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West Virginia or Bust

We made it out of Massachusetts just as the rains came and had a nice cool travel day through Rhode Island and Connecticut. It only took 39 minutes to cut through Rhode Island, long enough to ponder the validity of its name since it is not an island nor even a peninsula. In keeping with the theme of New England it should’ve at least been named “New Rhode,” but I digress.

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Delaware

After passing through Maryland we arrived in Delaware; a new sticker to add to our state map. We ended up leaving a day late because the night before we were planning on leaving we noticed the brakes on our Saturn acting funny. We were able to take it in to a shop in Woodbridge and after many hours they fixed the brakes, a hydraulic leak and a tire that was beginning to bulge. By that time we would hit DC traffic if we tried to head out. DC traffic is not fun. So we opted to stay another night.

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Prince William National Forest

Moving slightly further north in Virginia we found a place to stay near my relatives in Springfield. This is the beginning of the Memorial Weekend, which for the north signifies the start of camping season, made for a little difficulty securing a reservation. But we were able to get the last full hookup site in Prince William Forest for a lot less money than the Cherry Hill Park in Maryland.

We’ve been dealing with some minor annoyances with our toad lately that hopefully a tune up will fix. It has been impossible to find a reputable mechanic that could check her out on short notice without keeping her over the weekend. But we were able to get an appointment for first thing Friday morning with my cousin’s mechanic in Springfield so hopefully everything will be taken care of.

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The True Cost of a Toad

How much is a toad worth?

For us, the car itself gives us priceless freedom…but we ended up paying double what we had originally planned for:

  • Cost of our in-excellent-condition 1998 Saturn SL2 that included a Blue Ox tow bar, base plate, full size spare tire, chains and automotive bra: ~$2800
  • Florida taxes, registration and license plates: ~$500
  • Cost of replacement power cable, 3 locking pins and new dual hitch receiver (to mount bike rack and toad): ~$290

This was where we had planned on stopping, however, since our Saturn weighs 2400 pounds, it needs to have an auxiliary braking system (technically) when traveling through the following states: NY, OH, TN, MS, CA, NV and ID. We’ll be traveling extensively through 5 of those this year. Such a bummer :(

  • Recommended auxiliary braking system plus labor (a direct installation, not a portable one, like a Brake Buddy): ~$1300
  • Traded in existing 15 year old Blue Ox tow bar – that needed to be rebuilt – for new Blue Ox tow bar: ~$600
  • Grand total: ~$5500

Better safe than sorry, right? Yes!

In the end, it’s been extremely liberating to have a mode of transportation that isn’t the coach or a bike :)

This site has a pretty good breakdown per state:
http://www.readybrake.com/state_laws.html

For the more visually inclined, this site has a map:
http://www.brakebuddy.com/Towing-Laws

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We Found a Toad

Now that we’re in a better position financially with Jason’s new job, we started seriously looking for a car we could tow four down behind Edelweiss. It was very convenient having the car with us the last 3 weeks and we realized the possibilities it opened up for us. I still love biking, but realistically I’m not going to bike to an ice rink 30 miles away. I’d have no energy left to skate! Biking is great for short distances but having a car means that Jason can go somewhere to find better internet if necessary, or that we could take a day trip without unhooking everything.