Category Archives: Vehicle

Childfreemobile

Like my new car? I do. It’s two years older than I am an in practically new condition. It drives fantastic, and it’s clean. The thing about it is, it only seats two. How much more obviously childfree can I be?

Not a “family car”

How Selfishly Childfree And Immorally Atheist People Car Shop

I got a new car last week. I wasn’t exactly planning on buying a car that day, but I did. I was actually just browsing lots with my boyfriend, trying to figure out how we could help some friends of ours out who had found themselves in a sticky situation. Our friends are a family of three (the child is my “god(less)son,”) who, unfortunately, were having a bit of trouble. They had only one car, a two-seater, which didn’t fit their seating needs. Recently, this car was damaged beyond drivability in an accident, which wasn’t my friend’s fault. They had no budget to fix the car or buy a new one. And not having a car is a big deal for anyone.

So, my boyfriend and I browsed lots. Eventually, we stumbled upon a bright red 1986 Nissan 300ZX in excellent condition with only 78K miles. It had apparently been in a garage and under a tarp since the year that I was born. The body was in near perfect shape, the interior was luxurious, and it was beautiful under the bonnet too. We took it for a test drive immediately and it was just a dream. The asking price was out of the range of my friends, but very affordable for myself. It was a little hard to find financing for a car so old, as it was difficult for companies to ascertain its value, but I eventually got it and drove the car home that very night. Score.

As for my friends, well, I no longer needed my 2005 Chevy Aveo. It wasn’t a great car by any means, and wouldn’t be even if it was in perfect condition, which it was not, I admit. But it ran fine and safe and easily seated five and had deceptively ample boot space for groceries. My friends joked about donning robes and starting a cult around me after I agreed to gift the Aveo to them for free.

I think we always have a soft spot for our first car. I’ll remember my Aveo fondly. It has served me well, allowing me the freedom to leave post, have fun, go shopping, move, and get to work. And, despite some unfortunate neglect, it has never let me down. And now that humble Aveo has moved on to aid someone else. So a car that a friend of mine once sold me to help me out when I was a young, lonely soldier in need of transportation but unable to get financing (due to having no credit history at the time,) is now faithfully serving someone else in need.

Goodbye, my “Brave Little Toaster.”

It’s times like this I wish I was still doing my 365 Good Deeds Challenge series. (I only quit that because some days I stayed home and didn’t really go anywhere or do anything.) This deed has to be worth at least a few, I figure. What was that about atheists having no reason to be good without god and childfree people being selfish? Fuck you, stereotypes.

ANYWAY, I’m not writing talk myself up. Truth be told, I’ve been meaning to replace my Aveo with something better for some time now anyway, but couldn’t justify spending the money when my Aveo still ran just fine. This was just a nice excuse for me. And I did find something better. Much better, in fact. And I’m glad that I did.

1986 Nissan 300ZX. My boyfriend and I are both fans of BBC’s Top Gear, so my boyfriend jokingly calls my new car “the pornographer’s car.” As long as he doesn’t throw my T-tops into a ravine, we’re good. We’ve also joked that it was a time-traveling car, as it is in new condition over two decades after its creation.

My “new” car is actually older than I am (the “88” in my user name isn’t some Nazi reference, as a few dumb trolls have suggested. It’s the year of my birth.) However, it’s in just marvelous condition, inside and out. I do believe the dealer (something I’m reluctant to ever do) when he said that the previous owner had been storing the vehicle safely in a garage for years before finally trading it in for a Corvette. The only thing I can think to do with the 300ZX is replace the muffler, which isn’t actually a problem as it is.

My boyfriend and I were already admiring the 300ZX when the dealer came out to greet us. He didn’t even try to direct us towards “family cars,” despite us being obviously a couple. Not once did the dealer even mention children. There must be something about us that just screams “childfree.” Or, more probably, the dealer simply didn’t want to talk us out of a car we were already interested in.

