You think you’re tough you Subarus and Jeeps and Range Rovers. But where would you be without your horsepower, your treads, your all wheel drive, your high clearance? You aren’t brave for doing what you were made to do. Bravery is stepping out of your comfort zone, pushing your limits, fighting through pain and fear and an engine designed only to take you from your house to Starbucks to your comfortable white collar job where you have meetings to make sure everyone recycles, never making so much noise that it drowns out the soothing voice of Ira Glass on This American Life. My Prius is truly brave. She is bruised and battered, and gets more than a few odd looks, but every battle scar has a story behind it.
Why is there a bungee cord wrapped around the grill? The skid plate was hanging off in the front for a long time. It didn’t hang low enough to scrape the ground so it never really bothered me but there was a noticeable gap. Then one winter in Connecticut every single light on the dash came on and the Adventure Prius shut down. After she was towed I anxiously awaited the phone call. I went over every possibility in my head, but when the phone rang I was still taken by surprise: “We found evidence of nesting in the manifold. Leaves and um…..fecal matter.” A squirrel had been living in and snacking on my wires and spark plugs and other very important technical items. I paid $500 for those repairs but the mechanics were kind enough to zip tie the skid plate back up to prevent easy entry. I found a very helpful website (squirrelsatemywiring.com) and with a supportive community (and the knowledge that the monetary damage could have been much worse) I gradually recovered. Two years and 50,000 miles later on my commute to work in Houston a plastic bucket lid flew off the truck in front of me and ripped the plate and fasteners off completely. All I had with me was a bungee cord. And in Houston the squirrels aren’t quite as desperate for a warm place to sleep and snack in the winter so it’s safe here.
Why is there velcro around the back windows? This is because I’m a genius. Genius born from an unpleasant experience, but genius nonetheless. When I moved down to Texas I did the entire drive in one straight shot with a three hour nap somewhere in Kentucky. That nap was less than satisfactory. I had to leave the windows open because it was Kentucky in summer, which opened the door for what were apparently record breaking loud mosquitos. But the car itself? Not too uncomfortable. A rare moment when being 5’5” is an advantage. Unlike when I go climbing with my lovely 6’4” boyfriend who can touch the top of the wall from the ground. Anyway, with all my genius I ordered velcro tape and heaps of bug netting and Bam! removable screen windows on the Prius. It ended up coming in handy on my road trip through the National Parks of the Four Corners area. I set up my tent in a campground on a bluff conveniently located between Arches and Canyonlands and I swear, I swear, I tied anchors. When I was at Arches the wind started to pick up and I just had a horrible feeling. I drove back to the campsite and in the distance I saw something orange flapping in the wind. My heart jumped into my throat as I drove up and saw my tent, suspended. It was caught on the barbed wire and the wind was slamming it into the tiny blades over and over. I ran out of the car and pulled it off, trying to do it gently but as fast as I could. Then began my search. Footprint, paracord, stakes, all scattered across a 200 foot range of dust and cactuses. I’m sure I still could have used the tent but I didn’t want it to get worse. It’s the first big purchase I made for myself and it really is the most useful thing I own. Thank god I had the car set up. I used it for the rest of the road trip, and it meant that when I made the final push home I could just sleep at a truck stop. It actually was pretty comfortable. I hung a solar light from the ceiling, used the cooler as a bedside table, and I fit perfectly in the space behind the passenger seat (5’5”). This also led to my first time patching a tent. It had to transition from the arid Southwest to a backpacking trip in Oregon a few weeks later. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but we had at least 3 days of torrential, bone chilling rain and it held up perfectly.
Why does it look like the trunk is leaking pus? Well this is partially because gorilla glue is not something I’m proficient with, but it’s also because I’m incredibly strong. We were spending a long weekend in Big Bend National Park, which had involved a long drive from Houston, and some very rough road to get to our backcountry campsite (nothing an adventure Prius can’t handle). The trunk handle had been wiggly for a while, and I’d noticed it the night before when we were getting dinner set and making seats in the trunk to watch the sunset over the Chisos mountain range. Then in the wee hours I went to open the trunk and with my enormous strength I ripped the handle clean off. The wire was still attached so I grabbed some paracord and tied it to windshield wiper with supportive athletic tape. We must have looked so incredibly sketchy going back through border patrol but the next weekend after giving the car a VERY thorough wash I gorilla glued it back together. It looks awful though.
My Adventure Prius has taken me to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, and all around the National Parks. We’ve gone over the Green Mountains in a snowfall, survived a flood in Houston, and braved the dirt roads of Moab. New Jersey to Houston and back, and then Vermont to Houston, top to bottom of the country. This year alone we’ve driven through about 20 states and hit 200,000 miles. The Adventure Prius is the real car for the outdoorsman, the backpacker, the skier, and the casual city commuter.