Showing posts with label Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cars. Show all posts

27 August 2011

I Will Survive

Since moving house, my commute is back up to fifty minutes. In the summer that is. I expect it to be quite a bit longer in the winter. The road I take now is not a well traveled, well plowed, well salted highway like the one I took last year. No, these days I drive down an itty bitty country road, with lots of lovely curves. The first part is not too bad, but as I get closer to the casino the road gets rougher. About twenty minutes out, I have to make a choice: take F, which has co-workers shoot me looks of pity, or C, which, in the winter, is certain death.

But even in good weather it’s a tricky drive. I practice my dodging skills daily with the help of care free bear, oblivious deer, and suicidal poultry. There is the occasional raccoon family to avoid, or the odd sandhill crane. And if it’s not an animal testing my reflexes, it’s the Fedex truck tearing around the corner like a bat out of hell. The drive is even more fun in the dark, as you can imagine.

I am however, determined to survive the months ahead. I have replaced the tires on my car with all weather, all terrain ones and had them slashed for extra traction. My subscription to OnStar is renewed and I have started to stock the car with emergency supplies. I should be fine.

Fingers crossed.

And maybe send up a prayer or two.

10 March 2011

Snow Casualty II

We met another neighbor yesterday, the one that lives on the corner of the street. Like us, he owns a Chevrolet, albeit a much bigger one. It was snowing and very slippery when we met. Just as he turned up the street, we came driving down. We did our best to avoid each other but our cars did not oblige. Ryan and I came to a full stop on the stop sign.

No humans were hurt, only cars. And of course the stop sign/street sign. The big Chevy barely has a scratch on it. The smaller one, Big Blue, was taken by car ambulance to the nearest collision center. Our little Aveo was no match for the other car. She is scratched along the entire driver's side, the steering wheel no longer works, and her front tires are both facing inwards.

Poor Big Blue. And poor us. I am officially done with winter weather!

20 December 2010

Elf Help

According to Big Blue’s manual, there is a gallon and a half of gas left in the tank when the warning light comes on. At roughly thirty miles per gallon, that means I can go another forty, fortyfive miles, right?


As I found out the hard way this morning, the manual is mistaken. I had about a mile and a half left and that was it. I found myself stranded by the side of the road, a few miles outside of Laona and the nearest gas station, with the temperature below zero.

I called Ryan, just for some sympathy, since he obviously could not help me from Rhinelander. And then I bundled up and started walking. It was cold, people! But less than two minutes into my walk, a very kind gentleman by the name of Francis pulled over and offered me a ride. He drove me to the gas station, waited while I purchased a gas tank and filled it up, and then drove me back to my car. He even filled up my tank for me. And my favorite state trooper (he once pulled me over for speeding) stopped with his lights flashing to keep us safe while we were replenishing Big Blue.

Thank you for being my elves this morning, Francis and Trooper B! It would have been a very long and cold walk without you. Merry Christmas!

14 December 2010

First Snow Casualty

I scratched the car. Not the older hand-me-down Nissan, of course. No, the new car, Big Blue. And I scratched it good. In a way it's a relief that the first nick is there, it takes the pressure off driving in a brand new car. But I am really bummed that I am the one who did it. Naturally, it's not my fault.

First off, there's the design of the garage. It is obvious the garage was added on at a later date and the only place to put it was behind the house. To get to it, we drive down the narrow driveway alongside the house and make a ninety degree turn at the end. Not the easiest thing to do without room to manoeuvre. We back the Aveo in by driving onto the grass and then putting it in reverse, taking care not to hit the big pine tree that lives there. The Nissan pulls forward into the garage and parks diagonally. A very tight fit but we have been practicing and it was working.

Until someone built a snow fort at the end of the driveway. Right where I pull onto the grass. There is barely any room now to pull forward without hitting the six feet high, solid mass of snow or that tree that won't budge. Let alone enough space to make my turn when backing the car into the garage. I ended up just an eighth of an inch too far to the right.

Like I said, clearly not my fault.

23 October 2010

Daily Commute

Aside from numerous school buses, I have never seen an actual bus in the Northwoods. Considering you will not find a single traffic light in the whole of Forest County, the complete lack of public transportation does not surprise me. Back in my Dutch days, I always commuted to work by way of public transportation. The tram, the train, and the bus, I made use of them all. I did it for twelve years, and then I bought a car.

Cozy bus stop in Madison WI
There are pros and cons to public transportation. In Holland it will take you just about anywhere, something I really liked. However, I disliked the waiting, the drafty and sometimes foul smelling bus stops (especially in the winter), and traveling on a tight schedule. I loved having the opportunity to drink coffee and apply your make-up on the way to work, taking in a quick nap, and reading while you travel. My reading hours have dropped dramatically since I transferred to a car.

After moving to Rhinelander, my commute to work increased to an hour, as opposed to the twenty five minutes it used to be. It took me a few weeks but I am okay with it now. For a while I avoided County Road W because every time I passed my parents-in-law's house, the realization would hit me that I could be home right now. Instead I had forty more minutes to go. I quickly got over that one, because the alternative route is so boring. For the time being, until the snow comes, I have returned to taking the back roads. However, at night I prefer to stick to the highway to lessen my chances of running into wild life.

Last night, as I was driving home by the light of the beautiful full moon, I caught myself developing a renewed appreciation for public transportation. If only to catch up on my reading.

21 September 2010

Satellite Tunes

I once heard Sting say in an interview one's high school and college years are the formative years for musical memories. After that era, the connection between songs and life events dwindles. I find that to be true. Play me a tune from the eighties and I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing, and with whom. Songs from the seventies and the nineties do not have the same effect and as for present day music, I am hopelessly out of date.

