Archive for Cars

Another car post…….

I know I blog about cars a lot (ok, twice).  I’m not car-crazy, I swear.  At least not in the way some people are.  I like having a car.  But, frankly, if my car starts almost every time and if it has 4 wheels and a radio, I’m pretty happy.  I’ve come to the point in my car journey where mufflers and heaters are luxury options.  So, when I get a “new” car, I’m pretty stoked.  So, I’m gonna take you through a little photo-journey through the purchase of our most recent vehicle.  And don’t worry, now that we own 2 cars less that 12 years old, you won’t have to hear about another car purchase for at least 20 more years.  I fully expect to hand these cars down to my grandchildren.  It’s the curse of having a husband who is both handy and thrifty.  But mostly thrifty.

So, the journey begins here with our old cars.  We had to trade in TWO cars to get ONE full trade-in value.  A 1994 Altima and a 1995 Honda Accord.  Here they are at the dealership, waiting to be crushed and melted.  They had been sitting outside in our driveway for 5 years waiting to be put out of their rusty misery.  One had a dead battery because the key is unable to be removed from the ignition so it has to just stay in accessory-on position until it dies.  So, we had to jump-start it in the rain to get it to the dealership.  But the other car’s hood was rusted shut so we had to pound it open with a crow-bar to get the jumper cables on.  True story.  You can’t make this stuff up.  When we got there, the service guy had to take them for a spin to “check them out.”  They said it was the routine.  We warned him not to be scared of all the squealing noises and NOT to turn them off unless he had jumper cables.  Somehow, they passed inspection and we got the trade-in.  I think it’s because they both had almost full tanks of gas.  That’s worth a good $75.

Shiloh had a hard time letting go.  Here he is at the dealership watching our old cars out the window.  We had to wait a long time while we did paperwork and Shiloh could hear the old cars calling to him.  He thinks they still had several good decades of driving left in them.  I disagreed.  Strongly.  In the end, he chose me.  I knew he would.  🙂  But it was a hard decision for him.  So, he spent some private time saying goodbye.

While we waited, they drove up our “new” car, a 2007 Camry,  so I could take it for a spin.  Shiloh had picked it out the day before and purchased it “contingent on my approval”.  I declined the offer to test-drive the new car.  It was raining, I was tired, I trusted my husband.  I didn’t need to drive it around Bergstrom’s parking lot.  But mostly, there was nothing that could be wrong with that Camry that would cause me to take home those two old cars instead.  Nothing.  My husband had signed off on a new car and we had driven the old cars to the dealership.  I was NOT going home without that Camry.  If I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to know.

Here are all the things we needed to bring with us to get our new car.  We needed the titles for the two old cars, of course.  (We could only find one).  We needed a checkbook, because Shiloh will only pay “cash” for a car.  Financing is for sissies.  (He tried to pay with nickels, but the dealership balked).  We needed 2 screwdrivers because you always need screwdrivers for something with our old cars: opening gas caps, turning ignition keys, rolling down windows.  (Turns out we needed some sort of hydraulic power tool to get the license plates off, but the dealership had to provide that).

Here’s our new car sitting right next to the car of Dan, Shiloh’s best friend.  Notice any similarities?  I should have known that, if I sent Shiloh out to buy a car, he would go with what he knows.  And what he knows is: royal blue 2007 Camry with tan interior.  Identical to Dan’s.  I’m so glad Shiloh has such good taste in friends who have such good taste in cars.

As I’m looking at the picture, I also notice that Dan has a nicely paved driveway and a new garage with doors that go up and down.  Hhhhmmmmmm.  I think I know my next “project” for Shiloh.


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Life Lessons Learned

Try to ignore the flat screen above the door. We did.

My family and I just got back from our Ramos Road Trip 2010.  I wanted to take the kids to the Rockies, but we decided that was just too much driving (thanks Laureen).  Instead, we drove south through Illinois and Indiana and camped in the woods of Kentucky for 4 nights.  Ok,  so our “camping” involved hot running water and Direct TV.  But I know you would never judge me for that.  It did involve unpleasant smells and vermin, so it was almost like real camping.

I like vacation.  I like it for the obvious reason that it’s a chance to rest and relax. (Although, despite practice, I’m not very good at either of those things.)  But I mostly like our vacations as a chance to build memories and to learn things about your country and about yourself.

Our cabin came with the important essentials.

You learn about history and geography when you stop at State Historical Sites.  But you also learn a lot about humanity by stopping at scary Interstate truck stops.  And by (accidentally) stopping in Gary.  These are the life lessons I take away from vacations.

The view from our hotel.

1. I learned that every bad thing I have heard about Gary, Indiana is true.  My apologies to Michael Jackson and anyone else from Gary.  What an  indescribably depressing place.  We accidentally stopped there at 10PM on our drive south.  The hotel desk clerk warned us not to leave anything in our car overnight “cuz someone stoled his shotgun right out his truck last night.”

2.  I learned that here are a shocking number of McDonald’s between Wisconsin and Kentucky.  And we actually stopped at a shocking number of McDonald’s (9) on our 6-day trip.  Don’t judge.  A girl needs coffee.  And southwest chicken salad.

3.  I learned that Neenah really needs a Chick-fil-A.  But not a Waffle House.

I swear we didn't actually eat this. I just took a picture in the camp store.

