Road Trip | How to Get Lost in New Mexico

"Road trip!" This has been the go-to vacation mode for our family of five. We recently donated our faithful old Buick Rendezvous through the Donate a Car Canada program, but didn't want to let it go without a little nod to some of the adventures it accompanied us on.

USA, here we come!

I hadn't realized, until I started scrolling through old road trip pictures, how far and wide our '09 Rendezvous actually took us. Not only did it get us down to the New Mexico Whitesands, it also explored parts of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington State with us.

It's pretty likely that our three teenagers were less enthusiastic than their parents were about these treks. Ok. It's a lot likely. There was just so much bribery and cajoling and compromising. I mean, how are you supposed to keep 5 people happy? All at once? When you're travelling hundreds and hundreds of kilometers each road trip? I don't think we ever really figured that out, and I couldn't find very many pictures of smiling teenage boys in my file. But the SUV sure served us well!

Giant array = giant dismay

'Not sure what the "Very Large Array" is? Yeah. I wasn't either. It's this:

Yup. A big field full of dishes. My hubby had seen them in a movie and was pretty stoked about detouring to "just drive by" on our way North and out of New Mexico.

One thing we know for sure about road tripping as a family is that I should, 100%, never-ever-never navigate. I mean, I can read the map and do a reasonable GPS-voice impersonation, but do not (do not!) listen to me if I decide to follow my "gut."

Because 3 out of 3 boys were totally not into visiting the Very Big Array, I was determined to souse out the quickest path to and from that field. The map showed two options: main highway, and a secondary route. It looked highway-ish. My gut said, Definitely follow that highway-ish red line on the map - it's so.much.shorter. than the real highway. My gut was wrong. Really so completely wrong.

Warning signs

To be fair, our frame of references for "rough road ahead," and "Beware: rocks on road," road signs are Rocky Mountain signs that simply note that a beautifully winding mountain highway might get a little seasonally dodgy.

Fair warning: if you come across these signs in New Mexico it means the road is made entirely of giant stab-y, tire-piercing stones. That actually pierce your tires. And leave you stranded between apparently abandoned homes along a completely abandoned road in a wholly abandoned desert.

The short cut red line that led to the Very Big Array was not a short cut. Especially not once we'd emptied the entire contents from the vehicle in order to get at and mount the spare tire, and then (after re-packing all of our belongings) limped our way 80 more miles to the array, and then on to the main highway. The array itself? Yeah, it's probably 15 minutes off the main highway. We added hours and hours to our travel time by taking the short cut.

Canadian hitch-hiker

We paused at the array. It seemed only fitting to pay it some kind of respect given all we'd sacrificed to get to it. And then nursed our poor Buick and its broken foot to the highway, praying to the tire gods that the spare would hold until we could get to any kind of civilization to buy a replacement tire for our shredded original.

The spare did not hold. It wheezed out a protesting gasp a few miles down the highway. And we were stuck. In the States. In New Mexico.

So, I went and stood in the middle of the highway. All 5'2" of mom Me. I hailed a passing truck (with a beautiful human and her dog and her threats of, "Do you know how lucky you are? No one ever stops for hitch hikers in New Mexico!") and got dropped off at a suspect looking town up the highway. The broken down shack of a garage that called itself the tire place happened to have two gentleman on the yard. I (don't judge me) pleaded our case and (I said don't judge me!) jumped in the truck with one of them and another spare tire, praying a) the spare would fit the Buick, and b) that I'd live to see that happen.

On the road again

I lived! And the spare fit. And it got us all the way to the next nearest city (none of the towns en route had anything close to a tire shop...but they definitely had some interesting places that looked like they were probably "We're totally a tire shop!" fronts for much scarier businesses...). There? We found that sanctum we all know as WalMart. And we just happened (we could do another blog on "Road Trip Coincidence: Miracle? Or plain dumb luck?") to roll up with enough time in the day for them to swap our small town spare for a less-small-town proper tire. Very big array? Very big adventure, I'd say! And I'm sure my kids would totally agree. Offered enough bribes.

Giving up the Rendezvous was no small thing for us. Canon Beach, Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver, Everywhere Alberta. Coeur d'alene, Idaho. Oh. Yeah. Coeur d'alene. Don't get me started on that short cut.

Do you have a beloved old vehicle that needs to go to car heaven? Give us a call!

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Buick Rendezvous Gets it Done

Buick

"Buick Rendezvous, 2009. Broken down on Northbound Metis trail. Parked on the shoulder." Had you told us 50,000 kms ago that our trusty Buick would get us all the way to March of 2019 we would not have believed you for a second! We knew this was the final service call we'd make for this faithful SUV, and it came with a flood of memories.

