Published in the Mercury News on Dec. 15, 2005:
A milestone was reached the other day, fittingly on Interstate 880 around Coleman Avenue, a route I drive nearly every day.
My Honda Accord passed the 200,000-mile mark. Two hundred thousand miles in the car we bought new in 1989. Never did I imagine owning a car this old, this long and logging that many miles.
I'm not a car buff, one of those guys who hits the auto shows or goggles over spiffy, new models when they reach a dealer's lot.
I'm usually Mr. Practical. I want a car to get me around safely, without breaking down, that gets decent mileage. Once it hits 100,000 miles and the paint begins to peel, it's time to look for a more dependable one. Passionate about a car? Not me.
We hadn't even planned to buy this one. But on a trip to a dealer to get a new outside mirror, I was smitten. The fact that our then-5-year-old daughter liked the pop-up headlights didn't hurt either.
Then a funny, unexpected thing happened during these past 16 years with this black hunk of metal and plastic. I've fallen in love with it, with what it represents. So many memories. So much of my life has been spent behind its steering wheel.
This is the car in which we raised a family, our daughter from a kindergartner to a 21-year-old student at Cal and our son from a newborn to entering high school. It's hauled them to 5 a.m. swim practices, 7 a.m.
It's the car Anne first drove when she got her license, and the one she nicked up in a fender bender the second day she had her license. I told her the car looked awful, the damage in the hundreds of dollars. It was a mere scratch, but a chance for Dad to teach the new teen driver a lesson.
It's the car my son, Matt, and I have sat in for 20 minutes in the driveway after baseball or basketball practice, sipping sodas and quietly talking about his day and life.
It's carried Mrs. Roadshow and me to our first trip to Mendocino, and to Big Sur for lunch, our annual anniversary gift to each other.
It's the car we drove to Los Angeles, to see a favorite aunt and uncle who have since passed on. We drove it to our first Disneyland visit after becoming Californians.
It's the car we jump into to head to the movies, Mrs. Roadshow's idea of a perfect date. And it's the car we've driven to Jack in the Box for hot chocolate after attending Christmas Eve services at our church, a silly Richards tradition.
It's the car I purposely drove through a huge puddle of water one day, forgetting that the sun roof was open. How do you spell drenched? Really drenched. We laugh about it years later.
We have other, more reliable cars. I won't let the girls drive the Honda, fearing it might break down. I wish it had air bags. It doesn't take well to tough, uphill roads like Highway 17, and a cranky window that wouldn't shut on a recent cold winter morning drew a few curses. Then there's the leaky sunroof -- and the cascade of water that can pour onto my head after a hard rain.
It amuses my son and me, but Mrs. Roadshow did not see the humor when she unexpectedly got drenched one day.
Friends at my son's school chide me about the Accord, threatening to petition the Mercury News to buy Mr. Roadshow a respectable vehicle. Not much chance of that.
Others ask if it can pass a smog test. Every two years it does, including the dreaded test-center-only invite last summer.
I've known people who have logged 150,000 to 170,000 to 190,000 miles on their cars. They seemed so attached to their vehicles, an attachment I have come to understand.
So much of our lives in the Bay Area takes place in the vehicles we drive. Memories, so many good memories.
I'm not sure how many miles the old car has left. Maybe we can coax another year or two out of it.
confess to being intrigued by a hybrid. But as we ponder a new car purchase, a wave of sadness engulfs me. When this old Accord goes, a big chunk of our life as a family will spin down the road for a last time.
That I will miss.