Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15. Transportation #JanBlogaDay

When I was still being formed in my mother's womb, my parents owned a tiny little Fiat.  I can't picture it.  I think it got broadsided by a pickup, but because it was raining and because the car was so light, the car just slid away.  I'm led to believe that if it hadn't been raining or it had been a larger car that held its ground there's a good chance I wouldn't be here today.

The first car I remember is a large green Dodge that would have made Al Bundy proud.  I remember when we came back from Longview in May 1980, piles of ash would collect under it every time we washed it.

Guess that's why in 1981 we replaced it with a Chevy Malibu.  I still remember standing in the garage and just feeling kind of giddy when they'd start it up.  It just had such a power and exciting roar to it.  We had that car for a *long* time as that was also the car I learned to drive in.  KKZ 912.

In 1984, the Buick Skylark joined the stable.  I don't know what it replaced, I have a mental block, I can't even remember what was in the other side of the garage next to the Malibu.  The pool table?  Did we even have two cars?  EZX 094.  Why do I remember these????!?!?

In 1998, a used Ford Econoline white van showed up.  It had a button that when pressed made the "A-ooooga" sound. That was cool.  It was for dad's business.  I drove it sometimes while working for him.  I remember the license plate started with HP.  I also remember one day when we looked out in the street and saw the van there blocking most of the road.  We had a steep driveway down FROM our garage to the street and it had snowed.  The truck just slid down into the street.  We were lucky, our neighbors had a steep driveway down from the street TO their garage and if it had kept going it would have probably gone into their garage.

The Buick was parked on the street for a year without being driven for reasons not worth going into.  And then it was driven again.  The engine died and was replaced with a more powerful one.  And then later my dad tried to sell it to me for $1.  The people at the licensing office didn't like that and told him he had to raise the price or give me my dollar back.  I don't know if it was something to do with taxes or something.   My friends were impressed with the amount of power that small car with the transversely-mounted engine had.

Around 1992 a wonderful, large grey Buick LeSabre came into the picture.  I got to use it on dates.  Also, when dad had to fly some where and leave a car at the airport, he took mine because he didn't want anything to happen to the LeSabre.  So I ran it into a couple of pickup trucks.  Not on purpose and not because he took my car.  But it was sad and ironic.

By 1995, the Buick Skylark (the "Blue Bomber") was on its last legs.  By then I had to keep oil on hand because it used to spit oil out of weird places and smoke and with little notice, it would suddenly need oil.  There was also a period of time where if you were traveling at highway speeds everything was fine all the way until you had to stop.  Then when you put your foot on the gas to go again, it lurched and died and was very hard to get started again.  I realized the pattern and suggested my dad put it into park the next time he came to a stop.  So he did, and then back into drive.  And all was fine.  It wasn't downshifting apparently.  Eventually that seemed, oddly enough, to correct on its own.  The driver's side door wouldn't open and you had to get in on the passenger side and slide over.

I went to a used car dealership near campus and fell in love with a 1987 Audi 5000S with over 100,000 miles on it.  I convinced my bank to give me a loan for the full purchase amount (minus the $300 I got for the Buick).  The Buick never resold, I'd see it every time I drove by and feel sad.  Eventually the car dealership went out of business and the cars all disappeared and were replaced with stacks of pallets.

The Audi 5000S served me well.  I put quite a bit into repairs, some of them stupid and totally my fault.  I delivered pizzas in that car.  I kept them the trunk so the car wouldn't stink.  I didn't get a lot of tips.  It took me from Seattle to L.A. numerous times and got up to 500 miles on a tank of gas.  On Jan. 2, 1999, I left it at the Dodge dealership (totally ripped off on the trade-in) and drove off in a brand new custom-made 1999 Dodge Intrepid with 45 miles on the odometer.   I found the window sticker when I was cleaning it out a few months ago.  It had never been applied to the window, but was folded inside the paperwork and had my name printed on it.  That was kinda cool.

I liked that car, except it was quite unreliable.  I gave up on it last year with only 80,000 miles on it.  The scale had tipped to where it was going to be cheaper (and less stressful) to buy a new car versus continuing to put money into this one and keep missing work to get it to Midas.

