Did I say that out loud?

Thoughts and musings of a mom

Cruising

on August 7, 2013

There’s nothing like driving down the open highway in a brand new vehicle, windows down, radio up, breeze blowing through your hair. All is right with the world until your child in the backseat throws up, a hornet comes in through that open window and stings your husband on his stomach, you realize your GPS gave you the wrong directions, your vehicle unexplainably stops in the middle of the road, or you run over a spike belt obviously meant for someone else.

People often times have a love/hate relationship with their vehicles. And my family is no exception. Having never lived in a booming metropolis where public transportation was readily available, owing one’s own vehicle has been a necessity, and because my husband and I both have to travel to our jobs and various family responsibilities at non-corresponding times and in different locales, we are a two vehicle family. And oh, what vehicles we have owned throughout the years.

In honour of summertime and Sunday afternoon drives everywhere, I think I will now take a cruise down memory lane, stopping along the way to ponder the various vehicles my family has owned. Now my parents always drove their vehicles for a very LONG time. Their theory seemed to be to drive the thing until it’s dead and get $300 out of it for parts. The first car I can recall driving in was a 1974 Toyota Corolla. There’s nothing like sitting on vinyl seats in the middle of July. You’re wearing shorts because it’s as hot as all get out, but then with the energy that you haven’t possessed since 1982, you cram yourself into the back seat of the car, only to be quickly reminded that black vinyl in July can only be slightly cooler than hell itself. Thankfully, my derrière was significantly smaller in ’82 and I healed more quickly back in the day. Ah, but then there’s nothing like a spring rain when there’s a hole in the floor and you have to hold your feet up to keep them dry. In 1984, the ’74 affectionately became known as the “Old Toyota.”

The new Toyota Corolla was considered the new car well into the 90’s. Those who trade in their vehicles every three years are cringing right now. It was in this ’84 that I learned how to drive a stick shift. It also was in this car that I nearly gave my father a heart attack while learning to drive. Dear Dad and I were driving on a dirt road when we came upon four corners. Memories can be somewhat subjective at times, can’t they? What stands out for me is seeing the gigantic black bear in the middle of the road after the initial crisis occurred, but my father can recall with significant detail how he had to pull on the emergency break in order to save our lives because I took the 90 degree turn just a tad too quickly. Not that my father knew anything about driving too fast…. Hmmm. Funny how I heard the stories of his car races from other people. Eventually I did get my drivers license. Eventually. Not that the actual licence instilled in my mother the confidence that I could really drive. She was my first Google Map. Who needed GPS back in the day? In order to avoid the bridge, you take this road, only make right hand turns here, use the set of lights and whatever you do, do not cross traffic! Mom and Dad kept that car until 1998 when yet another Toyota Corolla entered their personal parking lot.

In the meantime, I married my husband and he already owned a 1988 Chrysler Daytona, which had replaced his K Car previous to that. The K Car had met its maker one night when my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, fell asleep at the wheel and rode a guardrail like a bull at a rodeo for a tumultuous 8 seconds. So by the time we got married, the Daytona was our way around town. The odometer on it had broke years before so we never had a clue how much mileage it actually had on it when we eventually had to say goodbye to it. It was a great little car although at the end of its life, my husband had nicknamed it the 4×4. It earned this name because there literally was a 4×4 holding the driver’s seat in place. We then went and bought a brand new, 1996, Dodge Ram. It and I had a private conversation one day and I told it that it had to last 400,000 kilometres. I knew that in order to pay the thing off and make it worthwhile, we would have to hold onto this vehicle for a very long time. And we did. It was during the course of this truck’s lifetime, that we increased the size of our lovely little family from two adults and one very ugly cat, to a beautiful family of four (and eventually no ugly cat, not that she got better looking, but ah, you get the picture).

Needless to say we needed a different vehicle and we got my first new-to-me car, a ’96 or ’97 Crown Victoria. We picked the biggest boat on the lot and went for it. That car/boat almost got us kicked out of my father-in-law’s will. They were devout Dodge/Chrysler people. The fact that we still drove the Ram kept us in their good graces and my husband was their only child, so that helped matters as well. That car had its issues and my husband kept taking it to the garage to discover what the mysterious noise was that it kept making. My method was much cheaper: roll up the windows, turn up the radio, and you didn’t hear a thing. That worked up until a point. When I had to pray each morning on my way to work that the car wouldn’t light on fire, we knew it was time for a newer-to-us vehicle. We were going to become a minivan family. Some may think that finally going to a minivan is a sign of losing one’s youthfulness, you’re growing up, settling down, etc, etc. We were driving a Crown Victoria, for heaven’s sakes, this was a step up. We are still driving that 2005 Caravan, and Lord willing, will be for another four or five years.

As you read above, the Ram and I had had a conversation early in its day about my expectations regarding its life expectancy. Last year, it finally had experienced enough, so at 402,000 kilometres, we traded (I use that term loosely) it in after everything that started with the letter B failed its last inspection. Bumper, brakes, and the body were done. Apparently duct tape can only hold a truck together for so long (like three or four inspections) before it can’t do it anymore. Deep down, I do sometimes miss that old rust bucket (a friend of my husband’s actually put his foot through the bed of it). So within a week of the Ram failing miserably at inspection, we bought a 2012 Dodge Caravan (yes, we now own two Caravans). It quit on my husband after we/the bank owned it for a week. Lucky for us, it also quit on the dealership’s manager, the problem was dealt with quickly, and we haven’t had any issues with it since. Oh, but it’s young and it’s the vehicle in which my children are going to learn how to drive. Let’s hope. Maybe I need to have a little conversation with it. And maybe my children will be allowed to cross over traffic, if need be, on a slow day, in our nice little town.

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4 responses to “Cruising

  1. I was at A&W behind Scott when it quit on him! lol.Thankfully just down the road from Moncton Chrysler Dodge!

  2. Amy says:

    Oh my goodness, Christy! I missed this one along the way somehow and reading it tonight I was laughing my head off! You’ve got a way with words! I always love hearing you tell a story and your writing is just the same! Keep ’em coming!!

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