July 5, 2022, Saugus- As I mentioned previously, any journey has both rewards and costs, successes and paybacks. It’s time for Saturn to get serviced, and among other more routine items, there is a hairline crack in its oil pan. This was not observable, as recently as Saturday morning in Boothbay Harbor, but it is now. So, it will be replaced, when the new oil pan arrives tomorrow, at the shop I use here.
This gives rise to lots of questions, so let me address a few.
- Does this happen every time,, on a cross-country journey? No. In 2015, the Nissan Altima I had at the time died, in Newtown, CT, after getting me to this hometown of mine, on its last gasp.. Altimas have a reputation for transmission and catalytic converter issues and it was a failed “cat” that did the vehicle in. Other than that, pre-emptive maintenance, such as that which Saturn is now enjoying, has prevented problems.
- Don’t you think it’s a bad idea to drive a Saturn, as they are no longer manufactured? The vehicle performs well, gets gas mileage comparable to cars much smaller than itself and handles well on the highways and in inclement weather.
- Don’t you want a newer vehicle? Of course, and this SUV, tiding me over until sometime between this Fall and next Spring, is likely the last non-hybrid I will own. It was available when my trusty Hyundai Elantra was wrecked, nearly a year ago, and the asking price was very reasonable.
- Why did you drive across country in a fifteen-year-old vehicle? The SUV is solid, parts from GM are compatible with Saturns and rental cars, which I did research in advance, were scarce as hen’s teeth, especially in Atlantic Canada. I needed to drive, in order to visit L’Anse aux Meadows-a primary goal of this journey. Yes, all that just for one special place.
- Why not just fly? Watch your archived footage of air travel, especially this past week. See the happy faces of those stranded in airports and standing in long lines. Before that, though, check the cost of an airplane ticket, say, from Halifax, NS to St. John’s, NL: $598 one way. Matt’s Cheap Flights is probably comparable to a gas-fueled drive from Prescott to northern Newfoundland, but not by much-if they even offer such a route.
- Are you going to do this in the future? Not in the Saturn. As much as I love the vehicle, it is in the six figure range, and the only other SUV I ever owned quit at somewhere between 150-200,000. The Saturn is far shy of that range, and I am not going to chance it. The rest of the journeys I foresee are doable by train, local bus and rental car combinations or by air (overseas). Even southeast Newfoundland can be traveled by bus-too bad the northwest of the island does not yet have such a system. My next journey, for two weeks or so in October, to Sacramento, Carson City and St. Anthony, Idaho, will be done by train and rental car.
- Do you lean on others for help in such cases as now? I did, in 2015, when my financial situation was unstable. I am more fortunate, now, in that regard, and carry my own hod, so to speak, It is nice to have family with whom I can stay, for 1-2 nights, though it is not a necessity.
- What is your overall plan for the rest of the drive back to Arizona? I will visit some family and friends, in a few places. Overnights have been arranged in Oley, PA, Crossville, TN, Grapevine, TX and Amarillo. I have received messages to visit a few places along the route, as well. I can either camp or get a room in between those stops, as needed. I have trusted mechanics in certain spots between here and Prescott, whose services I have used before, but I don’t think I will need them.
- So, here I sit, in a family home in Saugus, out of everyone’s way and confident about the day and the rest of the journey.