Whereas a car that only seats two is a problem for a couple with a child, as was the case with the friends that I mentioned earlier, it’s just perfect for a childfree family. My boyfriend and I didn’t really need 14 seats between three vehicles for just us and a dog, which is what we had before. Losing three seats isn’t a problem for us.

The 300ZX is nice! I got the non-turbo model, but it’s still quite fast. Judging by the condition, I doubt many horses have escaped over the years. I love the nearly flawless red paint on a sexy body, and the locking T-tops on the roof are very nice. The interior is lovely, with cloth seats with lumbar support on the driver’s side, and a leather dashboard with an orange-lit instrument panel. I feel like I’m driving a James Bond car. Or maybe it’s Night-Rider, as the voice of “Bitching Betty” helpfully informs me when I leave my lights on, like an idiot. Unlike my old Aveo, my 300ZX has an alarm, central locking, power windows, cruise control, and speakers that are actually work very well. Happily, it costs even less to insure than my Aveo did, even with full coverage.

The only downsides for me are going to be getting used to driving a manual, and getting used to having a long bonnet. I might also need a pedal extender for the clutch as I’m a bit short. These are very minor things, which I will get over. All in all, it’s a fantastic car, and a definite step up from my previous car. This is the best car that I’ve ever driven. I’m very excited to have it. My boyfriend, who drives an 05 Pontiac GTO, tells me he’s slightly jealous. I’m a bit proud of that.

That’s the nice thing about being childfree. I can just go out and buy a car, and pay it off quickly. Being childfree doesn’t mean that I’m rich, I’m certainly not. But I don’t have the financial burden of children. More than that, I can buy whatever car that I want and can afford, with little concern for seating or storage space, which is something I would have to think about had I a larger family. Additionally, I can do this without much worry that the interior will be ruined in the same manner that my young self mindlessly ruined my parents’ cars, which I regret very much in hindsight. I can have nice things. I can have fun things.

I’m not bragging. If it sounds that way, I can’t really help it as there’s not really any other way to tell this story. It’s just that buying the car has made me think about being childfree a little more. See, some people who don’t understand what being childfree is all about, and see it as merely the absence of children, don’t get what there is to talk about when it comes to the topic. “What does it matter? Who cares?” (Although, a significant number of people DO appear to care, hence the bingos and unkind stereotypes.)

This car situation between my friends and myself is an excellent example of why it matters. Childfree means more than simply not having children around, it means having a completely different lifestyle, and different options, because there are no children to consider. Being childfree has allowed me to purchase a car that I just love, which I probably would have never even been able to consider were I a mother, for a number of reasons. And being childfree helped put me in a position of being able to lend help to others in this particular situation. At my current income, if I had a child, I couldn’t have afforded to buy the car that I did. I certainly couldn’t have afforded to just give my old one away for free. Similarly, being parents made my old Aveo far more valuable to my friends than it ever was for me, even with its faults.

I would never say that I am better than anyone else for being childfree. I’m not. But being childfree is certainly better for me, personally, which is something that I’ve always known. I will remember this story the next time someone accuses me of being “selfish” or “immoral” for being childfree and an atheist, respectively. And when someone tells me I don’t know what I’m missing for not having children, I’ll laugh as I drive away in my shiny, red sports car.

Live the life you want to live and be happy. If you’re able to, help the people you can help, not because you think a god is watching and not because you expect reciprocation later, but because it’s the right thing to do. Fuck stereotypes. I know I’m not selfish or immoral, and I don’t need this, or any other story, to prove it. Haters gonna hate.

Now all I have to do is learn how to drive a manual…

The Rage Hamster

I have a stuffed hamster in my car, stuck to my dash with some double-stick tape.  I’m so used to it being there, that most days I don’t even notice it. I often just forget all about it until a passenger mentions it. “Why is there a hamster in your car?” Maybe it’s because I like hamsters? Actually, I’ve never had a real hamster. I had a rat once though, loved him.

