All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

west side problems, shorter than before March 25, 2011

Filed under: Cars,Shopping,Waves — sendann @ 5:43 pm
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I’ve been looking for a car in earnest for over a month now, and I can’t find anything. I’ve opened by mind and bank account and I think I have reasonable goals — air conditioning, Subaru,Honda, or Toyota, wagon, suv or minivan, 150k or less. I’ve been to see a few, talked to some folks, it has not come together yet. I think a part of me doesn’t want to get rid of the Trooper. With the nice cloudy and kinda cool snap, I think I might stop looking for now.

So this is a good time to explain my possible summer plan, because it relates to the car question. I’m committed to gymnastics through the first week of June, then I’m gonna pack it in in Austin, again, and spend a month in Flagstaff. It’s going to be so much fun. So much bouldering. Then, Lotti invited me to do a bouldering, sports action, AND learn more trad circuit for the rest of the season up in Squamish. So that seems quite possible. In between, I want to spend a few weeks in Encinitas/San Diego, to longboard more more more and check out Black Mountain. So, how bad am I going to want an air conditioner on that trip? I really don’t know. Is the answer obvious and I’m just missing it or being naive or something?

Ok, the other thing is I got a tax refund (whoopy!) and I want to get my own longboard. I got to demo a few in Galveston this weekend, and had a blast. I rode a nice local shapers’ model, and found the waves were super fun and mellow, if a little disorganized the first day. I was worried I wouldn’t even be able to catch anything or stand up at all on a shorter (8 foot!) board, but I actually got a couple nice rides! The drop in is not scary at all there, and I got up and cruised around pretty easily. So psyched for more.

I was at soundwaves picking through their kind of enormous selection and….

The freaking Kassia roxy board I rode and loved in Hanalei. Dammit. Although my accountant is awesome, he didn’t win me enough to cover such unexpected luxury opportunity girl boardism.

Ug. Not sure you can read that, but it’s $freakingpricey. Ugh. Ok, to buy this board online from Surftech is $unreasonable, so I’m almost relieved. I had a long talk with mr soundwaves, about how much I liked it and if there was a cheaper, similarly sized board around. He showed me a few other “girls” boards, but they were as fat as all the others and heavy, just painted pink. I want the Kassia board.

So I headed south to demo the local board and at least get in the water, and on my way swung by another of soundwaves’ 3 locations. They had the Kassia too, for way cheaper! But still a bit out of my reach. They have this special deal where if you go on a Saturday morning you get a big discount. I might be able to swing it. But on the other hand, and same as with the trooper, now that I have the money and opportunity to get something I’ve been wanting for a long time, I’m wondering if this is the right time to bother. I can keep demoing and renting for the year, and keep an eye out for Kassia on ebay or something, or look for something else in California, AND not have to worry about shlepping it around this summer. Even though I kind of totally want to.

So yeah, wah wah wah I can’t find the exact toys I want and even if I can find them I can’t decide if I really want them anyway. So sad.


snuggly tater December 13, 2010

Filed under: Cars,Crafty,Uncategorized — sendann @ 11:10 pm
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I’ve been putting it off for a few years, but I finally gave in and re-learned how to crochet. I had to wait all day for the Trooper, and there was a Hobby Lobby near the mechanic, and one thing lead to another, and there I was at Burger King sipping a chocolate milkshake with yarn in my lap, learning to crochet on YouTube.

My first attempts were pretty n00b. I made a very small, uneven square, and a sort of accidental christmas tree. Finally, I made my first real crochet thing. Checkitout!:


It’s a potato cozy.

It actually began as a human head cozy, but I’m not good at counting or yarn tension, and by the time I was done. Well…


So that’s pretty much what’s up with me these days. Also, I took the (had this guy Max take the) backseat out of the Trooper, and I’m going to build (break Andy’s drill bits then go get help from Dave at the Rock Ranch) a bed platform with storage underneath, and a little cook table. It’ll be luxury camping in and on the way to Bishop!


he said ‘oil can’ November 24, 2010

Filed under: Cars — sendann @ 11:22 pm
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the trooper at wallace's. so dignified, it's leaking integrity onto the gravel

I asked my friend Chris, “Are you a man who could look at a puddle under my car and tell me if it’s oil or transmission fluid?” He said yes, and said it was oil. But the display drew the attention of other men hanging around Hueco Tanks headquarters,¬† and I got several confirmations. Oil. Brown. Transmission fluid = red. The trooper is leaking a little oil when it’s running, and for a second or two after it’s turned off. I’m almost due for a change anyway, so I went to some off-brand of Jiffy Lube on Geronimo. When I came back for it, the guy at McOilChangemart said something like this:

“I have to decline to service your vehicle. It’s leaking so much oil all over the place, it is a liability for me to service your vehicle. Please take your vehicle somewhere else to be serviced.”

