Trip Recap #1: in which we are planet-raping wastrels.
Since MB and I have finally reached the magical age at which we're allowed to rent a car, we did so for our Washington State trip. When we booked our flights / car package through Orbitz, I checked "midsize" and got a confirmation email saying we'd be getting a "Chrysler Sebring or similar."
Okay, that's cool. Kind of swanky, right? Plenty of space for our huge suitcases but not intimidating.
We got to the terminal and hiked about thirty miles to the rental car level of the ridiculously huge parking garage, towing our three tons of luggage. The elevators were as far from the Budget counter as physically possible, and the Budget cars were right next to the elevators, so we got to haul our gimpy-wheeled heavy-ass luggage all the way to the counter, then all the way back to the Budget row. The Budget counter guy was really nice, though. I liked him a lot, even when he checked all our paperwork, pulled us up in the computer, and said, "I have you guys in a PT Cruiser."
Even though I didn't include them in my ugly car entries of old, I have always felt less than enthusiastic toward PT Cruisers. I think that, at best, they're cute (but just "eh" cute, not VW Beetle cute) and at worst, cheesy / goofy. They seem so very...mom. Like momjeans in car form, somehow. A cat-sweatshirt kind of car. Anyway, I knew I'd feel like a yuppie poseur (the urban dictionary definition of poseur is hilarious, by the way) driving around in one, especially on our big hippie city / National Park adventure. I tried to keep a straight face, but couldn't help turning to MB and hissing, "A PT Cruiser! That's hilarious!"
The cool car counter guy heard me, and said, "Uh...I can give you guys a Grand Prix instead? It would definitely be more comfortable." Grateful for the out, I said, "Comfortable sounds good!" and we signed for the Grand Prix. We hiked back out to it, stopping twice to camp along the way, and finally found our car. It was pretty huge. Not exactly what I think of when I think "midsize," but I was willing to roll with it. Neither of us were in great moods by this point, with the flying and the hiking and the hauling and more hiking. Then we couldn't get the trunk open, so I started slinging suitcases into the backseat. I just wanted to go find the hotel already. MB didn't want the suitcases in the back, so he finally figured out the trunk and re-slung (slinged?) all the luggage while I sat in the car and snickered about PT Cruisers.
When MB started the engine, the little message console thingie above the CD player lit up and told us that the battery charge had failed. Great! Maybe it'll go away? I don't know what we were thinking with that one. Thankfully, the message came back as we were about to exit the garage, so we turned around and went back to talk to the cool car counter guy again. I guess he felt bad about giving us a broken car, because he gave MB the keys to a Ford Explorer. If I remember correctly, SUVs were a price point or two higher than the "midsize" category we signed up for, so it seemed like a pity upgrade for sure. MB was alarmed. This was a truly gargantuan vehicle. I was alarmed. Surely the Sierra Club can yank my membership for tooling around in this thing.
It had the "optional third row seating" and everything. We christened it The Behemoth, a.k.a. the Mammoth Car.
We folded down the third row and tossed the luggage in and lumbered out into the night. I've heard people say that they feel safe driving SUVs. I didn't feel safe so much as I felt like a menace. We totally could've kicked on the 4-wheel drive and rolled over a few Mini Coopers if we'd had the need.
Here's the part where it hurts. By the end of the week, we had learned to appreciate The Behemoth. In fact, we both admitted that we liked it. Despite its size, it handled extremely well. It turned tighter and parked better than my 1990 Oldsmobeast. It was peppier than MB's Cavalier without being too monster-truck-like. The cargo space was freakin' fabulous. One day after we hiked in the rain, we opened the hatch up and shed our raingear right into the back and then crawled through to the front (OK, I did this. MB declined), and thus avoided soaking our seats with our wet coats. There was ample leg-room, which is important for people like me & MB, whose bodies are approximately 85% limb. We talked about how nice it would be to have a truck like that in real life. We could sleep in it on camping trips if necessary. Haul camping gear. Car-top a canoe. Comfortably transport MB's parents from his hometown up to visit the city where we live (about a 1 1/2 hour drive, and not a picnic with MB's poor 6'5" father folded into MB's Cavalier). Easily fit in two carseats for future Badger-Spawn, plus strollers and groceries. All the convenience of a minivan with none of the humiliation.
The drawback? FOURTEEN MILES TO THE GALLON. Woe! Rending of garments!
We LOVED it except for that, but that's a huge, enormous, pretty much unacceptable drawback. But oh, we loved it. We're still recalling it fondly, days later. Please don't tell the rest of the treehuggers. We'll be kicked out of the club for sure...
Have you seen this creepy-ass Playstation 3 commercial?
Reading: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Playing: Swagger by Flogging Molly and Band of Gypsies by Taraf de Haidouks