Wednesday, May 4, 2016

One Last Ride

I still had big plans for her. Over 11 years we've been through a lot. We have traveled miles and miles together, sometimes in rain, sometimes in snow, and she's always carried me safely in whatever direction I've chosen to go. She's been a low maintenance kind of gal. She's never required much. Then, upon my return, I noticed she was a bit 'off'. She was a running a bit rough. She was having a lot of problems. I was hoping things would clear up, and she would be fine, but I received the heartbreaking news today. Her time has come.
Her dash lit up like a Christmas tree. There are "brake" errors, referring to the regenerative braking system. There's a check engine light glowing. This has been an intermittent problem that reflects problems with the oxygen sensors. There is a VSC warning light, a Master Warning light, and a Hybrid System Warning. Previously we have experienced an oil leak, that somehow was resolved, at least for the time being. I took her for a ride to the Toyota Dealer. At that point in time I didn't think it would be our last ride together. I figured they'd pat her her up and we'd be on our way. However, after the diagnostic tests, it turns out her hybrid batteries are shot. An estimate of that repair and a few other minor problems, like an oil change and a change in spark plugs, comes to $4800.

OK... let's consider the following:

My sweet car came within $250 of being totaled after a hail storm in 2012. She has 100's of dings all over her body.

Early on, she was hit by the tread of a truck's tire, and had to have a new paint job on her hood. Since moving to Colorado and driving on dirt roads, that paint has been dinged and she looks like she has had the worst case of measles. She has 180,008 miles on her. There are dings on all four corners. Her headlights and fog lights have yellowed with age. Her interior looks as old as her exterior. Some of the buttons on the steering wheel and dash that control things like heat and radio no longer work. She had an oil leak in the rear main seal, and that could crop up again. A check with Blue Book came up with an estimated valued of $938 - $2,450. Knowing how she looks.... she'd be on the bottom end of that scale. Apparently, with cars, it's not about what's inside. So, even if we put in close to $5000, she'd still only be worth $1000.  

I had my heart set on getting to 200,000 miles. Only 20,000 more to go - another two years with the way I've been driving her. So, I could fix her. $5000 for two years of driving is pretty cheap. But, what if she sprung her oil leak again? That'd be another $1600. If her O2 sensors went (they gave us trouble a few miles back), that'd be another $1400. Is it all downhill from here? 

It was a tough decision to make, but I decided to let her go. There is a shiny new car sitting in her spot in the garage. I'm still surprised when I open the door. I'm also in shock... sticker shock! But, I have my Dream Machine. I have wanted a Mini Cooper since.... forever! Had it not been for a hike in gas prices in 2005, I would have purchased the Mini instead of a Prius.

So, farewell, dear friend. I shall miss you. 

Welcome to my new ride. I am looking forward to hundreds of thousands of miles and lots of adventures with you.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Just the mention of the word, and I envision
and bright green leaves on trees, 
and birds in song, 
don't you?

That is true, part of the time, in Colorado. The other part, the snow, is also part of spring in the Rockies, and on the front range where I live. 

This was the Wunderground prediction for snow as we traveled raced home. We either got home before the snow flew, or planned to spend another week in a campground. We were ready to get home!

It was snowing as I typed the first part of this blog. It had been snowing for over 24 hours, and continued for two more days. Since it is so warm, a lot of the accumulation melted, but there were areas where the snow was over my boots. I laughed when a friend posted this on FaceBook:

Sometimes the weather guys are right on target. For this storm they said the snow would begin at 7:45pm. Darned if they weren't right. Sometimes they predict we will have 24" of snow, and we get 2". Then, the kids are really disappointed as they were sure they would have a snow day! Other times, they predict 2-3" of snow, and we get slammed. 

Spring snow is the norm here. It brings great moisture. But 3 days of gray skies are unusual. It just about did us all in.  Even the horses were grumpy. Then, as the sun was setting last night, it finally peeked around the clouds. 

