Just a bunch of hot air

The hot air you came here for...

Please excuse the desperate drivel that was this writer's previous posting... Desperation isn't a good look for a twenty-five year old father to be... 


It's about time the tires get turning- I was recently hired by a certain online automobile auction house as a Customer Service Specialist. A career? For certain. Sustainable? Let's hope so. I only doubt myself, surely not the brand. 

Also-I'm going to be a father- My goodness. 

My wife is here next to me this evening lying in bed, to my left, reading my words over my shoulder. I appreciate the constant critique. It's refreshing to have somebody besides myself editing as I peck away at this plastic keyboard. Our (my wife made sure I specified that Jojo is OUR cat) oldest cat to my left, Jojo, eyes still open but snoring as loud as Joe Biden without his CPAP.  Is she asleep? She's folded in her usual loaf like configuration- so cute.  

My neighbors are stomping, as they usually do, up the rickety, wood stairs in our apartment. They're heavy footed to put it lightly (no pun intended). 

I'm typing away tonight, at this hour, just after eleven, to help put my thoughts in order, The past few weeks have been turbulent, to say the least.  Sounds of inhaling to bated breathe still hang in the air and swirl around our heads. Waiting on other people to follow through with whatever their supposed to do is this worst kind of waiting. But it turns out that you can depend on some people to do their jobs. 

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It's amazing how we can forget about, even the things we hold so dear, so quickly. I'm guilty, that's surely true. But even worse than that, when we ignore the things we hold close, that's the real sin. Forgetfulness is part of the human condition. Blatantly ignoring a passion, is just stupid. "If you're not busy being born, you're busy dying." I feel like I need to tattoo that on my forehead so whenever I look at my self in a mirror I can kick myself in the ass and get going.

Sometimes inspiration to do even the smallest of tasks is gone in a flash. The inspiration to do great things is also fleeting, unfortunately. 

This is all sounding a bit too despondent, I apologize. Lately I've felt like I've needed a place to spill the rattlings upstairs. And I always loose little scraps of paper and all of my pocket journals just end up full of thoughtless doodles and grocery lists. 

Sometimes you've gotta stop watching other people do things and expect to get inspired. You've just gotta do it yourself. At least that's what I need to do. Some people seem to be able to draw on others words and actions for motivation, but not this farcical, bipedal nematode. 

Lately I've been reflecting on some Whitminian hoodoo: "I exist as I am, that is enough." I don't know, Walt... Is that enough? I'm not sure he's validating a non-growing, reflection-less life or a lazy, sluggish one even... But maybe thats his game! He jotted this down to make people realize that being as we are currently isn't enough. 

I wrote a little poem recently about a friend of mine, unfinished of course like many things I start:

     Like an Owl in the night, white feathery beard in flight.

     On electric wheels, head on swivel, no time for Kerouacian drivel.

     To the cafe for warm libation, a brief needed vacation.

     Cor-ta-go, tiny macchiato,

     all part of the day's subtle flow.

     Thought the door, ride those wheels some more.

     Back to the nest, Buddha already present.

     Caffeinated shaking incessant.

I was just especially chuffed with the "Kerouacian drivel" bit. 


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A very brief recollection of the start of the (im)famous brand...

Today, I'm just gonna write about what I want... The past few weeks I've been trying to sit down and write a really concise essay on safety features available on modern cars and how they're making us lazy and irresponsible. I've started it three or four different times but I can't seem to make myself get down to it though it is a topic I have pretty strong feelings and pretty big thoughts on. This post is going to be about something else near and dear to my heart... Volkswagen.

In my previous post I've talked about my admiration for the brand and what Volkswagen has done for me, the freedom (and the frustration) they have granted me. So here is an earful on VW, the brand, the myth, the legend

Born September 5th 1875, in then Maffersdorf, Bohemia in Austria-Hungary, now Vratislavice nad Nisou, Czeck Republic; Ferdinand Porsche was born to Anna and Anton Porsche, being their third child. He was a bit a tinkerer early on and proved to be a bit of a wiz-kid by 13, installing electric doorbells and eventually electric lighting in his parents home by 16. He wound up in Vienna as a student at what is now The Vienna Technical Institute and a job at a local electrical company, working whenever he was in class. His father being a "panel-beater" and having a shop of his own, Ferdinand was regularly exposed to early automobiles by his teenage years as well. This seems to be where the of the obsession began, it wouldn't be long for little Porsche to get his own wheels turning down the road of "Automotive Legend". 

By 1906 Ferdinand was hired by Austro-Hungarian automaker, Austro-Daimler as their Chief Designer. Ferdinand was a having a grand old time designing cars on these guy's dimes. Then 1916 comes right around, the first World War in full swing at this point and our pal Ferdinand earns himself an honorary doctorate from the College of Technology in Vienna. Our man is a Doctor now!

