By popular request, I introduce the latest and greatest vehicle in a long and regal line of second cars. I present the Subaru GL 4×4 wagon (aka: Loyale/Leone/Turbowagon). It’s got a 3″lift and a low center of gravity boxer engine (the spare tire is kept under the front hood in fact, so quite flat).


I’ve had the wagon for a couple months now, does great in-town and up on gravel – should see a bit of snow soon.


Weekend Jaunt

Wy’east (Mt Hood) White River/Glacier; frist stop on the drive from Bend to Hood River


Dinner at Pfriem in Hood River.
Dinner at pFriem in Hood River.


Evening hike into Gifford-Pinchot National Forest (Mt St Helens)




Sun’s setting, probably need to find somewhere to camp


Mt St Helens, eastern slope


Cooler weather rolls in finally. A good heatwave sat over home for a week prior to this. Ahhh.


Grabbed a back corner camping spot. Invited a pair of cyclists to share shortly after the small FS camp filled up.


Up and on the road early, driving up towards Rainier.


Mt Ranier


Mid-Afternoon I rolled into Camlann Village, east of Seattle. It’s an authentic medieval living history village with a working farm, restaurant, venue etc.


Pottery Wheel




Planing boards. All the buildings, furniture and…well, everything…is handmade using traditional peasanty methods.
A big chunk of bread, a goblet of mead, and a bowl of pottage. Who’d of thought peasant slop could be made so well, kuddos! Very tasty.




Around 2PM I hit the road again, deciding to head towards the coast. A few stops around Seattle and some quick 15min hikes in the Olympia/coastal range.


Spent the night at Ft Stevens State Park, right on the beach at Astoria, Ore.


You can drive on many public beaches in Oregon. I had a rental car…so you know, why not. Turns out donuts and sweet stunts are a tad dull with AWD.

I’ve got a lot more photos, expect a followup post!


So I have a fairly interesting history of ‘second vehicles’. But before I dwell deeper on that, know that our current ride is a ’11 Honda Fit, a zippy little fuel-efficient commuter which the wife drives regularly.

Over the past few years, I’ve had an assorted fleet of second vehicles, starting with the Suzuki Samurai, a little jeep-esque SUV, rugged, 5-speed and really fun. I explored a lot of Oregon in that thing, heck – we even hauled a trailer with it to Burning Man! It was reliable, and it even sold for more than what I paid for! Looking back, it was the sort of vehicle that I regret selling, but the $3500 was much needed elsewhere (getting married!).


The second vehicle was the thoroughly lackluster Dodge Raider. It was dirt cheap, only $500, and had engine troubles, including leaks and bad compression. I’ll be honest…it sucked. I had it for just over a month before unloading it on craigslist for what I paid for. It was the black sheep – for sure.


Number three was my trusty ’78 Toyota pickup. Had the ‘Yoda’ for about a year and the fellow I sold it to was lucky, because this vehicle will likely be running long after our shiny ’11 Fit grows old and falls apart. While it was only 2WD, it handled anything well – from trails to snow. It was a good ride, got great mileage with its little 4cyl engine, and even had a sound system. Little pickups like this are great…if you don’t mind having to help people move and haul stuff 😀 Sadly, we sold it when we moved to Omaha.


That brings us to number four, my new ride. I preset the…well…we haven’t thought of a good name for it yet, but it’s a beasty GMC. An ’87 Jimmy to be precise, with a bit of a lift and beautifully maintained. It won’t win any fuel-efficiency awards, but perfect for exploring off-road (for, uh guidebook research), hopping around town,  getting us through the winter safely and the zombie apocalypse.



Warmer weather is a nice thing. The grass turns green, the flowers pop up, kids fill the playgrounds, picnickers hit the parks…and my moped can come out of hibernation.


Drove it to work for the first time this season, and aside from chilly hands and cheeks, it was a lovely ride. Couple things I need to remember for next year though:


1. detach the battery so it doesn’t drain dead

2. don’t leave the tank full of stale gas

3. wear gloves if it’s even slightly chilly, because at 25mph there’s some serious windchill!

Worlds Worst Drivers: pt2

I’ve decided that among various spectator sports, watching bad drivers from the comfort of my living room is one of the most amusing. Here’s a video of some fella in a rear-wheel suv burning away rubber for a good four minutes. Keep in mind that all day dozens of cars had made it easily up our hill thanks to their driving skills.

Free entertainment

It’s official: People in Omaha don’t know how to drive in snow.

It’s an odd realization to come too, since this place is rather snowy in the winter…big midwest snowstorms that roll in and don’t melt for weeks.This impressive discovery was made from the convenience of my own home, indeed via the double windows directly behind me as I stand here at my desk. Said windows look out upon our hilly road, thusly:

Keep in mind that this picture was taken nearly a week after the snowstorm. There’s still ice on the road. Temperatures had yet to rise above the mid-twenties, even in the sunny afternoons…with nights as low as 2 degrees.The result of this, of course, being that the road ice hasn’t melted.

For this last week, the spectacle on the street has been both reliable and hilarious. Cars try to make it up the street with drivers clueless about both driving technique and apparently the laws of physics…especially those governing inertia and friction. The disheartening part, is that some of these people are literally doing damage to their vehicles…gunning the engine, wheels spinning at 70mph,melting troughs in the ice until their wheels are spinning on pavement, thick clouds of rubber smoke pouring out as their vehicle sits in place. This is almost exclusively sedans and minivans. The 4×4 folks crawl their way up our hill like it was a pleasant summer day.

I can’t say that all Omahans are clueless either. There’s the few vehicles that take the hill at a steady speed, and those with light feet who don’t let themselves lose traction in the first place. It’s unfortunate how many are clueless though, and end up sideways in front of our house, sliding backwards while still gunning the engine…creating polished slick patches for the next car.

It’s not just our street either. On a trip to Iowa over the weekend,we saw dozens of abandoned vehicles strewn across medians, some looking like they rolled or hit other vehicles. Facebook was abuzz with people who got into accidents. Even our own little Honda was briefly uncontrollable, mere feet from our driveway.

It makes me want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Why were there lines at McDonalds? Crowds at the movie theater? People traveling at all?

This seems to be more of a phychological…or perhaps sociological…issue. People look outside and know that roads are dangerous. Cars accidents are already a leading cause of death and injury nationwide and that accidents are far more likely in bad weather. So why do people travel? Why do they feel that a Big Mac is worth risking a car accident? Is the increase in risk not fully perceived when making the decision? Do rational people weigh this type of danger low because of faulty logic, car commercials, or overconfidence? Do car drivers know when they’re approaching my house, their vehicle can’t possibly make it up the hill, but try anyway…or are they oblivious?

This little sideshow out front has allowed me to witness human decision-making in its most primal form. I can see the faces of those people; extreme panic, anger, frustration…I can see their decision process as they gun the engine, as they sit and pause to think, as they look around them for ways to either u-turn or tackle the challenge. It’s an interesting glimpse at the base decisionmaking that people make, and I certainly am in those places myself, all the time. What is most interesting, is how each driver is so different. Every person makes thousands of small and large decisions every day, and I get a perfect closed arena to experience this diversity of decisions, right from my window.