Before I continue on where we left off, I do need to step back in time for a bit.
At the end of my first winter in Oregon (if you consider “winter” to be a week of snow, and then nothing…) I went to the Portland Auto Show with a friend. (you know, the really big one that travels around the US and has all of the latest models from major car brands on display? Yeah, that one…)
Well I had an idea of some sort of small SUV or possibly a Tacoma (Two of my co-workers purchased Tacoma’s that winter) but hadn’t defined which exactly I wanted. This car show was a place for me to simply scope out my options. Two important pieces of information were gathered here:
- No Jeeps. They’re cool, but no model fit the specks I was looking for (ground clearance, spacious trunk I could sleep in, doesn’t look like a box… and yes, I purposely made my feature image of a Jeep).
- My new vehicle would have to be red. Bright red. I spotted a lovely red Tacoma at this show and it simply solidified my love of the color.
I began asking around for opinions on smaller SUV options. The two that kept popping up were the Toyota 4Runner, and the Ford Explorer (but only the newer ones). With these two options in mind, I began to research the pros and cons of each, how they were different, and how they were similar.
My second Oregon winter was now in full swing, and I was talking to everyone I knew about my 4Runner/Explorer debate. Did I really need something as tall as the 4Runner? Does the Ford’s nickname “Exploder” still hold true? Were they comfortable to sleep in? Could I even lay down in them? Is the back seat comfy and spacious for my friends? What’s the gas milage like?
Home for Christmas (although technically it was early December), I was pointing out every single Explorer and 4Runner to my mom.
It didn’t take long to notice that there were far more Explorers on the roads then 4Runners in my home town. (There were also a TON of Jeep Cherokees. Like, way too many. I questioned if a Jeep dealer shut down and sold off their stock for cheep. As it turns out, they had recently had a big “end of year” sale.) It was also clear to me that red was not many people’s color of choice. So every time I spotted a red one, it was with extra enthusiasm.
At one point, my mom and I were walking back to her vehicle after having lunch with a family friend, and I pointed and exclaimed to my mom “Look at that red Explorer! It’s even parked right by us! How pretty!” to which my mom’s friend, who had been walking behind us, replied “Oh, you mean that one?” which lit up as she unlocked it. Eyes wide and smile growing, I turned to my mom with pure joy and turned back to her friend, “Can I lay down in your vehicle?!”
As this family friend has known me my entire life, this statement was not completely shocking. Although she did make a slightly confused face.
About a minute later we had the back seats down and I was sprawled out in the back of her vehicle. Then I sat in all of the passenger seats, I sat in the driver’s seat, I pushed all of the buttons, reached for the pedals, and asked every question I could think of. When all was said and done though, it still didn’t feel quite “right”. But I couldn’t seem to figure out why.
A few days after returning home from my family visit, my Impala became stuck in my driveway. This is when my neighbor so kindly towed me out and invited me out snow wheeling. A week or so later we went out in his Land Cruiser with a group of other Land Cruisers, Tacomas, old 4Runners, and even a few Jeeps. It was amazing.