Three Vehicles, Three States, and a Goodbye

a photo of three different license plates from three different states on three different vehicles


We currently have three vehicles parked here in our temporary driveway in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Before owning any of these, eight years ago when I sold my Dodge Neon in favor of living nearly full-time on a bicycle in the city of Pittsburgh, I never imagined I’d own another car again, let alone an SUV and two vans (though to be fair, one of those “vans” is a 78 VW Bus).

As I sit here in these, our last four days at this particular address we’ve called home for this pregnancy, the sun casts its particular shade of violet over the Black Mountains of Western Caroline the same hues I’ve porched through for months. It’s strange to have been in one location for so long, but as much as I’d like to ramble on about our lack of movement for the longest period since I began traveling, alas this is a tale of three vehicles…

The Pathfinder, an SUV we purchased before our move to these mountains when we had heard tales of deep snow and knew our ideal rental would be high an steep up a mountain road. It wears Oregon plates (which sport the numbers in front of Mt Hood, Ranier and the mighty Douglas Fir), smokes like a banshee after a long days drive but has been from the Pacific Northwest to Florida to Pennsylvania and never once gave us trouble, even while towing a Uhaul trailer at one point. We’ll bid adieu to her in the coming months and with her sleek black exterior, satellite radio and ramrod on the front, she’ll likely spend her remaining days with some soccer mom gangster wanna be toting kids to after-school activities and having her ashtray overrun with cigarettes on the way home from date nights the bar. At least, that’s how we used her.

The newest addition to the lot is a 1995 Chevy Van which we’ll use to tow a vintage Airstream when we get back on the road next spring. It’s pimp leather, a cassette player and VCR of course, and is the definition of ugly with its seafoam green paint job. Still, it’s my
latest toy and a testament to the last days of American engineering that don’t involve a pile of junk wrapped in plastic. The North Carolina plate it dawns is less then any of the others, a red and white thing depicting the first flight which ever took place&emdash;as we
all remember from high school&emdash;in Kitty Hawk, NC. As glorious as humans in flight might be, neither North Carolina nor its license plate stands up to the magesty of the Oregon Coast or Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range.

Which leads me to Bus, a native Colorodoan with the green mountain plates to prove it. Bringing the van home, with all the excitement a
newer home-on-the-road provides, was bittersweet. We realized we’d never really live in the Bus again. It has been with us, as a family, ever since we could call ourselves that. In the years since I bought that beloved old bucket of bolts, we’ve been from Colorado to the California redwoods, all of Arizona’s saguaro magic to Austin. We’ve seen a dog come and go and another one come. We’ve traversed the shores of Florida, of New England, and all of the Great Lakes save Erie. Our oldest son spent two years in it, our baby Winter was conceived in its belly and spent the summer of his first year roaming the Adirondacks and Green Mountains and Michigan’s UP. It is the only possession I own that I actually love, as ridiculous as that may sound. I tinkered with the idea of selling her to help finance future travels, but no one in the family would hear of it. We’ll store it, I suppose indefinitely. Hopefully one of the boys will take it on camping trips or even live in it during some gap year I envision them all enjoying. When the youngest is 18, and I force him out the door, I’ll be 51. Perhaps then the Lady and I will enjoy our golden years on the road, finally the two of us again and alone together at last.

Three license plates, three boys, three days left in a house in a town we have called home for three season. Life comes, it goes and it becomes something new again.