Slowly, people are learning that I have two yellow cars. I have not really put it out there too much. Those who have seen my new yellow car simply assume that I sold my old one. Nope! Now here’s the thing: I don’t drive either one of them very much. I work 0.5 miles from my house! It’s taken me until now to even get comfortable with the Focus ST, because that turbo really makes acceleration non-linear. I’ve almost launched into a few cars in front of me because the car is so insanely fast for short and often unpredictable periods of time. The Cayman S, on the other hand, is very linear and predictable. It’s fast too, but in a different sort of way: it’s fast over time. The Focus is fast in flashes. These days, if I’m only transporting one other person, I take the Porsche. If it’s two or three, the Ford.
I just bought another car today: a Ford Focus ST. It’s yellow. Maybe I’ll need to rename this blog “Yellow Cars Journal.”
Wednesday this week, I had to drop Courtney off in Sacramento where Barbara is for a teacher conference: a perfect opportunity to take the Porsche out. I wanted to get there fast, but there were a lot of police around on 680. They were pulling all kinds of people over, and I didn’t want to be one of them so I stayed at the speed limit. When we got to I-80, I guess there was some sort of construction going on, fortunately on the other side of the road. The traffic was backed up easily for ten miles. I did not want to be a part of this going home, so I took a mental note not to return this way.
Although Google Maps and my own navigation system said that 680 to I-80 was the fastest way to Sacramento, it took two hours. I had planned on beating this, but that sure didn’t work out. I’m thinking that I-5 would have been faster.
I warned Barbara’s teacher friends not to go home on I-80. Barbara, Courtney and I went to lunch then went to the Crocker Art Museum. We were very impressed by the place. The third floor had all the good art, and a special exhibit of glass sculpture. Now, “glass sculpture” sounds boring, but I assure you that this was not boring. Some amazing things had been done in glass. I thought it was better than the Corning Glass Museum in New York, and that’s saying something. Part of the Crocker Museum is also the original Crocker house, which is Victorian. I liked that very ornate building as much as the art inside.
Alas, it was time to go – past time actually. It was now 4:15 and I needed to be home by 6 so I could practice guitar before band practice. It was a tall order. I took I-5 – my navigation system yelling at me for the first half an hour to turn back – and then tried to cut through Livermore as a “shortcut.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I also got lost. Having said that, I got home at 5:45.
I think Barb and I have found a way to solve the Porsche’s low miles – Road Trips! On a whim, we decided to visit two of our god kids and Barbara’s cousin. The thing is, they are all in Southern California, so for a long weekend, we drove to L.A., San Diego, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Pasadena, San Dimas and back home again, logging in 1400 miles. That’s a lot of miles! I-5 was fun because you could basically go as fast as you wanted to. L.A. too seems to have no speed limits. The average speed down there seems to be around 80 with cars in the fast lane doing 90+. So the thing I learned on this trip is that the Yellow Porsche goes VERY fast with little difficulty. It is certainly not your normal car. On the way home, I had several Lincoln Navigators try to race me. I honestly don’t know what they were thinking, but they all seemed to max out at about 95 MPH. Silly Navigators! Barbara’s Cousin Jerry, a pastor in Yucca Valley, got to take a spin around town in my little car. He said he knew where the two police officers in town were, and we wouldn’t be seeing either of them. He broke many laws and had a great time. It was very therapeutic. Now, I’m not advocating speeding as a rule – it is against the law (And I’ve been very careful not to speed these last six years, though the impulse is always there. What stops me most time is the realization that my car is highly yellow and visible), but darn it, this car was meant to roam and at least for this weekend, it roamed.
Now that I’m a full-time teacher, I don’t drive at all – c’mon, I live half a mile from work. It’s quicker and easier to walk and ride my bike. As a result, I have put very few miles on my car(s) in the past two years. How do I know this? I’ve only filled the tank of my blue car four times in two years, and my yellow car twice. I finally had to call my insurance company to tell them that my mileage has gone down to 500 miles a year on the Honda and 200 miles a year on the Porsche. After owning the Honda for 20 years, the car still doesn’t have 100K miles on it and the Porsche only recently went over 40K. These may just be the last cars I ever own!
