Saturday, July 19, 2014

Old is the "new new even as wife knows how to hold hand until the end

Okay so this is how it went down.

Bev and I are on the hunt for a good, reliable, dependable, fuel efficient and comfortable vehicle to get us around town and all. Little Red - my 2005 Hyundai Tucson - has 172,000  hard-earned miles and is showing signs of old age.

However, do not let its interior (shall we say, unique uniqueness surprise you. When you frequently run the hills, streams, gas-line right-of-ways, tractor paths and striking a course around a small Ashtabula County lake to get to the goose-hunting blind you're going to develop some age-related squeaks, groans, rattles and other alien sounds that are more typical of an old man trying to get up from his recliner than a healthy stallion prancing about.

Little Red's rear wiper motor no longer functions, the lever used to adjust the steering wheel's angle is stuck in place, Millie became so excited once that her canine dance-about caused the cup holder cover to break.

Oh, and all the while the rubber engine motor mounts have begun to deteriorate to the point where you get some pretty fair shimmying as the motor vibrates when the engine downshifts.

There's a few other examples of why the Tucson is ready for the Old Folks' home. Passengers frequently express fear, desperately worried that something big and hairy is going to crawl out of the mire and squalor that has grown up from the floor. And not too long ago the granddaughter of a fellow church member who was forced by circumstances to ride in Little Red asked after the short trip when I was going to clean her out.

Kids can say the funniest things though I suspect that either Bev or the girl's grandmother put the poor thing up to asking the question. I, on the other hand, view the Tucson's interior as a major family archeological site; a place to discover treasurers long believed to have disappeared or even become extinct.

Even so, ESS Automotive in Mentor continually remarks that what is ugly on the outside it is what's inside that matters the most. Which is why the car repair firm never hesitates to comment on how well Little Red ticker has been attended to; things like frequent oil changes, replacing tires, getting tune ups as they become due, and always keeping on top of fluid levels so that the machine's engine has never gasped for lack of care.

Still, it is time. For this reason the work has begun in at least supplementing Little Red. The field of potential candidates is narrowing, I've spent many hours scouting local car dealers, visiting their on-line inventories, examining CarFax reports and such.

With that in mind, Bev and I have found a couple of dandy Nissan Rogues as our primary targets. One is a 2013 model with around 26,000 miles, silver in color, standard clothe furnishings, and generally a right comfortable ride.

Oh, and the mileage is better than what the Tucson ever afforded. Bev and I know this because two years ago we rented a virtually identical Rouge to travel to Bev's folks in Florida.

The second Rogue is one year older and with about 12,000 more miles. However - and this is the good part - this particular Rouge has all the whistles and bells for the same price, give or take the contents of a child's piggy bank.

Its cake icing features a sun/moon roof, a very well maintained leather interior, heated seats (the better to soothe the back and help prevent old peoples' complaints about sore behinds), a rear-facing/back-up camera, a working SatNav system, and a stunning high-society shiny coal-black exterior.

On the downside our test drive had the Rogue sounding more like a roaring lion than a tame tabby. A quick inspection indicated the tires were ready for recycling with the possibility of a damaged rear wheel bearing or else out-of-round/improperly balanced tires. The salesman said he'd speak with the dealer's shop manager and see how best to resolve the issue.

Yep, it is a fancy-pants vehicle to be sure but Little Red needs assistance. It no longer ought to be called on for every day outdoorsy use since it has its share of health-related issues - none of which, by the way, are covered by ObamaCare. And the poor thing's Blue and Black Book value say it is worth only around $1,500 to $2,500.

So we determined to keep Little Red as the preferred HuntMobile whereby Berry and Millie can slobber their canine slime to their Labrador retriever hearts and I can use the passenger side floor as a temporary receptacle for emptied Dunkin' Donut coffee cups, discarded copies of The News-Herald and a place to toss peach pits and apple cores. All on a very temporary basis, of course.

This way "Raven" (as we have temporary called it) could be kept clean and on stand-by for whenever a long-distance hunting or fishing trip is needed or simply if I just want to use it to truck my shooting gear to the gun club's ranges.

So where we stand now is that I will keep Little Red until the last gasp of her 87 octane breath, we'll buy Raven and then turn in Bev's means of transportation - her Chevy HHR, nicknamed "Henrietta."

What's that, you say? How did Bev's HHR enter this picture? Darned if I know. After all, Henrietta is newer, has fewer than one-half the road miles of Little Red, and does not demand how cleaning crew members are required to wear hazmat suits.

Somehow Little Red and me have been bamboozled by one smart cookie who really understands it's always best to keep your hand close to the vest until the very end.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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