Any other names?
Hmm... in Europe there is usually 98, 95 and 91 octane gas. Do we have better gas in Europe? I don't think so, probably there is another method of measuring octanes in the USA and Europe. But I don't know, e-mail me please if you know which gas in the USA is which one in Europe?
I didn't know which gas to fuel to my rented Buick Century - I was so excited when I rented it that I forgot to ask. So, I bought PLUS. Did I do right?
Driving I-8 through Telegraph Pass watch for quite sharp bends, do not over-speed, driving uphill watch for slow trucks.
And follow the suggested speed signed on traffic signs before most bends. And hmm... don't look around while driving although the landscapes and rocks look impressive at some places.
Speed limit on Arizonian part of I-8 is usually 70 (113 km/h) or even 75 mph (121 km/h) as I remember well. Quite fast although the freeway often goes straight with no exits for many miles.
So, do not over-speed - you maybe ticketed and experience incovenience (record on highway police). Speeding is socially unacceptable in the USA although some drivers (minority in southern Arizona) used to over-speed up to 5 miles per hour.