Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Newest Addition: 1996 Grand Cherokee

Well I realized a while ago, I haven’t posted anything on here about our new vehicle.  When the Toronado went down, after about a week it became obvious that I wasn’t going to get it running in the immediate future.  So we couldn’t be with just one vehicle, that would leave Andrea and Luke stranded out here in the sticks any time I’m at work.

So we looked around, but I didn’t want to take the first thing that came along just because we were desperate.  Even though we kinda were desperate. We test drove a crappy little Ford Escort for a day.  It got great mileage, but it was TINY… two doors, and had a big dent in the side.  Driving it felt a lot like driving Andrea’s old Mustang again, only less cool and in worse shape.  I drove it around thinking… if we got this car I would hate driving it every day I have it.  If I don’t feel anything for a car, then it starts to get neglected.  And when it starts to get neglected, it starts falling apart.  So I made up my mind that I wanted something I at least LIKED, even if it was less than ideal.

I had put the word out to everyone I knew to keep an eye peeled for a car that was in our price range.  Andrea and I debated for a couple days about whether to take on a car payment or not.  Even I, seriously considered it.  But just the thought of it felt restrictive.  You know how you feel when you get a raise at work, and you have a little extra breathing room?  Well this felt the opposite of that.  So we made up our mind to look for something we could buy outright if at all possible.

Andrea and I discussed a lot of vehicles while we were looking through classifieds.  Most of the times the cars that Andrea liked were too expensive, and most of the cars that I liked were too… “grandpa”.  Then on my way to go get my new cell phone, I drove by this Jeep out front of a little car dealership.  I knew a Jeep was one of the things she would drive.  And I didn’t mind the idea of a sport utility.  Heck we are used to crappy gas mileage anyway.  But I also knew she hated red.  But it was a Jeep in our price range.  I had that going for me.  Nevertheless, I took it on a test drive and headed to Albert to see what she would say.

Here’s the picture I snapped before we bought it.

It drove right down the road.  It was clean.  It needed a list of little things done to it like latches and some touch ups here and there.  But it seemed solid and reliable.  I don’t know what Andrea thought when she first saw it, but when I saw it driving by I thought, “That would be perfect… and extraordinarily ordinary“.  Haha.

It is by far the most average vehicle we’ve had in a long time, but I like it!  It’s comfortable, it’s not hacked to bits. And while it’s not perfect by far, I can still take some pride in it.

I got it all detailed and took a bunch of pictures today out at Pawnee Rock.  I think it looks pretty good for an old average commonplace Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Lots more pictures if you keep reading…..

Read the rest of this entry

Super Fun Weekend

After all the stress lately, this past weekend was exactly what was needed.  Some family came up and we went out to the Great Bend Airfest.  I was really worried that I would be dissapointed by what showed up, but it was completely awesome.  There were several vintage planes out there from the 1940’s, mostly WWII trainers and such, but the really cool ones were the B-25, and the P-51, both beautiful planes.

I took a bunch of pictures, but here’s some of the highlights:

Whoops… didn’t see that until later.

I have to say the P-51 is one of the most beautiful planes ever made.


There’s a lot more pictures, so click through to see them, or check out my gallery to see A LOT more.

Read the rest of this entry


I wondered when this day would come.  The day that I seriously have to consider replacing the Toronado.  The damage to the front axle is more extensive that I thought, and it’s not a part that is readily available.  I don’t know if it can be fixed, and we can’t sit around with just one vehicle while I wait for the part to materialize.

I’m really kinda torn.  I’ve been driving this car for 5 1/2 years now and I still like it actually.  I’m familiar with it, and I’m comfortable with it.  But sometimes I think, it’d be nice to have something different.  Not necessarily “newer” or “older” or “cooler”, just nicer.  By that I just mean comfortable and reliable.  I don’t need anything fancy or cool.

Andrea and I differ a bit in that.  She needs the cool factor.  And the cool factor drives up the price.  One note of observation: “grandpa cars” are usually cheaper.  And they’re usually pretty well taken care of.  There seems to be a lot of them, an nobody wants one.  By contrast cool cars are wanted by everybody, so you get a lot less car for your money.  Besides, old people really have it figured out.  Big roomy cars you can stretch out in.  Comfy seats.  And why do you need lots of power?  It’s not like you’re going to pass anybody with the cruise control set at 55mph.

So I think for now… unless someone on my Oldsmobile forums posts up the part I need, I’m going to buy a super cheap car to get us by for a few months.  I don’t want to run out buy something that we settle for just because we’re desperate.  So I’m on the lookout for a super cheap car for now AND the Toro parts I need.  And maybe long term something in real nice shape that I can drive for another 5+ years.

It feels like a really sad day.

Well….  This isn’t good.  It looks like the axle failed BECAUSE another part failed.  The support that holds the axle in place, basically.

The part that is broken is listed in the picture below as “SUPPORT BRACKET AND BEARING”.

The problem is… you can’t just run down to AutoZone and get a new one.  The only place I can get one is from another Toronado.

It MIGHT be able to be welded back together.  But I don’t know.

Could this be the end of the Toronado?

I hope not.


My car has only left me stranded once before in the 6+ years I’ve owned it.  And that was due to my own stupidity flooding the engine.

This time around the failure was more… catastrophic.

As you can see in the picture above, something “exploded”.  That something was the inside joint on my passenger side axle.  I had a mild vibration over the past couple months, and I couldn’t track it down.  So I just kept driving it.  Today on the way home from town, the vibration quickly started to escalate.  I slowed down to 50, and the vibration went away, but then started to come back.  I slowed down to 40… got better…. then came back.  I found a place to pull over and did a walk around on the car.  That’s when I discovered the mess.  The car still moved under its own power so I figured I would try to limp home.

I was about 10 miles from home and figured I’d give it a shot.  Thank God I decided to take the back roads home.  So I head down the county black top doing 25mph.  Everything seems like it was going pretty good.  Until I got to a decent sized hill.  Then POP!  WHZZZZ!  And that was it.  No more go.

So I got off the road as best I could with no power.  I pulled out my cell phone and of course “Your battery has less than 10% remaining, please plug in your charger.”  Nice.  I called my neighbor Chris with my final minutes of battery life and he brought out a truck to pull me home.

So the Toronado is now back in the driveway.  I ordered a new axle.  If there’s anything frustrating about this it’s that the part that broke is a part I replaced only two years ago.  With a 30 year old car that has over 260,000 miles, you figure its going to be one of the 30 year old parts that breaks… not a two year old part with maybe 20,000 miles.  But nothing you can do about it now.  The replacement part is only $70, so still not quite justified to get a new car yet.

At least I made it to the liquor store… I was out of beer.