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They say, “Vote early, vote often.” I did.

October 25, 2006, 5:56 PM

Today, I spent about an hour at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, doing a bit of business with the local government, getting everything all squared away with everyone.

My goal was twofold. First of all, I was going to take care of the taxes on the Sable, and find out what the deal was with a $3.00-and-change late fee that was attached to the tax bill. It turns out that the late fee is related to a form that the county sends you at the first of the year. What they’re doing there is checking to make sure that you have the same vehicles that you had the last time you paid up. I did nothing with that form at the first of the year. I think I either trashed it, or it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere. Either way, it seems that the 39-cent price of a stamp is well worth it if it saves me from having to pay more than seven times the amount in a late fee.

And then I also paid my personal property taxes on the Sable and bought a new county sticker. For 2007, the county stickers are orange. This is a change from the dark red 2005 sticker and the blue 2006 sticker. Since the old 2006 sticker was already loose in spots due to its being transferred to the new windshield in September, I just pulled it off with my hand, and affixed the new sticker. Bingo bango done.

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And here it is…

September 29, 2006, 4:11 PM

As you can see, the Sable is BACK!

Sable following repairs

The new grille is in place, and the dents have all been repaired. I am whole again.

Categories: Mercury Sable

The Sable is BACK!

September 29, 2006, 12:12 AM

The Sable has returned, and now it’s got a brand new grille, a new windshield, and all the dents from the deer accident have been repaired. So basically, it’s good as new. And I also still have the original grille.

The only major difference is in the windshield. The original windshield was plain all the way up. On the other hand, the new windshield is tinted blue at the very top.

They also detailed the whole car in and out, so it’s looking just gorgeous. We’ll see how long that lasts, but I’m going to make it last as long as possible.

And of course, I’m out of Sis’s car again. Trust me, once one takes a ride in my Sable, and especially once one has become accustomed to it, it’s hard to go anywhere else. I’ve come to enjoy my leather seats, and I also have more legroom in the Sable.

As you can tell, and as if the present photo feature wasn’t a BIG hint, I’m so glad that the Sable’s in one piece again.

Categories: Mercury Sable

I cleaned it. It makes a BIG difference!

September 25, 2006, 1:55 PM

First, though, I came to the realization that I’ve not shown you what I’m driving for this week. Here’s Sis’s car, a gray 1997 Mitsubishi Galant:

Sis's Mitsubishi Galant

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Categories: Car

I drove it, and…

September 25, 2006, 6:53 AM

This is going to be an interesting week. I drove Sis’s car to Eavers Tire and back so Dad could drop off the truck for an inspection. The benefit to this trip is that at least we got one potentially-unpleasant thing out of the way: The first start. It hadn’t been started since mid-August, and so it took its time getting started this morning. But once it got going, great. The ride to Eavers Tire still was like an orientation trip to me, since the last time I drove Sis’s car was a year ago on a trip to Blacksburg.

The things that are the most unusual to me on her car are the back wiper (there is none), and the switch for the front wiper (on the right, vs. on the left in the Sable). Then I also still have to figure out what the proper position for me is in this car. I have long legs, and so in some cars, the “fit” is wrong. This is one of those “wrong fit” cars, because in order to get proper leg room, I’m a mile away from the steering wheel. If I want a good distance from the wheel, I have to drive with my knees in the dashboard. Oh, by the way, Mom’s Sienna is the same way as Sis’s car, where my choice is between knees-in-the-dash or reach-for-the-wheel. The Sable is a good fit for me, and so was the Previa.

Then one must clean it out, which is the name of the game today, once it warms up a little outside.

Categories: Car

The Sable is now at Whitesell’s for repairs…

September 25, 2006, 3:31 AM

With the Sable at Whitesell’s getting the dents taken out and a new grille and windshield installed, I’m going to be driving Sis’s car, a 1997 Mitsubishi Galant. This would be one that I’m going to have to get a shovel to make presentable.

Let’s put it this way: Dad described the Previa that I used to drive as a “dumpster”. I did, however, defend it there. It had its faults, but it was still a good car, albeit very well-loved. And it wasn’t the cleanest. On the other hand, Sis’s car is “worse than a dumpster”. All I know is that in being off work on Monday, I’m taking a garbage bag to that car and cleaning out the… well… garbage… from the interior of the car.

It’s going to be weird driving another car this week. Though I can’t wait to see the Sable restored to its proper look again. Plus they’re detailing the whole thing…

Categories: Mercury Sable

One windshield, added to the list of things to do.