Our new car, Big Blue, came with free satellite radio. Despite having been musically formed in the eighties, I prefer listening to the 70's on 7, alternated with E-Street Radio, the Bruce Springsteen channel. Lola generally approves, although on occasion she'll tell me to turn a particular song off because she doesn't like it. Her favorite song at the moment is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. She asks for it every day.

The Nissan's antenna is broken and radio reception is limited. Having satellite radio is such a treat. It makes my commute that much more enjoyable. And every now and then a Dutch song will come along. Most of the time it's a Golden Earring song, but I have also heard Mouth & McNeal and yesterday, Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. It usually takes a second or two to register but without fail, it makes my day, whether I used to like the song or not.

20 September 2010

Big Blue

Now that we're on our own again, we need a second car. We were still using my father-in-law's pick-up truck, but at some point he started hinting he wanted it back. Ryan relentlessly sought after the bargain of the year and found a brand new 2009 Chevrolet Aveo online. After a few phone calls back and forth, we drove down to Indiana (bargains are never found close to home) to pick it up.

She is called Big Blue. Lola calls her "my little blue car" and a friend of ours speaks of the "go kart." We are very pleased with our purchase. She has a puny little engine that doesn't compare to Vicky's V8 (Vicky was our previous automobile back in our Olympia days) but she comes at a fraction of the cost and is equipped with free OnStar and satellite radio. And the mileage is awesome.

Of course we both want to drive her. We have agreed that whoever makes the most miles in one week gets to drive Big Blue the following week. So far, I have been the lucky one. How I love the smell of a new car...

11 January 2010

A Public Apology

Dear Fellow Northwoods Drivers,

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of you for my driving. Not that my driving is bad, it's just that I'm slow. Driving in the snow is not my forte. Being a Wisconsin newbie, I have little experience with it. Add to that the minimal profile on my tires, and general fear of accidents, and you end up with the driving style of a little old lady. Like the winter weather, it will not last. I promise. In the meantime, please be patient with me as I am working on my ice truckin' skills. This morning, when the road was covered in ice and snow, I was doing at least 40 mph. At times I even made it up to 45 mph! That is a definite improvement over my first week on the road when my speedometer never made it past 35 mph.

I do, however, have a favor to ask of some of you. Please, please, pretty please, stop tailgating. There is plenty of room to go around me, so go ahead and use it. Riding my butt will NOT make me go faster. It will only result in my blood pressure and yours going up, and no-one is going to benefit from that. And if you feel that you must drive as close to me as you possibly can, at least be kind enough to lower your brights. Really, blinding me will not make me speed up either. It is as ineffective as it is dangerous, not to mention extremely annoying.

Thanks so much for your consideration. Safe travels!

Hanneke N.

P.s. I realize it must be confusing for you because my husband drives our car too, and his driving style varies greatly from mine. He is convinced the emergency brake is a bona fide winter tool for one. Sorry.

09 January 2010

Blessed Or Cursed?

Ryan and I were deliberating the other day whether we were blessed or cursed. He thinks we’re cursed, I don’t. It’s not that I am in denial about our current hardships – as much as I would like to be – I just tend to look at things in a more positive way; the ol’ half full/half empty glass debate. I am convinced having a positive mindset will help me accomplish my goals. The Power of Positive Thinking works for me. At the very least, it brings me peace.

I believe we mostly brought our present trials and tribulations on ourselves by bad habits and a few questionable decisions. Add in some bad luck and a failing economy and before you know it, you’re living the American Nightmare. But I clearly see our many blessings and believe we are slowly working our way back up again. I realize it’s probably easier for me to say that; I leave the house every day to go to a fun, albeit increasingly demanding job. Ryan is stuck at home for the moment with no place to go, and no way to get there.

Our lack of transportation is what started this conversation. We are a one car family at the moment, and the Northwoods are a harsh place to be without a car. I had been using my father-in-law’s pick-up truck, leaving Ryan our car. About two weeks ago, the truck suddenly overheated. It’s been in the shop awaiting repair, but every couple of days they give us a call to tell us it’s not what they thought it was, it’s worse. First it was the water pump, and then it wasn’t. It was a broken bolt that could only be reached by removing just about everything under the hood. The latest is the engine needs rebuilding as a result of said bolt rattling around.

As if that isn’t bad enough, our own car needs new tires – suitable for Wisconsin winters – and new windshield wipers. And a new antenna, too. And the fuse for the back lights and parking lights keeps blowing for no apparent reason. An oil change probably wouldn’t hurt either. The muffler fell off a while back, making our otherwise inconspicuous Nissan sound like a rally car. Then the 'Check Engine' light came on. Finally on Thursday, the remainder of the exhaust started dragging over the pavement, forcing us to get the whole thing fixed right then and there. Bye bye to this week’s paycheck.

Yes, this is bad luck. Not to mention lousy timing. But that doesn’t mean we’re cursed. I refuse to believe the Powers That Be look down on us and say: "What? They have running water again? And plumbing? And they no longer have to run outside in the middle of the night to get wood? That’s not right. We need more suffering. Let’s take away their muffler."

It’s not bad Karma either. It’s bad maintenance. Due to lack of finances. Due to... I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with Ryan about one thing. When will this end? While I do not view this as a curse, it is a far cry from a blessing. Enough already!

And just in case I'm wrong and we are cursed, does anyone know of a tried and true method for curse reversal?