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“So who gets the deer: me or the dog?”

August 15, 2006, 1:08 AM

I am sad to announce that my Sable got into its first accident tonight on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I hit a deer. I was going southbound at 40 mph (five below the posted speed limit of 45), and two deer darted out in front of me closely enough that I didn’t have time to stop or swerve. I barely cleared the first one, and then I nailed the second one head-on in the body. That deer bounced off the front of the car, and then rolled stiff-legged off the road and landed in the grass. It looked as if it was one-piece construction and not a real deer, because no parts of the body moved – the whole thing just rolled off, appearing completely rigid. I don’t know what happened to it from there, because I couldn’t stop right there due to lack of available shoulder space. The rule is that if you stop on the Parkway, you have to have all four wheels off the road. I was able to accomplish this about a quarter mile down the road.

Thankfully, the Sable survived intact for the most part. The deer left a big dent in the right fender, left a dent in the hood, and jarred the grille loose, but the car was driveable, and both headlights survived intact. I was not injured at all, though I can’t say the same for the deer. I guess the best way to describe the Sable’s post-deer condition is “walking wounded”, since it walked away from the accident, but didn’t make it out unscathed.

I initially tried to call 1-800-PARKWATCH (Blue Ridge Parkway emergency dispatch) from the accident scene, but got no signal. So I drove up to the nearby Boston Knob overlook, and after two tries, I got a good signal, and reported the accident. They got my contact information, and said that a ranger would call me and do the accident report over the phone.

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Six months of Sable…

August 9, 2006, 12:37 PM

Today is August 9, which means that today marks exactly six months since I bought the Sable and retired the Previa. I didn’t realize that it had been that long. Six months ago today, I drove the Previa on its last trip – a trip from which it would not return. That was after a trip to Roanoke the day before where I met up with a friend and had a great time with that friend on what could best be described as the Previa’s ceremonial “farewell” trip. And then on the way home from that trip, the air vents stopped working. But with only about 45 miles to go, I didn’t really care.

But yeah, six months with the Sable. What a wonderful car, too. And that means it’s only four and a half more years until it’s paid for.

Categories: Mercury Sable

Some people have no consideration…

May 22, 2006, 10:13 PM

I can’t believe what happened today after work at the gas station in front of Martin’s. I was waiting in line for the pump, and this old man in a white Honda Accord went forward out of the pumps and rammed me.

Why was forward a bad move? It’s because I was already occupying that position and his clear space was behind him. My gas tank is on the right, and so I sometimes have to make some odd maneuvers.

So this man didn’t even think to look behind him for the clear area to leave. Instead, he tried to go forward past me in a very tight maneuver that he didn’t have the room to make. So in going out, he hit my Sable. In the end, he left some paint from his car on my front bumper, and a small scratch on my car.

Here’s what happened:

Scratch on the Sable's front bumper

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Meanwhile, we find out how smart the Sable truly is…

April 27, 2006, 5:54 PM

First of all, to set our story, Katie and I got together on Monday evening for what will likely be the last time in quite some time, since Katie moved to upstate New York this past Tuesday.

After we spent some time at her house with her mother, we went out for a bit. First, we went to Staunton Mall, then to the Staunton Wal-Mart, then finally to Sheetz in Fishersville.

Leaving Staunton Mall, however, Katie got to see my Sable perform. One was one that I expected, and the other I didn’t expect. The expected one was my “automatic car finder”. That would involve walking in the general direction of my car and hitting “panic” on the remote. That lights the lights and sounds the horn, so I can quickly zero in on the car.

Then the other thing was one neither one of us expected. Katie didn’t buckle her seat belt coming out of the mall, and I hadn’t noticed. Usually I remind people to buckle their seat belt before we take off, but this time I forgot. Well, before we’d even left the parking lot, all of a sudden the car’s chime goes off, and the seat belt starts flashing. The car not only detected that Katie was in the seat, but it also realized she wasn’t buckled up. Smart car! The alarm stopped once Katie buckled her seat belt.

I thought it was hilarious, though Katie wasn’t as amused as I was about the car’s ratting her out about her seat belt.

Categories: Katie, Mercury Sable

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful place for a drive, provided you have the time.

April 19, 2006, 11:31 PM

On Tuesday morning, I made a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Roanoke. What a wonderful ride. The time in Roanoke was rather uneventful, but the ride down was awesome.

First of all, I took I-81 down to Lexington. This bypassed the section of the Parkway that I take more frequently, and allowed me to start on the Parkway with virgin territory. Thus I started at the Parkway’s intersection with US 60 and headed south.

I also got to drive through a fog-shrouded Lexington and Buena Vista. My April 19 photo feature illustrated this fog quite well. It was clear on the mountain, but quite foggy down in the valley below.