The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hyrbid (Circa 1901)

He had also drawn up and developed some fresh technologies on his own time, including the world's very first hybrid automobile that was breaking Austrian speed records at the time- we're talking 35 miles per! Get that!

Porsche "Sasha" (Circa 1910)

Okay, I'll cut the satire, this new hybrid whip wasn't exactly burning rubber but it was undoubtedly revolutionary. Besides, our man Ferdinand was building some sporty two-seater carts to fulfill his tireless need for speed. 

1923 comes rolling around and our boy Ferdi recognizes that's it's time to wave the stiffs at Austro-Daimler "Auf Weidersehen". At this point he took off to Stuttgart, Germany to work for Daimler as their Technical Director. While there he received another honorary doctorate from the Stuttgart Technical Institute and he dreamt up some really fabulous, very successful racing cars for Daimler. After a few company mergers (Daimler joining forces with Cie-Benz to create Daimler-Benz) our mustached doctor finds himself looking to work for another automobile firm after a falling out with the board of Daimler-Benz over plans for a small, light-weight sports car. This concept would eventually become the sole focus of Dr. Porsche's vision and would be the basis of his future companies efforts. 

It's the early spring of 1931 in Stuttgart, Germany, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and Dr. Porsche was opening up his very own automotive consulting firm. And in proper German fashion, it had overly complicated name:  Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratungen für Motoren und Fahrzeugbau. And for those not privy to the beautiful German language: Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH,  designs and consulting services for motors and vehicles. With his own firm now open and properly staffed he got right down to business designing vehicles for German brands such as Wanderer, Zundapp and NSU and finding very good success at all of that. But the Doctor always made sure he had some left over time each day to design and develop his own autos for his own production. 

1933 NSU Type 32

This is where things get a little shady all thanks to a little known group of Germans so-called, "The National Socialist German Worker's Party". Kind of a mouthful, I know. We'll just call them the Nazis.

Cool it, Furher Cat!

It's 1933 and Germany is firmly under Nazi control, Adolf Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany in January 30th, 1930. Right away Mr. Hilter had a vision to mobilize Germany and he had a man in mind to help him do it: Dr. Porsche. It's important to remember that at this point Germany was still financially destitute. Only one in every 50 Germans owned a car and many of them still, couldn't have even afforded a motorcycle. BUT- The Nazi folk had a plan to get their citizens moving and much like their other plans, it was utter shit. 

As a part of "Kraft durch Fruede" (Strength Through Joy), a leisure program created by the Nazis to help promote fun in the Fatherland, ultimately a program to further indoctrinate the German people and fund the Nazi machine, the citizens of Germany would collect stamps by purchasing them regularly and adding them to their stamp books. When their stamp books were filled up, they'd be sent off to Berlin and you'd get your car, your very own Volkswagen. 

Familiar looking piece of German automobilia, eh?

So- each week you'd send in a nice bit of your paycheck to Berlin and in return you'd receive your very own KdF-Wagen, sounds like a dream. To answer the question that I know is on your mind dear reader- out of the hundreds of thousands of KdF stamp books completely filled by those with dreams of the open road, romping down the Autobahn with The Scorpions cranked on the stereo, impatiently waiting for their Beetle, all while, ultimately, supporting Nazi war machine, not a single one of those poor souls received a car. Not a single KdF-Wagen was delivered to any single family apart from a couple that had been made for Nazi party officials... Even the angry man with the bad mustache himself had a convertible Beetle delivered to him in 1938. 

Only a hand full of Beetles were produced directly before the second world war. The factory in Wolfsburg that was built to build the very first "People's Car", ended up being used to manufacture other Porsche designed vehicles, though these that were made, were a bit more... let's say, utilitarian. Schwimmwagens, Kubelwagens and other Nazi mobiles were built here to supply the German war machine. 

Anyhow, post war; production of the Beetle and Dr. Porsche were now under the careful watch of the Allies. Due to the Morgenthau Plan, production of the Beetle must be 10 percent of it's production number of 1936. It wasn't just Porsche that got the axe- NSU, Auto Union, BMW, Mercedes Benz, any German Automobile manufacturer had to meet the ten percent regulation, among many others. 

From there the rest is history, truly. Dr. Porsche created the Porsche brand after leaving the Volkswagen group to do its thing .The Beetle became a cultural icon because of some hippies that were too high to realize that it was terrible. The Type 2 could move an entire gaggle of Dead Head hippies that were too high to realize that the Grateful Dead were (and still are), terrible as well. VW became a legend it's self, truly became apart of American pop culture, an icon of a time now gone. The Summer of Love, Woodstock, other hippie nonsense, VW made it all groovy.  