Malachi actually trotted (he is very old and usually saunters from point A to point B) and cantered out of the paddock to go see his buddies. 

In the morning, the sun made the snow sparkle. It is beautiful, and will be gone in no time! It will be just a memory!

The good thing is that it comes, and is gone quite quickly. I am ready!

Mother's Day 2015

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Homeward Bound

It's April. Heck, it's almost May. It is time to head back to Colorado. Winter is over, and my dad and stepmom would love to have me around to help them now and then. So, Mr. Dreamy turned the wheels of the motorhome toward home. We have driven back and forth, from sea to shining sea, so many times since we moved to Colorado in 2007. We have driven in a car. We have dragged a trailer. We have driven in a motorhome....dragging a car. This year, we promised ourselves, we would not kill ourselves with driving. We would not break the three-thirty rule. Nope. We will drive three hundred, thirty miles or drive until 3:30 PM, whichever comes first. Yeah. It sounds good until you actually get on the road!

Day 1: Jacksonville, FL to Pensacola: 354 miles. Oops. We were a bit over the mileage. But, we enjoyed Avalon Landing RV Resort, and it was just a bit beyond 330. We did get in before 3:30! We stayed at this park at the beginning of our Florida tour in February. I liked their abundant pelicans, who amused us with their "synchronized diving". Come to find out, the pelicans only winter there and they are gone now.

Pelicans at Avalon Landing - February 2016
Day 2: Pensacola to Beaumont, TX: 451 miles. Oops, we did it again. Too many miles in one day. But... we found some sort of justification for this overage. I can't recall what it may have been! But, I'm sure it sounded reasonable at the time. We had stayed at this park before. This park is in crawfish territory, and the dog park has crawfish "chimneys". The dogs weren't impressed. Evidently they don't particularly care for shellfish!

Day 3: Beaumont, TX to Lake Medina, TX: 313 miles. YES! We did it! We stuck by our rules! And, not only that, we planned to stay two nights and really relax. A few years ago we met Carlos and Donna on a camping trip in Colorado. They keep their trailer at Lake Medina. We visited them in 2015, and stopped by again this year. We had a great time and can't wait to visit again.

Carlos is practicing using the selfie stick his kids gave him for Christmas
Day 4: Relaxing at the lake... which is a lake this year! It isn't entirely full, but our friends say with a little rainy weather, it should fill up.

Tucker and Gypsy looking for the lake in 2015
Sitting by the lake in 2016.
The rock they sat on the year before is now underwater.

Day 5: Lake Medina to Lubbock, TX: 354 miles. Oops... we were over. But only by a little, tiny bit! We actually had to stop about 30 miles from our original destination because of high winds and dust storms. As Mr. Dreamy battled the wind, and dust, I looked ahead and luckily found a small campground in Slaton, TX. We pulled off the road and enjoyed a wonderful evening with friends. We planned to spend another day in Lubbock... but then, saw the weather report for home. Uh, oh! We better get going.

Mr. Dreaming measures the wind speed: 27mph with a gust of 48.
I didn't line that shot up very well. You can't see the anemometer in his hand.
It was difficult to see anything in the driving sand!
Day 6: Lubbock, TX to La Junta, CO: 389 miles. Darn, we did it again. Too many miles in one day! Originally we had planned two nights in La Junta, wanting to stop and visit Bent's Old Fort. Because of a predicted "winter advisory", we took off the next morning to "thread the needle" and get home before the snow began to fly.

New snow dusted hills as we drove through mixed rain and snow for part of our trip.
Day 7: La Junta to Parker, CO: 161 miles. Yes! This is more like it! An easy travel day. Well, sort of... we did run into some slushy snow. Luckily, the clouds lifted and precipitation stopped. We finally arrived home just after noon. We had the motorhome unloaded and parked by 3:00 PM. We are both exhausted. Even the dogs are tired!!