About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sticks Can Fix A Car

The relatives were visiting last week from Boston.  So, we decided to take them over to dusty Central Oregon, since the desert there is scenic with reliably summer-like weather (unlike the rest of Oregon) and *totally* different from their usual city-and-suburb environs.

They wanted to go on a hike.  Lots of options -- mountains, streams, rivers, desert itself, lava flows, even a big Obsidian flow.  Thinking that it would be much too boring to take them on a hike (Benham Falls) we actually were familiar with (and knew how to get to), we consulted a book and found a few options near Sisters, OR which claimed that they were 1) scenic, 2) easy and 3) relatively easy to get to.

(The hike we didn't go on -- picture of part of Benham Falls, taken summer 2010.)

We piled into our two cars -- six people in the minivan; three in the Corolla.

We drove and drove and drove.  Kids started to complain.  Husband who brilliantly planned this adventure decided to make a last-minute change and seek a hike that was (according to the book he was still consulting) even easier and closer.  We did a U-turn to find said location.

We ended up on a gravel road.

A LONG gravel road.  Driving the considerably smaller car (and neither of our cars designed for off-roading), I mentioned to my husband that perhaps it would be wiser to abandon this brilliant plan.  I had just taken both cars in to be fixed and didn't relish the idea of having repairs to do again.

Husband said I was overreacting.

It'll be fine.

Don't worry.


Gravel road becomes a nearly impassable ROCK road.  We are now driving about five miles per hour.  Suddenly I hear a huge CLONK and then a disheartening BRRRRR.  I stop the car and look at the kids in the back seat.

My son has burst into tears and is screaming frantically "I WANT TO GO HOME!"  My niece's eyes are like saucers.  Feeling absolutely NOT confident, I say to them, "It's OK!  Let's get out and see what's wrong."

(I may or may not have said a few more colorful phrases as well; I may have even screamed at the husband.)

The entire exhaust system was disconnected from the engine and hanging down, nearly touching the so-called "road".  Though the car would drive, it was even more perilous than before to drive it, as the clearance under the car was now even smaller than previously.

Husband valiantly scoots himself under the car to examine the damage.

Like a tenured, chaired professor of political science has so much knowledge about the car in the first place.

"What do we have to fix it?"

NOTHING.  Not even a piece of rope (not that it would have been safe to tie rope to the underside of the car anyway).

"Do the cell phones work?"

NEGATIVE.  Lost cell phone connection about 10 miles back.

Husband says "We're nearly there; let's just park and go on the hike and deal with the cars later."

Well, since it is promised  to be such a "spectacular" hike, complete with a marvelous waterfall, that does sound like a wise idea.

Off we go.  Trudging uphill for a LONG time, seeing a bit of a racing stream and some admittedly pretty views of the mountains.

(Mountain lilly.)


We never found it.

(The tired and exasperated children.)

"I shouldn't criticize the hiking book," my sister-in-law quipped.  "It's a GREAT book!  It's a work of PURE FICTION!"

The kids were tired and cranky and it was obvious that the idea of this hike taking only half a day was going to take the whole day.

We had to find a way to drive the car, at least until we could park it and use our cell phones to call a tow truck.

My brother-in-law found two sticks of Ponderosa pine, rolled himself under the car and reattached the exhaust system.

(The brother in law and the sister in law.)

Oh, that'll work.

It did.  We drove as slowly as before, stopping about every half mile to check on the car.  We drove it 25 miles (to Bend), until we found a garage and some extremely friendly, generous souls who fixed it for free.

(The husband who planned the trip.)

In case you ever need emergency car repair in Central Oregon, The "Good Guys" in Bend should be renamed the "Great Guys".

(Not at all from the hike, but I decided to share this all with you -- from earlier this summer -- me and the kids.)


  1. OMG I would have been sobbing.

    Elaine: Gorgeous photo of yoU!

  2. It was stressful! But all's well that ends well... and thanks for the compliment!

  3. This is hilarious, well-written & even has a happy ending - something that the "car talk" guys - http://www.cartalk.com/index.html - would have loved!

    @kayak175 ;)

  4. Yes, we discussed Car Talk all the way to the repair place (driving slowly and freaking out the whole way). The guys at "Good Guys", by the way, got a good laugh out of our impromptu repair (but I think they were also a little impressed). :)

  5. Oh, wow, you handled that trouble well! That's a pretty clever idea to use the sticks, too. You just never know until you try, right? Kudos to the guys who did the auto repair as well. They seem to be really great guys.

  6. Gary -- Thanks for reading and for your comment! Yes, "The Good Guys" were great!


Politeness is always appreciated.