|New member of our team: Dodge Ram 1500|
Photo by Alex Streif
When our good old Astro van (vintage 2001) lost its transmission just as Kate was arriving in Miami in January 2017 to start the new season of shows, limping home the last 40 miles in third and then second gear, the local Chevy garage towed it in and did a repair just in time for the next show.
On the way home at the end of that show, the transmission failed again. It took a month to repair (no parts), and in the meantime we tooled around in a rental car (courtesy of the warranty on the first repair) and Eric's car to split the load. Neither vehicle by itself could hold all that was needed for the shows.
After a couple of shows with this divided warehouse, and Eric not available the following week, it was time to decide: buy a new vehicle, rent a bigger van (not available anywhere, anyhow), or what? Eric is motor-savvy and in with local dealers. He recommended Dodge (he owns one). It's great to have such a smart son!
He took me around to four different dealerships and brands. Finally the new Dodge Ram proved itself the best choice, and the dealer was willing to negotiate. The catch: I had to have it that day. Walk in, drive away. They did their darnedest to make it happen, with registration, insurance, payment (in full, thanks to Dick back in Maryland moving a few mountains) and all the red tape done by 7PM.
We drove it to the nearby Chevy place and looked at the poor forelorn Astro still waiting for parts, unloaded the remaining supplies, and drove the new, spacious, muscular and eager-to-travel Ram home to fill it up with the contents of the other two vehicles. Turned in the rental the next day, relieved that it incurred no expenses.
The Ram is so spacious that we had to learn a whole new way of loading and unloading. It gets excellent gas mileage, has a few features I may never use, and feels great to drive, sitting up so high that visibility is superb.
A couple of weeks later I ordered some magnetic signs for its flanks, like little billboards. The sign maker suggested covering the whole van with a "wrap" of images, but something so garish I could not go for.
The one problem is how to reach the windshield to clean it! Oh, and how to back it up in tight spaces... very carefully.
We have a very busy summer planned for 2017 and should run up the odometer nicely. Those who know how I drive might also say the speedometer gets a good workout.
In the 38 years of doing shows, the Ram is only our third vehicle. Not counting our start-up in a VW Rabbit before we got serious about the show circuit, the first 18 years were handled in a Toyota van. I loved it and still mourn its demise. To the last minute it was always reliable. Then 16 years in the Astro, serviceable but unloved. The steering never felt right, the seat was too low, and the gas pedal stuck for the last year. The Ram promises to be the best one yet. You see me comin', better dodge for cover.
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