You will be glad to know that at this exact moment, Gunnison is the coldest spot in the state, if not the country. Minus 7 Fahrenheit, according to Weather Underground.
I had sort of promised my car that it would have a garage this year — and it is now learning that I am a liar.
I didn’t mean to lie. In January, when it was last cold and I was making this promise to my car, we thought the design portion of building our house was supposed to take three to four months, followed by seven to nine months of construction. So it was entirely possible, under a best-case scenario, that my car could have been in a garage by October.
Instead, house design time tripled, and only got finalized in the Garage Month of October. I don’t know if that means construction time will triple as well, but I am foolishly assuring my car that it only has to go through One More Winter without a garage. What I haven’t told my car — and what is already being borne out — is that this is going to be the longest, coldest, snowiest winter ever, because our house is under construction.
[The Daily Aside: I gave serious consideration to naming my blog “And Now, a Word About the Weather,” only to decide at the last minute to go with my old general column “Garbanzo Beans for Breakfast.” Someday, when I am completely out of everything else to talk about, I may address how frequently I indulge in beans for breakfast.]
My cars have gone without garages since I’ve owned cars. My first car was my grandparents’ hand-me-down Ford Maverick, and it mostly lived in Boulder while I was going to college. Then, on my 21st birthday, I traded it back to my grandparents for their Chevy Scottsdale pick-up, which I owned until last December. In the early ’90s I purchased my Geo Tracker, about three years old and with 13,000 miles on it, and I drove that until a year ago October.
None of these cars ever got near a garage. The Tracker even came with a car cover, which I never used and finally threw out. (And here is why you should never throw anything out: within a week or two of tossing that unused cover, I looked out my window to see my next-door neighbor Mrs. Trujillo and her son Wayne trying to cover her car with a tarp. That cover could have been put to use instead of disappearing into the landfill.)
I did have block heaters installed (technically, they were probably in-line heaters), as Lynn now has on her Jeep Renegade (now one of about one million yellow ones driving the streets of Gunnison). That reliable Tracker almost never even needed the heater to start up.
But then my mechanic left a message on our phone last fall: “Lynn, tell TL he needs a new car.” So I went to John Roberts Motorworks and test drove a barely-used 2015 Nissan Leaf (504 miles!) sitting on the lot. I got a few hundred yards out of the dealership and decided I loved the Leaf. I didn’t even follow through with my plan to go to Auto Corral and test-drive a used Subaru, because I wanted the Leaf, which is an all-electric car.
[Second aside: After leaving that message, my mechanic proceeded to fix my Tracker, to the tune of $900, but by then I already had a new car. I ended up selling the Tracker to a young woman I knew, and when her fiance came with her, he was clearly enamored of my truck. Since both of them came with mechanical skills, my cars ended up going as a package deal. So they are still together, and loved, and this makes me happy.]
More than a year (and 2,500 miles) later, I’m still quite happy with my Leaf (which oddly enough, is not available in green). It’s not an SUV; it has front-wheel drive; it’s fairly mundane-looking (until I had it spruced up with paint) . . . but I still like it, and drive it a lot more than I was driving either my Tracker or truck (which isn’t really a good thing, because it means less bicycle time).
However, my little car thinks it’s in “low temperatures” at 43 degrees above zero. So it’s out there right now, feeling really cold. I bought it a blankie a month ago, even though it’s not a very warm one, and I’m already starting to plug the car in. This is different from the block heater, because I have no block to heat. The Leaf is driven by a motor, not an engine.
This plug gives my car its fuel, the electricity it needs to run. But there’s also some sort of “battery warmer” for the heavy lithium ion batteries that so far have provided great traction in the snow, and I’m operating on the assumption (it could be wrong), that the warmer works better when the car is receiving electricity. I only read about half my owner’s manual, and last year flagged down a fellow Leaf owner as we met on the street. He told me he just generally leaves his plugged in all winter.
[Third aside: it is now lunchtime, and the temperature has soared to 17, although it still felt very cold on my fingers as Oz and I walked home. I am already debating the weakness (but comfort) of driving my car back to work versus riding my bike like I should. And I should wrap up with something pithy and hopefully witty, but this is what you get.]
I’ll show you daring photojournalism: I went out in my t-shirt and slippers, clear to the end of the porch, to take this photo.