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It’s time for 20 Days of Me again!! Today is all about my first car. Let’s zoom on in, shall we?

Initially I was thinking only about the first car that I bought myself but then I realized that the family cars I drove before that also held a lot of memories and I just couldn’t leave them out! I just wish I had pictures of the actual cars but I did find a couple close matches online that will just have to do.

20 Days of Me Day 9 Title
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First Family Cars

The Vanagon

A stick-shift VW van was where I learned to drive stick. It was reliable but didn’t have a lot of get-up-and-go. We used to joke, when driving uphill, that we needed to pedal Flintstones-style to help it make it to the top. It probably didn’t help that we lived in Colorado at the time. Do cars need oxygen like humans do? I know that I have a hard time climbing up a hill whenever I visit these days, coming from sea level.

grey volkswagen vanagon van
Ours was red but it looked pretty much like this… every teen girl’s dream vehicle, right? (Image by Alison Cassidy, )

The Mercury Bobcat

This car belonged to my aunt for about 13 years before my parents bought it from her for me to use. Unfortunately, the Bobcat was involved in an accident one Friday night.

(It was late, I was sleepy. I bounced off one neighbor’s mailbox into the ditch and the car rolled onto its side. Literally right around the corner – practically in my backyard. So close, yet so far…)

Luckily no one was hurt and the car was fixed. Using mismatched parts from the junkyard. Definitely not the most attractive car to be driving around in but at least I had a car!

girl with dogs sitting on trunk of white and yellow Mercury Bobcat car

(I really wish I had a better picture of this one, especially after the reconstruction. It was quite a combo of parts. You can see a little bit here with the yellow fender on a white car. The replacement door had wood paneling!)

The Ford Pickup

We also had a brown Ford pickup truck at the time. I drove it up and down the local mountain pass when we cut our own firewood and I drove up and down that same pass when I was working at the Girl Scout camp.

On the last day of camp, as we were cleaning up and shutting down for the season, we were allowed to drive our cars in camp. I was the waterfront director and it was a long hike to the pond so I was super excited to be able to drive up the road instead.

Unfortunately on the way back down, I got a flat tire. I had to hike to the main office and call my dad to get instructions on where to find the jack, etc and a refresher on how to change a tire. It seemed like everything was stuck – the spare tire was stuck, the lug nuts were stuck… it was hopeless!

After a second hike down to call Dad, the camp handyman came up to help me. I felt a little better about it all when he really struggled too. At least it wasn’t just me!

When I finally made it back down with the truck, I decided that I would never drive up to the pond again!

red and white ford pickup truck in parking lot
Ours was brown and had a shell on the back but looked about like this…

The Mazda 323

My parents let me take this one to college for one semester when I was doing an internship in downtown Chicago so that I could drive to work everyday. It was one of the historic winters with crazy cold (crazier than usual for Chicago haha). It was -80°F windchill for several days and I had to remove the battery from my car each night of the cold snap and carry it up three flights of stairs so that it could stay warm in my apartment.

Frozen battery = a car that won’t start

In the morning I had to put the battery back in before driving to work. Do you know how hard it is to do this when it’s so cold? Brr!

Cold wasn’t the only problem though. The Mazda did not have air conditioning. At the end of the quarter, I had to drive the car back home. My boyfriend (now my husband!) came with me and we decided to road trip across Texas to New Mexico then north to Colorado. It was only March but it was SO hot! We were driving about 75 on the highway (yes, they drive fast in Texas) with all the windows open, eyes peeled for the next Dairy Queen so we could get more ice cream to cool off.

man sits in passenger seat of Mazda 323 with door open

My First Car

Honda Civic

The first car I paid for with my own money was a 1994 Honda Civic. I bought it in my final quarter at Northwestern University. As a midshipman, about to be commissioned as an officer, I qualified for an auto loan and bought my Ensign-mobile (that’s what we called whatever car anyone bought at graduation, probably all using the same loan program!)

Even better – the car was my favorite color! In the right light, it was a beautiful fuschia.

1994 Honda Civic

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Not technically my first car, but my then-boyfriend-now-husband also bought an Ensign-mobile at the same time I did. And we were married the same year we bought these cars so it’s almost like it was mine too.

(Okay, technically it wasn’t an ensign-mobile since he’s a Marine, not a sailor, but ensign-mobile sounds so much better than second-lieutenant-mobile, right?)

man stands next to Jeep Grand Cherokee
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My Current Vehicle


After the Honda Civic came a Volvo S-70 then a 2005 Honday Odyssey. Unfortunately, after twelve Big Trips, two cross-country moves, and many years of soccer mom duty, Ol’ Faithful had to retire. We replaced him with a slightly younger (one model year but 150,000 miles younger!), Honda Odyssey who we named Sully.

woman holding sign standing next to blue minivan at Honda dealership
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Did you miss the previous days?  Catch up here…

Enjoy these other tidbits and work up an appetite because Day 10 will be all about snacks!

20 Days of Me questions
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20 Days of Me All the questions!

For all posts in the series, click here- 20 Days of Me Series

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