The adventure of car shopping forced on me

Amongst our friends and family, my husband Mike and I are well-known for keeping our family cars for a long time.

It all started with the 1970 Buick Skylark that Mike bought new for $2,700 cash when he got out of the Army. That served us quite well until the little Barkstroms started showing up and we moved on to a 1978 Volvo station wagon. Then it was the 1988 Dodge minivan (the soccer mom vehicle). Many a mud-soaked kid climbed into that one after games at Franklin Field, Pioneer Park, Lions Park in Central Park, etc.

Then in 2004 our CPA told us we should really take advantage of an IRS tax write-off that was available if we purchased a new vehicle for our business (Quizno’s) as long as the rig weighed more than 4,500 pounds. We did some quick looking around and found a 2004 Buick Rainier that I immediately fell in love with. It was high off the ground, could easily do a U-turn on the street in front of our house, was solidly built, had lots of room for five adults and plenty of cargo space in the back. What a great deal.

And then suddenly it was 2023 and the Buick, as well as the Barkstroms, had seen better years. Reality hit us. We had to consider getting a new car.

There was no way I wanted to get rid of my Buick. It had only 150,000 miles on it but bit by bit it was falling apart.

Last year we lost the radiator while driving on the Interstate 5 northbound express lanes in Seattle on a Friday afternoon. It took four hours for the tow truck to reach us and pull the car and us to the repair shop near our daughter’s home in Maple Valley. Then a couple of months later, the transmission linkage decided to lock up and we were stuck in one of those multi-level parking garages in downtown Seattle. Another hours-long wait for a tow truck.

There was a good possibility that the Buick still had several years of life left, but being the worrier (pessimist) that I am, I was not looking forward to our next trip up north and wondering if we’d make it up there and back without calling a tow truck.

So Mike and I went new car shopping — first to the local dealers and then on to Olympia to try out some models that were not available here on the Harbor. We test drove Fords, Hondas, Buicks, Dodges, Subarus, Toyotas, Chevies.

After dealing with several rather pushy (and condescending) sales people in Olympia, Mike and I knew without a doubt we wanted to buy the vehicle here on the Harbor.

The question now was which vehicle? There were so many to choose from. The list of “must haves” wasn’t too long — we wanted a new vehicle, not as big as Mike’s Chevy Silverado (it had to be short enough to fit in the garage), easy to get our not-so-limber bodies in and out of, and a rig that did not have a lot of do-dads.

We had been very impressed with Justin at Five Star Dealership when we worked with him a couple of weeks before. He was patient and took time to explain the differences in all the vehicles we looked at, so we decided to go back there and see if he had any new options for us. And he did — a Chevy Blazer. He hadn’t showed it to us before ‘cause we really thought we wanted a mid-sized SUV and this one was a tad bit smaller than what we had been looking. But on second thought he realized it might be perfect for us.

We drove the Chevy Blazer out to Central Park and back and with no hesitation decided our searching was over. Solid, comfortable ride, fit in the garage with a little room to spare and the price was right.

As we drove the car off the lot, I said to Mike, “Hey, Hon, do you realize this is probably the last new car we’ll ever buy?” He looked at me quizzically and said, “What do you mean?”

I smiled and replied, “By the time the Blazer starts wearing out, we’ll both be too old to drive!”

Karen Barkstrom is the editorial assistant for The Daily World. She can be reached at 360-537-3925 and kbarkstrom@thedailyworld.