Make Room For Big Blue – Ode To The Exploder

Yesterday my husband (and I guess, technically, our 2 kids) did something we have never done together. We bought a new car. Ryan and I have been married for almost 8 years and yet, we were still driving the same cars that we had right after we met. We had a ’98 Ford Explorer and a ’01 Honda Civic. We weren’t on each other’s titles, although we both probably paid equally for each car.
Initially, I really liked the Explorer. We lived in Iowa at the time and it had 4WD so driving in the winter was a piece of cake. Shortly after Ryan got his SUV, and we were still in that love sick, gaggy, farts are funny stage of our relationship, we did a little off-roading in his neighbor’s snowbanks. I sat in the passenger seat giggling with delight. We were 24 years old and stupid, but it’s one of the first memories I have of being in that SUV.
Ryan and I got married in 2003 and made the decision to move to San Diego. We thought it would be best if we sold the Explorer and use the money to get established in California since neither of us had a job waiting for us. We cleaned Bessie up and got her ready to sell, but decided against it after realizing we wouldn’t have much left once the loan was paid off. Instead, we packed her full with some priceless wedding gifts, threw our cat, Shmoopy, somewhere in the middle and made our way West.
This is where my feelings about the Explorer started to change. We were living in one of the most expensive places in the country, filling up the gas tank was outrageous and we didn’t have jobs. Instead of blaming myself for my lack of planning, I chose to take it out on Bessie. Eventually, we did get jobs and a few years after that; we discovered we were expecting our first child. It was about 7 months into my pregnancy that I started struggling to get in and out of my Civic. It’s a manual transmission and my growing belly was making it difficult to step on the clutch. Ryan and I switched cars so I wouldn’t have to “fall” into the low riding Civic and once again my feelings started to change.
I started to not only like Bessie, but really love her. Slowly, Ryan’s car was turning into my car and my car was turning into his. Our little girl was born and she came home in the Explorer. A few months after Kamryn was born, we decided to move back to Iowa and we again struggled with selling the Explorer. We had just paid it off 3 months prior, and having the extra money in our account each month was going to be hard to give up. We decided to drop a few bucks into Bessie and hang on to her.
Fast forward a couple more years and baby #2 is on the way. Bessie was still my car, and got a lot of much needed rest since I was working from home the first 2 years we lived in Iowa. I quit working completely when I was 6 months pregnant. In March of 2009, we had our little boy and he too, road home in Bessie.
Sometime during the past 5 years or so, Bessie’s name changed from Bessie, to The Exploder. She’s a beast. Things were starting to break – little things like the side mirror or the fold down cup holder in the back, but she was starting to show her age. We talked about buying something, but just couldn’t justify the expense since I didn’t actually drive that often or very far.
In July of 2010, Shmoopy took his last ride in The Exploder. Shmoopy had been sick for months and was so miserable that it was time to put him down. I cried the whole way there and the entire way home, but found some comfort in the worn fabric of the driver’s seat that I had been sitting in for years. I was sad, but old Bessie was standing strong. And again, in less than 6 months, she would be heading back West to San Diego.
She’s been a good car and she’s taken care of me and my family for the last 10 ½ years. She has moved our family ½ way across the country…twice. She has safely transported both of my newborn babies home from the hospital and was extra protective when I wasn’t on one of those trips. She’s been reliable with little intervention from us and has been a source of amazement by our friends that she was still around. Yet, today, we bid her farewell. With 153,000 miles, she was traded in for a measly $650 and we introduced Big Blue to our family. Big Blue, is just that…big and blue, but she has even bigger wheels to fill.
Kamryn and Rory waiting for  Big Blue
Ryan humoring my request for a last picture with Bessie