Maximus.

We have a new addition to the family!

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We have been spending the past couple of weeks looking into lots of different types of trucks. There seems to be generally 3 different sizes: small, medium, large. We looked at a few small Ford Ranger pickups: two-seaters, no extended cab, but seemed pretty tough for what we would need them to do. The large trucks (your Toyota Tundras, Chevy Silverados, Dodge Rams, etc.) just seemed too big for us. Too much truck. So we were looking at mainly Toyota Tacomas and Nissan Frontiers, both nice medium-sized trucks with good ratings. Tacomas are just freaking expensive. What we discovered was that Tacomas and Frontiers are pretty comparable as far as quality and reliability, just that Frontiers are 20-30% less expensive. We also discovered, for some reason, that most used Tacomas for sale are all BRICK RED. There’s nothing more annoying than a red vehicle, unless you’re a fire engine. So we went the Frontier route.

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We ended up going up to Denver to purchase him; finding a decent price on a truck in our little town is next to impossible. Sticker shock is actually a thing. So, while we did get a decent price for how nice he is, it is still quite a lot of money. It took about a day and lots of beer and whiskey for the shock to wear off. So much for being out of debt for awhile… but… totally worth it. R gave him the big masculine name Maximus. It seems to fit.

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Just a small list of all the cool things we can accomplish now (and easier) with Maximus on board: hauling firewood, water, lumber, panels, dirt, dog runs, duck kennels, 50 lb bags of dog and duck food, in addition to, 4-wheeling, driving in mud, snow, rain, and terribly-maintained dirt roads, conquering the 2 miles of steep, windy dirt road to our cabin, impressing the neighbors, looking like we belong now, things like that. And he is, like we thought, a perfect size. The other day at work I parked Maximus next to a Tundra, and stood back and looked. Our little truck looked nice and tucked away in the parking spot, while the Tundra is packing the space and sticking out. Even has a full backseat and windows for Loki to stick his head out. We made the right choice.

Springtime.

Spring is quite a tumultuous season in the Southern Rockies. It may be an old joke in Colorado that one day it will be 70 and sunny, and the next day you’ll get a foot of snow, but it’s TRUE. We’ve experienced basically every kind of weather in the last few weeks. Sun, rain, snow, hail, crazy wind. And usually many of those in the same day!

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Super duck can handle anything.

A few days ago we experienced our first night since we got the woodstove installed, back in November, that we didn’t start a fire to get through the night. It stayed in the lovely 60s all evening in the house, and was hardly in the 50s in the morning when we got up. It was weird to not have a fire going. The few days since then have been colder, and we’ve only had to start a fire right before bed. Yesterday it snowed and rained most of the day, and we started a fire in the late afternoon. It’s supposed to continue to rain and snow for the next few days, but even the weather forecast changes every time I look at it.

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“I found the sunny spot, guys.”

Just this morning, as R and I drove into town, we watched the sun rise over the mountains, and the skies were clear and beautiful. It stayed nice and sunny most of the day, started to get cloudy early afternoon, and just about an hour ago, started snowing. Oh, sweet, indecisive Colorado. But, that’s what Spring is. It’s the Earth waking up from winter and preparing and building energy for summer. It’s not supposed to be a smooth transition for anyone. And that is what’s so beautiful about it. I love that I have no idea if I’m going to use one or two pieces of firewood, or if I need to load up for the night. Keeps us on our toes.

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Our new “liquor cabinet” was a nice addition.

In other news, our lives have been consumed with attempting to find and purchase a truck. We really haven’t worked on much around the house since we’ve been back from Minnesota. Since we have to share one car for the moment, we spend a lot of time driving back and forth to town since we work different schedules. It’s not ideal. But we make it work, and hey, sometimes life throws stuff at you that you’re not entirely prepared for. We’ll get through this bump like we’ve gotten through all the other ones along the way!

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Takin’ advantage.

Bus.

One day, awhile back, I was sitting in traffic. There was a Subaru in front of me. I noticed that the word Subaru, backwards, is Ur-a-Bus. I laughed out loud. It’s stuck ever since. And now, on Friday, I said goodbye to an old, faithful friend. How quickly events can change your priorities. How quickly those events happen.

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Moab camping.

R’s grandmother passed away, so we made the decision to drive to Minnesota to be there for the funeral. We drove, with Amelia and Loki in tow, to Denver, where my parents are. The plan was to rent a car to drive to and from Minnesota, so I wouldn’t have to put the wear and tear on my car. Turns out, since neither R or I have a credit card, that’s not a thing. We made the game-time decision to just take the Bus to Minnesota, since it’s a long drive and we really didn’t have the time to deal with it anymore. Amelia was to spend the week with the grandparents, and off we went!

Drive to Minnesota and the subsequent couple days with family was fine. R’s mom and I split about 2 1/2 bottles of home-brewed wine (and solved all the world’s problems) in one night, and we were able to spend precious time with R’s sister¬†and family.¬†The two little nephews are just adorable. Early Thursday morning, we left Minnesota to head back to Denver.

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Somewhere in Nebraska my check engine light came one. It has done that before, the engine will misfire and the light turns on. Then, about 60 miles from Denver, it started blinking. It blinked for maybe a minute, I said to R, “well, that’s weird,” the oil light came on for a hot second, a POP was heard, lots of smoke, then death. I pulled over to the shoulder on the highway. Apparently a blinking check engine light means: Imminent Catastrophic Failure. Pull Over Now. You’re Fucked. Sorry About That.

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OR coast beach.

Being close to Denver was the silver lining (there’s ALWAYS a silver lining). My brother came and picked us up, took us back to my parent’s house. Bus was towed the next morning to my dad’s trusted mechanic. We were more-or-less stranded for a good part of the day until the mechanic inevitably called with the bad news: Bus wasn’t coming back. We went to clean it out and, I won’t deny, that I shed some tears while saying my goodbyes. I made the decision to donate it to help teach future mechanics, and that was that. Dad rented us a car to get back home that night.

So now we’re down to one car. What’s funny is that our plan had been to trade in R’s car for a truck sometime this summer; his car is definitely on its last legs. I was just going to stick with the Bus until it died. So, things kind of happened backwards, which puts us in a situation where we’re both suddenly in the market for new vehicles. Which means that now we’re much more concerned with vehicles than anything else. This week we’ll go car and truck shopping and see what happens!

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Grand Canyon North Rim.

In the meantime, RIP Bus (or as my brother liked to call him, #zoobus), and thank you, not only for getting us to MN for the funeral, but for all the other cool places we’ve been together over the years. I got him in 2008, we’ve been through at least 20 states together, he had nearly 300k miles, we’ve seen a lot of rad places, and been through a lot together. He was a good car.

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Thanks for the adventures.