Mountain cars: Visions of the past
I picked up a childhood friend of mine at the Reno airport a number of years ago. I remember as he got into my Subaru, the first thing he noticed was a large crack that was spreading across the lower half of the windshield.
“Ahh, a true mountain car!” he told me as he nodded toward the crack. This friend had spent a few years living in Crested Butte, Colo., so his announcement rang with a sense of knowledge.
The idea that a car qualifies as a true mountain car when it has a cracked windshield has stayed with me over the years. I might elaborate on that idea to add that a true mountain car also includes a dog or two riding inside.
I am again driving a vehicle with a cracked windshield, but my dogs have been removed from my driving space.
In the past, I would let a crack work its way across the windshield before getting it fixed. I might let the whole winter pass before I would get around to dealing with it.
Then I heard a story from a friend of mine who had his car insurance pay for a cracked windshield repair this past year. A few months later, when he went to switch insurance companies, he was quoted a higher rate because the windshield repair was considered an accident.
Lately, I’ve been mulling over why I am waiting to have my windshield replaced.
For the most part, I think it has to do with the fact that currently I drive a fairly new truck. Should I be rushing out to have the repair taken care of, being a good steward to my new truck, or does this crack represent something that’s gone from my past?
Shortly before I got my new truck I was down at Boca with my husband and our dogs. The dogs had just gone for a swim, and then they had found some mud. I remember standing by my vehicle talking with my husband and a guy from Reno when I called to our dogs and told them to load up. Lucky for me, my dogs love this command. The guy from Reno couldn’t believe that I was calling wet, muddy dogs and asking them to jump inside my vehicle. Just as he was telling me how his wife would never allow anything so wet and muddy in her car, one of the dogs, now loaded inside, shook. I shrugged and drove home.
My husband surprised me with the new truck about a month later along with an explanation of why putting the dogs in a separate compartment was a great idea.
In the new setup, my dogs are relegated to the bed of the truck, enclosed in a camper shell.
It’s kind of a guy’s truck that sits high off the ground and guzzles gas. It’s the opposite of an earth-friendly Subaru.
My husband felt that the dogs had trashed one too many of my cars. He used to ask me, “How can you keep such an immaculate house, and drive around with your car looking like that?”
I’ll admit, it cost a lot to get our last vehicle ready for resale. We replaced a few of the chewed-through seatbelts, and we had the leather seats sewn together by an upholsterer. I was never sure that it was the dogs who caused the seams in the back seat to come apart, but I guess a 100-pound dog, riding everywhere I went, leaning into turns, could do such damage.
The car full of dog hair or the windows smeared with marks made by dog noses or tongues or just plain dog breath, never really bothered me. I liked driving around with a dog looking out the front windshield over my shoulder, wagging her tail.
It was a hard day for me when I first loaded up my dogs in their fancy, new compartment.
And along with the new truck came an attached expectation. Encouraged by my husband, I am trying to live more by the idea that I no longer drive a vehicle that I allow to be overrun by dogs.
Suddenly with the new crack in the windshield, I’m being presented with an opportunity to abide by the new expectation, or not.
I’m finding myself full of rationalizations.
After all, the winter has just barely begun. Aren’t there months ahead when my windshield could still be nailed by another marble-sized rock that CalTrans uses to sand the roads?
Maybe I am just longing for the good old days when I used to drive around with my dogs breathing over my shoulder, looking through the spreading cracks in the windshield of my trashed vehicles – those true mountain cars that are a thing of the past for me.
Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. Life in Our Mountain Town appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.
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