Meet our hot rod

by Kim on June 17, 2012 · 42 comments

On Thursday we wrapped up our time in Ohio and headed out on the road for the true beginning of our summertime National Parks road trip.  We’ll spend the next two weeks visiting friends in Cleveland, Ohio, Asheville, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia and St. Louis, Missouri before arriving at Yellowstone National Park near the end of June.

We’re driving 10,000 miles in two months, that’s no small feat for even the best of cars.  But Brian and don’t have the best of cars.  We’re puttering around the U.S. this summer in our lovable clunker named Vermont.

World, meet Vermont

Vermont is an 18 year old Nissan, Altima, a trusty old companion who has seen better days. She doesn’t attack the hills in the same way she used to and her years of attracting oohs and ahhs have long since passed, but we love her just the same.

And we’d better, because Vermont has a few tiny quirks is a hot mess.

An incomplete list of Vermont’s ailments

Back in the days when we used to clean the car, the antenna snapped off at the carwash.  This wasn’t an issue until the radio broke, rendering the auxiliary input port useless.  That meant no radio and no way to play music through our iPods.

It is blasphemous to embark on a road trip without music so we sprang for and installed the cheapest new radio we could find. I guess you get what you pay for because, while the iPods are blasting once again, the clock on the new radio doesn’t keep time correctly.

That’s no problem for us, though.  We just taped Brian’s watch to the dashboard.

Honey, what time is it?  Oh, let me just check my watch which I have taped to the dashboard of our car.  

The passengers side sun visor fell off years ago.  That’s not such a big deal except that Vermont has no air conditioning.

Yes, we’ll be driving through the scorching southwest at the height of summer with no air conditioning.  I’m all for cheap holiday deals, there’s no way I’d rent a car just to have AC, but driving in a moving metal heat trap in 115 degree temperatures is pushing it, even for me.

Gillian from One Giant Step suggested we hang a sari over the window to block the sun.  Another friend said we should buy one of those spritzer-and-fan devices to help keep cool.  I’m sure we’ll be employing a number of tricks to keep the heat down.

At least the windows work… sort of.

Vermont has automatic windows, state of the art in her day, but they only add to her aging infrastructure now. All four windows open just fine but the one in the back seat behind the driver only closes with a little coaxing.

Don’t mind me, I’m just closing the window

All of these little quirks pale in comparison to the biggest kink of all.

One sad day a few summers ago Vermont was rear ended.  Her bumper was dented and the trunk was smashed so it wouldn’t close properly. The insurance company deemed her totaled and sent us a check.  Since the damage was mostly cosmetic we saved the money and Brian banged out the kinks and coaxed the trunk into closing once again.  It didn’t look pretty, and the trunk leaked when it rained, but it suited our needs.

But two days before we were to leave Portland and load up that trunk with everything we owned, it decided to break for good.  It did not matter how much we whined, or sweet talked Vermont, or stood with our hands on our hips looking confused and slightly panicked, the damn thing just would.not.close. Vermont’s latch had kicked the bucket.

This put us in a bit of a conundrum. Brian researched our options. We couldn’t fix it without investing a large sum of money and even so we had to leave Portland in 48-hours. We didn’t have time to repair it.

So Brian did the only thing he could do.  He pulled out the power drill, some bungee cord, a metal cable, and the padlock that used to hang on my locker at the gym and he went to work.

And this, my friends, is how our trunk locks today.

Brian drilled a hole in the trunk, strung a metal cable through, and locked it with a padlock

Then he took a bungee cord and strapped the lid down to keep out as much dust and rain as possible.  Our stuff in the trunk is covered with a tarp.  

Yep, that’s how we’re rolling this summer.  Just me, Brian, Vermont and our AAA gold plus membership. If you see us out on the road make sure to say hi but please don’t laugh at us. And whatever you do, don’t test the trunk.