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? Give us a call!

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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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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/

New Year 2019 | Curiously Unresolved

New Year2       It's a new year. 2019 has come, one of our DACC gals, Laura-Lee, so hopefully commented, with 365 new possibilities. How do you tackle the flip of the calendar? Resolutions? Rebellion against resolutions? Same-old, same-old? Continue reading "New Year 2019 | Curiously Unresolved" →

Naps – Your Body Wants ’em, Your Brain Needs ’em

Naps. When is the last time someone gave you permission to snuggle in to the couch, midday, and just grab a few minutes of snooze? When is the last time you gave yourself permission? Continue reading "Naps – Your Body Wants ’em, Your Brain Needs ’em" →

A Christmas Carol | How the Ghost of Christmas Future Accosted me at the Mall

Christmas Carol was an early holiday reminder: I am a woman of a certain age. As the number attached to that age mounts, my faculties may...er...alter in direct proportion. As will my husband's. If Carol is any indication, shopping shenanigans will be one of our new Christmas joys.  Continue reading "A Christmas Carol | How the Ghost of Christmas Future Accosted me at the Mall" →