Country Roads, Dirty Car

When making the decision to move to the country, there really isn’t a reference manual of things to consider before taking the plunge… except perhaps Erma Bombeck’s classic, “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank” (which, by the way, it really is!)

Just the same, I took the plunge into rural life in good faith, knowing I would learn or figure things out as I went along.

But had there been such a handbook, I am certain that there would have been a whole chapter warning Type A people like me to forget about keeping an immaculately clean car. Even if you do succeed in cleaning your car, it probably won’t stay that way for very long.

That’s just the way it is… or at least that is what I have experienced over the last year.

I’ve never been one to ever have a cluttered car, and that part hasn’t changed. But I always tried to keep the interior as clean as possible. And when Covid-19 first hit, my car was sanitized so frequently, you could have performed surgery in there.

All that changed when I moved to a rural address, where gravel roads are pretty common for getting around the community. And given that we live on a gravel road, I tried and tried, but there is no way that the car can tip-toe its way through the dust and dirt to get to our house.

If there has been any form of precipitation, however small or fine, a short drive is enough to decorate the car with Jackson Pollock-inspired beige racing stripes of mud on all sides.

Lesson number 1: until the ground has fully dried, mud will be attracted to and will adhere to the car, no matter how slowly you may try to drive.

But if it has been sunny and dry, don’t wait too long. The dirt on the gravel road turns to a dry, fine dust before you know it. Lesson number 2: in clear weather, no matter how slowly you drive down the gravel road, you will be kicking up a cloud of particulate that will cover most of the car. Two or three drives down the gravel road during a dry spell and your car’s original colour will be anyone’s guess.

That being the case, the optimal time to run the car through the car wash and to safely make it home without getting the car grimy or dusty is such a narrow window.

Trying to find that sweet spot in the middle when the gravel road is neither too wet nor too dry, trying to determine the perfect time to run the car through the car wash and for it to stay clean would be a mystery for Sheldon Cooper, Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple to resolve together.

And if, for just one brief moment, one is successful in getting the car exterior clean, there is the matter of the car interior that also would drive clean car aficionados to the brink.

It is perfectly understandable that after last winter, when our driveway turned into a gigantic mud puddle, I tracked quite a bit of mud onto my floor mats. Fortunately, those days should be over with the work we have done on our driveway with a good top-up of crushed stone, and incorporating additional drainage channels.

While it has been on my to-do list for quite some time to remove the driver side floor mat and to hose it down using the “power blast” setting of our trusty garden hose, I don’t think it will ever be as clean as I would like it to be. I truly think this will be a job for a professional.

But even if I brought it to a car detailing service, I still wonder how long the car would stay that way.

When I run errands in our little village in bad weather, from time to time I compare my car to other vehicles. It’s not with the intent to judge, but more in seeking a sort of fellowship with my community. Most other car exteriors look pretty much the same as mine, complete with the drippy beige racing stripes. That makes me feel so much better.

All that to say, if someone had warned me that in moving to the country, my car would never be clean again, would I have moved to the country anyway? Of course I would have! I love it here!

But that being the case, the next time I purchase a vehicle, maybe I will look for something more neutral, maybe leaning to earth tones, if that is even possible, for the dust and mud to blend in better.

Maybe going back to a silver grey vehicle is the way to go, as my silver Mazda barely showed dirt for the many years I owned it. People who know me well would be shocked at how infrequently that vehicle saw the inside of a car wash, but it hardly ever showed dirt.

I think it just becomes a case of managing one’s expectations that as much as I spent a lot of time and money back in the city trying to keep my car meticulously clean, to the point of metaphorically being able to eat off the floor, it seems like the pressure isn’t on to maintain that same standard out here… or at least my own expectations have relaxed significantly.

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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