Saturday morning, my brand new Hyundai Kona arrived on my doorstep. Well, technically the driveway. It would’ve been a bitch to drive up the stairs. My driver, Stan (I feel so posh saying “my driver”) arrived bright and early—about 8:45. He had left Sioux Falls that morning, super early. I don’t envy the guy, having to turn around and drive another five hours in the opposite direction, across a state that is mostly flat and featureless once you leave this area. I gave him a $20 tip for his troubles. Not sure what the protocol is, but the guy was a fellow Broncos fan, so that alone convinced me he was worthy.
After signing paperwork, handing over a check, and wrenching the license plates off my Mazda (in South Dakota, the plates stay with the owner), we were good to go! And go we did…Tara and I headed down a long stretch of gravel road in the middle of nowhere, SD, in search of sunflower fields. I kind of immediately regretted taking my shiny new SUV down such a punishing backroad, one that went on for miles and miles and miles, because within minutes it was coated in dust and dirt.
But she cleaned up nicely.
Oh, and those sunflower fields? Totally worth a little dirt.
South Dakota is actually the largest producer of sunflowers in the United States. North Dakota is #2 and Texas, #3. Betcha didn’t know that!
It’s safe to say I’m in love with my new Kona. But isn’t that always the case with new (or new-to-us) cars? I have now owned eight vehicles in my life, and I thought it would be fun to show ’em off and write a blurb or two about each. Some of the photos are photos of photos, and one I had to steal off the internet. So, from oldest to newest, let’s ride!
My first car…which is pretty much the only redeeming thing about it. Being in high school, I liked to ask the ladies whether they wanted to “go for a ride in my ‘Vette.” Imagine their disappointment when they learned it was a CHEvette rather than a CORvette. This thing would inexplicably lose power on the freeway, had a broken gas gauge (yes, I ran out of gas one time), and—in case you hadn’t noticed—was yellow. This being the late ’80s, I had it painted candy apple red and tinted the glass.
Still didn’t change the fact that it was a piece of crap.
Sensing that my ‘Vette was on its last legs, my parents graciously helped me buy a brand new Honda Civic when I was in college. These were quite popular at the time, and I was giddy with excitement. It was a huge step up from my first car and even had a sunroof! I loved that Civic; it was stylish (at the time) and dependable. I only drove it a couple of years, because fickle fellow that I am, a new beauty caught my eye…
The year was 1993. Fresh out of college, I’d just interviewed with a manufacturing company and fully expected a job offer, so I did what any rational person would under those circumstances: I went out and bought a sporty little coupe before anything was official. In teal, no less, which was super trendy at the time. I thought my Saturn was the coolest thing ever, right down to the pop-up headlights, and I gotta admit: that thing turned heads. Strangers were always approaching me to ask questions about it. The only drawback was the stupid automatic seatbelts; good in theory, but there’s a reason they no longer exist: the damn things were a choking hazard. Still, I would have driven that thing forever, but traded it in after two years for a much more practical car…
Oh, hi dad!
If you’re wondering why I would willingly give up a car I loved dearly after only a couple of years, it’s because my first wife was pregnant with our kid-to-be, Rusty…and I was practical as shit. The idea of trying to squeeze a child seat in the back of a two-door coupe wasn’t appealing in the least. So, as much as it pained me, I traded her in for the sedan. It wasn’t too big a compromise—I had a sunroof again!–but it wasn’t nearly as much fun to drive. And once again, I didn’t drive it for very long, because we moved to Oregon that year (1994) and within two weeks of arriving, I slid through a red light at an intersection because I hadn’t driven in snow in eight years and was unprepared for that. Clearly, something had to change, so it did.
I can’t find a photo of my actual RAV4, but it looked almost exactly like this. All it took was one terrifying incident sliding through an intersection for me to realize I needed an SUV to tackle winter weather (sound familiar?). The RAV4 did a capable job of that, although in retrospect, PNW winters don’t really demand all wheel drive. At least not the way South Dakota winters do! But the peace of mind was worth the investment. This was the first and last vehicle I would ever lease, because when the five years were up, I handed over the keys with nothing to show for. Never again. At least I broke my streak of giving up cars every 2-3 years.
Hyundai Santa Fe
I liked driving an SUV so much, I bought another one after handing over the RAV4. What I did not like was the color black, because it showed every speck of dirt and was a bitch to keep clean, so I went the complete opposite direction and bought a white car this time. I learned later that white wasn’t much better! But the Santa Fe was a dream. I owned that baby for 13 years and well over 100,000 miles. She took me all the way from Washington to Ohio and back, and down to Fresno, and out to Ely, Nevada many times. Never had a single problem with her, either (which is why I just bought a new Hyundai). Best part of all: not having a car payment for eight years. But eventually she began to show her age, and it was time to move on.
Finally admitting that PNW winters didn’t require SUVs and desiring a change after driving them for 18 years, I bought this sporty little Mazda in 2015. It was love at first sight. She was stylish, peppy, and fun to drive. And came loaded with so much technology I practically had to learn how to drive all over again. I had every intention of holding onto her at least as long as I’d driven my Santa Fe…
…but then we moved to South Dakota. Which, at the time, wasn’t even in the back of my mind. The very idea would have felt ludicrous, impossible. But life has a funny way of throwing you curveballs, doesn’t it? And while I managed to navigate two Rapid City winters with my Mazda, a lot of those were white-knuckle drives. So I worked my ass off all last year to save up money for a new SUV, and now, here we are. To open roads and new adventures!