Day 8: Vehicle Swap

Day 8 looked like it was gonna be great: sun from the get-go and finally entering Florida. But then Sparkle’s intermittent misfiring was getting worse and yet still no code on the dash. I headed for the nearest Firestone which is usually my go-to on the road since the work is guaranteed. I scored with a great mechanic and, well, I’ll spare you the details but it was time for a new engine. Um, that would be some other garage, probably $5000+, and at least 5 days of sitting around. That’s no way to spend a vacation. It was time to pull the plug. Just the previous day, Sparkle had passed the 500,000 mile mark. It was like she waiting to get us to that point and then she’d had enough. So, here’s a little tribute post. Here’s the last photo at that mid-century modern Firestone. I got her in 2006 with 108,000 miles for $8,000. Such a deal! Every dent had a story. The bumper was a little out-of-whack since I was rear-ended about five times:

She took us to 48 states multiple times — all those beaches you can drive on — this one in Grover Beach, California:

Sparkle on da beach

in Ponce Inlet, Florida:

my crew

The kids loved her as much as I did. The countless night we spent in her belly, the millions of adventures in those 14 years, in all kinds of weather:

waiting for the magic word

Moving from New York City to California in 2012:

the big move

Taking the ferry to Washington Island, Wisconsin:

Sparkle Takes the Ferry

From inside a Futuro in Texas:

Futuro and Sparkle

So, anyway. It was a tough decision but the only rationale one was to part ways. I found a local Chevy dealership and “went big”. They haven’t made Astro vans since 2005. So, it had been at the back of my mind that, when the time came, I’d upgrade to an Express van. There were a bunch to choose from but only one that made sense or didn’t have some major problem. I had wanted white, in Sparkle’s honor, but silver was what it was. Meet Gator! 2019 with only 30,000 miles. With taxes & surcharges & an add-on extensive warranty, about $27,000. I’ll be paying installments for about 5 years but I’m hoping for some relatively trouble-free years. She’s about six feet longer so I’m still adjusting to parking and U-turns. Storage space galore.

The door on the side is great and light as a feather. Most Express vans have the multiple panel side doors not the big slider:

So much for the first day in Florida! I had to start working my way back to Oklahoma to pick up a “passenger” (new doggie) in a few days. So, I just hit the interstate and drove all night. We’d be back for Florida in a few days.

Stay tuned – next post coming up in a few minutes.

dj & the dogs

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8 thoughts on “Day 8: Vehicle Swap

  1. I know how difficult it was to move from Sparkle to Gator; when I finally had to abandon my 1976 AMC Hornet after more than 20 years, I wrote a three-page obit for the car to help me deal with the transition. A similar undertaking by you about Sparkle would probably be about 30-pages long with all your adventures.

    • I have hundreds of photos of her (sick, I know, to love a vehicle that much). It’s been a rough year (lost my Mom, my oldest dog, and my van). But the new van & pupper have helped ease the losses.

  2. I’ve bought tires in Texas and Arizona but buying an entire vehicle on the far side of the country from where you live is in a whole different league. Sorry to see Sparkle go but good luck with the new ride.

    • Yes, it was a little stressful but I really had no choice. When you have a van with that many miles, you are mentally prepared for the possibility that such a thing could happen. For $2,000 for something, I would have repaired but $5,000+: time to say bye-bye. Getting it registered in California was a nightmare: the dealership sat on the title for two months. And the DMV is another whole half-day (twice!) experience during COVID. You either get really nice or really nasty people there. I felt like I won the lotto when I finally slapped CA plates on the van!

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