And the winner is … George Washington!

The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin' to trade it in on a Toyota.

The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin’ to trade it in on a Toyota.

Some class of awards show was hogging all the bandwidth last night, I understand.

We freelance cycling rumormongers never get to put on the Ritz and walk the red carpet, even those of us who dabble in the cinema. When we open the envelope, our prize for a job well done is a few wrinkly pictures of dead presidents (if we’re lucky).

I was able to skip the big show last night, Herself being on the road for bidness purposes. She had to motor through the mountains to Dysfunction Junction for a library conclave, and it being March in Colorado, rather than rent the usual half-pint fuel-sipper she settled on a big-ass Ford F-150 crew cab with a 26-gallon tank and four-wheel drive.

Holy shit, that thing looked like the USS George Washington, speaking of dead presidents. I asked Herself if she’d need a stepladder to chisel the ice off the windshield and she gave me the rough edge of her tongue, being less than fond of driving in conditions that lead to 104-car pileups.

I wasn’t exactly sanguine about the mission, either. I owned an F-150 once, a bare-bones 1996 4WD model, and it was without a doubt the biggest hunk of junk I’ve ever owned, a real Motor City garbage scow. Everything that could go wrong with it did, and by the time I finally determined to trade the devil-possessed sonofabitch in on a 1998 Toyota Tacoma I was expecting any minute to hear the voice of Terry Jones saying, “And now it’s time for the F-150 in your driveway to explode.”

But she made it to DJ without incident and is bounding merrily about the place with her fellow librarians. Last night they took over a brewery and spent the night putting their hair up in buns, peering over the tops of their glasses and telling everyone, “Shh!”

Tags: ,

32 Responses to “And the winner is … George Washington!”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Jeebus, Patrick. I thought Herself had a Subaru. Isn’t that the State Car due to its tenacity on snow covered roads?

    • khal spencer Says:

      BTW, I had some friends with mid-1990’s Fords who had similar kind words about them. My 1992 Exploder was actually one of the more reliable heavy cruisers I ever piloted. I think I replaced a clutch with 130,000 miles on it and the motor that switched from 2WD/4WD(H/L) and otherwise, it was a little like a Liberty Ship: slow, cheap, low tech, effective, had a cavernous hold, and reliable. Easy to torpedo too, I suppose.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, for some reason, The Organization insists that minions rent vehicles rather than use their own (for which they must be paid mileage).

      They may be rethinking that policy after this trip — gassing up the Beast ate up a C-note in addition to the rental fee.

      But I’m with you on the Subie. I drive so little these days, especially in bad weather, that I’d much rather be behind the wheel of the trusty old Forester than perched atop the captain’s chair of the USS Gasgobbler.

      • Steve O Says:

        As a part time transporter and full time safety officer stationed in a country with bad winters and worse roads, I had to do a bit of research into vehicular safety performance. There’s one interesting paradox: the “safer” a vehicle is, the more dangerously the pilot tends to handle it, and therefore the more accidents you have, and double therefore the worse the data appears. Soobies, statistically, are middle of the pack, data-wise, but they’re also more frequently driven in places with bad weather, and more than occasionally by stoned snowboarders trying to beat the rush, or maybe by a fly-fisher heading down a goat trail to get to his secret casting spot. Another way to look at it is, I had the only Forester registered in Peach Tree City, GA (max elevation around 700 ft, max road grade 1%, max snow about 1 thimble full), but I can’t swing a dead marmot around here without hitting a dozen.

        The national safety data always looked off, from an intuitive standpoint, but I sensed that you’d get a better picture if you normed it by state and time of the year. No incentive for anyone to pay for that, though.

        Anyway, The one thing that all of the research seems to agree upon is that a front-wheel-drive vehicle with winter tires (not all season) and stability control will outperform a four-wheel-drive vehicle with all weather tires.

        You can get for winter tires for under $400, while four-wheel-drive will cost you $1500 or so, plus a 15% gas surcharge for the life of the car.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I can’t do the stoned thing for reasons Steve probably knows, but my WRX is shod with 4 snow tires in the winter as I do tend to go up the mountain to the cross country ski area. It is a good car, but you can’t do stupid things with it, either.

      • Libby Says:

        Steve and Khal , I have a front-wheel-drive sedan with 4 snow tires (cost $500. 4 years ago). Very good in snow and ice. Couldn’t afford a SUV but more clearance would help me with snow. Especially in my own driveway!

