Road of devotion to second property

While making plans to meet the surveyor on the property, it suddenly occurred to me that I might not be able to get there.

On our first visit, my wife and I rode with the real estate agent in her sport utility vehicle. We bounced up the three miles of dirt road not worrying about traction or ground clearance.

But would our 2000 Honda Civic, which occasionally scrapes bottom around town, clear the road's rocks and ruts? I sure wasn't going to chance taking my 1993 Pontiac Bonneville.

Would buying a piece of property mean having to buy a new car as well?

To meet the surveyors, I rented a Toyota Rav4 SUV with four-wheel drive. I felt a bit silly tooling up the road in it as two tiny imports and an old American station wagon came barreling down, trailing clouds of dust. We took the Civic on the next trip.

We've learned to avoid the ruts and ridges, but one particularly rough section has a washboard surface that, no matter how slow we drive, rattles our teeth like a plunge into an icy stream.

I did end up buying a Ford Escape -- a small but roomy SUV with only two-wheel drive -- not because of road conditions but for the carrying capacity. We lug a lot of stuff over this dusty road.

When gas prices shot up, I was a little shocked by my first $25 tank of gas, but at 21 miles per gallon, one 16-gallon tank gets us up and back with some to spare, even when the car is full of friends and firewood.

I've heard about people who have sold second properties that they loved because of the time and expense of getting there. That's something to consider, especially if you visit nearly every weekend like we do.

-- Robert Smaus

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