This was a fun photo trip, too. I photographed all kinds of things both on the Parkway itself, and off of the overlooks. I went through a tunnel, I viewed Otter Lake for the first time, crossed the Harry Flood Byrd Memorial Bridge, stopped at Peaks of Otter Lodge, and kept on photographing.

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I will not conduct my own fire drills…

February 19, 2006, 9:51 PM

I went to Martin’s with my friend Katie on Friday, and we had a blast. The thing I noticed first off, though, was in the right-side vestibule. Notice anything wrong with this photo of the fire alarm annunciator?

Notice anything wrong with this photo of the fire alarm annunciator?

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The magic number is $64.95…

February 15, 2006, 4:01 AM

$64.95. That’s the magic number to get the Ford dealership to start the process of making new keys for my car. See, I have programmed “smart” keys for the Sable, and so I can’t just go get a key cut. One person I spoke with said I’d need to go to the dealership, and “bring your checkbook.” He wasn’t kidding. And the $64.95 is just to hook up their computer. The keys are $18-something on top of that.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the car to Washington for the first time today, and that ought to be fun. With a new car in hand, I get to enjoy such comforts again that had stopped working long ago on the old car such as cruise control and a radio. I will actually be able to listen to NPR on the way up now. I’m tickled.

This trip will also help determine whether or not I’m going to let people (and by “people” I really mean “me”) eat in the Sable. Having drinks is okay, as I have been having my regular soda every day on the way to work. Still, I used to eat in the van, usually on my trips to Washington. The question becomes whether I am still going to do that, or whether I’m going to, like, eat the food at Sheetz. The Sheetz I go to in the mornings is a truck stop-style store, so there’s a large eating area in there.

This will also be my last Wednesday trip to DC for the foreseeable future, as it seems work is changing my days off, and so future DC trips will need to be taken on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Then April 22 is the date of the Spring 2006 meeting of the World Bank, and so there will be a Saturday trip in there for that demonstration (call it A22?).

Anyway, though, there you go. See you later on…

I’ve had this car for two days, and I’ve already taken it in the snow…

February 11, 2006, 6:47 PM

Funny how things work out sometimes. I’ve only had the Sable for two days, and we’ve already bonded in a way that can only occur when you’re driving home from work in the snow. It snowed today, you see. And with my still not being completely used to the car, I took it out in the snow. And we made it out and back in one piece.

And let me tell you… the Sable seems to handle better in the snow than the Previa. I’m thinking it’s because it’s front-wheel drive (the Previa was rear-wheel drive), plus it’s closer to the ground. The Sable is also a breeze to clean snow off of, too. It’s because it’s not so tall. Not so much reaching to do there, compared to the Previa, which was a full head taller.

Now tomorrow is going to be really fun, though, as I have to drive through all the snow in the morning, in the dark.

The Previa has come to the end of the road, and is now officially retired.

February 9, 2006, 7:56 PM

It’s really something to see, but my old Previa is now officially a part of automotive history. The final mileage on that car was 275,275 (funny how it came out like that).

And the car was very much on its last legs, too. It failed its last inspection due to brakes, an exhaust leak, a crack in the windshield, a sticky door handle, and a few other odds and ends. Besides that, a number of other components went over time. The radio died in 1999. The sunroof, which was originally motorized, stopped working in 2001 or so. There was a strange dent near the driver’s side door that made a cracking sound when it opened. The air conditioner was on its last legs in 2002, barely cooling the air, and then was gone completely for 2003. The driver’s side window started having trouble coming back up if it was lowered all the way down starting in 2003. In 2005, something hit my windshield (probably a rock), causing a crack that proceeded to grow quite a bit. In addition, the heater stopped working in October. You may recall that I discussed having no heat here, discussed getting it fixed here, and actually got it fixed here. That was one problem I couldn’t stand and thus had to have fixed.

Then in 2006, the brake light came on and stayed on while I was trying to park at the Vienna Metro station on my January 18 trip to DC, accompanied by the brake pedal going much further down than it used to before coming to a stop. That was scary at first, but a number of test-brakings confirmed that it was still drivable, and got comfortable handling this. The interior manual lock switch on the driver’s side door also broke that day as well. I got the car inspected the next day and it failed as expected. Dad and I determined that the cost was prohibitive, and I went car shopping. Then in the last month, on my most recent DC trip (February 1), the interior power lock switch stopped working to lock the doors. It would, however, unlock. So this meant that I had to lock the door with the keys. The plus to that, though, is that it was impossible to lock my keys in the car. And lastly, as I mentioned here, the air blowers stopped working on the way home from the car’s final trip before retirement.

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“When sitting in the new Previa, I start to feel like… like… like an ace pilot…”

February 6, 2006, 9:34 PM

The title of this Journal entry comes from Toyota’s promotional video for the 1991 Previa. I think that it’s a fitting way to begin a tribute to a vehicle that’s played such a significant part of my life:

My 1991 Toyota Previa

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