October 3, 2006 - Plates Runneth Over
In February 2004, the dedicated staff of edhat.com conducted our first license plate survey. In the dead of winter, through sleet and snow, we trolled the downtown city parking lots to get a sample of 100 plates. Colorado was the plate we spotted the most. At that time, we created a very complicated spreadsheet showing that Idaho was the most represented state and that Colorado, followed by Michigan, contributed the most total travel miles to get here. These were states covered in snow. Where better to warm up than on our warm, sandy beaches?
In July 2005, we were at it again. On a summer day that was hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement, we trolled the parking lots along Cabrillo Blvd looking for plates from other states. We figured that these were tourists – after all, that’s who mostly hangs out on Cabrillo Blvd. Either that, or they’re there to count palm trees. Well, that’s why we go there. Maybe sometimes we run there, too. And, we have also counted boats and attended some junior lifeguard events there. Oh, and there was that one time we found Ed walking on Cabrillo Blvd wearing swim fins and eating fried shrimp, but we don’t want to go there!
Anyway … we thought we were counting tourists that day. And the top three plates in order were, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. We concluded that these were cars from states where the weather was hot. And where better to cool off than in our cool ocean surf?
For the 2006 plate count, we went to Goleta in the fall. Unexplainably, the weather forecast in the Daily Edhat was way wrong. We expected cool weather, but it was warm and beautiful instead. We trolled into parking lots of shopping centers and office buildings, looking for plates from foreign lands. To our dismay, however, we saw almost exclusively California brands. There were some out-of-state plates at the office buildings, but pretty much none at the shopping centers.
Ed’s explanation was that people are so afraid of the DMV that they change their licenses before they forward their mail. The dedicated staff attributed the lack of diversity above the fruited plate (or is it plains?) to the lack of activity in the real estate market. There just hasn’t been a big influx of new citizens to our area, particularly ones from out-of-state, where the real estate prices tend to be lower.
Another interesting thing was that the plates we did see were from all over the country, not just one place. In addition to the nearby states, we also saw Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Montana, Vermont, and Texas. The most popular states were (in order) Oregon, Nevada, and Colorado. Once again, it was a different survey, and we got a different outcome. Because of a lack of experimental controls, we don’t know if the difference was caused by the location, the time of year, or the trend over time. Maybe for our next survey - if there’s not too much on our plate - we could count all three locations.
In yesterday’s contest, partsguy559 – as in car parts - was the only one who really knew what road the cars came in on. He got each state in the license plate trifecta, and he had them in order. Parts Guy wins a new Edhat t-shirt, a sign of distinction, around these parts.
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