The Type 2-  i.e. Rubbish

To end, VW has improved their reputation since the war. Most importantly; dropping the Nazi nonsense, thankfully. Though their future is looking a whole lot more electric, no doubt Volkswagen will continue to set trends and produce some truly unique vehicle. And, of course, continue to lie to people (see the "Volkswagen Emissions Scandal" [better known as "Dieselgate"] Wikipedia page). Despite the hippies and the lies, VW and Dr. Porsche- well their vehicles anyways, will always hold a special place in the hearts of many people, mine included... 

And we haven't even talked about Porsche yet...

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"Sometimes you need to ease off in order to go faster." -Sir Jackie Stewart

     Enjoying cars and enjoying driving are two very different things, that is just a fact. You've got some folks out there with a collection of cars that they gawk at, in their garages, or frankly, warehouses. They have one, or a few, cars trailered to a Concourse show for other people to drool over and post on Instagram with some ludicrous hashtags. They gloat about how few miles their 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso has, they like to gab about the money they spent on it and how much it will appreciate over the year or two they own before they sell it for a profit. I fear that many cars that fill our dreams end up in this position; Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Datsuns, you name the marque, stuck in a garage destine to hardly ever be driven. Some car that you pine after is probably sitting in a museum or a private collection somewhere with a pie tin laying beneath the engine to catch any dirty, dirty oil that may soil the pearly white floor, not having been driven in years and may not be driven for sometime. And sure, we need to preserve these artifacts of open road for future generations, after all we're all just curators of these vehicles for our lifetimes, they'll always have a future beyond what we provide them now. 

     Anyways, I digress. No longer will I whine about people with too much money, who don't drive their coveted classics. I want to talk about driving, not the lack there of! I really began to learn something about driving when I got into my second car, my first manual car; a 2005 Volkswagen Golf GL. It was bone stock, mechanically speaking. It did have an aftermarket radio but unfortunately that didn't help with power output of the naturally aspirated 2 liter. A five speed gearbox mated the engine to the wheels with an open differential in between. The body was painted in the handsome Indigo Blue Pearl, clad with two pinstripes that encircled the car like a low laying halo. A black on black interior completed the package. What a magnificent thing it was. 

     I remember finding the car on the internet in the spring of 2014 and immediately fell for it. I had never really been into Volkswagen before this point, never liked Beetles, never really cared about Golfs or Jettas. Even earlier VWs didn't really tickle my fancy at the time; MKII GTIs , Rabbit Pickups, Type 3s, Scirrocos, nothing! But for whatever reason this car struck me like a bolt of lighting. My family and I tripped over to Downingtown, to Fred Beans Subaru, to check out the golf. As we pulled in, I was unable to find it in the sea of new Subarus and I began to get a bit concerned. Driving towards the back of the lot we saw some used vehicles of different makes and amongst all of the nonsense, there it was! It looked even better in person. An hour or so later, we left the dealership with a new, used MKIV Golf. 

     As a result of not knowing how to drive stick, my father took the keys and drove us home that evening. At one point very close to our house, I asked my dad if he would let me give it a try. I had to get it us up a hill, make a right, and we would be in front of our abode, that's it. We were right down the street at a stop sign. We quickly made a driver change and I, for the first time, in my 17 years of existence, prepared myself to manually shift gears. This was purity. This was driving. I slotted the shifter into first and slowly let the clutch out looking for the engagement point and fed it a a bit too little gas and stalled the car. Not being discouraged, I fired up the willing VW and tried again. For the second time, I slotted the shifter into first and let off the clutch and gave it a bit more gas, maybe a bit too much gas but we were off! Up the hill, I rolled through the stop sign at the top out of fear of being stuck on the hill. I pulled into the drive way and felt a bit discouraged. I realized that this was going to require practice. 

     I have always had an issuing with not being good at things. I'm definitely a bit arrogant when it comes to certain tasks that typically take practice to master. This time being no exception, I was frustrated with myself and my evident lack of skill. For a time after that evening, I was afraid to drive the car; Frankly, I had disappointed myself and had become completely disillusioned with driving a manual car. "Why does it have to be so damn difficult?" I thought to myself after a few more outings in the Golf. I avoided driving the car to school in order to avoid being laughed at (naturally). I remember having a date with a girl and asking her to pick ME up so I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of her. She had no issues picking me up, thankfully, and we had a lovely night. 

