Sunday, July 13, 2008

a motoring milestone

Today was a milestone for the official Warehouse Motorized Transportation Vehicle (trademark pending)...
Hitting 200,000 KM

What has this dedicated vehicle experienced in its seven-year journey?

* One tree landing on its hood
* One mystery trunk crunching in a Boston subway garage
* One flying front bumper in Guelph
* One 180-degree skid into a ditch off 401
* One link in a five-car chain reaction in Burlington
* Trips to far-flung locales like Santa Fe, Calgary, Salt Lake City, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Montreal, Maine and Malvern
* Numerous rides home given to friends
* 78.7% of the non-fiction books-on-CD collection of the Toronto Public Library

As Mom would say, "oh that poor car."

I generally use it for out-of-town adventuring or grocery shopping, but admit I use it more than I should for running to in-town events at the last minute. The effect of high gas prices seems to be eliminating regular shopping trips I make to the outer edges of the city, which are now special events. It may be a coincidence, but I have noticed that I do more errands around my neighbourhood and go to St. Lawrence Market weekly/biweekly instead of monthly.

***

Growing up in Essex County one needed a car to get around, not surprising given the main industry in the region. When I turned 16, I immediately got my beginners license (OK, not quite immediately - I failed my first written exam by one question), took drivers ed. courses offered by my high school and had my permanent license within the year (on the first try). My uncle took me for my road test and just about jumped for joy when I returned to the license office in Walkerville with the good news. Between then and heading off to university, there's a good chance I explored every back road in the county, along with good chunks of southwestern Ontario and southeast Michigan.

After university, the car became a means of bonding between Dad and I whenever I came home. He pulled me out of bed on Saturday mornings (literally at times) and we usually crossed the border and picked a different area of metro Detroit to explore. In between trying restaurants he had read about or filling the trunk with $1 classical and jazz LPs, we observed neighbourhoods. Though he sometimes took on the role of passenger-side driver, especially if I was going too fast for his liking, we'd talk about our surroundings. He liked to guess if a former bank had been designed by Albert Kahn or how much duct tape and chewing gum kept disintegrating cars functional. He referred to the latter as "Gratiot Avenue specials" after seeing one too many on our trips through the east side. This was our time together and we'd recount trips long after they happened, with bad/weird experiences turned into running jokes.

***

200,000 KM - 16th Sideroad 200,000 KM - The Exact Location
The milestone occurred outside of King City, on a drive to Caledon with a friend that was part birthday celebration, part opportunity to enjoy a sunny day and see the greenery outside the city. I introduced them to places like the Cheltenham Badlands and a endless stream of twisty, tree-covered dirt roads criss-crossing the escarpment. My supernatural ability for stumbling onto tasty baked goods (strawberry rhubarb crisp near Caledon East and cherry-filled buns in Erin) and fundraising book sales with material for future vintage ad pieces (a church near Belfountain, where the books were set up in the pews) was in full force.

Since the vehicle has zero resale value, it looks like it will be run into the ground. Check back in a few years if it survives to add on another 50,000 to 100,000 km.

Update: the car lasted another year-and-a-half.

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