21 October 2014

While we were visiting A’s family in Dallas last week, we purchased a 2006 Honda Odyssey. Our family is outgrowing the quad-cab Tacoma, and my old 1995 Honda Civic is simply no longer practical. It only rides four, and A can’t drive it (it’s a stick-shift). Hence, it is with much sadness that I published it on Craigslist last night.

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We bought the Civic in 2004 after, within six months of getting married, I totaled my SUV. The story of it’s procurement is one we still marvel at. After weeks of trolling newspaper classifieds (Craigslist didn’t have wide adoption in rural Tennessee in 2004) I found a Civic with 125,000 miles for $3300 in Chattanooga.

We drove an hour to go see it. The owner was an older lady (a smoker) who had bought it new. I offered her $3000.

“You can have it for $2800, dear!”

I still don’t know why she did that, but as A is my witness, that happened. Furthermore, this did not throw red flags for me (although it did for A), and I happily paid the sum.

It was certainly well spent. The car rolled over 201,000 miles a few weeks ago.

Within two weeks of owning it, I parked it in my driveway without engaging the emergency break or putting it into gear. It rolled into a tree, denting the front bumper and putting it on the straight path to cosmetic obsolescence.

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I slapped my “Geek Patrol” magnetic signs on it and drove it to freelance consulting gigs all over east Tennessee.

We first visited NYC in 2006 with my brother and my cousin. The four of us squeezed into the Civic for the 14 hour overnight drive. Your knees were pretty much at your chin. I can still see my brother wearing headphones and headbanging to metal all the way up I-81 through Virginia.

When we first moved to NYC, we didn’t take any vehicle with us. That lasted less than a year. I flew back, drove the Honda to NYC, and became one of the car-driving elite. We would bundle into the car with friends, go hiking in New Jersey or skiing in Pennsylvania or Vermont, and be back by Monday.

On one of these trips to the Catskills, I was pulled over at a checkpoint. The nice police lady asked me where I was headed.

“That way.” I pointed ahead.

“And where are you traveling from?”

“That way.” I pointed behind me.

“Have you had anything to drink?”

“Yep, we just ate a huge meal after a hike.”

“What did you drink?”

“Water.”

“… You learned that in Tennessee didn’t you.” (I still had Tennessee plates at this point.)

She waved me on.

My brother in the back-seat nearly died laughing as soon as we pulled away. He couldn’t decide if I was stupid or just trolling her.

One thing about this car that was great is that it was so basic. There was no power steering, no power windows, and a stick shift. There simply wasn’t much that could go wrong with this car. Of course, that had a downside, too. If I left my lights on, it didn’t beep to remind me to turn them off. So leave them on I did. I’ve been jumped off by nearly all of my co-workers, police, state troopers, National Park foresters, and random people in parking lots all over the country.

Since Brian left the headlights on, we need assistance.

We drove it to Portland, Maine several times to visit friends in both Portland and Boston. I don’t have many pictures of the car for these trips because the car was the means, not the destination. Still, occasionally there it is, in the background (hi C and M!).

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Living in Queens, I had to move it several times a week for street sweeping. The only exception was when we got a lot of snow.

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NYC was hard on it. People stole my license plates, tore off the window rain guards, bumped into it parallel parking, and generally wreaked destruction on its exterior. Despite how rough it looks, though, the car never left me down. I used to be terrified it would quit on me in the shoulder-less canyons of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but it never did.

Goodbye, red wheels! You’ve served us well.

Update (10/29): Sold the car last night for $1000 less than I bought it for 10 years ago. It’s hard to beat $100 a year or 1.3¢ per mile!



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