Prius

Carrs in the car across the USA: Tornados, Volcanos and Floods

My wife and I just Prius’d acrossed the USA. Yes. I’m using Prius as a verb. After two successful cross-country trips (overloaded and overstuffed, might I add), I’m allowed to brag about my Toyota. Aren’t I?

Nine days, six stops. And affordable gasoline! Guess how much gas we spent?

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our most recent trip was actually a move: Rochester, New York to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (or the close by Spokane, Washington, where I’ll be working).

That’s a bunch of map

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Rochester -> Louisville -> Nashville -> Memphis -> Kansas City -> Denver -> Yellowstone -> Ceour d’Alene

It’s a crazy mess of a road trip. I know. Here was the thought process:

Kansas City and Denver had family. Admittedly, Nashville was completely out of the way, but we really wanted to see it. And if we timed it just right, we could lock down two nights in Yellowstone. Louisville and Memphis were convenient stops in between.

Most nights we would camp, others we’d stay with family.

Little did we know what we’d discover along the way; little would we see out of our blind spots.

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A quick note on the photos: We shot hundreds, some with our new Cannon Rebel T5, others with our iPhones. My wife took all the good pictures. I took all the weird, squirrelly ones. Also, since there are so many, and we just go home, please excuse the lack of editing. 

Okay, so, you ready? Me neither. Let’s go! (more…)

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New York State: (Three Month Recap)

What a year it’s been! I woke up in Idaho on January 1st, drove to California where I lived for six-months, and then ventured to upstate New York where I’ll finish out the year. I say “I” but I really mean we. We means my wife and me (I). Yeah. That’s a lot of driving. Our Prius is a champ. I think I’ll buy my car a wizard’s cap for Christmas, considering he did such a good job leading us across the continent (like Gandalf!).

But New York. Man, sometimes, I still can’t believe we live here. New friggan York! What a long way from home. There’s good and bad, but we like it; Rochester is growing on us. Constant unfamiliarity can be quite exhausting, but we’ve been using our GPS less and less, so that is good. A big step to accepting a new home, I think, is learning the street names.

Without further ado, here’s my three-month recap (or review!) of NY State:

August

Humidity and lots of fruit flies. But it could’ve been worse. We came in on the tail-end of the humidity; we’ll have to wait till next year to fully experience it, I guess. With no jobs or school in session we were bored out of our minds! We were broke too. Moving is ‘spensive.

However, we did manage to see Niagara Falls after a terrible, no good-very bad day. Megan landed a job pretty much right off the bat! And speaking of bat, we woke up with a bat in our room and almost contracted rabies. August was… well, it was… a stretching experience. Oh, I also saw mewithoutYou (my favorite band).  (more…)

Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 2

When we last left our heroes, Kevin was cussing in a stranger’s driveway and angrily kicking rocks; Megan was hiding, due to embarrassment, from inside of their broken car.

(For part one, click here).

TOWtaly

About six hours we waited. Time slowed down, it seemed. We listened to podcasts; we took walks and explored the street; I peed in the bushes. There was one bright spot when a local, older couple offered us both Pepsi. They left though, and soon we were back in the car, having to pee again.

When 5pm struck, we knew the same-day-Toyota-service-possibility went out the window, so we called around for rental vehicles and prayed for a way home.

Enterprise had one left, an SUV, of course, for $108 a day. There was another place in town, a local shop. They charged only $35 a day with three cars left. The caveat? Well, they closed at 5:30pm.

The last we heard, the tow was coming at 5:09pm.

TOWnality

After six hours of sitting in a black car on a hot day—hating and focusing on everything that went wrong and everybody, including ourselves, who let us down—5:15pm struck, and all of a sudden two tow-trucks slowed down and parked next to our broken Prius.

Two tow-trucks at the same time—it was amazing, like something out of the books. Our luck, if even for a second, was finally turning around.

The first guy approached with a look of horror. He was the one we first talked to, who said we could make it to Toyota if we tried. His name was Dan.

“I am SO sorry,” said Dan, “I didn’t know you guys were still here! Your call was cancelled twice; I thought someone gotcha!” His thick Upstate accent broke a smile on my face for the first time in hours. (more…)

Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 1

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a “Speaking universe,” one that tells you to stay in bed and avoid the day. Maybe it’s a cough and a dry throat at the start. Or maybe it’s an audiobook that won’t finish downloading.

Whatever or wherever “Signs” come from, well, this last Wednesday morning I ignored them all.

The plan was Niagara Falls. Megan and I would pack a lunch, hop in the car, and drive for an hour and a half to the State Park. Since we moved to Rochester, Niagara has been on our radar—mine especially, incessantly nagging at my curiosity to come visit.

“Stay in bed!” said the Universe. Instead, I threw a liquified shot of Emergen-C powder into my dry throat and headed out the door.

Highway 490, Revisited

About 30 minutes outside of Rochester we heard a funny noise below our car. It was just for a second. Like a… well… as if something fell out. But the car was handling great, and there were no warning signs. So we kept driving.

Five minutes later, that warning sign showed up. If any of you readers drive a Prius, then you’re aware of just how scary the big red exclamation point is. We took the first exit we could (paid a toll) and stopped at the nearest gas station for a gander.

We landed in a town called Batavia, and it was there that we learned we had a major oil leak. I knew this because I bought a fresh quart, emptied it into my car, to which my car—as if in protest—urinated it back onto the gas-station concrete.

Roadside ASSistance

Instead of an in-depth analysis, here’s a quick play-by-play of everything that went wrong soon after.

  1. After calling Allstate Roadside, the tow truck guy called me and said we were “Right around the corner,” from the Toyota dealer and that we could make it if we tried, and we’d save an hour.
  2. I disregarded my wife’s advice to wait, and had her plug in the Toyota dealership address into our GPS. Under five-minutes away.
  3. Megan accidentally chose South Main instead of West Main on the GPS.
  4. Five minutes later, we ended up on a country road, surrounded by large fields and spread-out houses. This was where our car finally jilted us to the side of the road and drove us no more.

(more…)