Goodbye, Pathfinder…

My old Pathfinder sits on the side of Rampart Range Road on a scenic drive I took on my birthday last year. Pikes Peak can just be seen through the fog and mist of an autumn storm that rolled in near the end of the drive between Sedalia and Woodland Park.
My old Pathfinder sits on the side of Rampart Range Road on a scenic drive I took on my birthday last year. Pikes Peak can just be seen through the fog and mist of an autumn storm that rolled in near the end of the drive between Sedalia and Woodland Park.

Well a guy came to get my old Nissan Pathfinder today. I know it’s just a car, an inanimate object… But it was a little like saying goodbye to an old friend. I had that car for 18 years…

I got the car just after I got my last dog, Buddy. I remember when I took Buddy for his first drive in it as a puppy. It started to rain, and when I turned on the windshield wipers, he started to bark at them as they went back and forth. 🙂

I bought the Pathfinder new, shortly after I got out of the Navy. I was working as a photo copier repair guy, my car was my office, and I had to carry a bunch of parts & tools around with me. I had a small Saturn sports coupe and had just spent a winter driving it to clients’ business all over downtown Denver and the Denver Tech Center. I decided I needed something with more carrying space and that could handle winter driving better.

I rolled the Pathfinder once in a spring blizzard, driving back to Buena Vista, Colorado from an Easter dinner with family in Denver. I had made it across South Park, seeing cars off the road at many locations. Shortly after making it passed Fairplay, I found myself behind a snowplow and thought I had it made with a plow for an escort the rest of the way home. Unfortunately as soon as we passed Antero Junction, and the ascent up Trout Creek Pass at the borders of South Park and Chaffee county, the plow pulled over.

It wasn’t much past that that the road seemed to clear, I was on a straight away in four wheel drive but still driving slow. A pick up truck passed me at high speed with no difficulty. My speed climbed to maybe 40 mph when my back end started to fish tail. I took my foot off the gas, tried to slow but the fish tail got worse, no matter how I tried to get control. I began a very slow spin out and ended up facing the opposite direction in the opposite lane as if I was headed back to Fairplay. My car slid to the snow piled on the side of the road and stopped, tipping slightly. It wasn’t moving fast and as the slide stopped and the car tipped, I had time to think, “Oh good, it’s stopped. We’re all good.”

The movement of the car tipping was so slow that I knew the moment the car glacially passed the point of no return. I had time to think, “Oh, shit…” The next thing I knew the car tipped over and slid down the slope of about 25 feet or so to stop upside down. I found myself hanging from me seat belt, the windshield busted, and my dog buddy, asleep on the seat behind me, woke up on the ceiling of the car, and I’m sure his doggy mind was thinking, “What the hell happened.”

When I trudged up the hill to the road in the deep snow and took my first step onto the road I immediately fell on my butt. When a State Trooper eventually came, he had to hang on his car door when he first stepped out as his feet did a little dance on the incredibly slick iced-over road. That didn’t keep him from giving me a ticket of course as we sat in his car with my poor dog Buddy tied to his bumper. Thankfully the tow truck driver was a dog lover and let me keep Buddy in my lap on the drive down with my poor Pathfinder chained to the flatbed behind us.

The car was repaired and there were many trips after that, often with Buddy. The car took me camping, four-wheeling, and on a number of mountain scenic drives. It towed my junk in trailers, and carried me through several moves. It took me back and forth to Tucson, Arizona to visit family a number of times.

Yes, it was just a car. But that Pathfinder was part of my life, and I’ll miss it.

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