Colorado is a beautiful state. (Well, it is if I ignore all the fundamentalist hate-groups, anyway.) I PCSed here in 2008 and instantly fell in love with the mountain views. Sadly, I’ve been too busy with the Army life, and lack of a suitable vehicle, to enjoy exploring much. What a waste.
However, now that my boyfriend and I are reaching the end of our time in service, we’re hoping to make up for lost time. Recently, we purchased a Nissan Pathfinder, and now can explore areas that were previously beyond the reach of either of our own cars.
Already, we’ve been taking advantage of the opportunity. Just yesterday, we drove up into the mountains for some shooting with his friends. This was my second trip up with them for this, and the winding, narrow, dirt mountain road seemed less distressing for me this time. Although, I was still wary of the many sharp, blind corners, as well as the cliffs that the road’s edge most of the way up.
Originally, we had been looking for a Toyota Tacoma because my boyfriend had a bit of a car-crush on the Toyota Hilux (a similar truck which the Tacoma replaced in the US in 1995) after seeing an episode of the BBC program Top Gear, in which the hosts ran the Hilux through a series of insane tests (setting it on fire, beating it with a wrecking ball, letting it be smashed by waves and drowned in the ocean) and the brave vehicle continued to run, being declared invincible. We found one used Tacoma, but it was in bad shape. It hadn’t been well cared for by the previous owner and appeared to have hit a tree. But it still ran and the previous owner had apparently liked it as he’d traded it in for a newer version. Not expecting to do any better for $4,000 we were seriously considering taking it. I, however, was a bit hesitant to give the dealers an answer right away, since we’d only been to two lots.
Ok, maybe I had a car-crush too.
When my boyfriend later found the Pathfinder in another lot, in much better working order and at about the same price, he told me he was glad he heard my voice in his head, my words from a previous day, “We don’t necessarily have to get a Tacoma.”
Sure, the Pathfinder had a few minor problems. It was missing a driver’s sidemirror, the back bumper was crooked, it needed new shocks, the muffler rattled, but these are all easy fixes. Honestly, I couldn’t believe my boyfriend worked the dealer down to just $4k. That’s a full thousand dollars less than I payed for the Chevy Aveo that I drive, which immediately needed the master cylinder replaced.
I see us having a lot of fun together with this new ride, now that we no longer have to rely on other people when we want to go skiing (for him,) snowboarding (for me,) offroading, and camping in the mountains. Now we have the right vehicle for the job.
- Don’t jump for the first vehicle you find, you might find something better.
- Used does not mean bad. Do you really want to scratch up a new ride anyway?
- The car comes with an owner’s manual for a reason. Read it.
- 4-wheel drive. A must. Also a must, appropriate tires.
- Tools. Make sure you have what you need should your vehicle require basic servicing.
- A spare tire. Have one. Seriously.
- Learn to drive a manual. I know I need to.
- Preventative maintenance checks and services. Inspect your vehicle regularly and before and after every trip.
- Look out for other vehicles, especially at blind turns and hills.
- Know where you’re going. Preferably, have a map.