Archive for the 'commute' Category
The view behind me, as I head home:
The view before me, of Bainbridge Island and the peninsula.
Plus, they serve beer and wine on the boat.
I wrote awhile back about ordering a MINI (yes, the all caps is correct, to distinguish the new MINIs from the older versions, I’m told), and last weekend we picked it up, and I’ve been driving “Maggie” (the first car I’ve ever named, by the way) all this week. I’m in love with a car.
I’m not a car junkie guy. My folks (correctly, in my estimation) made sure I knew how to change oil, fill fluids, change a tire, etc., but I don’t get any kick out of working on them. My car choices to date have been pretty pedestrian (Chevy Beretta, Dodge Intrepid, Ford Taurus, etc.)
I knew the Taurus was going to graduate to be the boys’ car, and I knew I wanted something that got good gas mileage. The Ford F-150 Crew Cab we bought a couple of years ago and rarely used didn’t fit the bill, and ended up being the trade in bait. We would need the Toyota Mini Van for all of us to be in and for road trip, but I didn’t want to commute in it.
At some point, and I don’t know really why, I became intrigued by MINIs. Not because of The Italian Job either…I didn’t see it until after I’d ordered this car. Maybe Austin Powers. So, as noted in the earlier article, I drove MINIs a couple of times, and ordered one a couple of days after Christmas. (Heavy Irony Note: We ordered some furniture from a well-known brand name furniture store in November. It still isn’t here. Our car, built in Oxford, England, came in less than two months. Sheesh.)
Since I ordered Maggie, I was able to enter the order number onto MINI’s website and follow her progress as she was being built. Very cool. I also heard periodically from the dealership, Northwest Mini in Tacoma about the car’s progress.
Now, a word about the dealership and our contact (:::ahem::: “Motoring Advisor”, I’ll have you know, thank you very much) there, Jay Hammon. Best. Car. Buying. Experience. Ever. And honestly, I’ve had some good ones, because most of the time on the bad ones, I walk out. Jay was super nice and super patient and super accommodating. They made the whole thing easy. No BS, no silly dickering, no “what will it take to get you into this car today”. It was like “Hey, we have a pretty cool product. Drive one, if you like it, we’ll hook you up with the one you want, the way you want it. Have a Coke, too.” They gave us more than book for the truck. We never even dickered a bit there. It was a nice truck, and they played fair. How cool is that?
They made the whole buying and financing thing easy. They sent me the forms in advance, I filled them out, and we had our deal in about 15 minutes from when I handed them to Jay. Diane Steeves, the finance manager, was so nice I was stunned. Usually at that stage they are trying to up sell you to death, and act like you’re a moron if you don’t buy every little warranty. They had some deals, they were decent, and we said we’d think about it. Finis. Not a problem, no pressure, lots of laughing, and we were treated like sensical adults, for gosh sakes. Sign the papers, here’s your keys. Nice.
Jay spent a good deal of time showing us how to use the car, especially to convertible top and radio, stuff I could have figured out eventually from the manuals, but this was much easier. Easy to read manuals, though. Oh, and here’s a nice new small road atlas. Here’s a book showing all of our dealerships, where your warranty is good. We have to work on the car more than 3 hours, we give you car to use. You come in for an oil change, we’ll drive you to the mall. We pay for the oil change for 3 years too. And brakes. And wiper blades.
Like I said. Best. Ever.
Now about the car. MINIs are special. They’re quirky. They’re cute. They’re designed by Germans (BMW, specifically) with British style. The car is well thought out. The controls are in reach and make sense. The top works great, and you can retract it with the key fob. It will retract partway to be a moon roof.
The front is comfortable for two. The back seat is a joke, but you know what, Jeri and I went to Costco today in the MINI, and loaded it all up ok. I could even see out the back.
I got a manual, and it works fine. I like manual transmissions on small cars, it adds an extra dimension of fun. This one shifts easy and has plenty of zip for a small four cylinder. It’s easy to turn and park because of the size. I’ve driven it 300 miles…there’s still a little less than 1/2 a tank left.
The radio is a Harmon Kardon, and is very nice. I added an Ipod connector, and while it isn’t as functional as I’d hoped, it is nice and it charges the Ipod as well.
Overall, it is a kick to drive and I look forward to driving her every day. So, I’m officially hooked to a car. If you’re thinking about an economy car, MINIs are well worth a look.
I’ve never been a huge car person. I like them. I enjoy long drives, even, but I’m no Speed Racer. I’ve never liked to work on them, though my parents (correctly, in my view) insisted that I learn enough to take care of one when I was a younger.
At some point in the last couple of years, I sort of had a thing about Mini Coopers. In spite of my big size, and the (obvious) smallness of the make, I wondered what they’d be like to drive. We even stopped by the Mini dealer here in the Seattle area, and I took a quick spin in one. Fun. Very fun, and very cool. “Someday,” I thought. I went to miniusa.com and built one, for fun too.
Then of course, quite recently, I blogged about how silly commercials showing folks getting cars for Christmas are. Get real, I said.
So the picture above what it’ll look like; yes, its a convertible. They are a kick in the pants to drive (I’m getting a manual 5-speed), very low to the ground but sturdy. Nice and roomy in the front, but the back “seat” is a joke, and pretty much an admitted one. they get great reviews, hold their value well, and get super good gas mileage…not like a hybrid, but very good. It has a nice package of options, including a very nice stereo system my Ipod will hook to.
Anyway, I’m psyched, and I’ve been showing off the pics and the model at the office enough that I’m sure everyone hates me now.
So here’s to my wonderful wife for having us do something fun and getting the Mini for me. This one might also get something I haven’t done to a car…give it a name. Any suggestions?
Today when I pulled my car into line at the ferry terminal, I found myself in the middle of a big ol’ tailgate party.
I was heading over to the airport, but almost everyone else was on their way to the Seahawks game. (Bryan and his brother-in-law were in the walk-on area of the same boat.)
It was a truly glorious Indian summer day – golden orange leaves, slight sea breeze riffling the water and 75 degrees in the sun.
In front of me was a lively pickup football game. A couple lanes to my left was a 10 year old girls soccer team, bopping and giggling to hip hop music on one of their parents’ car stereos. Off to the right, at the newsstands, was a group of young parents and their café lattes & baby strollers, animatedly catching up on the news. All the local dogs and their owners spilled out of cars for one last stroll along the edge of the parking lot.
It’s a very different feeling than the 6:20am commuter ferry, where folks sleep behind the wheel, or blearily read their paper, slurping coffee like a lifeline. I enjoyed it.