4.  I learned that there exist entire “dry” counties where you can’t buy alcohol.  And that these counties are usually very large and not worth driving out of at 9PM to get a beer.  Except on your 4th night of camping and eating camp food.

5. I learned that Kentucky has a confused time zone identity.  Whatever time zone Kentucky is in,  Louisville is in a different time zone.  Mammoth Cave National Park has tons of signs warning us that it is in Central Time Zone.  Which we thought we were in already.  I asked the worker at our campground what Time Zone we were in .  He said he didn’t know.  So, I asked him what time it was.  He said he didn’t know.  I left it at that.  The clock at the Ranger Station said 5:20.  My iPhone said 6:20.  The clock in our cabin said 3:47……..

6. I learned that 6-year-olds only care a little bit about the Civil War.  And that 9-year-olds do not care at all about the Civil War.  People in their 30’s are newly fascinated by the Civil War.  And people in their 90’s that you meet in the parking lot stopped caring either way about that war.

I had to bribe him with chicken McNuggets to get him to smile. But he's 9 and it's a Civil War mural, so this was the best he could do.

The Green River through Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

7.  I learned that Kentucky is really beautiful, with green rolling hills and a rich, fascinating history.  Wisconsin is beautiful too.  The more I travel, the more I appreciate Wisconsin.   Indiana is….. meh.  Indiana does have a lot of windmills.  And colleges.  I guess Indianans aspire to bigger, more beautiful things……..

8.  I learned that Subey-stores are worth 20 points and that Subey-commercials are worth 10 points.  This is VERY important.  And watch out for pseudo-Subey-stores.  They’ll wipe you out.  (See previous blog post.)

8.  I learned that sometimes the best part of going on vacation is the drive home.

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Last summer, the Ramos family got a new family truckster.   I introduced Lucy the Subaru in a blog post.  Turns out, the name “Lucy” didn’t stick.  We call her “Subey”.  Subey rocks.  (Especially after that new head gasket….but that’s a whole other blog post.)

Once we got our Subaru, we started seeing Subaru’s everywhere!  I can’t believe I never noticed how many Subaru wagons are in this town!  I’ve counted at least 3 bajillion.  My kids love their Subey so much that they started calling out every time they saw another Subaru.  They’d scream “SUBEY!”.  Since my kids are ruthlessly competitive, they immediately turned a simple drive into a brutal contest.

The game SUBEY was born.  It’s kinda like “Spud” or “Punch Buggy”, except we’re looking for Subarus instead of VWs.  In the original version of this game, you would call out “SUBEY” and punch your competitor in the arm every time you saw a Subaru.  The referee (me) quickly called a moratorium to the punching.  Authorized violence is way more than my boys can handle.  Things were getting out of hand.

Along the way, SUBEY has evolved a complex set of rules:

1. The SUBEY in question must be in sight of the caller and must be verified by at least one other competitor.

2.  Competitors may call their own SUBEY but only if they are on their way to get into said SUBEY.  (You may not call your own SUBEY every time you pass your own driveway.)

3.  Competitors may call the same SUBEY more than once in a trip but only if said SUBEY leaves our sight and then comes back into our sight. (This comes in handy for the 2 Outback Wagons that live on our street.  We can call them both coming and going.)

4.  If you call SUBEY on a vehicle that turns out not to be a Subaru, you are penalized for a Pseudo-SUBEY.  You do not lose points since the shame is penalty enough.  (Usual culprits: Hondas, Volvos, Audis, and an occasional Ford wagon.)

5.  If you successfully call a silver or gray SUBEY, you get double points for a Silver-SUBEY.

SUBEY is a really fun game.  And totally exhausting.  You never get a break.  If you’re out of the house, you’re playing SUBEY.  You never know what’s gonna drive by the house.  My 6-year-old, Gage, rocks at SUBEY.  He is, far and away, the most observant family member.  He spots sleeping owls hiding in treetops.  He spies hot air balloons 100 miles away.  And he successfully calls SUBEYS obscured by lilac bushes, parked behind garages, and driving the opposite way on an 8-lane highway.  He scores SUBEYs when the rest of us forgot we were playing.  It seriously stresses out my 9-year-old, Solon.   He wants to take a time out from the pressure of SUBEY.  But he can’t as long as someone else is playing.  And Gage is always playing.  Solon tries to get us to agree to a break.  Or to agree not to call our own SUBEY.  But it never works.

SUBEY is impossible to stop.  I call SUBEYs all the way to work every morning.  By myself.  On my bike.  Out loud.  It makes me smile and think of my kids.  And wish they were with me.  So they could see me kick their butts at SUBEY.

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Meet “Lucy”

The Ramos family has a new Famly Truckster!  We got a new car.  Actually, it’s 10 years old.  But, that’s new to us.  And its the closest we’ve ever been to owning a car made in this millineum.  We got a Subaru Outback Wagon.  It has awesome features we’ve never had before.  Trailer hitch!  Hatch-back trunk!  Air-conditioning!  Unfortunately, it also has some not so awesome features we have had before. Stick shift!  Crappy cup-holders!  Scratched driver’s door!  Oh well.  I really like it.  I already named her Lucy.  I don’t know why.  That’s just her name.  She joins the fleet of rusty Japanese cars in our driveway: Jane (Honda) and Shiloh’s-Unnamed-White-Car (Nissan).  We may actually park one of the cars in the garage now.  That’ll be a first too.  I’ll keep you posted.


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