Let the record show that at 3 pm today, the title to my beloved old Mazda passed from my hands to those of the tow-truck driver who took her on that last, long one-way trip to auto heaven. … sniff …
Damn, I loved that car. It was cool (I thought), and I felt cool driving it. Seventeen years of travels together is a lot, even if most of the time it wasn’t anything glamorous or exciting. Just the mundane run to the mall, the grocery store, or the daily commute to the office. But there were fun times too, like hellbent dashes across Kansas (one doesn’t dawdle when faced with 400 miles of Kansas “scenery”) or the Texas or Oklahoma panhandles, escaping from Oklahoma for a summer vacation in the Colorado Rockies — with occasional pit stops to cool down from the 100° heat.
Then were those three winters in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Ontario with all that “lake effect” snow. Nasty stuff, that. Buffalo usually got more than we did, but not by much. Up there, that Mazda looked more like some new-fangled snowplow than the car it was. As high as the snow got piled around the intersections, I even considered putting a bicycle flag on it because no one could see it coming. Still, with good winter tires and front-wheel drive, combined with frequently plowed roads, we got along okay. And certainly made my brother eat his words: “You take that thing to NY for the winter, it won’t be coming back.” It did. And went seven years beyond that.
The best times were the mountain drives — creeping slowly across fog-shrouded slopes in October in SE Oklahoma, enveloped in pine-scented dampness. Or in the Rockies, careening along a valley floor between 13,000-ft. peaks with the windows and sunroof wide open, the stereo blasting Beethoven and Tchaikovsky (somehow at the time classical seemed more appropriate than rock, but Queen was never more than a CD away). When lodgepole pine crowded the road and threw a lattice of shadows across it, the whole scene became a flickering laser light show.
Anyway, the Mazda is gone now. As I drove home, I was consoled only slightly by my brand spankin’ new pearl white Subaru Forester. But things will get better soon. Lots better. The Subie’s an XT (ie, turbo).
Even grandmas gotta have fun.