From the Editor: My Chariot Awaits

By Andy Lien March 19, 2015

Categories: Lifestyles & Communities, Our Lives

I’ve been driving for 21 years. I felt another grey hair sprout as I typed that. In my advanced years, I’ve figured out what I like and need in the vehicle I drive. What I drive is something that is more important to me than I ever would have imagined. I’m guessing it’s because I know very little about automobiles. When I don’t know much (and really don’t intend to learn about them), I need to feel safe and comfortable in my choice. A vehicle is what we trust ourselves and our people in, as well as our pets and our possessions. In Minnesota, we go from humid and hot to foggy and damp to snowy and slick within months or days. That leaves me feeling a bit more vulnerable than I like to be, I won’t lie. So, I’ve figured out what is on my list of “must haves” in a ride.

Height. As a definite indicator of my personality, I like to see what’s coming. If I’m the short vehicle behind a taller one, I get antsy and either back off quite a bit or switch lanes to get ahead; not because I need to get somewhere faster, but because I want to have the longview (cue Green Day). So, climbing up into a vehicle is more likely to suit my interests than slinking down into a low-rider. Big tires are a bonus.

4WD. I’m a single person who lives alone in Minnesota, who doesn’t plan on curbing my schedule or wanderlust just because we get a couple inches or feet of the white stuff. I need to know that I can drive out of anything, should the need arise. I know, people can tell me that front-wheel drive is reliable, but my history has gone Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Alero, Subaru Legacy (AWD), Toyota Camry, and Jeep Liberty (4WD). Nothing compares to the feeling of traction when I flip the switch from regular to 4WD. It is confidence. It is knowing that my fortress is my vehicle and it goes where I go.

Clean, classic lines. Speaking of fortresses, I love a strong, square appearance over a curvy and sleek one. The wind resistance (and fuel economy) is like driving a shoebox, but with more sport to it. I don’t want trend, I want staid. My boxy ride reminds me of the rectangular Volvo of yore as well as the Land Rovers and Cruisers that are seen out on safari. It makes me feel a bit more regimented with its square hospital corners. It might be playful, but it’s serious about it. Just like me.

Neutral exterior. While I’m out playing in the mud, I do appreciate the fact that my Jeep is the color of dust. I’ve had white, silver, blue, and black vehicles. This “stone” color is the one that is most forgiving. I ain’t got time to bleed! I certainly don’t have time to get it washed very often, especially since I don’t have covered parking and might find a sheen of mystery dust on it any given morning. Really, in the warmer months, a nice coating of dirt lends to its character (and covers some of the scratches I’ve earned while off-roading).

Access to outdoors. My ride has to be able to be outdoors and get me out there, too. It’s trail-rated, but that’s not even as important as just having the clearance to make it up the winding sandy driveway from the road to my cabin without scraping the whole way. It’s got a 3’ x 5’ ragtop roof that opens to the sky like a convertible, but with less exposure, which is perfect for my style of conservative recreation and sunburn-prone skin. I’ve gone driving on the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina with wild mustangs to my left and jellyfish in the ocean to my right. While I might not do that on my commute between St. Paul and Edina, I like that I would be able to, if the opportunity presents itself.

Drive proud, drive happy. Find your bliss and drive it.

With thanks,
Andy

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