Last Monday Chikara had a surprise day off. I needed to go to the shopping mall near us to make some appointments and get a few things. The mall is only 10 minutes away and even though our car overheats easily, up until now that distance doesn't cause any problems. I hopped in the car after Sakura and Natsuki were down for their nap and arrived without incident (and without A/C). I got all my errands finished and headed back home. There was a little bit of traffic and I had to wait at one red light but by the time I got home there was smoke coming out of the engine! I guess if we had nowhere to go then it wouldn't be a problem but we had two camps coming up and we needed to be able to drive at least an hour away safely. I walked into the house and told Chikara what had happened.
We started to brainstorm about possible solutions. We can't borrow a car from a friend during those times, it's too expensive to rent, we could see if we can pay to fix our car but it's only a stopgap measure, or we could buy a new car. Fortunately Chikara's job is buying cars at auction and selling them to other countries. We decided that Chikara would go in the morning and have our car looked at and at the same time we started looking at what cars were up for auction the next day. We lucked out that there was an auction going on in Kobe and we had to go to Kobe the next day for my doctor's appointment. If we could find a good car in our price range, we could conceivably pick it up and drive it right away. It would solve a lot of our problems.
So Chikara started researching cars that were available and showing them to me. After awhile the cars started to blur together in my head. Prices, colors, auction houses, car names were all swirling around in my head. Needless to say there were a few arguments and misunderstandings and after all that we didn't see anything we liked on Monday. At this point I wasn't sure what to do. Tuesday morning Chikara took our Odysey to Autobacs (car place!) and they said that the radiator is leaking fluid and the radiator fan isn't moving. They could fix our car for our $800 but we had already decided that if it was going to cost that much we would rather just look for a new car. The guy topped off the water in the radiator (?) and Chikara got back home around 10:30.
We had to leave for Kobe at 12:30 in order to make it in time for my doctor's appointment so Chikara started searching for cars again. Around 11:30 he showed me a car that was available at the Kobe auction that I liked the look of. The more he told me, the more I liked it and the more he researched about the car, the more he liked it! Again, I should mention that we had planned to do all of this in October when we had more time and money but after a few discussions on Monday we decided to try and get a car for about $2000 that would last us for a year and then we could try again to get a car that really met our needs. At this point we needed a car that seated all of us, had air conditioning and could fit two guitars in the trunk. This car met all of those needs. We debated for a few minutes, Chikara looked around to see if there was anything better and by 12 we had pressed the button and bought it! I was really relieved to have made that decision.
We left for Kobe as planned and we got stuck in traffic. We told our Odysey that it only had to take us as far as the hospital and we prayed that we would make it that far. At one point I was thinking just to abandon it on the side of the road and take a taxi. There was smoke coming out of the engine and to help the engine cool down we had the heater on full blast. The kids were so hot, especially Natsuki in her carseat, so I sat in the back with them and we talked and told jokes to pass the time. We were very happy when we made it to the hospital, parked that car and gave it a much needed rest.
I went into the hospital with the girls and Chikara took a taxi to the car auction place which turned out to be conveniently close to the hospital. I had hoped that Chikara would make it back in time for my appointment but there were a few hiccups at the auction place so my doctor agreed to wait until he could make it back. We saw the doctor (more on that later), Chikara asked a ton of questions, we paid and took the girls out to see our new (to us) car. The girls were so excited and we were just relieved to have made it to this point in the day!
One more wandering drive led us to a gas station to fill up the car and we got our first surprise. The engine is 3500cc's so the gas tank is bigger. It cost us $100 to fill up the tank! Yikes! With both cars we drove to Chikara's company to drop off our Odysey. It was a tedious drive with lots of lights and slow drivers (with an impromptu stop for dinner) but again the Odysey made it without breaking down and we were grateful to be able to clean it out and leave it parked there!
At this point it was 8:30pm and Chikara thought we should stop in to see the owner of his company. They live across the street from the company building but they are moving back to New Zealand next week and we thought this would be a good opportunity to say good-bye. They have four daughters like us and my girls love playing with them. We tried to call but there was no answer so we literally walked up and rang the doorbell! They are very gracious people and invited us in for some dessert. We chatted for about an hour and by this time we were pretty tired so I asked my girls to go to the bathroom before we left. Ten minutes later Misaki was the only one who hadn't used the bathroom so I rounded her up and told her to go. We were standing in the hallway and she opened the wrong door, closed it and went down the hallway a bit to the right door. She had accidentally opened the door to a storage closet and I had glimpsed a KitchenAid mixer. They had just finished telling us they couldn't bring any of their electrical appliances because the voltage is different and here I was looking at a KitchenAid mixer. Normally I would never ask but I knew the owner's wife would have no problem saying no to me so I asked if she was taking her KitchenAid with her. She asked me if I wanted it, I said are you sure (!) and she said she would lend it to me for the next five years until she comes back. So...
Chikara was a little shocked and offended that I had asked for her KitchenAid but she said she was glad someone who would really appreciate it would be using it. So I brought it home and the girls and I made delicious cookies the next day! We piled in our new car and drove home in comfortable silence and were very happy to get into our beds.
It's been 10 days since we bought our car and we keep discovering cool things about it. It has a rearview camera so you can see behind you when backing up. This has been awesome especially since it's a little wider than our Odysey so an even tighter fit getting into our garage. It has seat warmers which will be nice in the winter. The sliding doors are automatic so you can press a button to open them or just pull the handle and it slides open (awesome when I went grocery shopping). It has captain's chairs in the center aisle and fits three in the back seat. I went back there to try it out and there was a lot of leg room and the seat was very comfortable. The trunk is huge! The only drawback so far is the added gas expense so I'm keeping track to see how much more we end up spending and then we can decide if we'll sell it next year or keep it. We don't have to do the car inspection until next August so that has given us a little breathing room. With all that we only paid $2200 after fees and taxes so we are pretty happy.
It's a Honda LaGreat and has some relation to an Odysey which is nice because all the buttons are in the same place on the console! It has 135,500 kilometers on it but the guy who owned it before took very good care of it so it should last until next August if not longer. Mostly I'm just hoping it lasts through the hot summer!!!
So one of the problems of 2010 has been dealt with. One hurdle has been jumped. I'm praying everything else resolves as quickly.