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Now I remember …

… what bugs me about Vermont. It’s a lovely place and you should come visit — really! — but the weather is always a crapshoot. Today, more gray and drizzle, but at least it’s not cold.

The weather forecasters here are perennial optimists. They have to be. So “partly cloudy” is code for “You’ll be darned lucky to see the sun today!” “Chance of rain” translates to, “Good weather for mushrooms.”

I remember in Big Bend when the opposite occurred. There, “10% chance of rain” was their hopeful phrase. They said that every day when we were there in February, and we never even saw a cloud the entire time.

Yesterday we got the big service on the Nissan. At 30,000 miles an expensive service interval comes up: automatic transmission flush, coolant flush, oil change, rear differential fluid change, engine belts, numerous systems checks, and many small part replacements (radiator cap, distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs, engine air filter, fuel filter, wiper blades, cabin microfilter) Some of these items only apply when you’ve been towing, as we have.

We just put new tires on last Thursday, also. Between the tires and the 30,000 mile service, the total is over $1100. It’s a hard bill to swallow, but our experience has shown us that preventative maintenance is absolutely essential, given all the miles and desolate areas we travel through. I talked to Bert about it over dinner on Sunday night and he felt the same way. “We maintain the heck out of that truck!” were Bert’s words — but when you roam the country for months on end, utterly dependent on one vehicle, it doesn’t seem like skimping on maintenance is a wise idea.

Today our local car (an elderly Honda Prelude) is in the shop for its inspection. The poor thing is 15 years old, burns a quart of oil every 500 miles, has a tough case of rust along the passenger-side rocker panel, 144k miles on the clock, and it is due for an expensive timing belt replacement and an exhaust pipe.

Every year at inspection time we consider whether to fix it again or push it off a cliff. But despite its flaws it runs beautifully, gets great gas mileage, and is a lot of fun to drive. I haven’t seen much on the market that can compare under $16,000 (new). Eleanor says if it were a vintage Airstream I wouldn’t hesitate to dump $10k into it to restore it and keep it on the road. I suppose that’s true, but a 1991 model is not vintage, either. It’s just a cool sporty car that I could probably replace for $2000 with a rust-free one from the south. So today is decision day … we’ll know more when the garage calls and tells us what is needed to get it to pass Inspection.

2 Responses to “Now I remember …”

  1. Jay and Cherie Guerin (Antique Pedalers) Says:

    Talking about preventive maintenance, what about the trailer after 30,000 miles. On ours, besides checking the lugs every 1,000 miles, greasing the bearing every 10,000 miles, I also go around the trailer with a wrench and screw driver a couple of times a year tightening every nut and bolt I can find.
    I also vacume out behind the outside water heater and Frig doors, and lube locks and hinges. As it’s a CCD, there’s usually an interior rivet to replace. Also have to clean out the mineral deposits in the water heater tank and faucet screens. That doesn’t count what Cherie does on the inside.

  2. Zach Woods Says:

    Hi Rich –

    When Deb and I are in the Southwest we enjoy hearing the weatherman say “partly cloudy.” We can then scan the skies (the much “bigger” skies) for clouds in an effort to prove that it is at least partly cloudy. We usually find at least a small wisp of a cloud in order to prove the weather report semantically correct.

    Coming from the Northeast “Partly Cloudy” often comes to mean “you might see the sun today,” so the Southwestern version (“you might see a cloud today”) is amusing, to say the least!