     One day, I texted a good pal of mine, named Will, to ask him if he could give me some pointers in my car. He excitedly accepted my invitation and agreed to pop over that weekend. (Sidebar: At this point in my life I don't think I had ever asked for anyone besides my parents for help. This is definitely an extension of my arrogance, beyond any doubt of mine. I've become so much better at asking for help these days and trying my best to not let my ego get the best of me. I even ask my wife for help, sometimes. Anyhow, the point of this tangent was to share how-ALREADY, this car, that I had only owned for a few weeks, was  teaching me something about myself: That I suck at driving and I won't always be great at things the first time around. In retrospect: They were invaluable lessons to learn at age 17. In that moment: frustrating beyond comprehension. This lump of german steel was embarrassing me.)  

     Some background on Will: He and his dad were diehard petrol heads. His father raced a first generation Camaro in the nineties and early 2000s and eventually was bitten by the Porsche bug so he ditched the American muscle for a black 1984 911 (that car would spark my interest and ultimate infatuation with Porsche). There may have been some other cars mixed in there but those are the two I remember Will talking about. Needless to say Will's father made sure Will could drive a standard transmission vehicle before he could use the bathroom himself. Anyways, Will came over that Saturday afternoon, if my memory serves me correctly, it was mid to late April of 2014,  the Pennsylvania weather was perfect. We tend to get pretty lovely weather during the springtime here in PA. It was an ideal day for a drive, I remember that. We drove over to my high school, to their large empty lot and got down to business. "A bit more gas, a bit less clutch!" he declared repeatedly. "Feel for the clutch's engagement point, you need to know where it is to gain the muscle memory..." uttered Will. It's important to mention that Will is, or at least was at this time, incredibly patient (I haven't talked to him in years), so he was calm, cool and collected as I was just about ready to tear my hair out because of my incessant stalling and clutch riding. "Where is the happy medium?!" I wondered to myself. We spent about thirty minutes in this parking lot before he told me something that should have been obvious to me from the get-go: "Slow down! Pay attention to what you're doing. Really feel for the engagement and take your time.". In that exact moment it occurred to me that no-one was behind me, no-one was going to honk at me or be upset I was sitting at a stop sign too long. I was rushing! Rushing was not a new concept. Most of my academic career was comprised of me procrastinating and then making up some awful garbage the night before a paper was due just to have something to turn in. Or rushing around to complete some homework or studying to get out of the house and go run about town with my friends. I was always rushing. This is something that couldn't be rushed, otherwise you'd be snapping your neck and getting a taste of your steering wheel all too often.

     Suddenly it clicked. "Take my time..." Granted the concept of juggling the clutch and the gas and the brake never eluded me, I just wasn't taking my time, I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. My ego was in the way, making me not realize that this was going to be a skill that required practice. Clutch in, first gear, clutch out slow, a little bit of gas and feel for the engagement point. Step by step. Baby steps, if you will. That's just the way it has to be sometimes. 

     Months later, driving my golf was like walking in the park. I began to understand the little things about the car, the nuances of driving a manual transmission. Traffic on highways and through towns wasn't nerve-racking any longer, just routine. When I reached this point of my life, when I really felt like I was getting good, is when I really began to love driving. It wasn't just about being quick, 0-60 times and red-light drag races. Being fully engaged with the car and paying attention to it and the road, that was the exhilarating part. Working on more difficult driving techniques like finding the fastest line through a turn, rev-matching and ultimately, Heel-Toe down shifting, to name a few. I was regularly taking long drives, going nowhere in particular to find new backroads that offered new turns, scenery and ultimately new experiences. I took many midnight forays into the cool summer nights with the windows down, really stretching the legs of the mighty, naturally aspirated 2.0 liter, rowing through the gears, trying my best to drive certain bits of road faster and faster, driving as smoothly as possible. I used to time myself with my phone's stopwatch, starting it, racing along some of my favorite roads in the early morning hours over and over, often times forgetting to stop it after I passed my mark. I loved it. (I was always careful to drive safely, especially around pedestrians and other drivers. Often having the radio off and the windows down to best be engaged with the ever-changing circumstances of traffic around me. I may have often been driving quickly but only ever in the dead of night, on the most quiet of backroads.)

     I love driving, I imagine I always will and that's all thanks to my trusty old Golf. It's no longer with me but I sure do miss that piece of german steel (even with it's broken glove box door. MKIV problems, am I right?). My soul draining 2012 Civic is a spiritual burden and isn't exactly the most entertaining to drive but I try my hardest to get the most out of it and keep my passion alive. I'll get into something sportier and more exciting someday; a Miata, another VW, a MR2, even an old Civic hatch would be fun. So get out there and find your next favorite backroad with it's tight and winding roads. Or maybe one that brings you to some stunning scenery, a view that really makes your heart leap. Whether you drive a Ferrari 488 or your mom's old clapped out Jeep Renegade, just get out there and have an experience, go feel something.