In other news, I’ve gotten so mellow on my driving (due to lack of driving), that rush hour driving has become stressful. I’m wondering why everyone is so aggressive and selfish. The thing is, I used to be one of them.
In a brief drive to the store and back, I saw three very nice looking Porsches, and all of them were followed by a police car. I wonder what this means? The Corvette that I also saw was not followed by an officer.
In other news, I didn’t drive my Porsche for about six months because the battery died shortly after the school year had started. I had no time (or inclination) to get it into the shop. Eventually, I had it towed and repaired. And still, Porsche swears that there is no electrical issue — it’s just because I only drive short distances. The dealer recommended that I get a different type of trickle charger that is specific to high-end vehicles, so I did (that, and my other one broke). It’s been an amazing change! My battery is charged all the time now and the car drives like a champ. It turns out that for $30. on Amazon, I could have avoided all kinds of electrical difficulties!
Recently, I took the car in to get it smogged and because a little wrench showed up on the dash. Even though I have not driven the car much (I’m still under 40K), regularly scheduled maintenance still shows up because every other year, “the car” likes to have its transmission fluid and brake fluid changed because they are both “hydroscopic,” that is, they absorb water over time and become less effective.
As with all things Porsche, it cost a mint to do these two things: smog, and changing fluids. It was basically another $1K, though I did get 10% off with my Porsche discount card. The smog didn’t pass the first time because the battery was too low. I swear, this car has an electrical leak somewhere – I’ve been driving the car for longer periods every time I take it out, and I do occasionally trickle charge it. After Porsche charged the battery, the smog passed just fine and I had a much better running car when I got it back… after three days!
Alas, I just spent another $1K on my blue car (A/C) and $500 on my dog who is near death but refuses to die. It’s been a very expensive month for me!
I’ve been taking my car to school all week, since it’s my last week of a long-term sub assignment, and I’ve been parking it in the very prominent teacher parking section by the gym, a spot that can be seen by about half of the campus. You can see that yellow for miles! It looks mighty incongruous parked between all of those Prius cars. Any time I get in the car, I’ll hear, “dude, is that your car?” (but you’re a teacher!)
I’ve been using my trickle charger more and more just to keep the car going so I finally took it in to get checked out. The problem: Porsches like to be driven a long time to charge the battery. They need this because even after you turn the car off, all sorts of electronic things are still going on (trunk & door lights stay on for 10 minutes, for instance). This has been made worse by me staying in my car to listen to some song on the radio before I get out. Those 10 Bose speakers are awesome, but so is the wattage being drawn from the battery as I listen. To fix this issue, I needed yet another battery, which I learned is a special battery only for Porsche, which is why it costs me $430. These are “dry” batteries that are held in storage dry, and then acid is added to them only when they are installed into the car. The batteries don’t mind the occasional trickle charge, but doing so kills the life of the battery. Mostly, to keep the battery going, it is important to take 15 minute trips or longer. My 5 minute trips to breakfast and to school are too short, and so deadly to my battery.
They also found the reason for all my lost water – my cap wasn’t on tight enough. There is sort of a notch that one has to go past to seal the water system. I was only tightening to the notch. As stated previously, the Porsche engine is designed to never leak liquid, even if steaming.
Now that this engine work is done, the car drives like an absolute dream again! I’m not even stalling it below 1,000RPM. The low battery and low water may have been the reason.
Since it was my friend Ray’s birthday today, we decided to take a ride up to the top of Mt. Hamilton to see the Lick Observatory. The ride was a blast in my nimble little car and the views at the top were spectacular. Alas, the observatory itself was closed, but the mini-museum and 120’ refractor telescope on the other hill was not, so we went there. The drive back was even more fun – and a lot quicker! There is a smooth stretch of road between Grant Park (about half way up Mt. Hamilton road) and five miles from the summit. You can really zoom through this section!