SUV or half-ton truck?

Buick1

When our family was ready to transition from a minivan to something smaller, , the Rendezvous was our go-to. This was the fanciest vehicle we'd ever had (Heated seats and mirrors that adjusted themselves? So fancy!). We loved it!

Storage space in the SUV wasn't optimal, but that didn't stop us from using the poor ol' girl like she was an F150. Over the years we've moved many friends from one home to another. We've hauled lumber and gardening soil and trees. She got the kids through years of hanging out with buddies (read: that vehicle hauled a lot of bodies, weird combinations of sporting and gaming equipment, and debris).

Road trippin', Buick-style

We're a road tripping family - because who can afford to fly with 3 kids? Well...who can afford to fly them and feed them? Since we had to choose between the two, we opted to feed them. They seemed to appreciate that. When the kids were still travelling with us the drives would take us South of the border in search of sun and warmth and adventure.

One of our most memorable trips was taken in the Buick. That hearty black wonder got us all the way down to New Mexico, USA. I don't think we ever (like, never) got all of the White Sands, NM sand out from the carpet fibres and various nooks and crannies of that vehicle? We had dramatic tire trouble (that's a story of its own...) in an effort to short-cut our way to the Giant Array (again, more on that next week), and just about drove the boys nuts with the various other "short cuts" we took in an effort to show them their continent.

Gettin' it done

Winter after winter, long after our sons had purchased their own vehicles, the Buick got us through one tight spot after another. The kids went from kiddos to adulthood while we had the Buick. With 5 adults, our family has a pretty big vehicle foot print. Work and play demands mean that everyone has their own car...and with that many vehicles in one family , there are a lot of roadside breakdowns, parking lot boosts, and wonky electrical issues. The Rendezvous was the one vehicle that never broke down. We'd leave it parked curb-side for weeks or months at a time, giving it a negligible drive around the block just to ensure we kept the motor functioning and the parking authorities at bay. And every time we needed it, it started right up and got whomever was in a last-minute pinch to where they needed to be.

One last trip

Until just a week or two ago. I'd done the obligatory run around the block/move the vehicle and make it look like someone loves it drive. It started up fine and had that warm and mechanical-gas-y smell of a neglected vehicle. I love that smell. It reminds me of grandpa's old blue K-Car. The one that used to sit out on the farm, years after it had stopped driving. A magical, all-blue automotive playground for the grandkids.

Then, one of our boys had car trouble, and without giving it a second thought, he grabbed the Buick keys and headed off to work. The ol' thing didn't get very far before it coughed a little and gave it up at the side of the road. There would be no more last minute saves by that seasoned Buick.

For our family, that leads to the easy next-step: donation. The SUV doesn't owe us a thing. From thousands of miles of road trip comfort to truck-like weight-bearing to icy parking lot rescues, it has more than earned its end of life rest.

Five quick minutes on the Donate a Car Canada website and we were in their system for free support. We got our tow timing call the next day, and before we knew it, the Buick was out of sight.

That hardworking auto will keep its generous legacy going by turning into a cash gift for Inn From the Cold, our family's charity of choice. Fitting for a vehicle that kept us warm and safe over so many kilometers.

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Signs of Spring in Canada

Signs of Spring are everywhere. Between a few little cold snaps, I've spotted gophers, flies, motorcyclists, and the ultimate sign: our first robin!


Rabbits and streetsweepers

As I sit (on the deck...in the sunshine) rambling on, a street sweeper is taking his initial swipe at our gravel-strewn street. The family of wild rabbits that makes their home under the neighbors' deck is scampering wildly around the yard. And the neighbor's dog is going nuts over those same bunnies.

The mama skunk that has been prowling the hood (I tracked her for miles in the freshly fallen snow the other day) has happily claimed pretty much everyone's front porch in her mafia-like landgrab. Who's going to argue with her? She and I had an encounter on our walking path just the other day. There's only one way in and one way out of this particular stretch of green space. I was attempting to make my way out. She wanted in. I froze. She froze. And we both, wordlessly and simultaneously, gave each other a very wide berth.

Signs of spring...in the garage

Just about now we all start feeling a little Marie Kondo need to find some joy-through-purging, scrubbing, and expunging. I've gone through closets and cupboards and basement corners. How we accumulate so.much.stuff in such little time I do not know. But we do. And every year it's gotta' go.

The garage is always the last place to get any attention, right? In fact, it's the spot I purge everything out into! The floor is caked in everything from mud to salt to some reluctant-to-go ice. There are tires for multiple vehicles, bins full of goodness-knows-what, and a "work bench" where zero work occurs, and lots of work-ish bits and bobs build up.

