Walden Gets a Baby Brother

One day in February, tired of feeling limited by Utah’s slippery roads, I decided that Walden really needed snow tires. The mid-1980s Vanagons have a rather odd size tire that can be hard to find. I phoned a number of tire places, did research on the internet, and finally decided that I would just drive up Main Street, stop at every tire place, see what they had to offer and get whatever seemed best.

As I was making the rounds, I found myself pulled into a used car dealership. I walked in, asked the Used Car Salesman if he had any Subarus for about $5000. It turned out that they had some Subarus, and some cars that cost about $5000, but nothing that met both of those criteria. The next thing I knew I was sitting in a 2002 Subaru Outback. As I did the test drive, I noticed that it had a few things that Walden did not. It could accelerate from zero to fifty in well under a minute. It had a functional heater blower. It had all wheel drive. It had windows that would raise and lower at the touch of a button. It had a functional heater blower. It had locks that would lock and unlock at the touch of a button, there was even a button that would do that from outside of the car. It was like magic. It had a functional heater blower.

It was cold, so very cold. I checked Kelly Blue Book to see that the value was in line with someone else’s reality. It was. I checked with a friend to see that my desire to buy are car instead of snow tires was in line with someone else’s reality. It was. I wrote a check. I drove home in a car with a functional heater blower. It was warm. I even had to turn the heat down. The next day I got Walden back home and figured out how to fit Walden and his new brother, Blue, in the driveway.

Walden and Blue

On Blue’s first trip to The Beav, I played guitar where I got $45 in tips plus a lift ticket. As I was rolling out of the parking lot I touched the brakes and noticed that not only did I not slow down, but also I was going so slowly that the anti-lock brakes were unaware that we were sliding. There was a truck not far in front of me. I honked, hoping that he would move out of the way so that I would not hit him. He remained in place. I tried to pull up parallel to him. I had some success, but started to turn sideways. I considered opening the door and sticking my foot out, Flintstone’s style. I decided that my snow boots probably would not be any more effective than Blue’s four tires. By this time I was perpendicular to the truck and still moving. Finally my rear bumper struck the side of his truck and I came to a stop. I was happy that I had remembered to purchase insurance the day before, which was two days after I had purchased the car.

I am not much of a numerologist, when Blue’s license place arrived, I was pleased to see that his new license place was pronounceable. It would have been creepy if I had chosen it myself, but for weeks it made me giggle every time I approached the car. I still snicker every now and then.

Similarly, I am not a huge fan of putting stickers on my car, but along the way a few have seemed worthy of a place on the back window, especially since part of it is obscured by the cabinetry in the back anyway. Blue has not (yet?) been to 30A, but he did get a Beaver sticker.


Though having a car with heat and snow tires was darned handy for the first quarter of this year, it puts a significant limit on my mobility. Sure, I could still have everything out of the house in, say, an hour or more, but neither vehicle has the means or wherewithal to tow the other.

Things are getting more complicated. I have a storage unit in Knoxville, a couple guitars and robotic floor cleaners in Birmingham, a desktop computer in Santa Rosa Beach, and, if I were to drive Walden out of here, a Subaru filled with ski equipment and three day passes * to Beaver Mountain, in Logan, Utah.

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