Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The End of an Era

June 2019 has certainly been a month of significance for me. My previous posts indicated that my June Las Vegas trip did not go particularly well. Also, apparently (since I have not yet received official notice), my retirement request to end my current employment in July 2020 was approved by the college's board of trustees at their June meeting.

With retirement now slowly becoming a reality, I had to take care of some business with my family automobiles. Nine years ago, I bought a 2002 Mitsubishi Mirage for my son to drive as he turned 16. He drove it for several years before finishing school and moving to Seattle. Afterward, it was driven by my oldest daughter for a bit after her college car was sold. She bought a new car a year ago and the Mirage mostly sat in her driveway for a year. I had plans to sell it this summer, but the long, cold winter took its toll on the car. After putting a replacement battery in it, I started it up and drove it a few blocks about three weeks ago. However, when I got back to her house, smoke started coming from the engine. I am guessing some squirrels did some damage under the hood. The car didn't want to start again and didn't seem to be driving properly, so along with all the body damage it sustained over the years, it was time to let it go. I stopped into an auto salvage business on Saturday and agreed to sell it. They were to two it in on Monday, after which I could go back to the business and pick up my check.

On Sunday, however, my world changed. I decided to play a little poker at the riverboat that is about 90 miles away from my house. I hopped into my baby -- a 2000 Ford Mustang convertible (pictured) -- and was on my way. Just about half way there, my car started making a bunch of noise. Metal against metal sounds were coming from the engine. The temperature gauge suddenly started approaching Hot. I got off an exit ramp, turned the engine off and saw smoke/steam coming out from underneath the hood. When the car cooled down a bit, I looked under the hood. Cooling fluid was everywhere. I called a tow truck to tow me the 50 miles home. I tried to start the car, but it wouldn't start. The tow truck driver said "It looks like it seized up." Ut oh -- did my water pump go bad and ruin the engine?

The Mustang, which I never did name, was bought by me back in 2002. I was looking for a red Mustang convertible, preferably the GT version. I couldn't find any in the area and decided to search at I found a nice looking 2002 car in Louisville, KY that only had 8,000 miles. It wasn't a GT, but it was the closest to what I had been looking for. I met the owner in southern Indiana, about halfway between our homes, to give it a spin. I liked in, made a deal to buy it within the next week, took a friend with me to Louisville and bought it. I've had it ever since.

I was actually prepared to get another car two different times over the years. About ten years ago I bought a new house and had trouble selling my old one. I was paying two mortgages and accruing about $1,000/month interest on a bridge loan. This all happened right when the economy went in the tank. I was finally able to sell my old house after it was on the market for just over a year. I went to my bank to refinance my house loan and consolidate my bridge loan, and the poor economy helped me make a great deal and finally have some financial flexibility. I decided to get a newer version of my car and had a program vehicle picked out at an area dealership. However, before I could get the new car, we found out that my wife would be losing her decent paying public school job when her position was eliminated. With a substantial loss of family income, a new car would have to wait for me.

Later, after having bought used cars for my oldest daughter and son to drive when they turned 16 and got their drivers licenses, I decided that I would give my youngest daughter my Mustang when she turned 16 and got her license. I went back to the same local dealership and picked out another program vehicle -- also a newer version of what I had. Similar red color, same black roof and interior,  also a convertible. There was just one problem: my youngest daughter decided that her anxiety with driving was too great, and she decided not to get her drivers license. I decided to keep driving my old car, for it still ran great, looked good and had few mechanical problems.

Part of my personality, as some of my family and friends might know, it that I am not big into fancy possessions. I have a nice house, but aside from the house, I never had much interest in fancy cars, jewelry, clothes, other things. I could have bought a new car, but why do so when mine ran great and still looked good? Plus, it was almost a part of me after having spent so much time driving it since 2002. My hope was to keep it running until I retired from my current job, then sell it, donate it or give it away to someone.

Unfortunately, my plan ran into a major glitch: the engine, which had been great for so many years, needed to be replaced. The cost: around $5,000, not an amount you put into a car that is almost 20 years old. I was ready to make another deal with the salvage yard when my regular auto repair shop called me to say that a guy who works there might want to buy the car and make a personal project out of it for his young daughter to drive. I felt much better knowing that the car might still provide some pleasure  for someone else rather than just being relegated to some heap of scrap metal.

I feel very sad about the car. It had been with me through thick and thin for so many years. I knew its time was approaching but, similar in waiting for that time with an elderly parent or relative, it is still a shock when that day comes. It's also a sign that my life will soon be changing and that I'd better prepare myself for the transition. I look forward with excitement, but I am trying to keep some of the fear and anxiety away at arm's length. Such is life when you start getting older. *sigh*

  Ballad of Ole' Betsy
Betsy, Betsy, ahh
She was born in '32, and was she ever pretty
She rode a freight train west, all the way from Detroit city
Betsy's seen more places than I'll ever hope to see
Betsy's been more loyal than any friend could be
With some she traveled fast, with others it was slow
Betsy's seen them all, she'd seen them come and go
She must have had some others before I finally met her
And now that she's all mine, they'd better just forget her
Betsy was a lady and that she will remain
Betsy took some beatings but she never once complained
She had a classic beauty that everyone could see
I was the last to meet her, but she gave her life to me
She may be rusted iron, but to me she's solid gold
And I just can't hold the tears back 
'Cause Betsy's growing old

Brian Wilson and Roger Christian

Thanks for reading!


Blogger Lester said...

I was raised with a notion to get the last 100,000 miles out of a car and not the first 100,000 miles. This September I turn in a 24 month lease on a Chev Equinox which I decided to pay $199 a month on while I figured out what I really wanted to purchase in Sept 2019. Currently I am torn between a Chev Colorado or a Ford Ranger pickup. While at the same time considering a full size pickup truck instead. And also considering buying brand new or a couple of years old model. I have an expectation to tow an RV when I retired 4 years from now with my truck paid off. Big question is RV trailer over or under 7000 pounds? The Colorado or Ranger are max'd out at that number while the full size pickup has more towing capacity. Decisions, decisions..... Good luck with your's L36!

10:42 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I drove a 2018 Mustang (red with black, of course) yesterday. I liked it, but now am not sure if I want basically the new upgrade of my old car. I'm like 40% there wanting to buy it. Don't have a back up plan as of yet. Currently driving a 2005 rusting out Grand Caravan with leaks and issues.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read your post. If you have any more car troubles, I believe your buddy and fellow poker blogger Rob knows a Chinatown mechanic who can help you...

12:15 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

He he. I thought of Rob as I was waiting for the tow truck. My misadventure was nothing compared to his.

1:17 PM  

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