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Most of us reading have had a first car or maybe you will have one soon. Those of us who have had a first, probably have some pretty good stories about them.

     Who doesn't love a good first car story? We all have some memory associated with our first automobile, good or bad; there is a ways a story to be told. My father's first car was a 1969 Chevrolet Malibu. Ah yes, the almighty Chevelle! I believe I have a picture of it some where in a large box of my fathers photos I have sitting next to me at this very moment (I'll try to post it later. I just learned that my printer doesn't have the ability to scan, only copy and print. Why would it have a scanning function, that'd just be too convenient. I'll figure it out). And my mother's first vehicle was an early 80's Subaru GL (There may be a photo of it somewhere, I'll have to ask around). My wife's first vehicle was a spectacular 1999 Ford Explorer, aptly known as, Gary (a fitting name). My first vehicle is the vehicle in the picture above, in it's natural state! BROKEN! 

     A 1998 Subaru Outback should be, on paper, a good car, a good first car. Reliable, relatively safe, okay on gas, AWD capability and with enough room to squeeze all of your buddies in for a night out at the... river or some random basement. My 1998 Subaru outback was painted in the fabulous "Acadia Green Metallic". It had stock wheels that were poorly plasti-dipped and were peeling BIG TIME. A sluggish automatic, 5 CD changer under the front passenger seat and a tape deck, the thing was had all of the makings of a goooood time. The AWD in the snow was so good. I really thought I was Colin McRae tearing around in the snow. I mean I was so good in the snow I only crashed into one parked car and only destroyed one mailbox. That car was really inspiring, it felt fast (it wasn't) it felt like it gripped well (it really did not) and the steering was butter. 

     I remember the finding the car on craigslist and for some reason, I really dug it, to this day I have a thing for wagons. Something about this car spoke to me through my computer screen. My dad and I met the owner, a guy named Brian whose phone number I still have in my contacts on my phone because I never clean out my contacts list, at a Wawa in Skippack, Pennsylvania. A tiny town with a couple of restaurants and a gas station and that's about it. I saw the car in person and I was sold! I was fortunate enough to have parents who really were too kind and too loving, they lent me the money to buy this car, about 3000 dollars.The car didn't seem like a bad deal! Subarus are reliable, right?   

     When my father and I met Brian at an auto tag shack close to my hometown, his wife pulled in the lot behind him in a Monza Red Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4. I offered to buy that car for 3000 bucks but he wasn't into that deal much. Anyways we did the necessary paper work, waved good bye to Brian and his bride and I had my very first money pit, I mean car! 

The Subaru

     It was glorious! My own car! I remember the feeling of a new freedom washing over me like a duck stuck in a hurricane. On the drive home I remember looking around the interior of the car; the dash, the terrible vinyl seats, the stained carpet,  the crumbs in the cracks of the plastic center console. It was mine, all mine. The key to my new freedom was in my hands.

     Having gotten the car in early August, meant that a new year of school was right around the corner. Being 17, you know damn well, I wanted to show my new whip off to all of my cohort. I cleaned the car pretty vigorously a day or two before the first day of my last year of High School, it needed to be pristine. Minty Fresh! I even vacuumed out of most of the crumbs from the crevices in the cars interior and collected the loose change from under the seats left there by Brian. I collected a very small cash back rebate from the amount of change on the floor of that car. Anyhow, boy did that turd shine! Its metallic green paint glistened in the mid summer sun, the beams reflected heavily off of the freshly waxed exterior, it was blinding (this was the first of the two times, I had ever hand waxed one of my cars [it looked shit])! 

     Parking passes for the student lot at my high school were pricey so I decided against getting one and instead chose to park close to the Intersection at Anderson Avenue and Gay Street. I ran through some backyards after I parked on days I was late (which was most days) to make up some time I had spent putting mousse in my hair and combing it appropriately. And because of my choice to not buy a parking pass, I'm fairly certain, now, hardly anyone ever saw me cruising in the Subaru. Which in retrospect was probably a good thing. Let's be frank: I looked like an elderly science teacher on her way to the farmer's market for some local honey and good vibes. Outbacks... Not that cool; FACT!

     One of my earliest memories in the car definitely brings to light a more angsty time in my life. A little bit of pain, a little bit of anger and a whole lot of confusion. The second half of junior year, months before I bought my trusty Subaru Outback, was a bit tasking. My girlfriend at the time had just left me (I am in no way blaming her for the following, I was just hurt is all) and I was angsty. I was sort of mad at the world. This is starting to sound like a bad Screamo song. I was just a bit confused and to compound that, I was listening to way too much Modest Mouse. So for whatever reason I decided I couldn't be friends with my closest friend, Luke, anymore. I didn't know how to cope with my emotions and I hurt my best friend, instead of going to him for a shoulder to lean on, I ghosted him. I really don't know why, to this day, that was the decision I made. I hung out with some other friends that summer and frankly it was not the same. A summer without your best bud is a summer wasted.

