Giving last rites to ‘Old Blue’
It was a sad day for me today, having to say good-bye to a trusty hunting and fishing vehicle, Old Blue, an unassuming but sturdy rig that had taken me to remote deer hunting ridges, out-of-the-way trout streams and smallmouth bass creeks, and so many others outdoors destinations.
Old Blue was a 2002 Honda CR-V, the plain model, that started out as a family vehicle but ended up in my hands, whereupon it always stayed packed with a sleeping bag, extra clothes, rain gear, boots, tools, an axe, machete, a fishing rod or two, tins of sardines, and energy bars. Ready to go, anywhere, at the turn of a key.
The 19-year-old rig in a way ran out of gas. It had 255,878 miles on the odometer and ran just fine down the road even at the end. Heck, even the air conditioning and cruise control still worked. But it needed too many expensive maintenance repairs: a catalytic converter, a new power steering pump, some seat-belt restraint system maintenance, and a charcoal canister to capture and recycle fuel vapors from the gas tank. The latter got knocked off the undercarriage last summer while I was negotiating an old overgrown farm trail and whacked a boulder.
Old Blue above all was dependable. It always started, never stranded me, always brought me home. No, it was not much to look at, no macho four-by-four, but its all-wheel-drive got me around in deep snow, mud, ice, and more on everything from interstate highways to mere traces of backcountry two-track. At least twice I was able to drive it out of rural ditches, unassisted, and there was that long ice-road along Lake Superior that Blue padding along surefooted, with nary a sideways slide.
Blue toted countless deer carcasses, coolers of walleye, yellow perch, Lake Ontario king salmon, Michigan trout, and Steelhead Alley chromers. It carried tents and camping gear, towed a trailer of two kayaks, a roofload of my old canoe, Gray Ghost, and another trailer loaded with Baby Beluga, my vintage 13-foot Boston Whaler. It took grandkids fishing. It was the epitome of an outdoorsman’s working vehicle, however unassuming in appearance and devoid of marketing hype.
The old car had plenty of scratches and minor dings from nearly two decades of hard use, and often was the oldest, unfanciest rig in a parking lot. But I maintained its mechanical components carefully, and it returned the favor with constant reliability. It did all I asked.
So, it came as no surprise that I felt a tug of nostalgia and loss to see Blue up on the flatbed tow truck, bound for the wholesale lot and an uncertain future – resale or the junkyard. I donated it to a charity, public broadcasting, which arranged for free pickup.
Goodbye, Blue, well done. Now we’ll see if your replacement, another family hand-me-down, Whitey, a plain 2013 CR-V with a mere 128,000 miles, can fill your shoes.