Farewell, old friend

Yesterday I bid farewell to our 17-year-old Prius, a reliable car that carried me and mine over 164,113 miles. We donated it to a local non-profit and I watched as it was loaded on the truck. Even though it was just a car, a possession, I choked up . So many memories.

  • I went to the dealership in November of 2003 to place an order for the 2004 Prius model (the first year with a hatchback) which were in high demand. Because Zippy was less enthused about buying a hybrid vehicle and was busy at work, off I went. Alone, but armed with a ton of research on buying a new vehicle. The two salesmen wanted to treat me like a joke, but I insisted they deduct various costs including fees for taking up space on the lot (since the car would go straight to me upon arrival), advertising, rust-proofing, and upholstery treatment. When they pushed back on one of those demands, I said if they couldn’t accommodate me I’d buy from another dealership in the area. One scoffed: “You’d drive across town to save $150?” I assured him I would. They dropped that fee and we made a deal. When I walked out, I was shaking with adrenaline. I also felt pretty kick-ass.
  • There were so few Priuses in those early years that whenever two passed on the street, the drivers always exchanged a grin and a wave.
  • The summer of 2004, we took a three-week vacation to drive the Prius across the country to visit family and friends. Wildebeest and Zebu were nine and seven. It turned out to be our very best family trip. Ever. No fighting. It was glorious.
  • As Zebu got older and became driving-age, he insisted the Prius had no guts. He was wrong. I could drive up Highway 93, from Golden to Boulder, and blow past most every other vehicle whenever there were passing lanes.
  • Zebu also disliked the Prius because he was too tall and his head touched the ceiling.
  • Wildebeest loved the Prius and its money-saving gas mileage (which averaged about 44 mpg over the years) and often offered to take it off our hands.
  • In those 17 years, we had to replace the battery two times with refurbished batteries.
  • I went through a phase in which I tried to convince Zippy we should start a battery refurbishing business. He never succumbed to my entrepreneurial pitch.
  • The Prius wasn’t great in snow and sometimes I had to abandon it on the side of our hilly street because it couldn’t quite make it to the driveway. We eventually bought snow tires which made a huge difference but some years, due to climate change, there wasn’t much snow so we didn’t bother putting them on. It was like a game of roulette: would we get huge snowfalls and regret the lack of traction?
  • Pre-snow tires I once got the carpool stuck and all four elementary-age kids had to get out to push the Prius from the snowy gutter where it’d slid.
  • Something about our silver Prius attracted accidents. Zippy and I were both rear-ended multiple times** and once I sat with Zebu at a stop sign in the rain and watched as an SUV turned right onto that street and slow-motion slid over to smack into the front of the Prius as Zebu and I yelled, “Noooo!”
  • (** one woman who rear-ended me was named C*rmen Riskey which somehow felt like a perfect name for the situation).
  • When the valiant Prius was taken away yesterday, it bore zip ties and packing tape on various parts of its body.
  • One of the times it got hit resulted in extensive damage that required a body shop. While the Prius looked good as new after that, the gas bladder was never the same and would only accept 5-6 gallons of gas at a time which meant that one of the greatest perks of owning a Prius –fewer trips to the gas station–was no longer the case. Over the years I swore even more than usual as the pump handle clicked off and on as I tried squeezing in a tiny bit more gas.
  • Once I loaned the Prius to a friend who’d only driven later models and she called me to say the fob wasn’t working. Apparently, the newer models would start if the fob was in the driver’s pocket so I had to explain that my Prius fob had to be inserted in a slot in the dashboard. (The same thing happened with the donation pick-up driver last night; when he couldn’t get it to start, he thought we were donating a dead car as opposed to just a seriously wounded car).
  • My brother-in-law drove it once and somehow triggered what Prius drivers refer to as the “red triangle of death.”  He was in a panic but we’d become somewhat nonchalant about its appearance over the years and talked him through it.
  • Several weeks ago, Zippy decided to have the snow tires put on rather than buy new tires. While the Prius was driving very well at that point, it was increasingly touchy so we didn’t want to invest in new tires. After paying an unbelievable $150 for that switch plus disposal of the old, bald tires, there was an immediate change. Like, immediate-immediate. The red triangle of death had returned. When Zippy floored the gas pedal to get up our hill, our beloved old Prius could only muster 10-miles-per-hour.
  • It was time to say goodbye.
  • That goodbye dragged on and on for a whole week because the pick-up company got WAY behind due to the blistering hot weather across Colorado. Several of their trucks died in the heat and one nearly caught fire. But at 6:30 last night, Eduardo arrived to carry my dear little car away.

