Brrm, brrm.

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So, yesterday being Friday, and the scheduled car-purchase day, Kathryn dropped me at the (conveniently close) Amtrak station and I got my first experience of US trains. Yes, it started from the station 20 minutes late, but it was a pretty relaxing ride, and some of the scenery was just beautiful. Despite many promises along the way we arrived… 20 minutes late. Still.

It was also, unsurprisingly, raining*. Which whilst some of it was very pretty (the mist rising off foothills), much of it was somewhat obscured. Mind you, it was nothing as to the journey back. Anyhow, I made it down to Portland, OR. Now why travel out of state for a car? Well, after much debate we’d decided that we’d get a first generation Honda Insight. These are kinda cool insofar as they’re Honda going ‘oh look we’ve got this great research project on hybrids, let’s see how many people will buy one’. It’s about the nearest thing to a hand built car we’ll ever own. All aluminium and all the tech they could throw at it.

They’re not quite collectable. Some people think they might be one day, others argue they won’t. Ours definitely won’t because it was much lower in price than others as it’s been rebuilt from a write-off (or ‘Totaled – Rebuilt’ as it says on the title). The thing is, the value of these cars is low enough that even a fairly minor prang can kill them – looking it over, it all looks pretty straight underneath and on-top. You can see where it’s been repaired – the metalwork at the front has a slight twist where the paint’s just cracked ever so slightly.

Having seen a few of them accident damaged, the toughened ally wings (fenders?) tend to crack rather than bend. So I expect it looked pretty terrible after whatever happened to it. Anyhow, it looks fine now, and has a startling 38,000 miles on the clock (for a 10 year old car, that’s pretty impressive).

Anyhow, Nikki + Kids met me at the station and we headed in to a public charger for her Leaf. Off we went for coffee and came back to find the charger had got bored at 60% for no obvious reason. After brief debate we headed off anyway, and made it over to Willsonville, where the car was waiting for us. Nikki’d already given it a test drive, but I took it out for a second survey. Nothing hugely untoward came up – although the CVT was maybe a touch noisy. Although it’s hard to tell. These cars are built for efficiency, not quiet, so that might just be the way it’s meant to be. Also, it turned out there was not much oil in the CVT.

After a bit more gentle prodding, Nikki headed off with the Leaf to find a proper charge, and I made my way through a US car purchase for the first time in my life. Not complex, but weird not knowing which bits of paper to sign and where. The plan was for us to meet up at the charger, but first I had to sort insurance. After several failed phone-calls and failed payment attempts we got that done, and then I trundled off.

Unfortunately, the charger Nikki was meant to be going to, for some reason didn’t show up on my map. Well, not until I got much nearer having visited two others. By which time she’d finished and moved off to her next errand. Thankfully I found her looping the car park outside the electronics store she’d messaged me to say she’d be in. Given the low oil in the CVT I was reluctant to make the 130 mile journey without a top up – and headed over to the local Honda dealer who were *lovely*. I pulled in and went to buy the fluid, assuming there was a filler I could reach – then asked the nice chap a the counter who explained that no, there wasn’t.

So then I asked if they could squeeze in a top-up and they sorted it, topped up the transmission fluid (for free) and sent me on my way. Parker Honda, Wilsonville. That’s ace customer service :)

Now, I kicked back at my friends for a while, petting their dogs, where it slowly became apparent that I’d not taken my antihistamines in my rush for the train. It turns out I *am* allergic to dogs still – and as my eyes worked up to itching and I went forth sniffling I cursed my idiocy. Still, after rush-hour(s) was (were) done I girded my loins and stepped in the car. Many-a-time I’ve dragged cars back hundreds of miles, but this was the first time I’d be crossing state lines…

…and some how it felt a little more unnerving.

Actually though, the journey back was uneventful. Apart from the *fucking hideous rain*. This bit of the country, it knows how to rain, yes it does. But the little Honda did its thing admirably. We trundled home, 130 miles isn’t loads here, but it felt like a lot in a brand new decade old car and in the dark. Creeping in at around 2230, having set off from home 14 hours earlier I was very, very pleased to get in to bed.

It’s yet another trophy of moving country. We’re here, we own a car.

And today we spent time looking and land and houses**.

Hopefully soon our stuff will arrive and then we’ll feel more rooted. I hope.

* Did I mention that it rains twice as much here as in Bristol?
** And watching Philomena, because it was raining and hailing and… because we were tired. Basically.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at