I don’t know where the hamster came from, I just found it in my car when it was brought to me (my car was purchased used from a friend of mine who lived a few states away.) I thought about just discarding it, but, well, it was cute. I stuck it to my dash and pet it, being silly.

I live in a pretty large, sprawling city. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the name, but, well, if you’re good at geography, I believe I’ve given you more than enough clues to figure it out already. I love this city so much that I decided not to move home as I planned, but to live here instead. My problem is that, apart from the fun mountain roads, I HATE driving around here. HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT!

For one thing, the roads are insane. Where I came from, the streets were mostly a nice grid. Not only were they a nice grid, but the streets and avenues were numbered so even if I was somewhere I’d never been going to somewhere else I’d never been, I had no trouble finding my way.  Here, the roads weren’t planned. At all. The road-map looks like someone just threw spaghetti at a map of the area and built the roads where the noodles fell. Nothing makes any sense and navigating is a nightmare, even with GPS assistance. Worse yet, the streets are named. Not only are the streets named, but there will be multiple streets with the same name. It’s insane!

But the worst thing, by far about driving here is other drivers. There are bad drivers everywhere, but here, it’s particularly bad. Many of the drivers here are people from out of state. There are 3 military bases. So we have soldiers and their families coming in from who knows where, even more lost than I am on these crazy streets. Forget about driving in winter. I’m from Illinois. I know how to drive in snow and ice, even in my rear-wheel drive car. Still, I avoid trying to actually putting my winter driving skills to use because other drivers either freak out at the first snowflake and try to go everywhere at 10MPH, or they try to keep driving like normal and end up skidding all over the place. The drivers here are from all over the place, and not all of them have experienced snow.

Still, there are people that are just generally douche-bags who probably shouldn’t have a licence at all. Those are everywhere, really, but the roads here make it all the more noticeable it seems. The main boulevard, with it’s many traffic lights, variable speed limit, frequent construction, sections that act like highway, and variable number of lanes, and spaghetti-noodle-like planning certainly provides plenty of opportunity for asshole drivers to, well, be asshole drivers.

That boulevard, unfortunately, is the street I must take going to and from work every day. In the span of only a few miles, it never fails, someone has to piss me off. Either it’s someone who can’t decide what lane to be in so tries to dive in two at the same time, often while slowing WAY down for an approaching exit; someone trying to merge from a ramp and right into me, seemingly unaware that they’re supposed to yield; or someone driving behind me who, when I try to change lanes for an approaching exit, suddenly decides that they not only need to change into that lane too but also must suddenly speed up to 90 for no reason so I have to jump back into my lane to avoid being hit (that same person will then usually pace me.)

It’s in these moments that I think back to a video game series that I’ve always loved, Burnout. There’s something very therapeutic about ramming other cars off the road. I cant’ do that in real life. Not only would I be locked away for a very long time, but my hamster would not approve. I glance at my hamster, whose eyes, much like those of the Mona Lisa, always seem to follow me. It looks at me like “wat sup?” or “oooh, yoo sed a bad word!”  (“Shut up, Hamster.”) If I’m really pissed, I’ll mutter swears to myself as I absently pet it.

Is it stupid? Yes. But it’s not only getting me home, but it’s getting asshole drivers home too. That stuffed hamster is a hero. An unsung hero. Dread the day that I lose it.

 

Finding North

Finding North is easy, if you know how. You don’t even necessarily need a compass. Of course we know that the sun sets in the west, so if it’s late in the day, one need only look about 45 degrees to the right. That’s probably one of the easiest ways to do it, and I can think of several more. Sadly, my BF and I had trouble with cardinal directions this weekend while playing with the pathfinder in the trails of Rainbow Falls. Oh sure, we found north. Trouble is, we were trying to find south. Funny, the one time we bring a usable map, we get lost.

