Our property is reached by traveling on two dirt roads. The main road is maintained by the county on some schedule I can’t figure out. The heavy equipment comes when it comes. The secondary dirt road is maintained by no one but us, and we have no equipment for maintenance. When we first arrived, we rented a skid steer (aka a Bobcat), and The Man improved the secondary road so we could get our trailer to our land. The improvement didn’t last very long.
The weather forecast for the second week of May called for about five days of precipitation. On at least one of those days, there was a chance that the precipitation would be snow.
Snow? I asked incredulously. Temperatures weren’t supposed to dip below freezing at night, much less during the day. I didn’t think it would possibly be cold enough for snow. I should have remembered what I told visitors during my time as a camp host in California: It’s the mountains. Anything can happen.
We woke up around six in the morning, as we usually did. Before we got out of bed, The Man asked, What’s that sound?
I told him it was probably the rain that had been in the forecast.
He said it didn’t sound like rain to him, but I said it sounded like rain to me. He got out of bed, walking into the living room, and looked out of the big window facing east. He reported the presence of snow.
No way! I answered. This was not the first time in our lives together that The Man reported snow and I’ve doubted him. Sometimes jokesters are not to be believed, but sometimes they tell truths that seem impossible.
On this occasion there certainly was snow, five or six inches on the ground and covering all the sage. The mountains were shrouded in clouds or mist or fog, some weather phenomenon I’m not sure how to name. Our mountains were entirely hidden from view. The sky was gray all around, and fat, wet snowflakes continued to fall.
Snow and rain fell most of the morning and into the afternoon, turning our cleared land into a mud bowl.
The Man had done a soil analysis soon after we moved the trailer onto the land. He took a sample of our dirt and put it in a jar of water. The way the soil separated was supposed to tell us about the makeup of our dirt. He got practically no separation; all but the tiniest amount of soil settled to the bottom of the jar. He told me that meant our soil was mostly pure clay.
Once the clay surrounding our trailer got good and wet, it turned into a sticky mess. When we walked out into the mud, it sucked and pulled at our shoes. The mud clung to our shoes in clumps that were difficult to knock off before we went into the trailer. We stayed inside as much as possible, but Jerico the dog had to go outside several times that day. When we let him back in mud and pebbles stuck between his toes, and we had to wipe his feet before he jumped onto the couch or bed.
By late afternoon, there was a break in the precipitation, and we had to hurry to town to get water (we were practically out) and pick up some food staples we were low on. We wondered if we’d be able to navigate the muddy road.
The Man drove. He has more years of driving under his seatbelt and more experience driving on ice, to which he compared driving through the sticky mud. He barely got the truck moving through the mud in order to shift into four wheel drive, but he managed to do it. The truck left huge ruts in its wake.
The road in front of our property was a giant, muddy slip-n-slide. Even under The Man’s experienced steering, the truck slid all over the road. At times we moved down the road at an angle instead of straight ahead. Mud flew through the air and splattered the windshield and sides of the truck.
The farther we got from our property, the better the road was, but by “better,” I really mean “less terrible.” The road was bad. Amy city person would have told you so.
We made it off the dirt road (more aptly described as a mud road at that time) and into town. When we stopped at the gas station, I was astonished to see the truck was covered in mud. The tires, the windshield, the sides, the undercarriage, the windows were all thickly splashed with already drying, cracking clay. It looked like we’d been out muddin‘.
We cleaned the windshield as best as we could, but agreed there was no sense going to the car wash, as we’d only go back through mud on the way home. The truck was sure to get covered with mud again as soon as we left the pavement.
After a few days the sky ceased dumping rain and snow on us, and the mud dried into hard, cracked clay. We decided we’d wash the truck first thing when we went to town.
Our first stop was a self-service car wash, the kind where you wash your car with water that shoots out of a long wand. We took our water jugs out of the truck’s bed, and The Man fed three dollar bills into the machine. The water shot out of the wand and knocked off the large chunks of dried mud but left a red dirt film on the surface of the truck. The Man thought we’d already spent enough money at that place and decided we needed to go elsewhere to use an automatic car wash.
We found one across town, and using it was a fiasco from the beginning. We weren’t sure how to make the card reader at the entrance work. I put my debit card in the reader, and some words appeared on the machine’s screen, but I was never given an access code. I walked over the adjacent gas station/convenience store, and after standing in line, told the worker what had happened. She assured me that if the machine hadn’t given me an access code, no money had been taken from my account. She then told me I could pay for a wash right there at her register. She rattled off four car wash choices priced at $6, $8, $10, and $12.
I can’t say I have much car wash experience. In the almost five years I had my van, I washed it exactly once, at one of those self-serve places after my boss gave me a $10 token to use there. I remember going through automatic car washes a time or two years ago, but I’d never paid for one before. I didn’t know what to pick, but since I’m cheap and $6 seemed like an extravagance for some soap and water, I went with the basic wash.
When I returned to the car wash, the doors were already open. I punched in the code I’d just bought, and The Man drove the truck in while I stayed with the water jugs. The wash didn’t last very long. When I walked over to where he’d parked, I found The Man fuming. The red dirt film still clung to the exterior of the truck, and clumps of mud still stuck to the undercarriage.
That didn’t do anything! The Man sputtered. I’m getting our money back!
He drove the truck over to the gas station/convenience store and parked in front. I followed him into the store. When it was his turn at the counter, The Man expressed his dissatisfaction to the clerk. She called the manager from the back room.
What both women told us boiled down to this: The $6 wash was only a basic wash and didn’t do much to remove dirt. Everyone in town already knew this. If we wanted the truck to come clean, we were going to have to spend more money.
Both ladies were very polite and friendly. The manager said if we weren’t satisfied, she would gladly refund our money, which she did. However, she made it clear we couldn’t expect much from the $6 option.
We gave up on washing the truck that day. A couple days later we were back in town, and we went to a different automatic car wash.
Don’t get the cheapest one, The Man warned me before I want inside to pay. I bought the $10 wash this time.
Again, I waited outside while The Man drove the truck into the washing area. It was in there a lot longer this time, and it looked a lot better when it came out. There was still a slight film of red clay clinging to the sides. We used toilet paper and rags to wipe off the film. I suppose that clay isn’t coming off without a little elbow grease.
I took the photos in this post.