What happened was this: My grandparents both stopped driving in a period of a few months, my grandmother because her eyesight declined, my grandfather because of his stroke. They each had cars, and nobody was in a hurry to do anything with them. This was nice for us, because we had something to drive when we visited Seattle. My grandmother eventually sold her car to my sister's boyfriend.
When we decided to drive to Peter's wedding at Lake Tahoe with Dad and Sidnee, we had to decide how to arrange transportation. It was a trip that had to be done in two cars, because it's hard to fit four people, a wheelchair, and baggage into Dad's car, and, well, road trips with Sidnee can be trying. The plan initially was to take both their cars. But then they'd have to drive separately back to Seattle, or have one or both of us go back with them and fly back to Berkeley, which would be rather inefficient seeing as Tahoe is only three hours from Berkeley.
And sometimes we think it would be really nice to have a car. Not to drive around here so much--even when it comes to buying groceries, carrying them home from Berkeley Bowl isn't nearly as unpleasant as trying to park there--but to get away. Go camping and stuff. Leave this crazy crowded place for huge open empty spaces.
So we bought Grandpa's Jeep. I, who have always hated SUVs, own an SUV.
I am trying to justify it to myself as follows:
- It is a Jeep Cherokee Sport, the smallest of the Jeeps. It's still dwarfed by other SUVs in the drive-thru line at In-N-Out or parked next to Escalades at uber-yuppie University Village (where I could barely get back into my car, despite having parked properly. Damn Escalades).
- It gets about 20 mpg on the highway. Not great, but not terrible.
- We will Use It For Its Intended Purpose, i.e. on off-road adventures. Not that we're quite ready for that, as our desert blowout proved. But we have gotten it dirty, and will continue to do so.
- We don't commute with it. (Good thing, since it overheats like crazy in traffic.)
- It is not the sort of SUV that screams conspicuous consumerism. (That would certainly have been anathema to my thrifty Scotch grandfather, who after all kept it for more than a decade.)
And darn it, it's fun to drive. It doesn't feel big (in fact, I don't think it's much longer than my old Honda, since I've managed to parallel park it, and most of you know what an accomplishment that is), and it puts me just a little higher than I would be in a car but not so much I feel like I'm obnoxious, and it goes on dirt roads and stuff, and, and...it's neat.