September 18, 2006, 8:45 PM

So let’s officially add a windshield to the list of things to work on while I’m in the shop. I also finally got the insurance check from the deer accident resolved, and it’s now in the bank and waiting to be paid to Whitesell’s when the work’s all done. The Sable’s going to be out of service for a week. It’s going in next Monday night, and returning on Thursday or Friday.

And meanwhile, I’m going to DC this Wednesday instead of next Wednesday. It’s confirmed: Dad won’t let me take Sis’s car to Washington in the week that the work is going on, and so I’ll be taking the DC trip a week early, and doing it in the Sable. This means that DC will see my car with its dents and missing grille one more time, as well as that brand new crack in the windshield that happened yesterday. Of course, this means that there will be a longer gap between DC trips than I’d prefer. One week between this and the last one, and then three weeks until the next one.

Needless to say, I’m going to be climbing the walls by the time October 11 (estimated date of next scheduled DC trip) rolls around unless I double-dip (meaning that I take an extra non-scheduled trip), which is possible.

Categories: Mercury Sable

Add “windshield” to the list of things to fix next week…

September 17, 2006, 11:17 PM

It seems that when it rains, it pours, as I had another incident in the Sable on my way up to Harrisonburg today. This time, I got a nasty crack in my windshield. I was driving up I-81, and a rock flew up and hit my windshield in the extreme upper left corner from my perspective. Since it was so extreme of a corner that it was actually on the black, I thought at the time that I’d gotten away unscathed, since I didn’t see any damage from my vantage point in the driver’s seat.

The purpose of my trip to Harrisonburg was to visit the Rocktown Infoshop, which is a left-wing bookstore on Elizabeth Street in downtown Harrisonburg similar to the Brian MacKenzie Infoshop in DC. I parked along Court Square in Harrisonburg, and walked the block or so to Rocktown Infoshop.

Rocktown Infoshop is a neat place. Besides a small selection of books (they aspire to have as much as DC’s Infoshop), they also have locally-made crafts, a free store where you can donate items and also take what you wish at no cost, and a place to sit and relax. The space is larger than DC’s Infoshop, and unlike the Infoshop in DC, Rocktown Infoshop is at street level, and therefore has a good storefront. Recall that in DC, the Infoshop is in the basement of the Flemming Center, and as such has a narrow set of stairs to access its outside entrance, and has no street-level storefront to speak of.

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Categories: Driving, Mercury Sable

The Sable reports for repairs on September 25…

August 28, 2006, 9:27 PM

Yes, on September 25, I will finally get a grille again. For that matter, starting that day, I will no longer have a sizable dent on my right fender. And while I’m out a car, I will be driving Sis’s car, which is a gray 1997 Mitsubishi Galant.

I’m going to miss my Sable dearly during that time, but I know that it’s going to be made good as new during that time period. No longer will I be driving around looking like I had a head-on collision with a deer, despite how fortunate I was that the car was still drivable after that deer incident. So I’m going to be pleased with that.

And it’s given me a whole new respect for the wildlife that lives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and to take it even more slowly up there than I was going when the accident happened. When the accident happened, I was only going 40, five below the posted speed limit of 45 mph.

So with my driving Sis’s car while the Sable’s in the shop, I’m going to have to make a few adjustments to that car before the time of need arrives. Specifically, Sis left that car in a mess when she went to Virginia Tech. There’s all sorts of trash and other debris in the floor, in the front seats, and in the back seats. As a point of comparison, the Sable’s relatively clean, with only a little bit of tracked-in debris in the driver’s side floor area. So I’m going to be doing Sis a big favor and taking some time to completely clean her car out. Since I’m not driving in that kind of mess. No way.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Should we call it “close encounters of the deered kind”?

August 24, 2006, 3:18 AM

The Blue Ridge Parkway is very quickly becoming a dangerous place for the Sable. And before you ask, no, I did not hit another deer (thank goodness). But I did have a close encounter near the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook. This deer was along the side of the road, minding its own business. I kept an eye on it as soon as I spotted it, waiting for it to make a move. It sees me. It did that deer-in-the-headlights thing. Then, as I continued, it just darted out in front of me. I slammed the brakes, enough to activate the anti-lock brakes. It was a close encounter, but we missed each other.

I contemplated adding deer whistles to the Sable after the repairs are completed, but according to this article, this article, and this article, they’re junk. So that goes out the window.

I don’t know what it is, but it seems that the deer are really out and about this year. I didn’t see nearly as many deer on the Parkway this time last year.

“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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