Readying THE CLAW for the Open Road

Most readers of The Writing Life blog have met my 1989 Volvo station wagon, THE CLAW, before. But if you haven’t, here’s a write up that chronicles some of its journeys and here’s a tribute that a writing friend posted on her blog. This car has over 221,000 miles on it and counting; crossed the Rockies twice last year; and was purchased for a downright steal-of-a-price at $850. The only expenses for THE CLAW on this three-year writing tour across America have been snow tires, oil changes, and one dead battery…until this week, that is.
I believe the note I left our mechanic when I dropped it off at his place along Highway 19 was: “Dear Ronnie: When I apply pressure to the brakes, it feels as though an 8.6 earthquake is consuming the front end of the vehicle. I’m driving to Illinois next week. Is there any hope?” Three days, four brake pads, two rotors, one front strut, one brake booster, and $622 later, THE CLAW was ready to be picked up. Mind you, our mechanic is as good as they come and made sure to run the price by me before putting in any of the labor–and of course I gave him the go ahead. Who wants to drive to Illinois in a death wish? Not I!
With the car back in my hands and my departure date nearing, I spent the afternoon packing, sorting, and loading up. Much to our dog Gus’ dismay:
He gave me such sad eyes that I actually started to choke up. And when he flat out refused to get out of the vehicle, I sat and had long talk with him. He nuzzled deeper into the car and hunkered down. Finally, after twenty minutes, Mom was able to bribe him out with a beefy bone.

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