::insert sing-song voice here::


That's right.  It DOES match that 'nother hole in my head.  For serious!

So, long story short, life on the Ranch is as you'd expect it to be: bliss.
The drive back & forth from the Ranch?  Is... not so much.

Despite the great adoration I had for my '03 Suzuki XL-7 Grand Vitara, I had to bid it farewell last week.  Recently, its at-one-point max of 20ish mpg on the highway plummeted to around 15 mpg on the highway!  ::tear::  We've kept up on everything, oil changes, other basic maintenance, tires, etc.  However, it IS 9 years old now.  And we've driven "Pearl" all over Hades and back in the years we've had her.  So considering the distance we travel living this far from everyone else, and Pearl's age, and that she's boasting a hefty 134k miles on the odometer, it was high time we find her a new home.  Preferrably one "in town" where she can still work hard (toting kids to games, etc and hauling lots of groovy stuff in her spacious back cargo area), and one where she'll get all the love she deserves.  Cause she deserves MUCH love.  If not for the gas-mileage situation, I never would've let Pearl go.  Ever.  

Yep, loved her THAT much.  :)

So, what were we to do, being this far away from everything and suddenly finding ourselves a 1-working-car family (as we had already located a forever home for Pearl)?  Add to that dilemma, we REALLY didn't want another car payment...at least not for now.  As it was, even though we've been done with Pearl's bank payments for awhile now, with the average twice-a-week fill up at the gas pump (on a "slowish" week--and did I mention that Pearl's tank held a whopping 18 gallons at a time...which meant approximately $400 a month in fuel JUST for me precious Pearl?!)...it had still been as if we were paying for car payments + gas!  So, financial recovery is much-needed at this point.  

Despite how in love I am with the new 2011 Ford Fusion and all it's nice quietness, and plush-comfy interior, mega-off-the-charts safety precautions, and beautiful instrument panel with ice blue lighting.... I cannot see going into debt over all that; not yet anyhow.  So what's our solution instead?  

(Ha Ha!  We're definitely getting the last laugh as far as gas mileage is concerned.  This hot little hoopty gets roughly 28 mpg in the city, and up to 38 mpg on the highway!  Woot Woot!)

Sure Mini-Pearl needs a little TLC.  And her tires and wheels are too small for her (which means when my speedometer says I'm going 60 mph, I'm actually going between 57-58 mph, lol).  But all in all, she's a sweet ride.  Her mileage is over 100k, but it's mostly been highway, so I'm ok with that.  Plus, I had a '95 Ford Escort back in the day, so this is like coming home in a sense.  :)  Standard tranny, so Mini is ZIP-PPY!  Needs some A/C work.  Old-fashioned crank windows (which is good, so that Willow won't be unrolling the windows on her own anymore).   So, we picked her up for a song, and have been enjoying this fun little old car!

Oh and did I mention that Pearl's got a wicked-sticky cassette deck for stereo?  Lol.  Yep.  I did say sticky... as in, someone apparently exploded their soda in the car kinda sticky.... like GLUE on every button and every surface.  Not fun.  So THIS is where my PRO-JECT comes in.

She needed a new stereo option (as I don't have another cassette player anywhere in my house, and I'm not sure if I have any cassettes even, besides old air-checks of me on the radio.  And I'm not a big fan of listening to myself talk, believe it or not!), and she needed it in a BAD WAY.  So, we found a nice new JVC deck on sale, and found the proper dash kit to replace the bubble-shaped climate control/stereo combo dash.  I even bought the special "keys" for removing Ford stereos/dashes (they're these CRAZY little u-shaped wire tools to depress all the sprung tabs which hold the panel in the dash itself).  Who'd've thunk it, right?! 

Here's the kicker:  
Mr LKP has been working mad-crazy hours and so many of the runs have been so far out of town that we had worried that he was gonna spend most nights in hotels this week.  So, I took the bull by the horns, and tackled the stereo install adventure on my own... started last night.  Finished this afternoon!
(This is what I extracted from the Mini-Pearl.  Looks painful, doesn't it?  Notice the rear defrost button's on the right?)
(Screwing it all back together, after removing the climate controls & units from the stock dash/stereo set-up.)
(My extraordinary workshop, complete with salt & pepper pistachios, dill pickle sunflower seeds, & my water.  Lol.)
(Yes, USB jack was icing on the cake of this purchase!  CD binders can be so cumbersome.  Besides, my newish 8GB purple Sony Walkman mp3 player is the bees knees!  Sorry, peeps, still can't convert me to the iPod OR iPhone.)
(Bumping a little TobyMac's "Portable Sounds" to celebrate no more stickies!  Notice the rear defrost button is now on the left?  Mad-skills here, people.  Mad skills!)
Isn't she beautiful?!  

All the hassle getting the old stock set-up out & disconnected... all the meticulous cleaning of soda with alcohol... all of the gashes on my poor little hands... all the sorting & connecting of the crazy, seizure-inducing mass of colorful wires... yes, even all of the swear words that escaped my lips were TOTALLY worth it!   

I'm so very proud of my new-found stereo-install skills.  I'm considering making it a hobby, lol!

Hope your Thursday has been JUST as amazing, if not more so.  :)

Mr LKP isn't home yet, but he did get to listen to my accomplishment through the phone, and is quite impresssed.  I had my BIL inspect my labors, and he's deemed they are good (he's been a Firestone mechanic for years & years & years, so he knows his jazz for sure).  Talk about an LKP homerun!


Garden of Egan said...

Welcome to the new member of the family!

You totally rock the install girlfriend!
You are my hero.
I would have been in the back seat sucking my thumb curled up in the fetal position.
Well, OK, maybe not. I don't listen to the radio much.

Cherie said...

Wow to say I am way impressed is a major understatement!! You my friend have some serious skills. I would not even attempt something like that (heck I'm sitting in the dark right now because I don't want to change a lightbulb LOL).
Glad you found a new ride!

ericksonzone said...

Way to go! I would never even think of doing that on my own...Ok, I might think about it, but no farther than that. Amazing! And it sure looks like a great upgrade from what it had before.

Heidi D said...

Sweeeeet. :0) You da man!

And hello Mini-Pearl! You are soo cute and you're not going to be greedy with your gas, are you? No sir, good car!

I know, I'm weird. :P

Valerie said...

I am so proud of ya!!! I never would have even attempted that.

Lisa Loo said...

I didn't even know you could do that!!! You are amazing! Cute new care also! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

You have mad skillz! Impressive! :)

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