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Thursday, May 18, 2006


Choose this van's fate

When I inherited a worn-out Toyota van (pictured here at Stonehenge) in the fall of 1995 I had no idea I would still be driving it in the summer of 2006. Most of my friends and colleagues destroyed, sold or donated their high school vehicles by the time they graduated or sometime during college. Some might say that the van's longevity is the result of it being a well- made import. But the real reason I drove it for over a decade? I couldn't afford car payments and was stubborn enough to keep sinking money into it.

Now well into its third decade on the road, the vehicle's numerous problems have become too much to deal with. The transmission is slipping, the fuel pump I've replaced twice in the past four years is acting up again, the air conditioning hasn't worked since the late '90s, the radio antenna disappeared in 2003, the side door is broken, an unstoppable colony of mold has overtaken the windows, the engine still leaks anti freeze despite being fixed last year, the only thing stopping the roof from caving in has been an occasional Rustoleum paint job, nearly every inch of the van rattles or squeaks, parts of it are being held together with electrical tape and a colony of mice may be living in the muffler.

If ever there was an argument for vehicular euthanasia, this van is it. If I were a wealthy eccentric, I would fix it up and drive it around Portland on summer days like some do with vintage Corvettes. I would even paint racing stripes on the side and take it to auto shows. But since I'm not a wealthy eccentric, the time has finally come to put the old girl out to pasture. But how to do it?

I've joked with friends over the years that, once the time came, I would drive the van down to Arch Cape and give it a Viking's funeral. This is the vehicle that carried me on an ill-fated sojourn into Yellowstone where it bested not one but two angry bison. Over the years, the van has conquered the icy slopes of Mount Washburn and the Cascades, the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, the hippies infested hills of San Francisco, the freeways of Los Angeles County and the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. It's been involved in at least three traffic accidents. Despite a top speed of only 85 MPH, it was once described by a traffic cop as "the fastest thing on the road" and has earned numerous speeding tickets. It's been stolen twice and still somehow returned home each time.

The van has gotten me into and out of numerous scrapes. It's been as loyal as the Lone Ranger's horse, Han Solo's space freighter or the Dude's old beater. I can't just donate it to Goodwill or send it to a wrecking yard.

Despite my attempts to romanticize this old hunk of junk, one of the two is where it will inevitably wind up. Nevertheless, here's a list of alternative options. Feel free to vote for your favorite in the poll below. We here at Welcome to Blog value your opinion.

Option # 1: Go with the Viking funeral idea. This van deserves to go out just like Johnny Depp at the end of Dead Man.

Option # 2: Sneak the van onto Ken Kesey's old Pleasant Hill farm and bury in the swamp ala "Further."

Option # 3: Take it out into the country and blow it up.

Option # 4: Take it out into the country and pump it full of shotgun shells.

Option # 5: Take it out into the country and leave it. If the van returns home, it's mine forever. If it doesn't, the van was never mine to begin with.

Option # 6: Attempt to sell it to Craig's List for $500. If no one responds, keep marking down the price down until someone buys it, even if the final price is $3.50.

Option # 7: Somehow donate it to a local film production for a car chase scene.

Option # 8: Drive it onto the steps of City Hall and let them deal with it.

Option # 9: Ditch it some chump's bushes.

Option # 10: Leave it on SE Hawthorne with the key in the ignition, a DMV transfer title form on the front seat and a "free to loving home" sign in the window. What could possibly go wrong?

The Van Poll

Decide this van's fate

Option 1: viking funeral
Option 2: kesey's swamp
Option 3: blow it up
Option 4: shotguns
Option 5: leave it
Option 6: craig's list
Option 7: chase scene
Option 8: city hall
Option 9: bushes
Option 10: hawthorne

 Current Results

Or you could always leave your own suggestion in the comments area below.

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