monday morning, presidents day, day off. but i had 5000lbs of guilt sitting outside my house that needed a trip to the car wash. i also had an appointment for an oil change at noon. the car wash i use was packed even at 9:15am but i jumped into the queue, still not entirely sure if they have a system other than first come first serve, and asked for a wash.
i also discovered that the armor panels i installed in the summer for off-roading make a great catch all for road sludge. the brown stuff oozing out of both sides of the flat panel, yeahhhh... that stuffs not suppose to be there. some of it broke free after the car wash but i had to get down and dirty with a pipe to bust out the rest of it. why not let it melt? i would but that panel has one hole i needed to get to for the garage to change the oil later today. nice...
with the car wash complete, i had enough time to run home for a short break before heading out again for the oil change. a friend tipped me off to a good garage for suvs and 4x4s'. the garage is actually named "4x4".
the owner got my truck in quick and they finished it up in no time. i had asked for an oil change and supplied them with a filter i had that matched. they had their own stock but i had shipped a few just to make sure i would had some on-hand. i did some research on my cruiser the night before and wondered if i should stick with the poly-synthetic or go all synthetic. they said they can wash it out if i had poly in it before and put synthetic in it instead. the consensus from other cruiser owners was synthetic so that's the route i took. now i'm crossing my fingers hoping that the oil coursing through it's engine is not going to cause any problems. i was surprised to see the final bill though. the oil was around $10US a liter. i guess i haven't looked at oil prices in the US but i figured there must be a synthetic oil refinery somewhere in Russia. it turned out they use imported oil so i wasn't lucky enough to escape the oil price gouging even in vladivostok.
after the oil change i stopped for coffee with a friend at a new restaurant called Che Guevara's, as in the guerrilla fighter and leader of Cuban socialism. it was definitely an odd feeling seeing the whole place decked out in the revolutionary's honor with pictures of Castro and Che side by side. there was even a motorcycle sitting against the wall in memory of his early days traveling through latin america. still the coffee and dessert hit the spot after a full day of running around vlad's still slippery byways.
i have to comment that i'm totally satisfied with my vehicle and after three days of navigating the city's ice covered streets, i'm happy to report it ran like a champion. even with the nearly vertical hills i had to drive on, which were forcing some people to turn around, i was still able to climb up and down them at will. so if you're looking for a great vehicle that can handle lousy winter conditions look into toyota's fj cruiser.
i almost forgot to mention, i saw a black fj cruiser on saturday and monday. i think it was the same driver because i waved at him saturday and got a wave back. then today, i saw him again, this time he beat me to the greeting with a flash of his lights. so a tip of the hat to a fellow cruiser owner, nice ride you got there friend. see ya around!