Joni (my spouse) is a National Treasure.
Maybe it's from all those years living in Colorado. Years where she had the good fortune to drive Subaru 4 wheel drives, monstrous SUV's and Land Rovers. Years spent with Trustfunder Enviros whose idea of socially useful work was a non-violent demonstration against the local logging companies (I agree!). Years where she lived in Boulder and Crested Butte (affectionately called "crusty butt" by the locals) with snowstorms, mountain passes and gravel roads.
Fearless, she is. Find a gravel road up a 12,000 foot pass, with 8,000 foot drop-offs, where half the road is washed away---giving just a hair's breath between the road, ice and aforementioned deathly chasm?
"I'll drive it!" Joni exclaims. "No problem".
Now the Toyota Echo is a cheerful car. Because of it's size, my friends call it: "the clown car". To look at it, you'd think that seventeen Ronald McDonald type circus characters would come bounding out of the thing. Much more my type of vehicle. Practical. Not much to look at. High gas mileage. Low pollution. No frills. No CD player. No Sunroof. No electronic gadgets that give the outside temperature or computer read outs of directions to the nearest latte' joint. It's the car loved best by boring, Midwestern stoic types with socialist tendencies.
That would be me.
Joni is much more of an anarchist behind the wheel. Speedlimits are suggestions. Caution signs are for other people. And if there is a line on a map that says: "Four wheel drive only" she enthusiastically proclaims that her years of experience driving the mountain gravel roads (they call it "exposure", a word I don't like to hear regarding hiking trails--let alone mountain, single track, gravel roads in an automobile) makes her more than qualified to take a low budget, low clearance, low horsepower commuter car across said peak.
And just to remind herself that she is human, every few years she decides to put a car in the ditch. Precariously hanging off some mountain ledge usually. In a snowstorm. With no visibility. Or chains. Late at night. Without hazard lights.
This time she put the car on the safe side of the ditch. With maturity does come some wisdom. Driving down the canyon, on our single lane, county maintained road, she suddenly remembered she forgot the "Construction" checkbook. On her way to find second hand treasures at the salvage lumberyard, she opted to turn around at a steep road made by one of the bulldozers fighting the "Camp Fire" that intersects with the county road.
Now it hasn't rained since March...except a few spits of water that didn't measure in our rain gauge the first week of August. The dust was deep. Much too deep for the valiant Toyota Echo.
The result below:
No damage done. Just a few scratches that add character to a car (much like the wrinkles around my eyes). And in case you are wondering? Yes, AAA does visit our area. We've established that one now. They did a fine job. And we've used our yearly quota of visits.