Even cars have a
Getting Ready - Again!
Here is my desk (including the floor), on which I was planning the second part of my trip. Everything “Pond” is drying on the chairs. I learned from Jim to work on the computer standing. This is, the makeshift arrangement:
After enjoying my re-encounter with the loons and the Pond, I was back to the less spiritual parts of the trip: car hassles.
Anybody not interested in technical matters can skip straight to the last section. In contrast, if car issues, GPS and rentals are what you are searching for, keep reading.
A Misbehaving Car
Jim insisted before, and he was right, that I needed a mid-sized family car to carry everything comfortably and push up the hills. A compact won’t do. This time I was given a 2015 Corolla, a solid medium car with a good reputation.
I specifically ruled out another Chevy. Chevies give me tendonitis. It could be the effect of the huge motor and the big steering wheel on my delicate wrists, or something else, but driving a Chevy causes me constant hand pain. My Chevy in Israel was a 2000 model, and this one was a 2015, but the problem was the same. In contrast, once I got the Kia, the discomfort almost disappeared. When I switched my Israeli Chevy to the Seat, the problem was gone. Theory scientifically proved!
I believe our bodies are not built to do the same repetetive movement over and over, or to stay in the same positions for too long. That applies to driving, typing, sitting, moving products at the supermarket checkout or pretty much any kind of job. The human body is built for variation and flexibility. If repetetive movements, as in driving, are done under sub-optimal conditions, then joint problems arise.
The Corolla had only one power outlet, into which I could attach the multi- socket splitter Jim lent me. Fortunately there was a USB port in the car as well. From experience I knew one outlet might not carry the necessary power to charge several gadgets, but I’ll make do and set my priorities.
After getting a GPS at the local Walmart , we were ready to go home. As the car came empty, I filled it up, and set the phone to charge. Unfortunately, the power outlet for the phone stopped working after a few minutes. Jim tried every possible combo of cables, phones, outlets and cars and came to the conclusion it was the fuse. Showing impressive know-how, he located the fuse box in the car, found the appropriate type and changed it. It worked for a while, but then burnt again, and again. This time he used a fuse from his own car. When this one also mis-functioned, it was clear the car would have to go back to the shop.
I was lucky on my first trip to get a pre-installed GPS with the car. The rules were that if I did not request it, but it was already installed, I could use it. This time I wasn’t as lucky. Since I asked specifically to not have a Chevy again, there was a risk of not getting this helpful gadget.
The Chevy GPS, working directly through satellite, delivered service most of the time. It worked pretty well as long as I didn’t ask it to find non-mainstream locations like parks or campgrounds.
Annoyingly, it seemed to work best only when I punched in an exact address. Even then, though, the machine would sometimes leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere, announcing: “You have reached your destination”. When on the lookout for Gros Morne, NL, she “found my destination” on a dark uphill raod at night with nobody in sight.
Another annoying feature of the GPS was limiting the letters to choose from when I punched in names of streets or cities. In contrast, Google Maps, or Waze, would fill in a request from a few key words and correct spelling mistakes. Furthermore, they register most campgrounds, small businesses and sometimes even trailheads!!!
The catch was that the phone did not work most of the time, especially in Canada… Even though I paid a full package on AT&T, more often than not I had no reception. Learning from experience that an independent car GPS can be crucial in keeping me on track and out of trouble, we went to the adjacent Walmart and bought a nice medium-sized $100 Magellan. It advertised being Canada-friendly and connected through the cigarette lighter and the Bluetooth.
A Misbehaving Card
Since the socket did not work, we called Hertz and they promised to get us another car. They weren’t sure what they could provide, but promised to find something. I was ready to compromise even on the Chevy, but she was already in the shop for her service.
Adding to my troubles, the very helpful representative informed us in a sorrowful tone that my card did not pass. He tried several ways, to no avail. No card, no car insurance. No car insurance, no trip. It took about half an hour of anguishing over.