My current car is several things I thought I'd never have: (1) It's almost red - a deep burgundy; (2) it's used; (3) it's a Ford, (4) it was mostly not bought over the internet.  When the car died, I swallowed my pride and decided that I would accept a used car, I knew I'd be able to get more car for the money.  We briefly looked at new cars, but Robert Larson Nissan of Fife are a bunch of liars and cheats and crooks who should be avoided at all costs because Robert Larson Nissan of Fife sucks and are evil and will rip you off.  After that horrible experience, we mentioned it on Facebook and someone hooked us up with a guy in Olympia that's sold them a few cars.  He found this car, drove it up here for us to test drive, took care of everything and gave us a super-huge amazing deal.  The car had 27k miles on it, still smells brand new, was only 16 months old and has one tiny ding near the keyhole but is otherwise spotless.  The car is totally tricked out, including all kinds of stuff I was planning to temporarily give up on what I figured would be a bridge car - no, this car has the sunroof, leather seats, top of the line radio including SYNC (there are fancier Syncs in newer Fords, but it is still awesome) and power and automatic everything.  I know its license plate has AJD in it because I couldn't find it in the parking lot the first day I had plates on it and I thought it had been stollen.  (The J was so narrow I thought I was seeing a car with A-space-D on its plates and knew mine didn't have a space.)

I love the Delorean DMC-12 because I love Back to the Future.  I do feel like it's a little bit dated, though.  I really wish someone had purchased the company and kept the development going because I would really liked to have seen how the design evolved over time.  I don't think I could own one, though, because I would be paranoid about it getting scratched, dented or stolen.  I wouldn't necessarily feel worthy to drive it, even if people still guess my age wrong by a decade à la Michael J. Fox.

I also love the convenience of an SUV, having had a Trailblazer and a Mountaineer as rentals.  I like big cars, I don't feel safe in small cars.  My current car is a little smaller (fits better in the garage) but it still feels decently substantial.  And it's got a powerful engine that roars.  It's pretty awesome.

Beyond Cars

I have a bicycle but I've never ridden it here in Washington.  I'd like to, but it's been a matter of time, mostly.  If I've had time to go off on myself, it's been jogging, mostly after dark.  I have mostly happy memories of the family loading the bikes on the car, driving to Seattle, unloading the bikes and riding the Burke-Gillman trail.  There was one time mid-ride when I decided to run away and just turned around and rode off as quickly as I could.  Of course, my dad had a better bike and caught up with me quickly.  I don't remember much else about that incident.  I used to ride to work when I worked at Warner Bros. in Glendale.  I'd bring it up in the service elevator and just park it in my office by the windows next to my desk.

I never figured out a skateboard and never roller-skated much.  When I first moved to California, I spent every Saturday rollerblading in Santa Monica.  I never learned any tricks, but I could stay upright and start and stop and not run into people.  I'd also go into the parking garage at work late at night and just rollerblade for hours.  I would go down to the fourth floor at the very bottom.  You could tell that no one ever went down there.  There were like six dark cars of the same model with similar license plates, but it otherwise was hot and dusty and you got the sense that even cars rarely came down there.  If they had had cameras, they never came down and told me I couldn't roller blade there.  But it was great because there was pillars to weave around, ramps to swoop down.  Would get so out of breath. It was just complete and total solitude. I miss that.

I enjoy light rail and probably would enjoy a long train ride across country.  Or across multiple European countries.

Not a huge fan of buses with their lurching and stinky exhaust and tight aisles and seats.  Tolerable for getting from parking to the airport.

Flying's pretty cool.  It's kind of like a pause from life, you're in a little bubble where they bring you food and drink, you play with your electronics or read or nap, going to the bathroom is a fun game of balance and then after awhile, you get to take a walk through an airport, which are rather fascinating places in my opinion.

Haven't been too impressed with the taxi rides I've taken but shuttle buses are pretty decent.  Last year to get to the airport after a conference they sent a Towncar instead of a shuttle for some reason.  Loved that.

Wow... I've just spent the last hour typing instead of getting any chores done.  JanBlogaDay is a little bit dangerous.  :)

Day 15 of January Blog a Day.


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