OK, I know it's been a while. But here it is! My first decent blog posting in too many days.
For this post, we will take you back to the year of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. It was a dark time in commercial aviation, and there was lots of uncertainty about my company's future. As it turned out, my old airline did end up going out of business, a little bit over a year after 9/11. So what did I do to counteract the gloom? Make an expensive purchase, of course! I bought a new car.
In my defense, my old car was definitely showing signs of age, and I got a very good deal on the new car. It was a limited edition model Mazda MP3, so named because it was the first car sold that included a stereo that would play MP3-encoded CDs. I am still driving it today. Basically it's just a fancy Mazda Protege, though. Later year models were called Mazda ProtegeSpeed, possibly to avoid confusion with their minivan, the Mazda MVP.
The car wasn't that expensive, but since it was a limited edition model and popular, dealers were charging more than the sticker price just because they could get away with it. However, via use of the internet, I found an almost-new car for about $1000 under the sticker price. The original owner had busted his leg in a motorcycle accident and no longer wanted a car with a manual transmission, so he traded it in after about 1000 miles.
The only catch was that I was living in Las Vegas, and the car was in Blacksburg, Virginia. Being the aviation employee that I am, though, and by doing shift swaps to arrange for a long stretch of days off, I was able to fly back east and pick up my new car. I spent the first night of my drive back with some old friends of the family in Kentucky, and the second night near Chicago, at my sister Susan's house.
If it seems like I went out of the way on my drive back, it's true! But Chicago is where Route 66 started, and I wanted to attempt to retrace that route on my drive home...and while I didn't have enough time to thoroughly retrace the old highway, I drove on portions of it in every state except California. Later on, I finished the journey and drove from Las Vegas down to Kingman and then all the way to Santa Monica.
My sister and her husband, Mike, liked my new car, as did my nephews, Cory and Chase. However, the first day I was there, I was unable to properly demonstrate the stereo system to my nephews. And, of course, by "properly," I mean "loudly." Fortunately, they were both in the same school that year (8th and 6th grade, respectively) so I was able to give them a ride to school Monday morning and a proper stereo demonstration at the same time.
As soon as we pulled out of their driveway, I popped in a CD I had brought with me for the trip, Rammstein's Sehnsucht, and turned up the volume. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, I can best describe it as German Heavy Metal music. To make the drive to school a little longer, since we were only a couple blocks away, I drove around their block once while blasting the music. Both my nephews seemed to enjoy the music, although they hadn't heard of the band before.
"IS THIS GERMAN?" shouted my oldest nephew, Cory, about halfway through the first song I played, Du Hast, and I nodded in reply. During a break between songs, he said, "Oh, roll your windows down when you drop us off!" I figured what the heck, I don't live here...but we ended up pulling up to the school as the second song ended, so we weren't able to blast his classmates quite as loudly as he'd been hoping. I then went back to my sister's place to pack up and head out on my first day of the "Route 66" journey.
This was one of those times where it was really fun to be an uncle. I don't know if I'll ever have kids, but if I do, I think I'll feel the need to be more responsible and "adult" acting, and blasting the stereo while driving them to school would be something I probably won't do. As an uncle, though, I get to occasionally act immature, and have more fun than I would as a responsible adult.
Here's what the car looks like today. I think it still looks pretty good.