Wassup? Photo by Kamienok found on Flikr

If any of you wondered why I quit the A to Z Blog Challenge, I have a simple answer: I got busy with work. You know, the kind that has a paycheck. Two articles to write for an upcoming print issue of HAND/EYE, several press releases, some radio copy, a couple of pitch letters and so on. Unfortunately, Julius was ignored because of all the activity, but that turned out to be good and I’ll explain why in another post.

In addition to work, a few life events occurred: our car was on the brink of death. We took it to the Honda dealership and learned that it needed an extensive valve job and God knows what else. The prognosis: we were better off getting a new, newer, newish car.

I was a bit disappointed at first because  we thought we could fix the CRV and then I would  buy one of those sweet, new Fiats. I wanted to have a car just for me so I could piddle around on or off island. Once we learned that we needed a new, newer, newish vehicle, the Ol’ Man was talking about getting another boring Japanese made for soccer moms SUV, I was not enthusiastic about it at all.

Here’s a confession: I am a car snob. I like cars that have a certain look to them. I’m more concerned about design and how that translates into my sense of aesthetics. So if I had my druthers, I would most likely purchase a British or Italian designed vehicle—preferably from the 1960s or early 1970s. I’m thinking of Aston Martin, Jaguar, MG, Triumph, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, etc. However, with three dogs none of those are practical and as the Ol’ Man noted, you need to carry a toolbox with you every time you want to start the car.

But that doesn’t mean I had to give up my sense of aesthetics because as he said there were Land Rovers and Range Rovers that we could test drive. Unfortunately when we priced them, we knew that was out of the question. So it was back to the reliable and newer model of the Honda CRV that, too me, resembles a minivan, a design that I detest.

I let the Ol’ Man search online to see what the dealership had to offer and he found a handful of Jeeps. Would I be happy with a Jeep? Would that be a good compromise on aesthetics and practicality? I really couldn’t argue with that and agreed to it. I could live with a Jeep, although I thought to myself how cool would it be to have a Jeep Wrangler and take off the top during the summer.

When we were ready to see the dealer and tell him what we wanted, we enlisted the Ol’ Man’s youngest son to come with us. Nat is like the Mayor of Riverhead. He knows everyone, especially at the dealership. So on my birthday, in late April, I had to go and get my license renewed and afterwards off the three of us went to shop for cars. While I was waiting for salesman, father and son, strolled through the lot to see what was available and what I would like in terms of color (the old CRV was exactly what I never wanted: red with a manual transmission and the gear shift by the steering wheel), transmisson, cargo area and so forth.

After waiting for 20 minutes, I joined them and they waved me over to look at one car: A metallic khaki two-door Jeep Wrangler with a tan hard-top in pristine condition. It was love at first sight. What was supposed to be well-thought out purchase became an impulse buy.

2005 Jeep Wrangler sans Elsa the Lioness. Photo credit: Rebeca Schiller

Apart that the gas mileage is terrible, that it’s a tight squeeze with three dogs (Lab, Beagle and JRT), accessories, like getting a new soft-top, don’t come cheap, what does it mean to own a Jeep Wrangler? It’s great. I feel like Joy Adamson in Born Free driving around the plains of the Serengeti. All I need now to complete the picture is Elsa the Lioness (the Ol’ Man refuses to budge on that one).

I’d like to add an important note for any future and inexperienced car shoppers: Listen closely to the sales pitch, read everything they give you carefully, and watch the dealer’s math. We almost paid $1,000 more because of an addition error. Also when you’re sitting with the finance guy and he’s reviewing all that you get, LISTEN. We assumed that many of the perks were included in the price and signed off on them. When we got home, we realized we paid an extra $2,500.00. Like Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo, they’ll slip in every nonessential service into the package. And they’ve gotten smart with the semantics and how the contracts are written. Caveat emptor applies in situations like car shopping. Had we been a savvier, not tired, and listened closely, we would never have agreed to any of these items.

A friend of mine who is very new-agey always says that I have an angel looking out for me. That divine entity somehow makes it possible for me to get what I want. It will make me work to get it, but in the end I’m rewarded  (and believe me, I had to work to get the financing for the Jeep).

Now that we have a cool car that runs, I’m back to Julius and I have lots good stuff to report about that, but it will have to wait until tomorrow because I’m still twisting the Ol’ Man’s arm about that Lioness (and if it can’t be that, there’s a very nice Bloodhound at our local shelter that needs a home).

Elsa the Lioness Lounging on Jeep. Photo credit: Aveley.com




Ralph. Photo credit: ARF

Angel, if you’re out there, are you listening…?