Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. XIII (Postlude)


I borrowed my mother's car and drove to Lebanon yesterday to empty out the Eurovan.

After we put a bunch of money into the timing chain and water pump and their 'accessories', it was obvious that an engine replacement was the only alternative if we planned to keep the van running. I felt that perhaps the Eurovan was slightly more delicate than I'd thought it would be. It was big as a van, but little shit broke on it all the time. I'd had to develop a new method of driving where I could coax some revs from the accelerator as I drifted to any stop; otherwise, it would sputter and die, often mid-turn taking the power steering with it. Harrowing for passengers, although I'd become inured to it. Then there was my creasing the passenger side on a boulder at Chris' studio. It wanted for attention that a Real Van wouldn't require of me. It was only sixteen years old, old for a dog but not a hauler, and the problems seemed to outweigh the groovy stereo that made it more fun to drive.

So we thought and thought about what should we do with it. The mechanic gave me the number of a guy who bought junk cars, thought he might give me $500 for it (brand new timing chain and water pump be damned, I thought, that cost more than what he's offering!) but he declined and gave me two more numbers of local wrecking yards. Apparently, the van would drive but it had severe valve failure and would overheat if it was driven any length of time, which was determined to be around ten minutes. I talked to Mark at the first number who offered $200. Mark was in Lebanon, so maybe I could drive there? Maybe not. I asked him about towing, and he said he didn't tow, but of course he knew someone who would tow the Eurovan for $50. The money was looking less and less like a concern. I could trade it for magic beans at that point. We ended up donating it to NPR. I hope it keeps Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on for a couple minutes more.

I made a mix of all sorts of music for the ride across NC and Tennessee. Very uneventful ride, the kind I am most used to. I'd had to delay my trip by a day, but it was worth it to get my mother's Oldsmobile's wheels aligned
.
Around five CST, I arrived at Accelerated Automotive to find the Eurovan sitting in front of the building. I pulled up next to it, opened the Olds' passenger window and got out my screwdrivers, pliers and hammer. The hammer was for last resorts.

FIrst order of business was announcing to the folks I was there, so as not to be taken as a potential larcenist.

I tried to clean the interior up while sorting through what I should bring home. There was obvious stuff, like the camping stove, mattress and blanket that had to go. But there were books and toys and incomplete kid things that might need to come back with me too. Lots of straw wrappers and a dead kite (with a lot of string, bring it). The requisite $.18. I grabbed the window screens Smart Wife made with magnetic tape, a battery operated fan and a camp air conditioner. 'Lots of bits and things' as Mr. Bean would say.

When I opened the door to the passenger side, I looked under the seat at a black unit that I'd never seen before, in the year-plus we owned the van. It was a VW six-disc changer! We'd replaced the locked VW stereo with the Sony I was to remove today, but I had thought the stock one was a single-disc player! Who knew! Too late now! I disconnected it and took it out.

The Sony was easily extracted, and I took a length of the radio cable to attach to our other car's stereo as well.

I put the middle jump seats I'd hauled to Tennessee back into the spacious interior, but I couldn't get them to reattach to the backs of the front seats, so they lay on the floor, awaiting their next owner.

I rolled the windows back up, and the little Euro tri-tone played forlornly for a few rounds before I pulled out the key. Big hole in the dashboard where the stereo was, was now a frame of a couple unattached cable looms. I left the Christmas sprig where it lay, wedged into the defroster ducts, too spiky and dry to touch anymore.

Leaning against the Olds, I drank in the Eurovan for the last time. The jerry-rigged driver's side mirror, with its dried lava flow of SuperGlue from countless attempts to reattach it. The fine addition of the new metal plates and screws which had made the mirror as permanent as it was going to get, but it was all moot now. I had found the broken window locks and pieces of the snapped cupholders, and I'd even returned a nearly-new cupholder replacement. I'd never washed the poor thing; grossly dirty roof with streaks down the corners. Very sad, really, and I teared up for a second before I realized what I was doing. Once the license plate was removed, I could do no more.

I felt as though I'd stripped the Eurovan like a Thanksgiving turkey, but whoever is the recipient when it gets towed to them will truly have that honor.

It was a fun ride, as will its replacement ride be, I hope. They all are, at least part of the way.

4 comments:

Ginny said...

It sucks that you had to let the Eurovan go, but donating it to NPR was a good idea. I really enjoyed your post. I felt like I could see everything you were describing, like I was there with you as you gave her up. Here's hoping your new ride sees you through many more memories.

man with a bass 4 kids and a wife said...

What an Odyssey. There is nothing like a van.
I had one that I didn't really like saying goodbye to. In a van you can pass a shiny new Mercedes and think, I can carry a lot of shit in this thing and you can't.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

That is the saddest think I ever read.

Ellie

man with a bass 4 kids and a wife said...

I can't help it, I'm a socialist that's almost a communist.