  2. John in GJ Says:

    If your far better half needs anything during her stay in my fair town of Dysfunction Junction, drop me a note. You have friends here, even if we’re reluctant to admit it publicly.

  3. Larry T. Says:

    We rented one of those battle-cruisers once in Omaha, NE when we needed to get home in a blizzard. It was the only thing left, but with the howling winds, etc. I wasn’t that upset about driving the monstrosity 100 miles. For everyday use we have a FWD Mitsubishi shod with winter tires that’ll get us pretty much anywhere on the cheap. Speaking of anywhere, the rains have stopped and the sun’s out in SoCal, so we enjoyed a 50 km ride today before lunch outside in the warm sunshine. I even found a California cabernet that wasn’t too oaked up, if you can believe that?

    • Libby Says:

      “Warm sunshine.” I don’t begrudge you that because you did spend most of the winter in Iowa. But really, I had to talk myself out a tinge of resentment! Temps continue to be about 20 degrees below normal in New York/Northeast. Sub-zero at night. When do you leave for Italy?

      • Larry T. Says:

        Life is pretty sweet, though we got nothin’ for ending the drought. We’re off to Italia early in May, so we need to tough it out ’till then in Iowa, broken up by this little escape, then a trip to drink beer with POG at NAHBS and then maybe MOTOGP in Tejas. The wife was just awarded (still unofficial so I can’t tell ya exactly until after the public announcement in April) a prestigious fellowship to study in Rome so we’ll be lucky enough to spend only about 3 of the next 18 months on this side of the pond. My plan is to finally learn to speak Italian properly vs the “ebonics” method I’ve gotten away with for 20+ years.
        I’m hoping the 20 year-old Mitsubishi we have will hang on ’till we can give it away and move to Italy for good – where we’ll skip car ownership entirely and simply rent one now and then.

  4. Libby Says:

    Gotta keep Herself safe. Mission accomplished.

  5. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Larry, did you take credit for bringing the rain? Have a nice time and enjoy those rides.

    I have owned two F-150/250 trucks. The first was good, the second so-so. I have also owned two Tacomas. Great trucks both. Should have kept the first one.

    Currenty own a 2012 Toyota Sienna van, and no I didn’t get my vasectomy reversed. They are just real versatile vehicles. We sleep in it on quick overnight camping trips, and you can get two bikes and luggage in the back by just folding the third row of seats into the floor. We tow one of these for more than two bikes or tent camping trips where we just pack dirty, including the kitchen sink, and go.

  6. John Dallager Says:

    We’ve got a 1990 Toyota 4-Runner here. Been through 16 moves, two great kids in HS and college, now back with us for “all-purpose” Bibleburg and Colorado travel/haulin’. Handles two bikes well, manure, and fire-mitigation cuttings……not all at once. Still cranking’ out 165 horse!!

    My limited and anecdotal experience confirms Steve O’s front wheel drive w/winter tires vs. all wheel w/all-weather tires wisdom. Just like MTB’ing: Grip and traction beat power and wheel-spinnin’.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I kinda sorta want a 4-Runner, or maybe a truck again. Or that Sienna, which I understand a lot of folks like Other Patrick are turning into sensible two-person RVs.

      The Forester has been a good car, but it has its limitations. For example, ain’t no way a 6-footer can sleep in it on road trips, though I used to be able to snooze in Herself’s Legacy Brighton wagon back in the day.

      Now that was a fun car to drive. Sucker cornered like Juan Manuel Fangio.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Interesting article. The new model Sienna, starting in 2011 I think, are bigger inside than the 2006. The standard model has all the bells and whistles we wanted or need. We fold the third row of seat into the floor and take out the second row, two bucket seats that can be removed without tools, for sleeping. We have a foam mattress, Cabelas, that covers the floor. Mileage with the V6, is 20 city, 24-25 highway if you have a reasonable right foot. Little trailer seems to have no effect on mileage, although we haven’t used it on a long trip yet.

  7. veloben Says:

    The last time I crossed the Rockies by road it was in a 1966 Land Rover with 125 hp. Took two days to get to Mesa Verde from Denver, but well worth it. Pretty country you got there.

    Oh that ‘Shh’ thing. We don’t do that any more.

  8. khal spencer Says:

    Thinking about a Tacoma, actually.

