Rez Cars Explained

Last week was a very trying one for us, as Husband’s truck froze in the extreme cold up on the Indian reservation and wouldn’t start. It was -36  with -45 windchill Thursday  night.  He planned to come home Friday morning, but there was no way that truck would start in such cold.

Husband  works in the main town on the reservation, where Tribal headquarters and the biggest school and the  medical services are. There are two much larger towns, Minot and Williston, about 70 and 80 miles away respectively, which  are not on the reservation and offer all necessary services. Minot even has a  university.  There are also smaller,  non-reservation towns within 30-50 miles that also have a wide variety of services.

After unsuccessfully trying to get the truck started, and even putting in a new battery with the help of a friend who works in Tribal maintenance and who has a degree in car mechanics, Husband phoned the number for road side service affiliated with our car insurance.  The nice insurance person in Tennessee regretfully informed him that after phoning every tow service in the region, none would take the job.  No one wanted to drive to the reservation. There is no tow service in the reservation town.  There is no auto repair shop, either.

Our friend helped Husband get an electric magnetic heater, like a heating pad but really hot, to place under the hood.  They plugged it into an outside outlet where  Husband stays.  Husband got some nasty frostbite on his pointer fingers while getting it all set up. The heater sat on the engine block all day. I drove up to the reservation later in the afternoon on Friday. It was after I arrived that Husband and friend  discovered that the outlet on the outside of Husband’s place didn’t work, so the heater hadn’t heated up at all.  Once they switched it to another outlet it started working.

Since we weren’t sure that the heater would work and unfreeze the engine, and since it was evening, Husband and I drove the 90 miles back home through oil field traffic.   A few hours later our friend and his wife phoned to say the truck started. They drove it to their place and got up at intervals in the night to start it and their vehicles as well.  We drove back to the reservation on Saturday morning and retrieved the truck and drove home again, this time through snow.

I always wondered why the Native Americans  we know have so many vehicles in various states of disrepair.  Now I know. When you have no auto repair shop, you have to fix them yourself, and when you find one that works and is easy to fix, you keep driving it, no matter how junky it looks.  You also rely on friends and family to help with rides or loan you a vehicle that works. If you can’t fix your vehicles you leave them where they are since no one will come and tow them away.  We are eternally grateful to our maintenance friends, and offered to till their garden in the Spring with our big tiller.  They accepted the offer. It is all a part of helping each other out.

What have you learned about lately? What are some mysteries you would like solved?

49 thoughts on “Rez Cars Explained”

  1. Interesting juxtaposition of lifestyle here since I’ve been learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Seems ludicrous compared with living in a brutal climate, ignored, forgotten, lacking basic services most of us take for granted.

    Seems to me some enterprising, young, energetic person with mechanical ability could set up a mobile auto repair van and bring the repair shop to the cars on the reservation instead of the other way around. Or do the feds prohibit such common sense ideas?

    A mystery I would like to see solved is this: Is there any form of government in the world, known or unknown, that can both effectively govern for a reasonable price (taxes) and at the same time, leave people alone to live their lives the best they know how in peace and safety?

    Chris in Owatonna

    **Blatant Self-Promotion (BSP)*
    Hey, literature fans, my new novel, Straight River, has just been published! Print books are available to order at your local bookstore (tell them to check the wholesale price at if they say they can’t get a decent deal from Ingram). Ebook versions will be available soon across all platforms. At this moment, the only ebook option available is a PDF at ($3.99 for all ebooks). It takes a bit of time to get the book into all the distribution channels.

    I’ll be having a book launch celebration in Owatonna at Central Park Coffee (downtown) on Feb. 28 from 4-6 pm. I plan to appear at numerous other venues this year, so check my website for updates and a schedule. Thanks.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Seriously, what’s with refusing to come to the reservation? That just seems wrong. Stuff like that makes me mad.

    Congratulations, Chris, on getting that book available. I’ll be waiting for the ebook version and hope the book launch goes well for you.

    As for today’s question, I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound like complaining about my situation, so I’ll leave that alone for now.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. That rez is a long way from anywhere. If they charged by the time spent driving, nobody could afford a service call. And while one of the station guys is driving out to start the truck, the staffing at the station is down one man. If driving out to start a truck would be profitable, I’m sure they’d be happy to do it.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I have a friend who blew a tire on I-94 between the Twin Cities and Eau Claire, and she had trouble getting a Triple A service call there. It was a pretty long distance from anywhere, and they also don’t like roadside calls on the freeway where there is traffic whizzing by at 75 miles an hour.


      1. It’s for my own sake, VS. It will be better for my mental health today today if I steer away from things that could sound like complaining. In other words, I feel like ignoring cancer today.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. nope it’s because they don’t get paid or they get robbed
      i lived in a tough part of minneapolis and couldn’t get piano tuners to come because they never got paid after they did their work the truck got robbed the guy got mugged and you wonder if it really happens or if it’s urban legands
      i tend to think it’s a mixture

      a profitable business transaction if there were a government program where dollars could be allotted to get your life in order for stuff like this

      i have net start ups who try to do things like this and are so overwhelmed by the response that they are buried as quickly as they begin

      fix a car for $15 an hour… appts for february gone in 2 days and you can’t wait 3 months for brakes or a problem fixed

      i love this type of challenge but it takes a special effort, it can be done

      Liked by 1 person

  3. i am glad to hear that was the deal with the heater
    i couldn’t understand why with the heater it wouldn’t start
    i was going to suggest building a bar b que pit beneath the engine bit you need to surround the bottom of the car with wind and temperature. barriers like boxes full of papers or bags of leaves. you don’t want a bonfire but a weber kettle orbsimikar with the legs off it works well, you can get it going in the enclosed space where it’s not30 below ( the only time you ever need this trick is when it’s 30 below) and then slide it under the frozen truck and put the boxes around the holes to build up some heat under there. it doesn’t need to be air tight but you want obviously to build up some heat so the oil that’s thick as him loosened up to surup that can be cranked over fast enough to keep the car from starting
    once it starts the engine warms everything up on its own
    i have seen this method start dripping grease and engine oil on fire and start a fire so moderation is good
    small fire of charcoal briquettes not camp fire with logs
    put the top on the weber kettle not open flames
    set the timer don’t just wait the bottle of schnapps is empty
    simple stuff