     I recall that on that first day of senior year, with my Subaru parked in its spot on the street, I spoke to Luke. He doesn't remember me talking to him on the day but either way, shortly after returning from summer break, I made it a point to mend our friendship. On a different day after school, probably two weeks or so after getting back, I saw Luke making his way home. He hadn't made it very far so I pulled up next him and asked if he would like a ride. He accepted my offer and the second his ass hit the vinyl seat, I knew, in my gut, things were gonna get better. The healing could really begin. 

     Band practices, trots to Philadelphia, late night diner excursions, jaunts to the cafe... Gooooood memories. But let me level with you reader, it wasn't all wide eyed and rosy cheeked fun, oh no, quite the contrary with this car! Allow me to reminisce and acquaint you with one of my favorite memories I have with the mighty Ru! 

     It was mid October 2013, the sky was clear, mostly, a cloud or two maybe. The air was warm for that time of year but still warranted jackets.That day, my boys, Luke and John, and I decided to take a little foray to the art museum down town. We all loaded into the wagon, cranked the Molly Hatchet and got rolling towards the big city, Philadelphia that is. The trip to the city was no problem, a routine drive down Route 76; heavy traffic, people driving like complete jackasses, weaving around potholes that led to China, entirely ordinary. Our time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was lovely, which was to be expected. We didn't spend too much time there that day, when the early evening light shined through the windows, we figured it was time to head out. 

     With the warm October sun just beginning to go down on our cool fall day, we departed from the art museum and made haste towards home. For whatever reason, I decided to take some peculiar back road on the opposite side of the river from Route 76, I didn't know where it would lead us, my sense of adventure pulled the three of us in. It was a reasonably narrow road with lots of bends and banks so naturally I put my foot down a bit and tried to connect some turns and enjoy the road. A quick glance at my temperature gauge showed me that my trusty Subaru's EJ22 was getting a bit hot. "No need to worry, I'll just back of the gas..." I thought to myself. Much to my relief the gauge showed the engine temperature return to a normal level, I thought all was well under the hood of the wagon. Boy, was I wrong...

     Merging onto 76 from this backroad I had taken out of the city, we ran into traffic. Normal merging traffic, nothing crazy, despite it being rush hour. Chugging along, joking with my pals I start to notice a bit of steam emanating from underneath of the hood. A glance at my temperature gauge would confirm my suspicion, the needle is making a b-line for the peg on the "HIGH" side of the gauge. I immediately pulled of onto the right hand shoulder and killed the power. John and Luke, oblivious to our imminent peril up until this point, stayed in the car as I popped the hood release latch and quickly got out of the car. Within no time at all, I was standing in a pool of my cars coolant. I cursed the Subaru as I propped up the hood to be able to get a closer look at why exactly this engine was boiling. I lowered my head down next to the very hot radiator to try to find a leak and determine how boned we were. I found it odd that there wasn't any sort of hissing or any sort of peculiar noise from anywhere around the engine bay, nothing terribly significant anyways, just the pings and crackles of a hot engine cooling down.      

     At this point, a friendly PENDOT employee appeared and offered me his services. I asked him if he had any jerry cans of water or coolant or any sort of liquid. Chicken noodle soup would have worked just fine, any liquid to help me solve the mystery as to why this engine spontaneously combusted. He obliged and handed me a jerry can of water. I quickly unscrewed the radiator cap and starting pouring water into the hot radiator (very poorly might I add, nobody had a funnel). After a few minutes, the water I had just added to the cooling system was pretty quickly exiting from beneath the car, at the outlet of the radiator. "Ah ha!" I asked the friendly PENDOT man if he had a flat head screwdriver I could use to tighten the clamp around the lip of the radiator and the hose that lead to the engine block. He scrambled to his truck and pulled out his toolbox and tossed me a long flat head screwdriver. Beginning to tighten the clamp, I quickly realized that the clamp wasn't loose because the it had backed off over time, it was loose because the outlet nozzle on the radiator had completely crumpled and collapsed from age. I knew, at this point, that my companions and I were S.O.L. 

