Friday, May 1, 2015

Goodbye Yeti

This week, we said goodbye to an old friend - Curtis' first vehicle, Yeti. This post is in "loving" memory of him.

Yeti is a 1998 Dodge Dakota. Curtis bought it 2 years ago at the end of his sophomore year of college. Having never driven a manual before, he had to learn from Mitch how to drive it, and within a week drove by himself back to Iowa. Mitch recalls getting texts from Curtis after he left, asking "How do I get it to go uphill??" :)

On our wedding day, our bridal party decorated Yeti for us, filling the bed with balloons and hiding pictures of Nicholas Cage all around. We should have removed the duct tape on he side much earlier than we did...

After our ceremony and reception, I climbed into Yeti in my beautiful white wedding dress...(I love that this picture has both of our moms watching over us. :)

And off we drove together, listening to the CDs our brothers made for us: one that played random songs off of Youtube, and the other had 21 tracks of "I Would Walk 500 Miles" by The Proclaimers. (Yes, we listened to both constantly for our first 4 months of marriage.)

As it turns out, nobody honks for "To Canada!" (at least in the Midwest), so at brunch the next morning, our sisters fixed the back to say "Just Married!", and we got all the recognition in the form of honking that we wished for. Side note: Canadians are much more into this than people in the US. We also scored 2 bottles of champagne thanks to this. ;)

We traveled 3000 miles in the Yeti over our honeymoon adventure around the Great Lakes. It was then that we started having some issues with it - whenever we were in line to cross into the US from Canada, or once when we were stuck in a traffic jam, the truck would start to overheat. Still, we enjoyed a great trip together, and after a few more days in Iowa, we packed it up and drove it to Arizona.

We figured out that the overheating was caused by the fan not being connected. Curtis easily fixed that, and it worked for about a month until the fan housing cracked. (The previous owner had replaced the fan, and we suspected that he put one that was too large in and it wrecked the housing.) After that, we left the fan disconnected, and survived without air conditioning. That's right, no air conditioning...even for an entire summer in Arizona!

We took many trips in the Yeti after moving to Arizona - Albuquerque, San Diego, trips to Phoenix, Our Spring Break trip (around 3000 miles), Iowa, Santa Barbara, Flagstaff, Sedona, and again to Iowa. In 2014, we put in over 15,000 miles!

I finally gave in and learned to drive manual before our trip to Iowa last spring. Between Curtis and I, we were on the road for 30 hours straight, stopping only for gas and letterboxes, and got to surprise our families. It's kind of amazing we didn't have any troubles on this trip!

When we were taking our 1st anniversary trip to Santa Barbara, we had a breakdown on the side of a quiet highway, around noon on a 110+ degree day. We figured it was because the water in the battery evaporated in the heat, and so when someone stopped to help, we had them jump our truck and we drove to Palm Springs, CA to an Autozone to replace the battery. After that first day, we didn't have any more troubles for a while.

In September, we brought home our first puppy in the truck! We opened the middle console in the front so that Charlotte could ride with us. She always preferred to ride on Curtis' lap though. :)

Charlotte's first time in the bed of the truck :)

Before driving back to Iowa, we did everything we could to make it a safe trip, including getting new tires. And then, the 3 of us set off on another long 2 day drive, which went perfectly fine until the last 2 hours when a familiar smell came back. It was the same issue that we had last July on our anniversary trip, except in 30 degree weather we knew it wasn't the heat that was evaporating the water from the battery - it was the alternator overcharging it! Thank God we had just enough gas in the tank and only 2 hours till home. We made it, and Curtis was able to fix it for the drive back.

In January, we began our drive back on a bitter cold Sunday morning. 2 hours in, we were stopped for gas and Curtis was checking the engine - and when he closed the hood, this black cover just shattered! I told Curtis that it felt like we were driving a cartoon car - like ones where it starts off with a character driving some old vehicle, and as he's driving things just start falling off until all that's left is the seat he's sitting on and the wheel between his hands.

We enjoyed visiting the Bridges of Madison County that day. Later that night, 1 mile from Lamar, Missouri, we broke down once again. It wasn't the battery, because the truck would still start, but it wouldn't engage the engine and we were stuck - this time, at 20 degrees. We got towed to Lamar where the driver dropped the truck off at a mom and pop type garage, and thankfully the guy was able  to fix it up in less than 24 hours and we were on our way. This time, the culprit was the fuel tank. We spent the next day driving across Texas without any trouble, and made it to Artesia, NM that night.

On the last day of our drive home, everything started off fine. We drove through the lovely Sacramento Mountains in Southeastern New Mexico.

We enjoyed one last fun adventure with Yeti at White Sands National Monument. After that, we were driving to Las Cruces when we heard a new sound coming from the truck. It sounded like a recorder - a recorder that only knew 2 notes. We laughed at it, filled up the tank in Las Cruces and began our final stretch home.

Just 20 miles West of there, we heard the sound of something unscrewing and then popping off. Then all at once, the power steering went out, coolant started spilling out on the windshield, and the truck overheated in a second. We pulled over and discovered that the screw that fell off had taken the belt with it that connected everything in the engine - the alternator, battery, power steering, and water tank. We couldn't do anything about it there, and had to get towed for a second time.

Curtis was able to fix Yeti right away. However, we knew it was time for us to buy a new vehicle. We had been planning to get something new by the time we had to move, so this only made things more urgent. The Yeti had served its purpose, and now it was time to find a vehicle that would better suit our family and would be able to do the long trips we had planned.

And with that, we say goodbye to our first vehicle. 

I'm trying to think of something nice to say, but after all those breakdowns I'm having trouble finding the words.

See ya, Yeti. ;)

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