The Echo

I have an emotional attachment to my car that goes far beyond my appreciation that it gets me from A to B faithfully.

The Echo became mine three years ago, when my Mom and I traded cars. Before that, she bought it in 2002 a few months after an older gentleman bought it, drove it for about 20,000 km and decided it wasn’t for him. Essentially, we got ourselves a new car without a new car price.

I giggled my way into my 25th year with Josh at the wheel after attending a wine festival in Virginia for my birthday. He gave the gift of a DD.

The little black Echo has been my trusty sidekick through many adventures. I learned to drive standard on it; I stalled it; I crashed it (three times); I navigated through scary winter highway conditions in it; I drove it from Kimberley, B.C. to Charlottesville, VA; It made the trip up the Alaska Highway and back; It’s driven to Vancouver Island more times than I or it can count.

Yea, if the Echo could sing a proper tune instead of the squealing belt sound its been making of late, it would belt out the Johnny Cash song, I’ve been Everywhere.” Get the belt pun? Love it!

It’s been through a lot. The list of adventures we’ve had together has grown and grown over the years. The one constant was never the destination, it was that the Echo made it every single time, without any major mechanical failures. I’ve only once been stuck on the side of the highway with it, and that is because I ran it out of gas on the way to college in 2007. Once my sister brought me a jerry can full, it started right back up, and off I went — albeit a little late for psychology class.

I’ve also sung loudly to every punk song I’ve ever loved. I’ve screamed “I believe in a thing called love” with my sister. Done the Starships shuffle with Ally and Josh, listened to weird rap, etc. Lady Gaga sing-alongs were constant, and sometimes, it was chill indie music.

I briefly mentioned that I crashed it three times, let’s explain a little about that fateful summer. I ran over one deer after some terrible person left it in the middle of the road. I passed someone going 40 km under the speed limit (totally legit, right?) and upon pulling back into my lane, there she was. Dead, bloated, unavoidable. Bam.

Less than a month later, heading out to my Dad’s house, another small deer ran out in front of me. My only thought — which I yelled loudly — was “COME ON!” But there was nothing I could do.

Later, my Mom joked that next time I crash her car, could I make sure I wreck the front end so she can get the big deer butt-shaped dent fixed? Sure, Mom, whatever you say.

Fast forward a month after that, and I lovingly obliged. Fumbling with my iPod, I rear-ended a car, which rear-ended a truck that had stopped in front of me. I got a ticket for following too close, and I somewhat learned a lesson. Mom got her new front end. You’re welcome, Ma!

A trip to the Shenandoah National Park earlier this fall, via Echo of course.

A trip to the Shenandoah National Park earlier this fall, via Echo of course.

After arriving via Echo in Charlottesville this February, we had to switch over the insurance, register it in Virginia and whatnot. In the process of being inspected, a very bad mechanic replacing my windshield broke my right passenger side mirror. I was getting it priced at Toyota while deciding if we should fix it or not when I casually mentioned to the Toyota technician that we drove it 3,966 kilometres from Kimberley, B.C. The guy was astounded. “You seriously drove it that far?” to which I replied, “Was I not supposed to?” My impression was that Toyota made vehicles that were made to be driven, and man did I ever drive my little Echo.

The Echo was there the day I ran my first ever 5k. It was also there to speed me home afterward when I got a migraine. Not the first time it's had to do that.

The Echo was there the day I ran my first ever 5k. It was also there to speed me home afterward when I got a migraine. Not the first time it’s had to do that.

I’ve learned a lot about cars in the process of owning my Echo. By that I mean my Dad has taught me a lot, and I have largely ignored his lessons. Every time I needed an oil change, it was my Dad who did it for me up until the last year when I moved. Every time he would get into his coveralls and an old sweater, crawl under the car grunting and complaining, showing me things. Pointing out parts. I’d nod, knowing full well the exact process of the oil change. But why do it myself when every oil change meant father-daughter time on the ranch? And so, I never did it myself — but I swear if Dad had ever remembered that he had already taught me how to change the oil 50 times, I could have done it. He also taught me how to change a flat tire, which I never had to do. He showed me how to check all the fluids, which I did do sometimes, and he even helped me get it painted and repaired after a lot of rock damage was done to the hood.

I am writing this, of course, because the trusty Echo is no longer trusty. After replacing the transmission and clutch in August, it is once again back in the shop, and our new vehicle, a Nissan Murano, will be arriving this weekend. It’s no longer feasible to keep my little Echo running, when we have another perfectly fine vehicle to drive.

Our last trip in the Echo was this weekend. We went out to Afton Mountain Vineyards with a good friend, had lunch and a glass of wine in the beautiful December sun.

I love my little car. I’ve grown up in it. But as they say, when you love something, sometimes you have to let it go.



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