New Ride, New Dreams

We bought a vehicle exactly a week ago...and then promptly took it camping that afternoon.  
The previous weekend had been gloriously mild and I lamented the fact we didn't seize on the sunny weather for some sort of big outdoor adventure.  I actually got rather blue and weepy about it.  Our increased time at home has really and truly grown on me....but I can't completely stifle my wanderlust.  Matt could read the signs and said we'd go winter camping that following Saturday.  The forecast still looked good by December standards with high 40s-50s during the day and 20-30s over night.
As the week progressed, Matt found a Toyota for sale that had pretty much all we'd been looking for in our next vehicle.  For the past six months or so he's been scouting around town and online for a Rav4 with specific traits (including 4WD, a full-sized spare mounted on the rear, low mileage, from 2008-2012, etc.) and he finally found one that checked all the boxes.  It worked out so that we paid for and picked it up on Saturday morning and were still on our way to Yellowstone by noon!
What an inauguration!    It seemed pretty dang perfect to me.  Yellowstone in the winter is just as spectacular in a completely different way as in the more popular seasons.
We were told about a year ago that our Corolla was on the decline mechanically.  We joke that she was put on hospice with no major life saving measures allowed.  There are some main engine components that are showing leaks and extreme wear.  Our mechanic said he couldn't say for sure how long it would last--could be years yet or maybe just months, depending on use--but he didn't recommend that we fix it.  Our Corolla is 15 years old and pushing 300,000 miles.  It has been totaled out twice by insurance (hail the first time and when we were hit while parked at a restaurant the second time).  The car is basically a thousand tiny dents and one huge one at this point.  Matt repaired the exhaust system with some specialized epoxy and dryer hose clamps.  And so on.  She looks and sounds quite rough at this point, but so far she's running just fine.  We didn't want that to end while we were up some crazy mountain road or something though. 
The Corolla might still have many miles in her yet--and we kept her, officially becoming a two car household for the first time in a decade or more--but we just don't know how long she'll be up to the task of our heavy road tripping.  In this regard, the pandemic was a two-fold blessing in disguise.  We didn't put nearly the miles on her this year as we typically would and we were able to save money even faster for our car replacement fund since we weren't buying concert tickets and plane tickets, etc.  We were able to pay for the new rig outright which felt friggin' amazing.  I was really proud.  Plus, we were really hoping the Corolla would hold out long enough for Matt to find our dream car...and she did!  Now the Corolla can be our bumming-around-town car which she is still totally suited for.  
In addition to being a reliable ride we also wanted a new vehicle that could double as a mini-RV, of sorts.  An intro into "van life."  It was delightful to get to test that out with some prompt winter camping.  The temps were in the 20s outside and yet I actually got so hot inside my sleeping bag (inside the Rav4) that I had to peel off some layers--including my socks!  The wind was howling outside and would have made sleeping in the tent a bit brisk, I bet. We were so utterly cozy in our new rig, dreaming of the new doors this sort of camping will open for us.  Rugged mountain roads, boondocking, music festivals, all-weather, etc.  Matt is thrilled to have a travel-related idea to research.  He pretty much always has a trip he's planning and he's missed that adventure research.  Figuring out the best way to outfit the Rav4 for our purposes is a good alternate.
I think that 2021 is going to be The Year of the Pryors.  Those mountains are so close, but getting up into them in a passenger car can be tricky and nerve-wracking.  We basically went there once in the Corolla and then never tried it again.  Our higher clearance will permit for a whole new world of adventure there.  I have my fingers (and toes! and eyes!) crossed for a music festival season in 2021, too.
Here is hoping that our second Toyota serves us as well and as long as our first!  On even more rugged and remote adventures!

Update from 1/1/2021:  Casey named the Rav4 last night around the fire.  It shall be called the JamJar.
Update from 10/5/2022:  The Corolla officially went to the junkyard today, though it has been dead in the driveway for a couple of months.  278,000 miles, almost all of them ours--from California to Washington to South Dakota and Colorado...
All photos from our inaugural campout: 
A beautiful bull elk--or Fuzz Butt, as I was calling them,
Boulder hopping with Matt near camp, 
the new vehicle with a Yellowstone backdrop, 
Matt on the upper terrace at Mammoth, 
Undine Falls almost completely frozen solid,
Frozen geothermal features at Mammoth, 
A sunset soak at Yellowstone Hot Springs, 
me on the boardwalk at Mammoth, 
More beautiful fuzz butt under that winter moon.


  1. Congratulations on your new car...and what an awesome winter looks like a lot of fun...I also drive a 2004 Corolla...that car is a tank...her name is Mopal...(named by a five year old Airman who couldn't say Moss Opalescent Green - her paint colour)...haha
    ~Have a lovely day!

  2. That's a great story! Mopal! :) What a tank indeed!

    And thanks!

  3. I love this post! Please show how Matt outfits the Rav4 for camping life. I find this way more interesting than buying a camper :)
    Your camping trip sounds wonderful, especially the hot springs part.
    We were a 2-car household for a few years while our 1999 Nissan gently died and was our around-town car! It had become so quirky with such weird little things that broke (once a maple limb fell on the hood and dented the hood, missing the windshield by 2 inches, and jostling some loose wires so that the radio and clock started working again - oh we laughed so hard). It finally did die this spring at 275000 miles. We took our picture with it because it had lived so much life with us.

    1. I'm with you. It seems so much more interesting (and practical, and easy, and economical) to me to outfit this SUV as a camper. We are stoked.

      I enjoyed the story about your Nissan and shared it with Matt. Its so similar in circumstance! I never realized I should go for the tree limb route to try and fix the radio and clock issues we were having! Bwaaaahahahahahaha! That's a crazy story.

      I'll be sad when the Corolla can't keep up with bumming around town. I know it is just a car, just a thing, but like you said, we lived a lot of life in/with that car. It is connected with so many things.


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