     The friendly PENDOT man approached me and asked what could be done, I asked him for a tow. At this point he chose to not be terribly helpful and left us with only: "I'll find someone" as he swung his truck door open and sped off into traffic. I was baffled, was he coming back? Was he going to send help? Would I ever see the Phillies win another World Series? These are the things I wondered as Luke and John both exited the car to get the 4-1-1 on the situation. I filled them in on the what had just happened; they were equally as concerned as I was. This was the first time any of us had broken down somewhere without our parents. Would we see our loved ones again?! Naturally we were a bit worried. Minutes passed by as quickly as the traffic, not ten minutes after the Friendly PENDOT man had exited our lives, we spotted a flat bed truck muscling it's way through the river of cars. Could it be coming to save us from our rapidly approaching demise? The truck pulled over in front of us and out jumped a man. He seemed to take his time making his way to our car, which frankly was fine because none of us had the funds to pay this man if he was to save us. Surely, he would require payment. Every bridge has a troll toll and it must be paid! I hop out of the car to meet him at the edge of the hood, a pool of coolant still at the nose of the Subaru. "I'll take the car to the gas station, the Sunoco, right off of the next exit." he muttered in a bothered tone. "Alright sounds good!" I hollered over the roar of the motorway. I wasn't going to ask anything of this guy, we were broke. Wherever he wanted to bring the car, he could bring it. New Delhi, I didn't care, as long as we were off the motor way. He quickly loaded up the Subaru after Luke and John exited the cabin. While we watched the Subaru roll up the angled flat bed, I noticed that this truck only had a standard cab, so at most, it could safely carry three people including the driver. "But there is four of us total..." I thought to myself. Tow Truck Man had gotten the wagon fully onto his truck, strapped down tight, ready to go. "I can only take two of yous!" he exclaimed. Frankly, none of us really felt like sitting with this man in his truck. Besides that would have given Tow Truck Man ample to time to inquire about our financial situation. So we told him we'd walk to the gas station. He shrugged, got himself back in his truck and left us there on the side of Route 76. 

     Luckily, right below the roadway there are some operable railroad tracks that we decided would be safest to walk along. We hop over the guard rail and lower ourselves down from the highway through some thick bushes to the tracks below. There, our foot tour of the local area began. Concerned but almost unfazed, the three of us talked and laughed and threw rocks at billboards. Almost aimlessly, we wandered through the night, we really didn't know where this supposedly existent Sunoco was, right off of the next exit apparently! At this point I realized it would be in our best interest to have someone come and pick us up from this gas station, naturally I called my dad, who was, at that moment, not far from where we were. Luckily he picked up his phone, which to this day can be a rare thing. "Hey dad, could you come pick John, Luke and me up from a Sunoco across the river from Manyunk?" I asked him. Naturally his reply was a confused one: "Why? Is everything okay?". I gave him our situation and we forged a plan, it was a simple one too. We would walk to the gas station and somebody would come pick us up. My dad wasn't able to leave work, so he would find somebody to retrieve us from our rendezvous point. 

     Now further down the tracks, we had a reasonably large obstacle that stood in our way: The Schyulkill River. At this point, we were still on the side of the river that we needed to be on, the side with my car and the gas station where we would be picked up. But, because of the shape of the road, how the railroad tracks ran around us, and the topography of the land, we could not have made it easily to our meeting point. We had to cross the river! Luckily there was an older train bridge not too much further down the line that we could use to easily pass over the river. Scaling the hill to reach the edge of the bridge wasn't too difficult, though it was dense with vegetation of various types. Many pointy species of local flora lived under the bridge and probably still do to this day. We eventually made it to the opposite side of the bridge after hopping a couple of fences that had tried to keep us off of our one way to freedom. After what seemed to be a few hours walking, by this time the sun had gone down and it was a dark night, we found ourselves walking up a hill towards a gas station that we could only assume was the correct Sunoco. That's when we spotted the Subaru and knew we were in the right place. I wondered where the Tow Truck Man was; he was nowhere in sight. I could only assume that this man had helped us out of the kindness of his heart and not for any financial gain. What an angel! 

     I called my father back and he relayed to me that a coworker of ours was on the way to save our hides. Jordan, if you're reading this, thanks again for picking us up that night. I'm sure being asked to leave work for an hour must have really chapped your ass. We eventually made it to my father's place of work. I gave him the full run down on what had happened but thanked him again for the aid. "So we have to go fix your car, then I guess. Or get it towed to a shop." stated my father. He didn't seem to keen on working on my beloved wagon for some reason. I told him I knew what the issue was and assured him we could fix it in a jiff. He agreed that it would be an easy fix. 

     The next day my father and I acquired the necessary bits and threw the pieces we need into his trusty, green tool bag. We hadn't purchased any of the parts yet, we didn't know what we needed and we didn't want to go to the parts store twice so we made our way to the broken Subaru and made up a plan and found a place to fix it. An empty lot just up the road would suffice, it even had just enough gravel to make laying on the ground properly uncomfortable. It was perfect. I bounced into the driver's seat, looking forward to working on the car with my dad and frankly to test out my ability to wrench on the car. We quickly drove the car up the road, being careful not to run it too long without coolant, parked it, popped the hood and got work. 

