Sunday, August 14, 2005

Saying Goodbye

I found that saying goodbye to my Suburban was harder than I expected. It had over 200,000 miles on it, the transmission was going, the air conditioner needed work, the interior had stains, the auto locks needed attention. But when my mechanic (who is also a family friend) told me it wasn't worth fixing - the cost to fix was more than what the car would sell for - my first response was grief . . . . . Granted there was a lot of grief in my life due to the fire, but when I went to look at it to make the final decision as to whether to fix or trade it, I cried. Someone later asked me why it hit me so hard - wasn't it just a car.

I had thought about owning a suburban for probably 8-10 years before we finally bought one. I bought it new-with four wheel drive so it could make the winter trips to Colorado. That car held lots of memories - groups we took to Colorado, Girl Scout adventures, Chorus trips, etc. Thomas and Stephanie even took it to the Rose Bowl in California last year -camping in it. I slept in it one year at church retreat. Even one of my Girl Scouts was attached to that car and understood why it was sad to say goodbye.

Yes, cars are utilitarian. But we used to name our cars. Our first car was a 1966 Dodge station wagon - complete with a push button transmission. Somehow it ended up with the name "Car Car". We took our honeymoon in that car. Our second car was a used Fiat - and in my mind fiasco will always come to mind when I think of Fiats. We bought it during the first gasolene crisis - it got great gas mileage for the time. But we were young and did not understand all the intricacies of maintaining a car - especiallly a foreign car with a funny cooling system. Turned out it needed an oil change every 1500 miles. We owned it a year - spent $1000 to buy it, another $1000 or so keeping it running, and then after an accident and a broken crankshaft - felt lucky to get $350 for it. We then acquired Henry's parents' Plymouth station wagon. That car was special because it was the car we dated in when we were teenagers. It was gray and somehow got named the "Gray Ghost".

We have always loved camping - the great outdoors has always called to me. So our first new car was a Dodge panel van. When we got it, all it had was 2 front seats. Over the next year, we carpeted it, built in a closet and bathroom (primitive, but effective - one porta potty), a bed in the back that also made a table. I have fond memories of that car. We made our first trip to Canada in it. We went over the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park in it. We toured Yellowstone. While I worked shiftwork with the state, it made two runs to the Great Smokies. It is even the vehicle that made our famous "weekend run" to Florida. (For those that don't know - we headed out one weekend. We were going to College Station for a Science Fiction convention. Somehow we were there the wrong weekend. Since Henry had few weekends off, we were very disappointed - so we decided we would drive to see the Mississippi River. We made it to New Orleans. Looking on the map, if we were in New Orleans, the state of Mississippi was just right there. And . . . .you know . . . . it isn't that far to get to Alabama . . . . and then (tongue in corner of mouth smiling) Florida is soooooooooo close. We left College Station Friday night. We made it to Pensacola by Saturday night. Dinner was in Pensacola. Because Henry had to read meters at the radio station Sunday evening, we spent the night at a National Forest Campground halfway across Mississippi. And yes, we were back Sunday evening in time to read those meters) It went many places. We took Thomas, a baby of 6 months, on his first camping trip in it. It's name - The Blue Van.

Our names may have gotten less creative, but each vehicle has had some identifying moniker. The Matador, the Chevette, the LTD (yellowx - and in many ways appropriately colored as at times it sure felt like a lemon), the Old Truck (a 1977 Chevy - that also doubled as a camper when we added (amazingly enough also 1977) a truck camper. The New Truck (that retained that name even after it had 100,000 miles on it), the Aerostars (two of them) Debra's truck, the Jeep, the Suburban, the Liberty, etc. Oh, let's not forget, my Mo's Horizon, and her Grand Am - which Thomas drove. Incredibly, I remember them all. The other funny thing - I remember all the cars from my childhood.

Well . . . . . . after crying with my mechanic and his wife (a dear friend) and seriously considering fixing it up, I made the decison to let it go. My friend, Bettye had lunch with us and got me to the first car lot to look at cars.

So . . . . . . . . . . . (drum roll here . . . . . . . . ) I ended up with a Chevy Trailblazer - four wheel drive. It is a cute little car, much easier to park than my suburban, safer in a parking garage. It is big enough to be comfortable and hopefully big enough to hold our gear when we use it as our travel vehicle. The first week or so, it still hurt when I saw suburbans around. But I like my new "little" car. It's name - "The Blazer". I got the tags today - and it even has a license tag that will be easy to remember. It is time to go make memories in this car!