Thanksgiving morning, just south of Ardmore, OK, my vehicle passed 200,000 miles on the odometer.
Not a very big deal, I realize, even in our new blog culture where—let’s face it—every conceivable event is considered newsworthy, written about, commented on, analyzed, and debated. And then the debate itself is reported, discussed, forwarded, criticized, satirized, celebrated, and lamented on posts such as this one here.
This particular non-event was noteworthy to me, though, because it represents a significant chunk of my adult life. See, this is my Chevy pickup. I drove it off the lot, brand-new, over a decade ago. It has never been owned by anyone else, and since I have rarely ever let anyone else drive it, all but a hundred or so of the 200,000 miles have come with me behind the wheel.
More importantly, though, is that even when parked in the street, parking lot, or garage, the pickup has been with me everywhere I have gone, and through every change in my life. Understand—I got this vehicle in high school. Most people have fond memories of their first car; this is my first car. It is what I drove to prom in. It is what I used to move to college, and move every summer in college for 6 years. It carried me to a new city and new state after college. I used it to commute to my first real job—and my second, and every job I’ve had since turning 18. Since I am prone to long road trips, it has been my travelling companion, my mobile office, my shelter, and occasionally my budget motel room.
I don’t consider myself materialistic, at all, but I will readily admit I have become rather attached to this particular bit of material. It is the only thing of note that has remained with me from high school until now. Everything else has been lost, replaced, worn out, upgraded, or no longer needed. Certainly, friends and family are a thousand times more important, and there are a few people I have kept up for that long—but all long-distance. My high school friends did not follow me to college, and my college friends did not follow me to Dallas. The only things that have been present with me on a daily basis for the past 10+ years are God and Larry.
Larry is the name of my pickup. Oh, yes, he has a name—on a road trip in college, a female friend of mine insisted I choose a name for my green Chevy, and I went with Larry the Half-ton Cucumber (in honor of, well, Larry the Cucumber). And yes, the pickup is definitely a “he”. Someone suggested that cars are supposed to have feminine names, but I’ve always felt that my pickup is clearly male. (I have no real explanation for that. I suppose it is a good thing that I have no explanation for that.)
I first drove Larry home during spring break my senior year in high school. In my rural high school, pickups were the cool vehicles to drive. For the final two months of school that spring, I had pretty much the coolest ride in school.
Larry is a 1998 Z71 half-ton 4-wheel-drive, with an extended cab, 3 doors, and the classic 350 V-8. It has a bench seat up front, which is unusual for a Z71, but which is also a big reason why I chose it over all the other similar pickups on the lot—my Grandfather convinced me the bench seat was superior to having separate chairs, because a girl could then sit in the middle and be close to the driver.
When I left for college, I moved all my needed possessions in the bed of my pickup, in one trip. This procedure was repeated every single spring and fall, as I moved in and out of the dorms and apartments for the summer. It wasn’t until I had been out of college for a year that I was no longer able to fit all my worldly possessions in my vehicle in a single trip.
At different times, I have had 3 other cars, including a company car, while still owning Larry. I drove 50,000 or 60,000 miles in those cars, which is the only reason Larry doesn’t now have a quarter million miles on the odometer.
In the past couple of years, I have started thinking about getting a new vehicle. After all, Larry certainly isn’t very efficient, and probably is not very “cool” anymore, either. Even a Prius would have a hard time saving enough on fuel bills to offset the $0 monthly car payments I currently have, though. And though I will make the change at some point, nothing will be able to match Larry’s sentimental value.
So, in honor of the occasion, here are some stats and trivia about Larry and our time together:
- Current mileage: 200,716
- Top speed: limited to 100 mph by an electronic governor. (Yes, I know this from first-hand experience.) Without the governor, I imagine it could do 140.
- States driven in: 44, plus D.C. and Ontario. Larry has not been to Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, Utah, Alaska, or Hawaii—yet.
- Highest elevation reached: 14,240 ft. (Mt. Evans, CO)
- Lowest elevation reached: -190 ft. (Death Valley, CA)
- Accidents: 1
- Speeding tickets: 3, two of which were not really deserved and one where I honestly, truly, 100% was NOT speeding (dang you Waukomis!)
- Hitchhikers: 2
- Most people riding inside the cab at one time: 7 (Why, yes, it was myself and 6 girls, as a matter of fact.)
- Parades driven in: at least 2.
- Times stuck: 1. But, the only other vehicle that could drive on that road without getting stuck, to pull me out, was a snowcat.
- Heaviest cargo carried: 2 tons of books. The transmission went out shortly afterwards.
- Weirdest cargo carried: 700 cans of corn.
- Parts replaced (not including things that are designed to wear out, like brake pads and tires):
- Fuel pump
- Windshield wiper motor
- Water pump
- Power steering pump
- Master cylinder
- Universal joints
- Left and right outside mirrors (only the mirror glass—not the housings)
- Front passenger quarterpanel
- Front bumper
- Passenger headlight
- Passenger front turn signal
- One tailgate cable support
- Current condition: Runs great; no major problems.