In the end, we figured out that I did not execute my last payment. I checked the card website a while before and it said zero balance, but that was now irrlevant. The charge only “kicked in” following Labor Day, that is after the trip was over, and therefore I wasn’t aware of it. In addition, I now found out that my card did not allow debt exceeding $1500, and I already had about a $1000 in the red. The month’s rental was due for $610, a super deal, but caused me to exceed my credit limit…
Trying to pay online did not work. Surprisingly, by calling Visa they agreed to increase my credit by the $610 required. Unfortunately, that did not help either, because a few minutes later I was informed I needed an additional $200 for a deposit, that could not be paid in cash. We called the company again and Lady Luck smiled on me one more time. They consented to extend my ceiling to the required amount…
Renewing a Friendship
As things worked out, I was grounded with the Toyota until the next day, and so I met Jim’s friend, who was coming to the Pond right “on my tail”. We soon discovered that we actually knew each other from way back in NM. She used to babysit my kids…
Soon after, both of us, water lovers, plunged into the lake together for a swim. I swam two thirds of the distance to the island, but she was swimming with her Labrador near the shore. Then we went kayaking with the dog in the water.
Later, we all settled for a hearty dinner Jim prepared from leftovers, and talked about my kids and South America. She mentioned the grandmothers of the Cinco de Mayo and the monument for the Desaparecidos in Bueno Aires. Strikingly, in Costa Rica she followed some recommendations I gave her 20 years before… One never knows one’s effect on others, as we go through our lives.
S. also visited Israel, stayed on a kibbutz and loved it. She was disappointed with the antisemitism on American campuses and the anti-Israelism in the Black Lives Matter movement. That hurt her in particular because “We, Jews, were so prominent in the fight for civil rights”. I told her I wasn’t surprised. I already knew how Israeli and Jewish history and politics are being intentionally distorted by various hate groups world-round.
It was fun and cozy to sit with both of them on the living-room couch and converse. Camaraderie was easily created and it was pleasant and homey as the night was setting in. The two of us slept upstairs, me on the double bed, she on the single with the partition between us, like Jim and his sister when they were children.
Even Cars have a Soul
The next day I made sure everything was packed back on the Corolla, then I and S. had a good hug. We took each other’s pictures, and eventually me and Jim drove back to the Hertz office in Sanford. He must have been tired of seeing that office on my behalf again, but did not show it, gracious him. In the parking lot, when we arrived, we saw a cute, bright, yellow, square mini jeep that made both of us smile and say: “No, that can’t be it. It’s for somebody else…” . But…it was! Kia Soul, cool car, cool name.
In Israel, upon return, I searched far and wide for a Soul, but they were hard to find, and when found, expensive. For new ones, the price was totally prohibitive, and even used ones were expensive. Oddly, most of the ones I found were in the northern part of the country, or sold to handicapped folks. I saw double-colored Souls which were especially cute and esthetic. But, some things you only covet from a distance…
For the time being here in America, this was my new car, ready to go. We quickly transferred all my boxes and suitcases, gadgets and cables from the Toyota to the Kia, flattening the back seats. At first, the space did not seem large enough to accommodate all the stuff, but in the end, everything fell into place.The idea is to use the vertical space in the trunk, take advantage of the height. Everything about Soul was vertical. It allowed for a lot of room above the head and gave a feeling of spaciousness, even though it was basically fairly small.
I fell in love immediately. In particular I loved the bright color, so helpful in locating a rented car parked in unknown cities or somewhere in the wilderness. Thanks to the bright color there was no need to hang a flag on the (non-existing) antenna.
My Lucky Day
That day, everything was easy. Here is your key, here are the new papers, turn in the ignition and be free to go. The cruise control, in particular, was a breeze to master, everything was easy to operate and intuitive. Tendonitis and leg pains passed overtime. Everything worked great – there was ample leg space and an easy steering wheel to maneuver. It was a new experience to be a bit higher than most other cars on the road. There was a lot of space for gloves, drinks, gadgets. The car climbed hills without feeling the effort, drove on dirt and tricky lanes without complaining. A joyful experience with a bit of Soul. Live and learn, and my opinion of Korean cars, admittedly based on nothing but prejudice, was greatly improved.
And now onwards to the mysterious White Mountains!!!