Is it strange that I tend to define the last ten or so years of my life by each Prius I was driving at the time? My first Prius — which must have been one of the earliest ones to roll off the assembly line — was purchased in a moment of anger after George Bush was elected. The controversial decision over Al Gore had me convinced that the environment was going to be the big loser. Casting about for something I could do immediately to tip the balance, I latched on to the then new idea of a hybrid car. If you remember those early cars, they were something only an environmentalist could love. The tiny back seat was too small for any passengers but children and, because Japan probably thought people here would only buy it for ethical reasons, they didn’t bother with any amenities. You got cloth seats, hand rolling windows and maybe a cheap stereo system. Everything else was manual or missing.
Still, I loved that Prius, which I immediately dubbed “Old Paint”. Paint and me, we took some great roadtrips together, including the first leg of my Mission Mission where Old Paint was nearly flattened by a giant tumbleweed somewhere north of Bakersfield. I’d probably still be traveling with that trusty steed, except that the addition of an extra terrier meant that I couldn’t fit two dog crates in the tiny back seat. Actually I could jam them back there provided I put them in such tiny crates they couldn’t stand up and shoved the crates so close together that the air holes were practically covered. Clearly that wasn’t working for the terriers, so Old Paint was put out to pasture and in 2009. I upgraded to the newer hatchback model in red. Old Roany allowed for some bigger crates and even some cargo in addition to terriers. Roany worked out so well that I took her on even more extended themed roadtrips such as my Road Less Traveled. There was even enough room in Roany to have a terrier ride shotgun.
But time marches on and now I find myself driving hundreds of miles a week as I shuttle between San Jose, San Francisco and Sonoma. Now I’m someone who will drive a car for years until it dies by the side of the road. But Andy can calculate for you the exact moment when you stop being able to get top dollar for your used car and the resale value starts to plummet. He decided Roany was at that point. This week! I contemplated other cars for about five minutes. But it was really only going to be another Prius. I know many of you, my well meaning friends, have blathered on to me about torque and engine size and the relative merits of diesel. But here’s the thing. There is really only one criteria for me. I like to drive small cars as I find them easier to handle and park. But I can’t go any smaller than a car that can load two tandem roomy terrier crates. Toyota seems to have perfected the smallest car body style that allows for the largest terrier crates. With Audi or BMW, I would have to get a much bigger car to have comparable terrier room. So no further contemplation was needed. A Prius it was.
I set out to Stevens Creek Toyota to cut my next mount out of the herd. And there she was: the last of the 2013 models in Sea Glass Pearl.
Best of all, since I had Paint and Roany to trade in, so I got the new one for the price of two Priuses, a few box tops and a book of Green Stamps. Nearly. Not that the dealer was going to let me drive off the lot for that low, low price. Apparently, it now takes hours, AFTER YOU WRITE THE CHECK, to be allowed to drive away in your new car. However, after refusing additional warranties, undercoating, Lo-Jacks and service agreements, I was finally given the keys and allowed to leave.
But as I drove off the lot, panic gripped me. What kind of Old West horse name could I come up with for a mount that was Sea Glass Pearl — surely a color that would be unknown to John Wayne. Luckily, I have a five year old Goddaughter who has schooled me on the fact that the only ponies that count are My Little Ponies. I even know the names of many of them, although I do get mixed up on some of their magical powers and which ones are unicorns. However, I do know the one with the rainbow colored mane and tale who can fly and has a body that, in some lights, could be called Sea Glass Pearl.