Saturday, February 16, 2019

Travels with Chili: A Fond Farewell

It may have been telling that a recent trip to Fraga Farmstead Creamery was taken in my husband's pickup rather than Chili, the intrepid Mini Clubman we bought 10 years ago, the first brand new car we'd ever owned.

A post way back then summed it up:

"Trumpets sounded, the crowd roared, a dog barked, clouds parted and, oh yeah, a baby cried. Y'know, the usual harbingers of a siginificant event in literature. In a workplace, a memo would have gone out and, befitting its importance, coffee and donuts would have been served in the conference room.

"In this case, we drove up to the house, parked, and pretty soon the neighbors started gathering, oohing and ahhing, opening doors and (if you're Mace, anyway) pushing buttons. Everyone had to sit in the driver's seat, watch the sunroof(s) slide back and forth, and close their eyes and breath in the new car smell.

"Pretty soon beer was being poured, wine bottles opened and a block party erupted that lasted into the late evening as kids played racecar driver in the front seat, complete with 'vroom vroom' sound effects. All of it a good sign of adventures sure to come."

And there were many of those. From Portland to Californiathe WallowasCanada, on summer camping trips and countless quick hops to area farms and coastal getaways, not to mention the more pedestrian errands that we ran every day. Our friends teased us whenever we went on trips together, saying that seeing us, the dogs and all our gear popping out of Chili was like was like the clown car at the circus.

Lately, though, there were signs that all was not well—a transmission failing, leaks here and there, check engine lights that, in order to get them to turn off, required an expensive infusion of cash. Plus we'd decided to downsize to one car, something that could serve as a road car, camping vehicle and city runabout, plus haul supplies for various house projects.

This last weekend the check engine light came on yet again, and we had to make the fateful decision. Emptying Chili of the grocery bags, road maps and collected detritus was a hard task, leaving it at the dealership even harder, with memories of so many happy times crowding around us. Our little red car, always the cutest in any lot or campground, will be sorely missed.

Check out our Travels with Chili.

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