Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The longest runner....part 3

The final chapter and continuing from here http://behindthewheelgaming.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-longest-runnerpart-2.html

The company house was requiring a few "last minute" touches before occupancy, so the family and I settled into a brief period of hotel living. I don't know, having somebody make your bed everyday and a hot breakfast that you don't have to cook yourself? I almost got used to it!

My wife was able to get a mechanic at the shop she was managing to have a look and if possible, replace the failing water pump on the Impala. He told her it was an easy task. In fact, it took longer for the part to arrive then it did to have it put into the car!

After about a month of living in the hotel, we finally moved into the house and I was already looking ahead to winter and not with any happy anticipation either.

Stowed away in the truck, from the time I purchased it, were the complete set of winter tires. Thanks in a huge part to the mild Okanagan cold season, I never had to install them on the previous 4 years. However, with the northern winter driving season about to start, I was a bit concerned this might have to finally happen here.

When that first snowfall day came, it wasn't so bad, the Michelin all season radials held the road in the light compact snow and slippery sections.

Even with the worsening road conditions, the front-wheel drive never let me down. Nevertheless, I had both local tire shops programed into my phone, including a few tow truck companies, just in case.

Turns out, I never needed either. I was able to perform daily tasks of taking my son to school and picking him up afterwards, doing grocery runs and just driving around town doing other things. Occasionally, I would put a little more power into an icy turn to get a reaction from my son. He loved those stunts.

However, other things were starting to go wrong. First, the oil leak had been getting progressively worse, to the point if the car was idling stationary for too long, I could catch whiffs of the burnt scent coming into the interior via the air vents. This problem was exacerbated by the few times I got the car started, without having it plugged in, during extremely cold days (like -40, doesn't matter if that's Celsius or Fahrenheit, they both meet there on the thermometer).

Another new issue was the wiper arms, ending their cycle in the up position. Turn the knob on the stalk, the wipers worked fine. Turn them off and they just won't stay down. After some internet research, I found other who had the same problem, discovered the part needed and price. Then, the daunting task of taking apart all the was needed to fix the problem. I put that task on permanent hold.

After a few short years of that, the decision was made to move slightly south, since I just landed a job at a major construction project. The house was packed up and back down the road we went, five hours away. Once again, the Impala never failed to start up in the morning, taking me to my shifts and bringing me home. Repeating the cycle of taking my son to and from his new school and so on, another problem made an appearance.

In it's former life as a police car, the mechanisms that allowed the rear doors to open from the inside were either disconnected or never installed. Somewhere along the way, this function was corrected and now, failed. I had to resort to getting out to release my son from the back seat of the car, much like freeing a prisoner on good behavior. He liked this idea and never was fond of riding in the front seat. For me, it was an inconvenient pain in the rear.

It was this latest issue that brought about the reality of the situation. As much as I liked the Impala, the repairs required were starting to add up. Although some of the work I could do myself, if I had the time, others would need the attention experienced mechanic and shop.

My wife's solution was to purchase our other current vehicle, a brand new Honda HRV. However, that left me with the difficult choice of either convincing her the Impala was worth fixing or face the bitter truth it was time to let it go. I drove the car less and less, the HRV was slowly replacing it for daily needs.

Winter came and went and the Impala hadn't moved in months. I made the odd, halfhearted attempt to remember to start it up to keep the battery from going dead, but I never stuck to any schedule. When Spring came and the snow melted enough to get inside, the twist of the key produced the sounds I was expecting, rrrrrrr click, click, click, dead.

My time with the construction project came to an end, less than a year from moving down from up north. Now, the family and I were very serious on returning to the Okanagan and the more favorable weather that we had grown to miss. I had doubts that even if I could resurrect the Impala that it would make the journey. Plus, I was convinced I had already got enough value from the car. My wife took a few pictures and created a brief description for the online classified ad for the car.

A few days later, a young man, about mid twenties, made contact. We met in the parking lot of the apartment we were moving out from and started the "hey, want to buy my car" process. Through a set of booster cables, the Impala roared back to life and second thoughts about letting it go started to creep in. The young man told me about how much he had wanted another Impala, after growing very attached to his first one and losing it in an accident.

Since I have always been a sucker for a good story, or allow others to play on my emotions towards the needs of a vehicle, I gave him a fantastic deal. I informed him of all the problems and issues that I was aware of. He nodded at every word. Then, I knocked off $200 off the asking price.

After six years of ownership, $1300 was spent to purchase the Impala, about $1500 for parts and repairs, not including gas, oil changes and insurance. The odometer climbed from 199-something-something-something to 238-something-something-something and it never left me on the side of the road. A rough guess at the repairs it needed for everything to function as it should would have been around double of everything spent so far. I took a loss at selling it for $300, or did I?

For the second time in my life, I cried selling a car, watching it drive away with it's new owner and sporting a new set of license plates. Even now, over a year later, whenever I see a white Chevrolet Impala of the same era in traffic or a parking lot, my heart sinks briefly.

Then, I move on....

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