Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Luna and Me

I'm not a car person.

But, allow me some sentimentalism: this month marks the 10-year anniversary of my obtaining Luna Moonshine, the '99 periwinkle-colored VW Passat that's been the only car I've ever owned. And, several days ago, I finally said goodbye and put her to rest in the hands of a VW shop here in Colorado.

Over our shared decade, we traveled roughly 100,000 miles together. She moved with me from Kansas to Ohio to Washington to Colorado. She road-tripped with me to Chicago (twice!), to Massachusetts to visit my good friend Becs and experience Trader Joe's for the first time, to New Orleans for three weeks of hurricane relief work after Katrina, to Kentucky for my very first backpacking trip, to the depths of the Cascadian jungle in western Washington for many a banjo jam session by the river.

She died a few times, including once at the end of a 20-mile gravel road in the woods, after which she had to be hauled out of by Cambajamba's jeep and a four-foot tow rope. She suffered sub-freezing nights in Ohio, rain storms in Seattle, snow storms in western Colorado. She was only ever in one accident. On one of the rare occasions I permitted someone else to drive her (those who know me know I was always protective of Luna), she was rear-ended on a highway exit ramp and had to have her bumper replaced.

In her final years, she cost me a fortune in repairs, not to mention in taking only premium gas for a decade; I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to be washing my hands of VWs and hopping on the Toyota bandwagon. But, that won't stop me from making an overly sentimental post here on my blog about our many good years together.

The Kansas days. Christine and Pat and I pack for our first road trip--to Chicago, for Lollapalooza, to see Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie and other high-school favorites. Luna was bumper-sticker galore back then, including but not limited to cliches such as: ART NOT APATHY; Compassion is Revolution; SAVE THE DRAMA FOR YO MAMA; People are Miracles; Every breath is a gift; ENJOY LIFE THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL.

My first backpacking trip, in Mammoth Cave National Park, with Sahale, Ezra, Erika and Shari. It rained for 40 hours straight. Magical as the trip was, we cut a planned five-day trek short after three days and I was grateful to Luna for putting the "car" in "car camping" that night. As in, I slept in her front seat that night.

Piling into Luna in New Orleans with Ruth, Anna, Daniel and Adam after a long day of gutting houses.

My commute through northeast Ohio farm country from Oberlin to Elyria for my job at Dick's Sporting Goods--the first job to send me down a running/outdoors-related career path, and also introduce me to some incredible friends outside of the "Oberlin bubble."

Sunset over I-90 in Washington state, the night I arrived in Seattle after a 2000 mile drive from Kansas, and a few days' stopover in Glacier National Park to visit Shari and hike the heck out of some beautiful Montana trails. Real world, adult livin', here I come.

Cruising the streets of my new hometown the next day. Seyeon took this picture from my backseat, because my front seat was still full of moving boxes.

One of my first travel-writing gigs, with OutdoorsNW magazine--road-tripping to Oregon's Willamette Valley to ride my bike, go wine-tasting and write about it for the magazine! Thanks to Carolyn for entrusting me with the assignment.

Luna pretending to be a 4WD mountain car, playing chauffeur to my annual Christmas-in-Seattle tradition with Elodie and James--snowshoeing! In the Seattle years, post accident-and-bumper-replacement, Luna sports new hippie bumper stickers, including but not limited to: Run Happy; Namaste; I {heart} New Orleans; 50k Vashon Ultra.

The neighborhood cats in Seattle loved Luna.

Other creatures have also enjoyed sleeping on, or in, Luna. She played chauffeur to the most magical road trip of all time, out to the Methow Valley for the Angel's Staircase 25K with Tom and Elodie. (Flatlanders running straight up an 8000-foot mountain elicits midday car naps.)

Luna also earned me my favorite parking ticket, featuring the best butchering of my name EVER. I've seen Yikta, Yata, Yakita, Yita, Yika, Yikita ... but this. This was a whole new level.

Luna survives a long, cold, grueling drive from Seattle to Colorado at the beginning of this year for my new gig with Trail Runner.

My mom (visiting from Holland earlier this month!) and I saying goodbye to Luna in the VW lot here in Colorado where we left her.

RIP Luna. Thank you for 10 years of awesome!


  1. Great article Yitka! Almost brought an alligator tear to my eye. Almost.... :)

  2. I laughed out loud when I saw the parking ticket. :)

  3. Oh dang! That night we spent in your car was one of the best nights of sleep that I can remember. I was just so grateful to be warm and dry! Goodbye, Luna!