Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What the hell has become of me?

It has been a rough couple of days. Hell, a rough week all around. Things have just been breaking a lot. Breaking bad, even. In general it just feels like things can't go any further south.

I detailed out the bike issues I'd been having last week. And just when it seemed that everything was starting to settle down and work out, I had another huge wrench get thrown into the works.

Something catastrophic happened to our one motor vehicle on Saturday. We were running some errands, or rather planning to, when the car, a diesel Jeep Liberty, started bucking and running rough. We pulled over just as soon as we could and as we were getting ready to pull to the side of the road the car just stopped and wouldn't start again.

We made the walk back home, found a tow company and a mechanic and had them pull it off the side of the road. But there we were with no vehicle. Yes, I know it is possible to live without a car, even with kids. I get this, and being a bike commuter, I should try to get the family even more involved in the car-light lifestyle. But here's the thing - the Valley isn't as amenable to a low car lifestyle as Anchorage - something I knew when I moved us up there. Example - my kids could ride bike the four miles to school. However, for the first and last mile to mile and a half of the ride there are no sidewalks, MUPs, sharrows, or other designated bike lanes. Which I'm okay with. The roads are generally wide and most of the time people do not drive too crazy. The bigger problem in my mind is that there are no streetlights at all. It is dark as hades out there in the mornings. So that means that to ensure they get safely to school, we'd have to get lights and reflective gear and such - which is all good, but when your car breaks down on Saturday and the bike shop is closed on Sunday, it makes it hard to get that squared before Monday.

But I could have gone to Wal-Mart. I agree. I could have. And I have an excuse as to why I didn't. I too much other stuff to do. It simply comes down to the fact that I had massive amounts of grading to work through, which I am still not done with three days later. And maybe I just had some crazy idea in the back of my head that I'd get the Jeep back on Monday, and this would all be moot.

At any rate, Monday ended up being a blur of activities - cruising Craig's List looking for a vehicle that was both cheap and seemingly dependable, working with the mechanic to try to figure out what actually happened, and trying to set up appointments to look at cars while also doing my normal work.

In the end I ended up finding a vehicle and after driving it decided to go with it. A gas hog of a vehicle. An overblown, too big, silly vehicle. But one that seemed to run well and was in fairly decent shape and was cheap enough overall. A 99 Suburban. The big one with big 454 engine and the 3/4 ton chassis. What the hell was I thinking? My carbon footprint just went through the roof.

I'd been toying with the idea of a pickup for some time and now that I have the house that we are still trying to work on, I do have a valid need to be able to haul large items. I also have three kids, a wife, and two dogs and the kids want to bring their friends with at times. And, most importantly, I need room for the fishing gear when we go dipnetting. And it's a fairly Alaskan vehicle. Dented in spots. There is some duct tape on it. And it is just a bit over the top.

The wife hates it. Like me, she just wants the Jeep back. Even with the Jeep's temperament, we'd grown attached to it. If I remember correctly, she didn't really like the Jeep at the start either. But when we bought the jeep we planned to keep it for a long time and so she had plenty of time to get used to it. This vehicle, though, this one I think is just going to be temporary. I think that I'll figure out what I am going to do with the Jeep and then take some time to find the right vehicle for our lifestyle and family and then sell off the suburban, hopefully not at too much of a loss.

I guess it's all a chance to learn, huh?

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