How Ruby Came to Be Part 3: The Neighbor That Changed Everything

I have nothing against a Chevy Impala but….

As I said in part one, I have always wanted an SUV. But a budget of 10k buys you an ‘07 Impala LTZ, or a run down probably-needs-as-many-repairs-as-my-Buick SUV.

I know, I know, if I had searched for a deal long enough I likely could have found something.

I also know that about 2k more would have gotten me a pretty alright SUV.

Unfortunately, we were on a time crunch of about a month. And as I had no savings, I was relying on the graciousness of my mother and her interest free payment plan.

Anything over 10k was out of the question.

My Impala made it to Colorado and survived a year of many hills and mountains. And I must admit, this car had auto-start, but I rarely used it.

I can’t even tell you how many times in college I ran down the 4 flights of my apartment stairs to start my Buick 30min before heading to work or school. (That’s how long it took for the ice/snow to melt just enough to where I could actually scrape it off.) I so desperately wished I had auto-start then. But once I finally had it? The need was no longer there! I lived where I worked and only drove to places for pleasure, time was rarely an issue when my car was involved. (It should also be noted that Fort Collins winters are nothing compared to Fargo winters.)

After a year in Fort Collins, we made the trek back to Minnesota. A month later, we took off on the Oregon trail. (And no one died of dysentery!) My Impala served me happily through my first Oregon winter. Again, the auto-start was neglected due to the fact that I had a garage. It even got to the point where I had my friends park in the garage, just so I would have an excuse to heat up my car with the auto-start. (Yes, I do realize how stupid this sounds.)

Oregon’s second winter rolls around and much to everyone’s shock and surprise, we actually had copious amounts of snow! It started to feel comparable to a winter in Minnesota. Except here they don’t use salt, and it took them a week before most roads were plowed or cindered (which is like more coarse sand, for those of you who don’t know).

That’s a week of everyone driving on packed down snow that turned to ice. And when they did plow it, they left about an inch above the road making it even more slippery and deadly, leaving us all to wonder who the hell thought this was a good idea?! WHO?!

Not surprisingly, my Impala did just fine. Despite the numerous people and their idiotic statements…

“I bet you wish you had 4-wheel drive!”
“Aw man, are you stuck like, all the time?”
“You have studded tires, right?”
“Get yourself snow tires or you’re going to die!”

Ok, that last one didn’t happen. But people were pestering me about how dangerous it would be to leave on my all-seasons. Guys, I drove in Minnesota and North Dakota my entire life, I never once bought winter tires. Not. Once.

Granted, I didn’t grow up in the country either… but still! Only twice have poor road conditions caused issues for me, and in both cases it was ice, which only studded tires would have solved. Studded tires weren’t legal in the cities I lived in.

Anyways, as Oregon has a lot of mountain passes that travel through national forest, I bought a set of chains for my Impala as these passes require that you carry them. But even with my frequent travel through the mountains, I never used them. (Admittedly I still have them too, even though I no longer have the Impala…)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that I did NOT purchase Ruby for the sake of “driving safely in the winter”. Sure there are some advantages to all-wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles. But by no means are these necessary. The only thing that doesn’t do well in the winter are rear-wheel drive vehicles. (Unless you love doing doughnuts and burnouts without going anywhere, then these are just fine.)

I realize that I have made myself seem all high and mighty winter driver, but alas I too am imperfect. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.) I did get stuck four times this winter. Twice were icy driveways/parking spots I couldn’t get any traction on (Kitty litter for the win!) And two other times… were in… my own driveway. Within 12 hours of each other.

I still feel shame for these, but am incredibly grateful they happened in my own driveway.

Pulling in after work to an un-shoveled driveway, I hit a hidden ice patch and couldn’t go anywhere. Two 20 something year old neighbors tried to push me to no avail. I shoveled myself out and into my garage within 5-10min after their departure. Then, the following morning I backed out of my now shoveled driveway, right into the snow plow’s mountain of snow at the end. Which I had failed to notice in the dark. My back wheels were off the ground. I was late for work already. This was bad.

Like magic, a different neighbor appeared.

“You stuck?”

*Blank stare*

“Need a tow?”

*Relief*

He politely instructed me on what to do as he hooked up a tow rope (All while telling me about all the people he happily tows out all around our city) and tugged my Impala out like it was nothing.

He then asked,

“Do you ever play around in the snow?”

*Another blank stare*

“Not with this car…”

“OH! No! I meant in other vehicles, like snow-wheeling?”

*More blank stares*

“I have some buddies coming to town and we’re going out, would you like to come with us?”

We exchanged numbers, and I spent the next few days trying to figure out what on earth I had just agreed to.

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