     After making up a quick list for our trip to the parts store, we actually decided to look at where the nearest part store was; Norristown. From where we were Norristown was 30 minutes away. "Damn, a half hour?!" I asked my dad. That couldn't have been the closest auto parts store. NAPA, Advanced Auto Parts, O'Reily, Pep Boys, anything closer? Nothing. So, frustrated, we got into his truck and headed to the Advanced Auto Parts in downtown Norristown. Thankfully this store had everything we needed: the correct OEM radiator, the proper hoses and hose clamps that would fit properly, the works. We sped back to the broken mule and got to work, thats when I snapped this picture that is at the top of this post. My old man, dawned with white latex gloves, socket wrench in hand, mid repair on what was my first car. 

     The Mighty Subaru was never the same. A month later she got too hot again while I was driving to work for my evening shift after school on a Tuesday. All fall and winter long I dealt with that car boiling itself over and over again. My dad and I knew this thing most likely just needed new head gaskets, but it being mid winter, we sure weren't going to do that job without a garage and a source of heat. And for whatever reason, we never brought it to a shop or even got an estimate, that was a pretty poor call on our parts. In retrospect, we should have just gotten the work done, it probably would have been a 1500-2000 dollar job. Kind of pricey compared to the value of the car. I should have known that this car had not just had it's head gaskets replaced as mentioned in the craigslist ad, when the muffler fell off on my way home from ultimate frisbee practice a day or two after I bought it. I knew it had a leak but I didn't think the rust was just going to give way one day, letting half of the exhaust drag on the ground for a few blocks before I found it after parking. The poor Subaru met it's demise too early, in my opinion. She got sold to We Buy Any Car for a whatever she was worth in mid march of 2014, after a long and frustrating winter. Somedays the old wagon ran great! Other days it couldn't make it down the street and back. Was it the thermostat? Was it the headgaskets? The world may never know. All I know is that, I liked my first car, a whole lot. I didn't have it very long but I always regret the way I treated that great lump of Japanese steel. Hindsight is 20-20, ya know? 


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A brief introduction to what this blog may or may not be

Well I've been wanting to do this for many months and here I am, finally. For so long I've put this off; it's time to crack my knuckles and get some thoughts down onto some intangible, nonexistent paper. I'm also pretty sure my wife is tired of hearing me talk about cars. Oh, yeah, this a car blog; mainly. Though I'll probably talk about whatever I'd like to: movies, music, the plight of the working man --- The usual things that matter to a 24 year old, this is MY blog after all (I won't get too political, really). 

Often times I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is look at my wife and think about how very lucky I am to have someone who puts up with my constant prattling about motor vehicles, politics and why American Cheese isn't really cheese at all. And ultimately how much I really love her. That thought is quickly followed by another: how great it would be to jam a K-series into a NA miata. ITBs, Haltech ECU, full custom center-exit exhaust, I mean the works! Or how great a late second gen firebird would look if I were to slam it, throw on some ridiculous over fenders, and bolt up some really fat meats on all four corners and route the exhaust out of the sides in front of the rear wheels. My thoughts really just look like the canceled 2020 SEMA show for lack of better ability to explain. 

It's really amazes how I've come to love the automobile so much (here comes some really standard, cliche drivel about what automobiles mean to gear heads like myself and maybe yourself, please stand by): Cars are a symbol of freedom. A symbol of self expression. They have the ability to give us life, really make us feel. After all, isn't that what life is really about? Cars enable us to get out of our daily routines and experience new things, take us new places, take us to meet new people. The experiences we have IN our cars are equally as important! You find a new favorite song off of a mix CD titled "BANGERS" you found under the driver seat in the MK4 GTI you just bought off a kid with a Flyers lanyard dangling out of his pocket and a vape in his hand. The first time we get a speeding ticket. Our first kisses. Our Last kisses. 

A motor vehicle will be involved, in some capacity, in a majority of the memories we have, thats just a fact, through the ups and the downs. A vehicle of some sort brought you home from the hospital, brought home your first child, took you to your first apartment, to your first day of college. And frankly, you'll be transported to your chosen grave plot by some ghastly hearse... Sorry, too macabre? 

I digress... I could go on for pages continuing to spew cliches about how cars fill up our souls and grant us freedoms few others things can but I'll stop here. I feel this my be a good place to stop, though frankly I feel this inaugural posting is a bit short... No matter! With any luck and frankly; effort, you'll hear from me again. I'll leave you this week with this: "Quello che c'è dietro di te non ha importanza." 

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