“Wha? I know it has a little leak, but why can’t you change it?”

“Ma’am, your car is leaking oil everywhere and it is dangerous. I cannot be responsible for working on this vehicle. Maybe Firestone will service it.”

“But whaaa? If it’s dangerous then they probably shouldn’t right?

“Ma’am, I cannot service this vehicle.”

“Can I just top it the oil off myself? I mean can the leak just be fixed by a mechanic?”

“Ma’am, to fix an engine like that will be several grand, and with that milage (211,000 ftw thank you very much) and running it with full oil it will probably blow up.”

“Oh Jesus just go away.”

So I got back in the apparently exploding Trooper and drove to Hill Brothers Auto, over by Fort Bliss, which came highly recommended to me by Ranger Jane. “I was driving an 88 Buick, and they completely understood me.” She told me. “They won’t do things that don’t matter”. When I finally found Hill’s (thanks lilyguide!) I went into the office, and it smelled just like Yost. I told Dave Hill what they oil change man had said. “Where the heck were you? WalMart?”

“Basically yeah, I was at WalMart. Is my car going to blow up?”

“No those guys are grease monkeys. Your blah blah blah is just blah blah blahd, I seen it a million times, they have to refuse to work on them because they’ll make a huge mess. You’re fine it’ll take 5 minutes. But I can’t possibly do it now, so come back on Saturday.”

“He said I’m leaking all over the place. But I only see a little oil on the driveway.”

“A little oil can look like a lot on the pavement. Let’s take a quick look.”

So we go out and he checks the oil stick. “Honey, you aren’t even at the low line. And this oil looks great, are you sure he didn’t sneak an oil change in there anyway?” Then he told me my engine was a Chevy, same as on the Trailblazers of the same era. “Izuzu and Chevy got in bed together for a while. These are great engines, come back on Saturday.”

So, HA. The Trooper is NOT about to blow up. This story was funnier in my mind.



Mrs. Trooper July 8, 2010

Filed under: Cars — sendann @ 7:27 pm
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Yesterday I was cruising around in ATX heaven – from a girlfriend’s house to the springs, then soccer at Justine’s! It was a haiku of awesome, but then my car started to smell like chemical fire. I rationalized that the smell was coming from construction that I was driving by.

Ok here’s how it goes with me: I had a low mileage (75k) 2000 Toyota Camry that my mom gave me, and a 1991 Isuzu Trooper with 185k on it from my father-in-law.

What Would Ann Raber Do? Obviously she’d sell the Camry, stash the cash, and live out of the Trooper. Is this taking the vintage aesthetic too far? Perhaps.

But it’s been a great car so far, as rolling greenhouse death traps go. I have this fantasy of trying to do mechanical work on it myself some day. So far I have replaced the radiator cap, and the headlight (bulb). Both times I had to have AO coach me through it on gchat. From “where do I get a radiator cap” to “what do you mean ‘go in through the hood?!?'” It’s been educational.

Here’s the Trooper with Rick Rivera’s boat hitched to it. Living up to its name in a big way.

This is the Trooper in Hueco when Vinny and I broke the door, and the Hueco Rock Ranch dudes helped fix it.

And here it is on the way to Hueco last year.

A couple weeks ago it started doing this thing where it took a few seconds to change gears. Like from reverese to drive and back it struggled to get going. It was Saturday, so I had to take it to a non-favorite mechanic. They said the transmission has a leak in the gasket or pan, and to give them 600 dollars. I said fuggedaboutit, and had them top off the fluid. I’d lost 3 quarts of tranny fluid in 6 months! Ugggghhhhh!

Then I had the best mechanic and one of the best people in Austin, and also probably one of the best men on the earth, Mike Yost, check it out. I was gonna ask him what he thought of the idea of me doing it myself was. But then, as he was laying underneath it in the parking lot he goes “It’s gonna be a huge job to get in there.” I got down there too and he showed me how the transmission is up above the exhaust system, and that it will involve taking tons of other parts off to get to and change. So I didn’t even ask about my DIY idea.

We agreed that for now I need to just check the level regularly and be sure to top it off. I said, “I read online that if you overfill the transmission fluid in this car even a little, it catches fire. There was even a recall about it in the 90s. So I’m scared.” To which Mike Yost responded: “Get full coverage.”

Oh, and so after the soccer game (I don’t know if I’m more excited to see the German’s lose, Spain win, or Paul the psychic octopus be proved right YET AGAIN) I drove to work, and the fire smell started again, then a big noise, then the battery light went on and I couldn’t steer, and when I finally got off 183 safely, I saw a broken belt dangling out of the bottom of the car, and the whole inside of the hood was covered in this gross black mank.

Alternator belt. Replaced within an hour by the other Mike at Yost Automotive.

Parts and Labor, $82.