Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A New Car

Josh felt that that story about the car breaking down deserved its own post.  He'd probably be a better story-teller than I'll be.  I felt really grateful through the whole experience that it could have been a whole lot worse than it was!  It could have happened on his way down to Lewiston to get me, alone, with three kids in the car.  It could have been night time.  It could have happened with me alone with the kids, etc.  If I had to pick a scenario, it was a pretty good one.

They picked me up at the airport on Monday morning, and we had the whole day to do anything we wanted.  Josh had packed lunches for everyone, so we ate in the car, and headed to Costco to pick up a few things and wander around the Christmas and toy aisles.  We went to TJ Maxx to get some warmer church clothes for the kids, and some gym shoes.  Josh found some winter running clothes for himself for Christmas.  Our kids are all FINALLY at an age where they can last for longer than 5.2 minutes in a store without having a meltdown about something.  It's nice!

It was around three or four when we decided to head home.  Lewiston is in a valley down a big descent (hill) from the highway.  We hadn't even started up said hill, when the car started acting funny.  The RPMs were revving, but it just couldn't get itself into gear!  We were creeping up the hill.  We pulled over, and after a few failed attempts to get it going, determined that we were stuck.  By a miracle, Josh was able to get it to creep just far enough up the hill to where the median divide ended, and he maneuvered the car to turn around and we coasted (literally) into the closest gas station!  We debated calling someone to come pick us up, but we didn't have the heart to call on a friend to drive 30 minutes to and from to come pick up a party of five with Costco groceries and luggage on a holiday!

Josh got on the phone with our car insurance (USAA), to determine what roadside assistance could do for us.  We decided to pay a little extra and have them tow our car home, instead of to the closest repair shop, and then rent a car and get home.  A nice man in a warm mini van came to pick us and the kids up, and we got loaded into an economy car while Josh waited for the tow truck.

The kids were holding up pretty well.  Boo has the hardest time with these unexpected situations, and manifests her fear by whining/complaining.  "We shouldn't have come to this place today!  Why did we spend so long at TJ Maxx?"  "I want to go home, and it's getting dark out!"  Yaks thought it a grand adventure, and thought that riding home in a tow truck would have been wonderful.  Diddles was content eating an entire pack of gum Josh bought at Costco.  :)

We picked up Josh and drove it back home, and returned it that night to save some money.  The car's transmission fluid line had exploded, and it got everywhere in the engine.  It was a basic part repair, but the meticulous clean-up took a long time.  It was finally repaired at the end of the week, and $1200 later.  In retrospect, the car had been getting worse and worse gas mileage since the summer, and the engine had been making a funny sound as it was accelerating.  So, we determined to get it fixed to drive, and then trade it in for something else.

We currently only have one car.  Fortunately, we live close enough to school (the only place I would really need to go during the day) that Josh can take the car to work during the winter months.  We decided that we'd make do with a smaller economy car with great gas mileage, try to quickly pay it off, and then look into getting a second "family" car next year.

After a week of hunting around, Josh found a great little used Toyota Prius in Lewiston, with low miles and  one owner in Montana or somewhere.  Have you ever driven a Prius?  It's a hybrid car, running on gas and electric power.  I've found the strangest thing is to get used to not having a key ignition!  You push a power button to turn it on.  It's also super-quiet when it's idling, and we can barely hear when Josh gets home!  We've found the parts of the car to be really expensive, though.  We had a headlight go out, and it was 100$ to replace, and we needed a spare "key"(remote) made, which was several hundred dollars.  Hopefully we'll make up for it with it's great gas mileage.  I think we'll only have to fill it up once a month!

The kids fit nicely in the back, and the trunk is surprisingly roomy!  Diddles weighs enough and is tall enough to be able to sit in a booster seat with a back!  The kids miss the DVD player, but I think they'll survive just fine.  :)

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