    Saints be praised. Some good GOP folks. Westerners are not all a-holes. Pelkey should appreciate this as Alan Simpson is one of the good guys.

    • Steve O Says:

      There’s no one here that needs this lecture, but lots of others out there who aren’t aware that there’s no definition of “conservative” that includes the government making one-size-fits-all rules for ones private life that excludes certain demographic slices for no good reason, or deciding that the government knows better than individuals in determining personal and private conduct matters. Social conservatism has always been an oxymoron and has never been really conservative.

  9. Charley Says:

    i owned an F150 1987 four-wheel-drive Ford: in less than two years i went through two transfer cases, one manual transmission, and the bottom end of the 302 were starting to make noise. My 1990 four-wheel-drive Toyota Tacoma served me for 286,000 miles and 14 years. My 2004 Toyota Tacoma currently has 200,000 miles on it and isgoing strong.

  10. Debby in Crestone Says:

    It’s a ROAT! (See “Farewell my Subaru” by Doug Fine if you don’t know what that means). Herself should feel just like a local, running around GJ in that rig. 🙂

    My Yota didn’t hold up so well. After 14 years and only 157K miles it started having one expensive problem after another. It got traded in on a new Subie Forester. I’m hoping the Forester holds up better. The RAV did not really live up to the Toyota reputation. The Forester isn’t cute like the RAV was but it’s got a lot more power, hauls more stuff and actually gets better gas mileage. So far so good. I’m sold on studded snow tires for winter driving. Only way to go on icy roads. Saguache County doesn’t have a very large budget for winter road maintenance.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      My 1998 Tacoma behaved in similar fashion, Debby, starting at about 100,000 miles. Meanwhile my two ’83 Toy trucks were largely trouble-free. Go figure.

      Crusty County living was not kind to vehicles. But my friend Hal’s ’99 Forester just kept on ticking, like a Timex, so when it came time to unload the Tacoma I bought an ’05 Forester, which is coming up on 100K now and has yet to give me any significant headaches (knocking on wood).

      I wish Subaru made a van or truck for Stateside distribution. Now that would be something.

      • John in GJ Says:

        This doesn’t bode well. I have a 1996 Tacome 4wd with 140k on it and I’m wondering what to expect. Since I drive it just 3000-4000k/year, I it may be a while. I worry most about the fuel pump, since it ain’t like the old days when you can have your better half sit on hood holding a coffee can full of gas and a hose running to the carburetor.

        Speaking of carburetors, I hate to sound old but I had a 1986 Toy pickup that give me about zero problems for 21 years. I got one “lunar” out of that thing (240,000 miles). I’ve seen nothing built in the last 20 years that compared to that truck when it comes to reliability and lost cost of upkeep. My cats are more expensive to maintain! So when you wax nostalgically about your ’83 trucks, PO’G, I’m with ya all the way.

        It’d be nice if ‘Ru made a truck, but it’d be even nicer if Toyota made trucks of the quality (and size!) that they used to.

        And Debby: yea, anyone in a truck like that will fit in around here, especially if she has a sticker that says, “Oil Field Trash and Proud Of It!”. sheesh.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        If memory serves, we lost a water pump early on, but it was the transmission work at 100K that rocked my world. At 100K an Eighties Toy was just getting all its moving parts worked in and running smoothly.

        I heard great things about the ’86 Toys, and I believe the ’87 is the legendary Perpetual Pickup, The Toy That Never Dies. You never saw ’em for sale used, or in a junkyard (unless some fool crashed it). But the ’83s were pretty damn good too, if you didn’t have to have fuel injection, comfort, or any of those sissified modern notions.

  11. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I hope I last long enough to put 100K on the Sienna. Probably get the new car fever before then if I can afford it.

  12. Steve O Says:

    Lotsa car talk here … but, funny, no four wheelers in these pix:

    (One balloon, though)

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Interesting work … how did you happen across it? Man, watercolor is a bitch. I tried using washes on my ‘toons back in the day, when newspapers and mags still used black and white, and it almost always ended badly. One wrong move and you get to start all over again.

      • Dale Says:

        I would love one of those little Subaru pick-ups, and the link back to the VW Transporter brought back memories. But what about GM’s Corvair trucks, they were versatile as well. It’s a shame the little Corvair cars were so much fun to drive, that caught Nader’s attention – he had safety in mind, but no concept of fun.

  13. Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Beta Keys Download Says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people in this
    particular topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: