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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reminiscing about my Transgender Car

The first car that I owned as an adult was a white 1999 Subaru Outback. It's first name was Sipowicz since I was watching NYPD Blue reruns at the time and a big white functional but not flashy car reminded me of that character. However, Sipowicz doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and a bald, crude guy who got shot in the butt didn't exactly provide a great role model. It was nameless for most of its existence until we started calling it Baru (pronounced Barooo and short for Subaru) due to lack of a name. It also kind of looked like a Baru. When my wife started driving it for its last 6th months, it had a sex change and became a Sabrina.

Sabrina has a DNR written around the same time as its name change. Any repairs over $500 would result in a trip to hospice which it entered the end of October. In the end, Sabrina did fulfill the rock n roll dream of burning out before fading away. She ran up 137,000 miles in 11 years. Unlike a lot of cars with off road capability, Sabrina was tested and got stuck on a mountain road in Colorado.

Sabrina was also the ultimate road trip car. She went across the county and all over the west coast from Sacramento, CA to Vancouver, BC to Utah and back again as well as every corner of Oregon. There was no need to worry about sleeping arrangements with Sabrina as I could just blow up an air mattress and sleep in the back. The only problems that I ever had sleeping in Sabrina was explaining the smell and mess to carpool companions later in the week. But this post is not a roast on Sabrina or further elaboartion on a transgender car (although there are probably some disappointed google search results). I am here to praise Sabrina and reminisce about the greatest trips taken and the role that she played.

Colorado or You never forget your first: Shortly after buying Sabrina, a college friend and I drove around Colorado for 2 weeks. I had just returned from the Peace Corps while he was about to start medical school so we were both saying good-bye to our old comfortable lives. It was also an introduction to the west coast in the form of seeing snow in the mountains in July at Estes Park and roller skating waitresses at Sonic Burger. The Great Sand Dunes National Park in southeast Colorado was almost biblical in proportions and the Mesa Verde National Park in the northwest corner made us feel like we were back in the era when Native Americans were the only residents. This trip was an extended bonding experience with Sabrina as I got to know her. I also got her stuck on a mountain road so I got to know her limits.

Southeastern Oregon Tour: Southeastern Oregon has some the lowest population density in the United States. The town of Fields is out there with population of 9 but some of the best milk shakes in the state. Fields isn't even the most surprising town compared to Jordan Valley which is a Basque outpost on the Idaho border. The geology is incredible with the Steens Mountain range, Alvord desert, and Leslie Gulch. With no radio access nor current newspapers, I felt like I was almost in another country. The isolation was a welcome change from the usual city living with strangers.

The only time that I got nervous was when I shared a natural springs hot tub with an older gentleman that looked like he was almost in the movie Sling blade. The fact that he was reading the John Grisham book, The Firm, made me nervous since the book had been around 15 years and he was just reading it for the first time! That's a little too isolated for me. As you can probably guessed, I lived in Sabrina for the 4 days that I was out there. Most campsites involved pulling off the road into BLM land and firing up the camp stove.

Cross Country Skiing in Northeast Oregon: Another eastern Oregon trip that involved living in Sabrina was my excursion to Anthony Lakes for cross country skiing. Anthony Lakes had closed for the season so I was able to just camp out in my car for the night and spend the day exploring the Eagle Cap wilderness.

This was the trip where I discovered that Enterprise was my favorite small rural town. It was the only town in Eastern Oregon where I didn't get the "You're not from around here" vibe. After running into a brewer for the Terminal Gravity pub (I literally ran into her as I was coming down a slope on cross country ski and she was hiking up with her snow board), I spent the evening drinking and eating there. The local were interested in my story, how I wound up there, and I was able to listen to their stories. It seemed like Enterprise is more open to new arrivals than most smaller rural towns.

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