I travel a lot in the US especially when I wish to add to my stock video footage library I sell on Pond5.com. One of the most frustrating things I found was using self-service gas bars and not being able to use my Canadian credit card at the pump because most of the pumps ask for a Zip Code for authorization. Unfortunately the US pumps don’t recognize Canadian postal codes.

In the past I had to go inside the gas bar, wait in line, then pre-pay for gas or they wanted to hold my credit card while I pumped gas- not a good idea. I read a blog post by someone a few months ago on how to bypass the zip code request. I tried it dozens of times and it has never failed.

Just do this: swipe your card as normal at the pump. When it asks for your zip code, key in the number digits of your postal code followed by zeros to make up 5 digits (there’s 5 digits in a US postal code). For example, my postal code is K0H1K0 so I key in the zero, the one and the last zero. Then I add 2 zeros at the end to make up 5 digits: 01000. Then hit Enter if it requests it. Another example, if your postal code is A2B3C4 you enter 23400 plus two zeros and hit Enter. That’s it!

PS. Credit card companies don’t guarantee this will work in every pump but it’s worth a try.

Hope this works for you!

The Centennial Ridges Trail in Algonquin Park is one of the best trails for sheer numbers of pristine lookouts. Photographers flock here for amazing vistas overlooking lakes and rolling highlands. One of the most popular times is during the fall colour season. Timing of peak colours is best handled by frequently checking the Algonquin Park Fall Colour Report. Usually it’s the first week of October (give or take) depending upon weather and drought conditions.

The Centennial Ridges Trail is a tough trail especially if you are carrying photographic equipment and you are hiking the trail during hours to catch the morning sun or sunset. The entire trail is 10 km and I think it might be the toughest 10 km I’ve ever hiked. The guidebook says allow 6+ hours although my wife and I hiked it 4 hours with frequent photography stops. The guideposts are numbered 1 to 12. Two of the best (and most accessible) lookouts are near the start and near the end of the trail at guideposts 2 and 11. The hike is approximately 1 km to guidepost 2 and 1.5 km to guidepost 11. If time is short and you wish a quality vista shot check these two spots first. If time allows, hike the entire trail. Wear good footwear since often times the rocks are slippery.

Ken Hook