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Once they plugged it into a functional outlet it worked fine. There are two little spirits, little mischievious boys who have been caught on security camera that run around where Husband works and are only 10 yards or so from where he lives. I think they locked us in the laundry room last week, and have something to do with the outlet not working, and Husband is going to smudge his place when he gets up there this week. This may sound pretty weird, but I truly think this is the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I was picturing actual boys just bored and looking for mischief. I think I like mischievous spirits better! (Except when they mess with you two).
          I joke that our theater ghosts don’t like to be ignored and that’s when they act up; just by being mischievous.
          But they also leave me Oak leaves. I have found them in the shop while working on things. For example, i was painting, turned around for something, turned back around and there’s an oak leaf laying on the thing I’m painting.

          Liked by 3 people

      1. Smudging is the answer to the problem?
        I like the spiritual stuff but I think asking the elders what to do may be a streamline version of hoping the boys get a wake up moment delivered from the circle of life

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i learned how to change a serpentine belt on my sons former car on you tube as mentioned a few weeks ago.
    he went out and bought a new one
    i feel a little like ma and pa kettle where my kids are concerned. or the munsters niece. when their friends come over it’s kind of like a bunch of balingvwire holding together the items of importance that will get fixed one of these days when the money is there… my daughter who is away at college loved our eccentricities but youngest daughter is aghast at the presentation we make to friends and the public at large. we are so not normal..
    we cobble together a plan to get through to whatever is next without getting today’s issue resolved but simply postponed. i have become a jack of all trades… i always kind of was but with youtube videos on virtually everything on earth and the specifics on how to fix it i can stay busy repairing stryofoambviolers til the cows come home.
    the car talk guy who is left (i think tom is left and ray died) had his newspaper column a couple weeks ago tell people if you have a car question simply go on youtube and have someone show you how to deal with it. if you haven’t tried this please do. try anything, toaster repair, how to darn sox, how to replace a broken window, plumbing repair issues. it’s all there and often from multiple sources some people are terrible at explaining but what the hell its feee

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My perennial mystery has to do with the identity of the photographer responsible for the series of photographs
    ( ) taken in Europe in 1904. I’ve been pursuing clues for over 25 years with little success. Recently, a woman in Germany, a retired archaeological illustrator decided to take up the case. Like me, she researches as a hobby only she is much better at it than I. We’ve been trading speculations based on a close examination of the images and, while I still don’t know the photographer’s identity, she has done an amazing job of identifying the locations of the photos and also finding similar modern views for comparison. I’ve learned quite a bit more about the typical points of interest for a tourist in turn of the century Europe and some of the locations I thought were insignificant turned out to be big tourist attractions.
    At the same time, I got an email from Denmark’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture asking my permission to use one of the images:
    Two Gentlemen, London
    in a collection of academic essays titled The Common Space of Architecture. I said yes, of course. I’m always happy to facilitate academic endeavors like that.
    Next week, if weather allows, I’m going to a talk and presentation given by a retired professor of German from the University of Minnesota. Outside of his work in the German Department, the professor has made an extensive study of fairy tales, myths and legends and has written many books on the subject. This particular talk is about a book of fairy tales written and illustrated by Charles G. Leland, who was a multi-faceted author and self-taught philologist. Leland has something of a cult following for his collections of legends and lore collected in Italy as well as collections of sorcery and spells from self-identified witches and gypsies. His book, Aradia, Gospel of the Witches is considered the foundation of the modern Wiccan movement. He learned Romany from his gypsy contacts and spent considerable time absorbing their culture. He also had an intense interest in the decorative arts and was instrumental in introducing the study and development of both decorative arts and industrial arts into the school system.
    In preparation for the presentation, I read the two volume biography of Charles G. Leland written by his niece. I anticipate that some of the talk will touch on Leland himself and not merely about the one fairy tale book.
    Fairy tales and legends are interesting in themselves but they also overlap substantially with my interest in nineteenth century humor, both in terms of the role they play in the culture and also literally in the form of tall tales and trickster stories.
    Reading about Charles Leland and his experiences piqued my curiosity about gypsies and gypsy lore, so now I’m reading a semi-autobiographical book by George Borrow, who was a similar and contemporary amateur philologist who befriended and made an extensive study of the gypsies.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Mysteries to be solved:

    How can identical twins be so different in temperament and interests and skills?

    Why is it often cloudy on nights when there will be something like a lunar eclipse?

    Why does Minneapolis call snow/cold days so frequently now but when my kids were in school they never would?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m not sure I could take any more hours in some days…. Can I pick the ones with more??

      Daughter has been fighting a nasty cough since Christmas break. We think it’s allergies and post nasal drainage mostly. But it’s a mystery as to what’s causing it and nothing is helping it.
      During the day she’s a real trooper. But by about 8:30 at night she’s wearing down and out. And now a regular cold on top of it and none of us are getting enough sleep. And Kelly has a cold too.
      I’ve begun to suggest a little honey whiskey to daughter. Kelly hasn’t come around to that yet. Maybe Kelly needs the honey whiskey?

      Liked by 4 people

        1. We had been trying salt water with apple cider vinegar gargles but she hasn’t been swallowing those. Helped a bit last week before she got the cold.


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