She still runs, miraculously enough, but after the radiator and water pump blew out, making it impossible to drive for more than ten minutes without the lakes of oil on top of the engine almost catching fire, I figured it was time to park her for good. This in addition to the fact that the engine sounds like it has one of those metal clapping monkey toys caught in it and the transmission is so shot I have to switch into and out of low gear (from overdrive-- it's an automatic) whenever the engine drops below 2,000 RPMS. Also, every fluid leaks, power steering is going out, front end is way out of alignment, CV joints are about to go (joint boots have been gone for about 50,000 miles), alternator fuse is broken (contacts jammed together so it works. . . kind of) sun roof is busted and painted shut. . . and it needs brakes. About the only thing on it still salvageable are the tires (only 6 mo. of wear!), the starter (brand new!) and the seven gallons of gas in the tank. Oh, and the horn. Luckily I have it parked at mom's while I figure out whether to call pick and pull, vehicle abatement or find someone who wants to buy it and make a project car out of it.
All in all, she's been an incredibly reliable car. Before we met, she was a cruiser and a racer that carried her previous owner all over the interstates and highways of the United States. Later, she was retired to the life of a farm vehicle and patched together wherever she broke instead of being properly fixed. When I bought her in 2004, my father shook his head and said she wouldn't last six months. Almost a year later, I packed everything I owned into her (floor to ceiling) and moved from Roseville to Tuolumne (and then about a month later, from Tuolumne to Tulsa, Oklahoma.) She was there for me all through flight school while I lived in Tulsa, carried me across the bridge from Foxfire to Spartan every day without fail, even when the winter came and the roads got icy. In 2006, when I came back to California with a heart full of broken dreams, she carried me and everything I owned through the night until we came to rest in Lincoln. From there, she carried me to and from Sierra college for two years and to and from Sacramento State for two years. She carried me to my first book signing and a few times to my first job out of college, carried me to some of my first big job interviews after I was laid off and even hung on all the way through the move we just finished this year, from Lincoln into Sacramento, carrying four floor-to-ceiling carloads before the long, hot road became too heavy and her back finally broke.
She's been to Vegas, she's been to Reno, she's been to L.A., she's been to Shelter Cove, she's been to San Francisco, she's been to more Celtic Faires than I can remember, crossed the Stevenot bridge, carried everything from papasan chairs to desks and dressers, and proven herself to be one heck of a work horse. Together we beat out a modded 90's Celica in a street race (it was close), picked up my first traffic ticket (didn't have my lights on while driving on Highway 65 during broad daylight), rescued friends, picked up Lilly from school twice a week (when she was in public school) and made countless trips up to Sonora to see my father. Every time she got new tires I was told the tires would outlast the car (that was at least three sets ago) and every time a mechanic crawled under her, they laughed at how amazing the car was for still being on the road. Friends and I used to jokingly refer to her as the “Blues Mobile” (ironic, since the only station she ever got in anywhere was a Soul station, and it came in with perfect quality.) She was the car that wouldn't quit, and when she finally coasted into her grave, she didn't strand me or put me in danger. She carried me and two bags of groceries to the quiet farmyard of my mother's house and grumbled into a tired and deserved eternal sleep.
Today, her odometer reads 201734.4, and that number marks the end of a profound era in my life.
Blue Valkyrie, trusted friend and car, you will be missed.