In 2010 I moved to New York dreaming of being a Broadway actor.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
Four years later, and I find my...
When Life Gives You Lemons... Make Orange Juice.
May 12, 2014
Greg Redlawsk -
So we're starting out, making this film, and I guess I'm blogging about it. I've never been a great blogger, most of the time it's be...
When I Close My Eyes I Smell Fresh Mountain Air
May 6, 2014
Greg Redlawsk -
It’s all well and good to have ideals. To have a point of view, a perspective to get across. It’s important to understand your why.
May 17, 2014
Carburetors and Colorado
June 7, 2014
- Greg Redlawsk
It might be easier to start with a list of modern conveniences this car we’ve just purchased doesn’t have. Power steering? No. Air Bags? Nope. CD player? Nah. Air Conditioning? Well, yes, but for how much longer is anybody’s guess, and it definitely won’t be strong enough to stand up to that mid-summer Utah heat. Compared to my last car, a Saab 9-3, this automobile is the epitome of bare-bones riding. Truth is I’m frightened. You could almost call me terrified. I’ve never been likened to a mechanic, and while I’ve driven for a decade I’ve never had to really learn how to fix anything, I’ve never tackled more than a jump start. The modern car, while a paragon of convenience, has left me woefully lacking in this department.
Twenty years before I first sat behind the wheel of my first car (a navy blue Buick Regal, very nearly a boat) our new old Subaru GL Wagon was gracing a showroom floor in Englewood, Colorado. A modest vehicle in many ways, the star of this early-generation sportswagon was its push-button all-wheel-drive system and tractor-trailer-like off-road capability (along with relatively tractor-trailer like handling, one might guess). The first thing I noticed when popping the hood was the rather bizarrely placed spare tire, one eye staring lazily up from its cozy hangout just above the sky-blue Hitachi Carburetor. I should mention, before we bought this car I didn’t really know what a Carburetor was or what it did (I still only have the most basic knowledge – modern cars don’t have them anymore, so I’d have no reason to know (who am I kidding? I don’t’ know what most bits on most modern cars do either. Do you know what a crankshaft does? I don’t. I should probably learn)). Thank god for the internet and vast swaths of online forum space devoted to classic automobile enthusiasts swapping stories and advice on how best to keep their aging cars on the road and out of the junkyard.
I brought up the carburetor because, while doing our research into the vehicle, our due-diligence, we learned that with a carburetor setup like ours there can be some difficulty when it comes to driving at higher altitudes (and we're getting VERY high up in Colorado). It can make your car struggle and gasp for power and expend much more fuel, damaging your rate of consumption, which winds up costing you at the fuel pump. Our car has almost no power to begin with, a middling seventy-three horsepower to ferry four of us along with our equipment from one side of the continent to the other, and not in a particularly linear way. We’re now struggling with whether or not it’s worth swapping in a different type of carburetor or if we should consider switching to a fuel-injection system like more modern cars have, which would be a pretty hefty undertaking. I won’t bore you with the details of how it would work (mostly because I have absolutely no idea).
In short, by buying a car like this, we’ve made a hell of a lot more work for ourselves. Maybe it will come back to bite us, maybe it won’t, but either way we’ve essentially invested in a vehicle that is, in almost every way, a risk.
I couldn’t me more thrilled.
There’s this, well, I guess it’s a sort of cliché, but this notion that when you work on a thing with your own hands, when you’re forced to sweat and learn and put in tangible, physical effort, you wind up being far more invested, caring much more about the thing you’ve worked on. It does seem to hold true, even from my purely research based experience – I’ve spent hours and hours over the past few days researching carburetor models and our expected altitudes for various points along our plotted trip (point of interest: Wyoming is way higher above sea level than I expected, and Utah’s actually less than I anticipated), and several of us have been reading and studying manuals for the car and the engine (a Subaru EA81).
All of this study, this pouring over materials; it’s rekindled in me an interest in automobiles that had been lying dormant for nearly half a decade. I, like many others, spent many of my teenage years fantasizing about used muscle cars and fetishizing my own (despite it being, as mentioned above, an old and beaten down Buick). That interest faded in college and almost vanished completely upon my moving to New York City, where I’ve been without a personal mode of transportation for years. I didn’t even know I missed it.
In two days I’ll be making the trip down to the southernmost tip of Staten Island and picking up the car to take home for the first time. It’s reminiscent of when we brought back our childhood dog (Shadow) from the shelter for the first time; that same feeling of both anticipation tinged with a bit of nervousness. I can’t wait, but I’m also not entirely convinced I’m prepared for what’s about to happen. It seems to fit in to the spirit of this adventure, though. Taking a risk. A calculated risk, one we’re preparing for, but a risk nonetheless. Like Shadow (she’s a whopping thirteen years old now, or maybe fourteen, so I think she also qualifies as a classic in the best way possible), we’ll have to tame the car, adjust to it, and learn to trust it. Yet Shadow was never fully tamed – sure she learned all the tricks, was housebroken, all of that – but still, she’s an animal, and she’s got her own mind. So I expect it will be with this car, to which we’re all going to be entrusting our lives. It’ll have a mind of its own sometimes, I have no doubt. Yet I’m fully confident we’ll learn to work with each other, trust each other, and blaze a trail on tarmac together from one side of the country to the other.