Here’s the Prius making its final trip down our street. I’m not ashamed to admit there were tears in my eyes as I waved goodbye.

Sunday Confessional: my son’s mess helped me feel better

Late this afternoon I crawled back in bed. Despite the fact that I’d taken a brisk 2-mile walk around the neighborhood, I was sad and depressed. I slept for a bit, but when I woke I still felt blue-blue-blue. I decided I’d stay in bed until tomorrow morning. Screw this almost-last-day-of-December. I’d had enough.

And then I remembered Wildebeest’s car. I’d borrowed it last night and discovered the floors behind the front seats were filled with trash. Receipts, wrappers, water bottles, etc. As I huddled under my covers I thought about that finite amount of stuff in his car. I could do something about that! I would see instant results! I got out of bed, put on clothes, and went outside with a garbage can plus a bag for recyclables.

Wow.

As I unearthed layers of stuff from the floor I came upon what appeared to be a whole lot of bird seed. That’s odd, I thought as I continued excavating. Wildebeest doesn’t share my bird love. Why would he be feeding birds? Then I reached under the seat and pulled out a flattened box. Rice A Roni. In fact, I eventually found two destroyed boxes of Rice A Roni in his car. But the real treat (not to be confused with the ♪ Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat  ♫ ) was a clump of fossilized dog poop that’d clearly come off a friend’s shoes as said friend rode in the back seat. (You’re probably thinking I’m rude for publicly calling out my son’s slovenly habits, but he came by them honestly. When I was his age I was a smoker who wasn’t good about emptying the ash tray in my car and sometimes the filled-to-capacity ashtray would start smoldering when I put out another butt in the gigantic pile of butts. I know, I know.)

Wildebeest’s car was a dumpster on wheels. Oddly enough, I was quite content as I cleaned and vacuumed the interior and then wiped down the dashboard. Instant results, baby. Tangible progress. A job well done.

I’m pleased to report my blues are gone for the time being and that I’m not getting back in bed for a good long while. Wildebeest’s mess + my unorthodoxy = WIN.

 

Happy 88th!

My mom turned 88 today. During our phone conversation just now, she wondered about the significance of “88.” When I wasn’t sure what she meant, she went on to say, “It means something automotive.” After we hung up, I asked Zippy. And being the son of a gear-head, he knew exactly what she was trying to remember.

“She’s talking about the Oldsmobile Rocket 88.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d never heard of this car, but there are LOTS of them out there. Images galore!

This one was an official Indy Pace Car:

 

This one is just pretty:

 

 

 

 

And here’s the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 race car I dedicate to my mother on her 88th:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Of Birds and Automobiles

Another random photo find on the computer: an American Kestrel, which is a small falcon.
Kestrel 057

My intent was to find a kestrel or falcon-related quotation to include here, but nothing rang true. Until, that is, I came across this quote from Dave Barry:

The Ford Falcon holds the proud title of Slowest Car Ever Built. In certain areas of the country you can go to a stoplight and find Falcon drivers who pressed down on their accelerators in 1963 and are still waiting for their cars to move.

My very first car was a Ford Falcon Sprint. It looked something like this (except with an ugly, scabrous paint job):

ford falcon sprint
Mr. Barry’s quote made me laugh even though I don’t remember experiencing acceleration issues. But there are all sorts of things I don’t remember from my L.A. life way back then, so maybe it’s true. At least I made it out of the intersection.