Published in the Rains County Leader on June 13, 2017:
Everything around the Brendle house has a lot of miles on the odometer. Our 2002 Pontiac recently rolled over 133,000 miles, and David’s 2000 Harley has been driven 102,000 miles. David and I have covered a few miles ourselves, but thankfully we don’t have odometers. Still, all of us are showing our age.
David has always taken extremely good care of his vehicles, and people are often surprised at how old our car is. However, time is beginning to take its toll. The lower exterior door panels have begun to crack, and the pins that attach them to the door have weakened. Several months ago when I was on the way to the grocery store, the wind caught the front edge of the panel on the passenger door and peeled it back. I heard a crack and looked in the rear-view mirror in time to see it flying down the shoulder behind me. I did a quick U-turn and was able to locate the panel before it fell victim to an eighteen-wheeler. It had suffered some minor road rash, but David was able to reattach it.
Shortly after that incident, David ran the car through a car wash in Sulphur Springs. After the jets of water and the brushes had done their jobs, he drove over to the vacuums, and we set about finishing the job. I was using the vacuum on the inside, and David was using a chamois on the outside when he noticed a piece of trim missing from the roof. Once again, we were able to backtrack into the car wash and find the missing piece. So far it’s still in the trunk, waiting its turn to be reattached.
In addition to cosmetic issues, the car is beginning to have internal problems. Three weeks ago the temperature gauge began to rise, and we began to have nightmares about having a car payment after all these years. David took the ailing vehicle to the dealership for a checkup, and after a heart-stopping repair estimate, he began to shop on-line for parts. After his purchases arrived, he shopped locally for someone to install them. He found a dependable and affordable mechanic and made an appointment.
The day came, and since we would need an alternative means of transportation, we uncovered the Harley. It was a sad sight. We haven’t ridden the motorcycle much in the six years since we moved to Emory. In the absence of a garage, it has been parked next to the car under a water-resistant semi-fitted cover. Although it keeps the direct rain off the bike, it doesn’t keep moisture from accumulating, and that moisture combined with the Texas heat had left its mark. There were spots of rust on some of the chrome, the windshield was glazed like an old headlight, and the leather of the seats and saddlebags were dull and lifeless.
David dragged out the water hose, sprayed off the worst of the dust, and dried the seats. Then he threw his leg across the bike, settled into the saddle, and hit the starter button on the handlebars – and nothing happened. He tried the button several more times with the same results before reaching down under the seat and hitting the direct auxiliary starter. The engine coughed a few times and then settled into that trademark Harley rumble.
We formed a two-vehicle caravan to the garage with me bringing up the rear in the Pontiac. We left the car in good hands, and we spent the rest of the day tooling around town on the bike. I sometimes forget between rides the thrill of the open road, but it didn’t take long to remember. I really wanted to keep on riding instead of going to work, but that puritan work ethic won out, and I spent most of the day at my desk.
The car is now back home and running well, and we’re back to putting money into a future car fund instead of worrying about having to make a purchase under pressure. The bike is parked again, but without the cover at least for now. Even with all the miles and the marks of age, both vehicles still attract their share attention from time to time, and they still perform the purpose they were manufactured to fulfill. It gives me hope for David and me. As I said in the beginning, we’re showing some of our own signs of age, but hopefully we’ve still got lots of miles left in us.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green. Psalm 92:14