Get that clunker out of the way

If maneuvering around a project car is making the garage clean-up crazy-making, consider donating? Many of us have tired old vehicles just taking up space in the garage, or on the driveway. We had good intentions to fix 'em, but is it worth it? We've hem'd and haw'd, weighing the cost of fixing against the value of the vehicle. If it's costing you more to keep it, it may be that its re-sale or recycle value would be more meaningful to your charity of choice than the sentimental value of the car to you?

Whatever the signs of spring in your back yard or garage, some warm sun and the beginnings of green and growing things are sure to give us all a boost in the month ahead. Here's to a successful clean up, and lots of time to enjoy the wake-up weeks of the world around us.

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Goodness |Do the Good You do

Goodness. If you say it often enough, it doesn't sound like a real word anymore. And in a world gone all wobbly and sideways, it's easy to think that maybe "goodness" isn't even a thing. If we're looking for evidence that things have all gone to heck, well, there seems to be a growing body!

Evidence against

You don't need reminders of all of the ways we know that Goodness is taking a thumping, hey? Have you been hacked lately, and threatened with recrimination if you don't send money/call this number/set this straight right now? Or had your identity stolen? Maybe you've been victim to prejudice or shaming? Is the one who ought to love you best hurting you? Your body may not be cooperating and you could be feeling stuck and lonely. Friends fail us, money is tight, and the world-at-large feels like it's equal parts dumpster fire and a volcano preparing to violently erupt. So much evidence for not-Goodness.

Evidence for Goodness

What to do? Who are we to be in the face of blaming and hating and self-promotion and ice that's melting too fast? We don't want to be blind to the world's trouble. But we don't want to be consumed by it either. So, what if we just, each one of us, do our little bit? What if we just determinedly and consistently do our own little bit of Good?

  • Make a wholesome meal for your family. Safety and caring in our own homes matters.
  • Read. Expanding our perspective and thinking our own deep thoughts is grounding.
  • Believe. Aligning ourselves with authentic, thoughtful, experiential Goodness takes an effort of heart and mind.
  • Work at doing the good you do. Watch for opportunities to act justly and compassionately. This is no time for us to be lazy about this stuff.
  • Listen for the story beneath the story beneath the story: it's easy to dismiss and to judge when we're not listening to each other. We're all in this together -- whether we like it or not.
  • Just be. Take a breather from the glut of information and streaming and hope-bludgeoning media. Be with people you love; be someone people want to love. The truest, strongest, most vibrant you (you come from innocence). You are enough.

Keep it up!

Everything is (probably) going to be okay. If you do your small bit, and I do mine, odds are good that love will win the day. Let's take care of each other, care for the earth, and companion the vulnerable -- we'll make it through with Goodness intact.

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Honda Civic | 21 Years at the Top

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic did it again. For 21 years in a row the Civic has been Canada's best-selling car.

Civic eclipses competition

As passenger cars go, this little Honda is Canada's top pick. In their article on our top ten most wanted, Driving.ca notes,

"Only half a decade ago, the Honda Civic’s share of Canada’s passenger car market was 8 per cent. It was a staggering figure, but it’s now far overshadowed by a 12 per cent share of the Canadian car market. 2018 saw the Civic claim Canada’s title as the best-selling car for a 21st consecutive year, and the Civic did so in dominant fashion by maintaining its equilibrium in a rapidly declining car market. The Civic outsold its closest rival by a 41 per cent margin."

Who else is in the game?

The Elantra was once thought to rival the Honda Civic for buyer interest. Driving.ca goes on to say,

"Once seen as the vehicle that could overtake the Honda Civic – and it often did, on a monthly basis – the Hyundai Elantra is now a distant third-place candidate in the passenger-car battle. The Elantra narrowed the race to a slim margin in 2013, when sales of the Hyundai peaked and Civic volume was only 16 per cent stronger. But Honda now sells 65 per cent more Civics than Hyundai sells Elantras. Elantra volume slipped to an eight-year low."

The longevity and performance of the Civic has won the confidence of Canadian drivers. With varied conditions year 'round, and the demands of terrain and traffic, we expect a lot from our cars. This little Honda continues to be the car of choice for those in the market for a passenger vehicle.

What that means for donations

It's not surprising, then, that we see many Hondas rolling through our donation program. But here's the difference: our Honda donors have held on to their car for 15, 20, or 25 years. Accords and Civics are donated regularly, but not until they've given every last gasp to their owner. This compares with other makes/models significantly. It's not uncommon to see a PT Cruiser, Elantra, or Cavalier being donated after only 8 - 10 years of drive time. Some Mazdas get eaten alive by rust and just can't handle Canadian winters.

