“On one of our trips, my daughter saw a snake under the car!”
- The Ride
- The Driver: Adrienne
- Car in Question: 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser
- Spotted at: Elmer L. Anderson Library, 222 21st Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55454
- Odometer: 60,000
- Car’s Nickname: The Beast
Q: So tell me all about “The Beast.”
A: My mom lives in New Mexico. I was visiting her and saw the car parked. It just had this great beastly look up against the cactuses. It blended in beautifully. I thought, what a beast.
Q: That must have been really lovely. How did you pick this model?
A: It’s big, but not too big. It can do a lot of the same things an SUV can do. When I was in the market for a new vehicle, I saw a guy driving one and thought it was really unusual. At first I thought it wouldn’t make my list because I needed something that was easy to clean. I have two kids, so I want to be able to spray it with a hose. This car was a contender with a Honda. I test drove them both and fell in love with this one. In comparison, it beat out the Honda big time: price-wise, mileage-wise, easier to clean, and it looked better.
Q: You really did your research.
A: It took me about six months to make the decision to buy the vehicle.
Q: What’s the FJ style all about?
A: It’s based on their older model, Land Cruiser, that they had back in the ‘70s. They retooled it and made it modern.
Q: It really does look like a desert buggy.
A: It is a desert buggy! On one of our trips, my daughter saw a snake under the car. If the car wasn’t up off the ground, we wouldn’t have seen it.
Q: Was it a big snake?
A: It was just a rattler. I didn’t worry too much.
Q: Just a rattler?!
A: I opened up the doors and told the kids to jump in the car. It has these suicide doors, so it opens up wide.
Q: You travel a lot in The Beast, don’t you?
A: This vehicle is also great to go camping. It takes us about thirty minutes maximum to be ready and out of here. My kids will be like, “I need my blank,” and I say, “No, you’re ready to go.”
Q: Do you have rules in The Beast?
A: Yes, no smoking. If you spill it, you clean it up. If you are guest sitting in my passenger seat, you have to sing as loud as you can. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing.
Q: You might as well just let it rip.
A: There’s no judgement here.
Q: What is your favorite road?
A: U.S. Route 70 into New Mexico. Getting off the interstate and hitting the scenic. And Route 66 from New Mexico to Arizona.
Q: Do you stay at grubby little motels on the way?
A: We don’t sleep in motels because you’ll get bugs there. We camp out. You’ll see those beds in back of the motels getting aired out. They’ve got tarantulas, black widow spiders, brown recluses—all kinds of stuff that gets in the mattresses–snakes, huge cockroaches that will make you cry if you see them.
Q: I’m already crying! Gross. So, where are you going next?
A: I would like to drive through the ghost towns of the West and document all those places to create a coffee table book type thing.
Photos and interview by Michelle Leon
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