End of an Era

The catalyst for it all was my new job in an area that’s highly inconvenient to get to by public transit. But really, Neil and I have been thinking about re-joining the ranks of the car-owners for quite a while. Combine that with neighbours who were leaving the country and had to sell their car which was coincidentally in great condition and in our price range, well it became inevitable.

Welcome “Big Red” (the name bestowed upon her by the previous owners) to the house of Watkii (that’s plural for Watkiss)

Big red

We really enjoyed our years of car-sharing, and are keeping our memberships with the car co-op for emergencies when we may need a second car, pick-up truck or minivan at any time, or if ours ends up in the shop. But we’d reached the limits of what we felt comfortable using the co-op for. It’s great for running errands or heading out for a few hours, but what we really missed was heading out for a guilt-free day-trip, parking the car somewhere and hanging out. That could be to a beach too far to walk to with the dog, or to visit family or friends who live in areas not serviced by transit. It feels a bit wrong taking the co-op cars out of the fleet for hours upon end, and it’s always a disappointment when we’re having far more fun than we imagined and have to cut it short because we can’t extend our time with the car.

We’ve also honestly become a bit disillusioned with the community aspect of the Car Co-Op. I had a whole rant typed up about all the ways that organization manages to shoot itself in the foot (yes I have sent those to CAN, they did not reply: problem #1), but perhaps I’ll save those for another post.

However, after spending nearly 3 years without using a car as our primary mode of transportation, we certainly think about driving – when and how far – quite a bit differently now. We’re much more conscious of it, and that’s a good thing!

From a budget perspective, we’ve been putting away what we can spare into a “planned spending” (different from debt repayment/emergency/savings) account for a car. We didn’t plan on having anywhere near enough to purchase anything until after our debt was fully paid off, but having our budget and debt repayment under control meant when the company Neil works for met their goals and was able to give out the annual employee bonus, we were able to use some of that to round out our car account and avoid going further into debt to acquire a good car at a good time.

So yes, I believe it’s now officially road-trip time!

Of course we can’t go too far (it would have to be a weekend) or spend too much money. And the trip must be dog-friendly – within those parameters, where should we go, what should we do? Tell me in the comments!

Best suggestion (meaning the one we choose to do) gets a CD copy of the most-excellent road-trip playlist my iTunes genius thingie came up with.

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11 thoughts on “End of an Era

  1. wyn

    I for one would be very interested in how CAN did not meet your needs and the grievances you ended up having – you can even post (an editted form of) your letter here. I’m at the point where I think it would suit my needs and would like to hear the downside before experiencing it myself!

    wyn’s last blog post..Trashy Summer Reads ‘09

  2. Derek K. Miller

    We’ve had a very similar (though silver) 2001 Ford Focus wagon since we got it brand new, and (despite some apparent quality problems, which didn’t seem to affect us) it has been a great car. I think it may be one of the most fuel-efficient cars for moving things around, because the cargo compartment design is remarkably smart — because the back of the car is almost entirely rectangular, with no weird curves or angles, it fits simply HUGE amounts of stuff for the size of the vehicle.

    I have two examples:

    1. I play in a band, and I’m able to fit my entire drum kit (in bags), all associated hardware, four stage monitor wedge speakers, two main PA speakers, the PA mixer/power amp, a guitar amp, a bass amp, two or three guitars, and a lighting rig, as well as all necessary stands, cables, and microphones inside the car. All the doors close and I don’t need to use the roof rack. That’s almost everything you see here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/penmachine/2621198061/

    If I take out the bass amp from the front seat, I can bring a passenger as well.

    2. We once bought a couple of couches from Ikea. I was rolling one of them out to the Focus when I spotted a guy with a big pickup truck watching me. I could tell he didn’t expect me to fit it into the car. But I slid the front seats forward, flattened the back ones, pushed the couch inside, and CLOSED THE TAILGATE. He looked stunned. There’s a lot of room in there.

    Of course, Ford being an oh-so-intelligent North American car company (though not one currently in bankruptcy protection), the company no longer makes the wagon version of the Focus. Sigh.

    Derek K. Miller’s last blog post..Ouch

  3. jen

    Go to Manning Park! I think the rhododendron forest will be in bloom soon. Or maybe head towards the Okanagan or up the canyon… I’m dying to go camping with all this nice weather. 🙂

  4. Beth

    I’m also curious what you didn’t like about the Car Co-op. I too just recently re-joined the world of car ownership (also thanks to a new job that is not readily accessible by transit), but am planning to keep my Co-op membership for the same reasons as you (and my car is a Smart Car, so I have the added “if I ever need to use a car with more than two seats” reason to keep my membership. I’ve been a Co-op member for 2 years and haven’t had any problems with them – I’m curious to hear what issues you had.

    Beth’s last blog post..I Think Monica Is Trying To Tell Me Something

  5. Christina

    I had also been a member of the co-op until I bought a car in mid 2007. I was only a member for 6 months. I kept my account with them active for another two years but never did use the car. And after keeping my $500 in their organization to be supportive, they started charging me an annual admin fee even though there had been absolutely NO activity in my account. So I axed it and after a 3-month mandatory wait, got my $500 back.

    Other than that I don’t have any criticisms of the co-op.

    As for weekend getaways, if you are looking for something more urban, try Seattle. I’ve stayed at the decadent but dog-friendly Hotel Monaco and the more reasonably-priced ACE Hotel (highly recommended).

  6. Colleen Coplick

    oooh. Do you camp?? we just got back from Porteau Cove, a 35 min drive away. Was Awesome. Walk in sites for $10/nite. if not, go to naramata and visit @bradinator, the winemaker for township 7.

    Or, I’ve got a link to send you (have to dig it up) for cabins on one of the islands that @lisamedia went to and LOVED. OH! Also have a friend with a friend with a resort. Will call Jess. 😀

    stand by… 😉

    Colleen Coplick’s last blog post..Brief Hiatus

  7. Helen

    Check out Harisson Hot Springs. It’s far enough away to feel different and plus you can soak in the pools after a day of hiking around the lake with the dog.
    For a weekend trip check out Halcyon Hot Springs. http://www.halcyon-hotsprings.com/ Absolutely stunning. The pools are spectacular (and I’ve been around the BC hot springs), the cabins are great and they like pets.

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