The Blackbird … one year later

It became my third car last year, surpassing the 1991 Pontiac 6000 that I commandeered from my nearly-blind Grandma Betty, and the 2005 Saturn Ion that I bought in an emergency when that Pontiac finally died.

It became the first car that was purchased through study and test drives and financing and opinions and consultation.

And today… one year later… as the odometer stretched past 55,000 miles… it’s now the car with which I’m most comfortable.

This morning, I thought about some of the great moments in my life – over the past twelve months – that have occurred in the car I’ve nicknamed “The Blackbird.”

In no particular order…

The first person to “ride shotgun” in the Blackbird was trivia host General James.  True story.  I was at Elbo Room for the Thursday night trivia game, and General had been going through a period of time where his car didn’t work.  That week, he arrived at trivia via the bus schedule.  I offered to give him a lift back to his house, he accepted.  He’s a General Motors man as well, I think his last car was a Buick or an Oldsmobile or one of those brands.  And I tell you, I enjoyed swapping car stories with him.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS, on the sands of Saints’ Rest Beach in Saint John, N.B. Nikon D700 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Then there was the time I took the Blackbird to Canada.  Specifically, my Canadian vacation in New Brunswick – actually it was a “vacation” and a chance to catch some NBL Canada games.  And on a chilly, frosty morning, I drove to a small beach near the Bay of Fundy, and captured what would become one of my beloved pictures of 2013, “Low Tide at Sunrise.”

Then there was the first time I discovered that hey, this car comes with a built-in XM satellite radio system.  Wow… is this a channel devoted to 70’s music?  Hokey smokes, can I listen to classic vintage 80’s new wave on this channel?  And here’s NPR, and ESPN, and an old-time-radio drama channel…  And that was the last time I specifically chose to listen to terrestrial radio in the car.  Just sayin’ is all.

The first true “assignment” for my car – where I specifically needed to do something with it that didn’t involve going TO work or coming FROM work – was the 2012 Equinox Thanksgiving Day dinner couriership.  The destination that year?  Five dinners to Voorheesville.  Successful.

And every time this year my girlfriend Nicole and I have gone on a trip together – whether it’s to the Great Escape or to the New York State Fair, to Saratoga Springs or to Niagara Falls … the Blackbird has been our dependable vehicle of choice.  Twenty levels of awesome.

What have I done mechanically with the Blackbird?  Not going to lie – if you buy a used car, you’re buying the used problems.  I’ve had the shocks replaced, I’ve had the tires replaced.  Three directional lights have burned out.  Three directional lights were replaced.  There was an issue with one of the hoses, and the car battery was original and failing.  Honestly, the worst problem this car ever had, as far as I’m concerned, is that it seems to be a MAGNET for stones and pebbles that land on the windshield and chip and ding it.  Thankfully, I have full auto glass protection, and even though it can be a pain in the exhaust every time this happens, the team at Safelite Auto Glass have restored, replaced and repaired my chariot’s windshield each time.

My maintenance and repair shops of choice?  No question.  Ernie’s Auto Repair on Green Island.  It’s a full service place and Ernie and his team do a great job at a fair price.  After that, it’s Valvoline for my fuels, Mavis for my tires, and Pep Boys in case my directional lights need replacement.  Yes, I’ve moved Pep Boys up from the “I wouldn’t buy an air freshener from you if it was on sale” level to “okay, you can handle at least replacing my turn signal lights” level.

My car wash of choice?  In a hurry, I’ll stop at the Green Island car wash (the one next to the Green Island bridge, say hi to the patrol officer who’s waiting in the car wash parking lot to catch you as you speed by), or the automatic car wash in Schenectady known as Squirt’s.  But if I want to take some time and have it done right, then I travel to the Hoffman Car Wash near Latham Circle.

It’s comfortable.  It’s dependable.  And it’s bad-ass black.  It’s my sportscar, it’s my chariot, it’s my whip, it’s my ride.

And even though it’s been nearly seven years since this naturally-aspirated SS drove out of the Ohio assembly plant…

It’s my one-year anniversary with the car.

Looking forward to two years.  And three years.  And many more years.

Works for me.