These makes and models are loved by their owners (our donors), but the performance on those Hondas just can't be beat!

Do you have a trusty old Civic that's served you well, but that now needs end of life processing? Consider extending the vehicle's good service by donating to your charity of choice!

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Photo courtesy of https://www.honda.ca/civic_coupe

Charity of choice | 250 charities helped in February

Charity of Choice

Charity of choice is what we're all about here at Donate a Car Canada. It's one of the hallmarks of our exceptional donor care: you choose the charity you love. We make sure they get your gift!

We have over 800 charity "doors" to choose from. You're sure to find a cause that you feel deserving of your donation dollars.

Do you already have someone in mind? 'Need a little more information? Just call in, or explore our site. You'll find the inspiration you're ready for.

Charity of choice means it's all up to you

Canadian vehicle donors gifted 250 different charities in February. This doesn't mean we had only 250 donors; many donors select similar charities. For example, it's common for well-advertised charities like the Diabetes Canada, The Heart & Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Cancer Society to receive many donations each month.

But something you'll love about us? We have hundreds of lesser-known organizations to choose from. Here's a sneak peek at 25 of the charities that we sent funds to last month:

A Better World Canada
ALBERTA CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION
Alberta Wilderness Association
ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF EDMONTON
BC Children’s Hospital
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS CANADA
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY
CancerCare Manitoba
DIABETES CANADA
Elderdog Canada Inc.
GERDY’S RESCUE & ADOPTIONS
Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta
HEART & STROKE FOUNDATION
Kenneth Copeland Ministries
KIDS HELP PHONE
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
ORKIDSTRA
Pacific Assistance Dogs Society
PARKINSON CANADA
Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation
THE DREAM FACTORY
Tree Canada
WINNIPEG HUMANE SOCIETY
Wounded Warriors Canada

How can I learn more?

We're supporting charities that work with kids, animals, and the sick. Women in need of assistance are served by smaller charities in every Canadian city. If Earth care is your heart cause, we can help. And, if you're looking to support the arts, we have many theatres and groups to choose from.

If you click on the "charities" button on our home page you'll be taken to an alphabetical breakdown of who's on our list. Clicking on the charity name will give you a quick look at their unique mission. And each mission is linked to the charity's home page, should you wish to explore more deeply.

You choose! We're here to help in every way we can, and your charity of choice is ready to receipt you for your generosity. We look forward to your donation!

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Inn from the Cold

Safari

Inn From the Cold is keeping homeless kids safe this winter. We want to help! We assess each vehicle donation individually here at Donate a Car Canada. Sometimes an old clunker that looks like she's ready for the scrap heap will surprise us. One old Safari van did just that, with happy results for this homeless outreach charities.

Continue reading "Inn from the Cold" →

Youth at Risk | 3 Canadian Charities

Youth at Risk

Youth at risk are one of Canada's most vulnerable populations and they need our ongoing care. Several of our charities are doing boots-on-the-ground work. Their staff are advocating for, feeding, and housing kids. They are friends of this sector of our human family.

Canadian youth at risk can find themselves in trouble on all sides. Their place in society is not a given. There can be heartache at home, at school, and in broader society. When donating your car, consider giving to a local charity that is working with these kids to keep them safe. Be part of helping them get healthy, find community, and pursue purpose.

Covenant House

Youth at risk are served from two Covenant House locations: Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, Ontario. The work of CH in both locations provides whole-person help. They seek to protect and safeguard our kids with love and respect. Helping teens find shelter and safety are key. Caring for mental and spiritual health are part of the package. 

RaY | Resource Assistance for Youth

Winnipeg's hurting youth (largely an indigenous peoples' population) are served by a locally based and operated outreach. Through years of endeavor, they have zero'd in on mission. They are a "proactive provider of prevention, intervention, outreach and support services." How do they do this? In so many ways, including a thrift shop and a job training program. 

Youth Unlimited

Alberta-grown, with locations in Calgary and Edmonton, Streelight is one of YU's high energy endeavors:

Streetlight is just one of YU's many outreaches. Working on school campuses, building friendships, and providing job support all come in to the picture. They have an auto repair training program, too!

Do these works jive with where you see your donation dollars heading? Re-visit our charities list for more organizations like these three. Youth at risk are a hurting population in every Canadian province. Find out where you can help near where you live!

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Photo credit https://www.covenanthousebc.org/about-us/our-impact/