Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goodbye Durango

It's the end of an era. I've had inordinately many eras end lately. I hung up my last thread-bare BOR jersey last summer, as of this past fall, I can finally call myself an expert mountain bike racer, the company I've been working for for the past 8 years closed it's doors a few weeks ago and today I traded in my Durango for an Outback.

I drove the Durango for 11 years and over 310,000 miles. I drove it everywhere. I loved it, and it was faithful to the end.


There are those who scorn SUV owners. Some have even shouted their scorn all up in my face, but in my defense, I have always argued that in 2000, when I bought the Durango, gas was cheap, middle-east tensions were comparatively low, Al Gore hadn't gone all Inconvenient Truth on us, SUV's hadn't yet become Minivan-2.0, Outbacks had comparatively low ground clearance, I wanted to drag 4 bikes, 4 riders and their gear around the mountains, hadn't discovered ultralight backpacking yet, and on top of all of that, I always treated it like a truck and made it my mission in life to extract a punishing level of sport-utility out of my Sport Utility Vechicle so all you haters can shut up!

And yet...

As much as I love it, and as much as all you haters can shut up, the Durango is, in fact, heavy, polluting and expensive to drive, and given how low-footprint I generally try to be, driving it around sends a pretty mixed message, even to myself.

For a while now, I'd like to have traded it for something that gets the job done more efficiently, but I could never make it work out financially. This year though, between a longer commute and the cost of some much-needed maintenance (even the amortized cost), it would be less expensive to buy a new truck than keep the Durango.

And so it was. I signed some papers and the Outback was mostly mine. I'd pick it up the next day. Today, actually.

Driving away, it struck me how much I'd miss my truck, but I just kept coming up with good memories. Isabel, on the other hand, was overcome with grief and almost inconsolable. None of us, including her, expected that. Thinking about it though, it made sense. My truck has been the one constant in her life. We've replaced literally every other thing, but she's been riding around in it since before she was born. It's more of a home to her than any house we've lived in, but a home that randomly carries her off to the explore the four corners of her world. She said it felt like a brother to her. Nothing hurts quite like the stream of unedited sorrow that can flow from the mind of a ten year old girl.

Fortunately, Sophie was pretty ambivalent. She's two years younger, and besides, she just doesn't get that attached to things.

What bothered Iz the most was that she was afraid that she didn't appreciate my truck enough the last time we drove, and that it would be gone before she'd have another chance. There was a solution for that, and I'd been thinking about it anyway. Sophie and Kathryn went home. Me and Iz took the Durango on one last adventure. There was only one place to go.

North on 400, west on 136, north to Nimblewill. We hit the Winding Stair loop: up 77, across 42... We did a little 4WD on Hawk Mountain...

 FS42A Sign

...before descending Cooper Gap Road. The air was cool but not too cold to roll the windows down. The road was just rough enough to appreciate having some clearance and suspension. We listened to some Green Day. The girls always wanted to listen to Green Day when we'd go driving around. It was perfect. One last little adventure. It made a world of difference to Iz.

Today we cleaned it out, took off the roof rack and swapped the Durango for an Outback.

I'm sure that the next 10 years will bear out some wrath-incurring flaw in that decision. We'll have to see about that. I've only put about 10 miles on it so far, but so far, so good. Wrath aside, here's hoping for another 10 years of adventures. Here's hoping that the next 300,000 miles will be as good as the last.


  1. Congrats on the new ride. It's always sad to say goodbye to a partner in crime - especially one that has journeyed with you for so long. Hope the Outback provides you with as many adventures!

  2. What a great final tribute! We had a similar experience a couple of years ago when we traded in Christy's Tahoe; we'd had it about 10 years and the kids got a little upset when we handed it over. Enjoy the new ride Dave.

  3. Been eying the Outback myself. If the rear window could open, I would already own it. Not too many vehicles have the rear opening window anymore, but my quest continues.

    Did you get a trailer hitch, and, if so, did you accept the puny 1.25" one?

  4. end of an era for sure!!

    man, i thought you would drive the wheels right off that truck, but i guess 300K+ and tens years is pretty close.

    also, you should stop feeling guilty about not being low-impact as you could be, because it is is much lower impact (and much more responsible!)to keep a vehicle for as long as you do regardless how inefficient it is compared to buying a new one or even just swapping for another used every one-two years!