Along with being able to define my life with where we were stationed or living at the time, I can define my life based on the cars that we have owned over the years. Each car had a particular feel to it. A memory attached to it.

I was at the local grocery store a few days ago and came across a 1972 Toyota Celica in the parking lot. Aside from the paint being oxidized, it was in good condition. My dad drove a 72 Celica GT when I was a kid. I loved that car.

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It was teal green with white pinstriping and it had mag wheels. The inside smelled like a combination of Lucky Strikes and LifeSavers (my dad always had mints with him). I remember my dad working on it in the garage when I was a kid and I believe he even found a wood screw embedded in one of the pistons. That thing ran really well, even after my dad smacked it into the center divider on the 101 Freeway one day.

The other car we had was a Toyota Corona (don't remember what year) wagon.

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Our was white and had red shag carpet in the back. Mom used it to take the dogs to dog shows. I remember making a trip to Yuma, AZ when I was a kid and I remember planning out all of the toys and such that I would put in the back (car seats weren't required back then) to keep me entertained on the 6 hour trip. I saw one a few years back in SoCal and *almost* left my name and number on the windshield in case the owner wanted to sell it.

My very first car was my mom's '65 Mustang. She had a 289, power steering and power brakes. I loved that car. It was a kickass car. We went everywhere. Down to Santa Monica, to Ed Debevic's, up to Malibu, cruising the roads in the hills above Malibu (great lookout point off Piuma Road, especially right after it rains). It didn't have a/c and the seats were vinyl which could get REALLY HOT on summer days (I worked as a lifeguard) but other than that, she was awesome! But then my parents decided to move, the transmission decided to sieze up, and my parents decided that I would be better off in a newer car. One time, on my way back into town from college, I saw her driving down the road. The guy that owned her at the time wasn't taking very good care of her and she looked pretty beat up.

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Mom and dad then bought me one of the biggest POSs that Ford ever made (though they didn't know it at the time): a 1989 Ford Escort GT.

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Mine was red with grey bumpers. Stick shift with a little annoying light that would blink "SHIFT" at you in order to conserve fuel economy and automatic seat belts that would attack you when you closed the door. Half way through my freshman year in college, the fuel pump started to go out on me - in the middle of rush hour traffic on the 101. THAT was fun. Later on, when MacGyver and I had moved to Colorado, I was roadtripping back to SoCal with a friend and we were driving through Utah into Nevada at dusk. I kept seeing my headlights flicker on and off as reflected in the paint of the car ahead of me. My friend didn't believe me. Then we rounded a corner on the highway and everything went from illuminated to pitch black. So much for the headlights. They came on again after we sat for a while so we kept driving. The whole week that we were in SoCal, they didn't do it. So we start to head back to Colorado and we make it to about Albequerque and it's 2am and OUT go the lights. At this point, we were a group of 3 cars with me and MacGyver's fraternity brothers. None of whom had any CLUE about cars (well, other than MacGyver). So we pull off for a bit. The guys snooze and I panic (I'm good at that). How the HELL are we going to get back to college with no headlights at 2am??? After a little while I decide to check and, lo and behold, they are working again. So we press on. We made it back to school and when I took the car in to have it worked on, the switch for the lights (the electrical components in the dashboard) had MELTED. Seems this was a known problem for my wonderful POS. Later on, the car would get REALLY good at draining a battery without even being ON. I sold it and started driving MacGyver's cars (we won't go into all of the cars he has had since I have known him. There isn't enough space on this blog nor do I have enough time to detail all of them. There have been at least THIRTEEN since I have known him).

I also had a wonderful 99 Honda Civic at one point.

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Loved that car. Hondas are like Toyotas - they run forever. It was a stick shift and quick. Got great gas mileage and ran like a top. Throw studded tires on it and it handled like a champ on the ice in Alaska too. The only problem was that it was a 2 door and getting Princess Trouble and her carry seat in and out when she was a baby was a major PITA. So, sadly, I gave it up.

But I got a kickass Pathfinder and she has been great.

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175K+ miles on her and the worst thing that has been wrong is a bad alternator and a leaky exhaust manifold. She towed us from Alaska to Alabama across the continental divide, through the midwest, and into the south in the late summer with no problems whatsoever. She's taken us camping. She's the quintessential beach car (plenty of room for gear and for cleaning and dressing the kids at the end of the day along with good a/c) and I love her.

And now I have a new love.

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Buying a new car goes against everything I learned from Dave Ramsey but Dave doesn't have to deal with HIS mechanic being deployed for a year. The peace of mind that was purchased along with this car is invaluable. I'm willing to go without cable or new clothes if it means that I don't have to worry about my car breaking down on me as I'm rushing to pick up my kids from school or day care.

And I got a helluva deal. $1000 over dealer cost and well below invoice. Free accessories, extended warranty, awesome interest rate. She's quick. She's nimble. She smells like a new car. The kids love the sunroof (I'm pretty fond of it too) and the fact that they can FEEL the a/c in the backseat.

Now I just need to come up with a name for her. The Civic that we have is "Stanley".

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The Pathfinder doesn't have a name. Maybe I should come up with one.

I'm off to put down my new floormats and slip the seat cover on the backseat. And then I may load the kids in the car and go for a drive...


- hfs

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