When we first arrived at the park, we had a bit of trouble finding the starting point on the map. We actually ended up driving right by it, passing through a camp area, before finally being encountered by a fence blocking us from private property. BF did find a small trail near the campsites that he tried to get on, paying me no attention when I told him that it was too narrow for our vehicle (it looked more like it was for ATVs and dirt bikes.) Soon, the pathfinder was quite slanted with me looking out my window and directly into the ditch. I figured if he rolled it, I could at least say “I told you so.” Eventually, he gave up and headed back.

We located the start point and picked a fun trail (no, seriously, the final leg of it was listed on the map as “fun trail”,) that was blue for moderate on our map, with a bit of green for easy near the end. It was a mostly easy trip. There was one area that was very steep with very loose dirt that had to be taken very carefully. I got out so I could help guide him as the path was narrow. More than once, the pathfinder continued to move even as brakes were applied. In another area, we were faces with a narrow gap between some trees. I got out to guide once again, but the rocks were loose and sharp and when I got cut up quite a bit when I fell.

We stopped a few times to explore in the woods a bit. BF never seems to like sticking to established trails. I usually like to stick to or at least near trails because a. they usually lead somewhere, b. I do less damage to the environment, c. I’m less likely to disturb an animal, and d. because it’s easier to not get lost. BF has a GPS system that tracks the route he takes so he can find his way back, but what if it breaks or dies?

As it got late, we decided it was time to go. The route we were on, according to the map, was supposed to eventually lead to a county road. However, we couldn’t tell how far as the route went off the map with an arrow. Eventually, BF decided to turn around. I found what looked like a quick, easy way back. We got to the trail I picked, and went on. I tried to use the map to mark our progress, but things weren’t adding up and there was only so much that I could blame on the map. Soon, we realized that although we had picked the correct path, we’d been going the complete opposite direction. We were going north, and hadn’t noticed. We needed to go south.

So we turned around, found a path, and headed on. Amazingly, we somehow managed to go north again. Wrong turn somewhere. It was sometimes hard to tell what path we were on as the path markers weren’t always clearly visible or present at all.  Now it was getting dark. We hadn’t intended to be out this late, but it was a good opportunity for BF to test the roof lights he’d just installed. Sadly, they weren’t bright enough for him.

I found a route back. It was supposed to be quick, a blue that turned to a green for a ways before finally meeting up with a clean dirt road. This time, we were sure we were on the right route and going the correct heading. This time, the map was wrong. Nowhere on that path did we encounter a single yard of trail that would have been green. Some of it seemed like it should have been red (difficult.) At one point, we had to climb a large, rocky hilltop. The ledges were huge and a few times the pathfinder got stuck trying to get up. It wasn’t equipped for rock climbing. I was worried we’d ruin a tire. At some point during that climb, the new roof lights stopped working. The relay went bad, it seemed. Well, something has to break every trip, right?

We hoped that things would be easier after that. It didn’t. What was supposed to be a moderate/easy trail was surprisingly difficult. We started contemplating turning around as we continued to encounter rough terrain. We wondered if we’d somehow left the trail or if we were ever on the right trail to begin with. Then, something weird happened. Seemingly out of nowhere, we saw a nice-looking sedan and wondered how the hell it could have gotten there. Sadly, there wasn’t a living soul in sight to ask. The path we’d come from was treacherous for us, and the continuation of the path, which we discovered was a narrow, deep, banked wash, wasn’t much better and was even harrowing for our Pathfinder. BF decided that the sedan must have been air-lifted in while I comforted myself with the thought “a wizard did it” as we finally found our way out and headed home.

So, lessons learned:

  1. Verify heading. Seriously.
  2. Bring actual food. Beef jerky and trail mix just wasn’t cutting it.
  3. Dress for hiking, even if I don’t plan on hiking.
  4. Bring a buddy vehicle. Off-roading alone = bad ju-ju.
  5. Don’t be surprised when the CB radio starts to make Star Wars sound effects. Seriously, WTF was that all about?

Getting Started

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.

Lessons Learned: 

  • 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.
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