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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