Suby Tales 2005: Editor's Cut

At the dawn of 2005, we asked Outside Bozeman readers to document their most illustrious Suby tales — stories about Subarus and their place as one of Montana’s most honored vehicular residents. We figured it was high time for a celebration of the mighty Subaru and its inimitable accomplishments around Southwest Montana and beyond. Well, we got what we asked for: dozens of stories of high adventure, calamitous mishaps, unlikely romance, four-wheelin’ finesse, carbound camaraderie, and other notable experiences while driving this most prized of Asian autos. Here are the best of the bunch. Enjoy, and be sure to send us your own Suby Tale for next year’s contest.

Missing content item.

Four-Wheel Snowmobile
by Steven Gnam

It’s hard not to love a Subaru. Besides being aesthetically sound, they last forever. Having owned a four-wheel-drive truck, I thought it would be hard to let go and get used to the limitations of a passenger vehicle. Boy was I wrong. Trading in the truck for a Suby hasn’t limited any of my travels around western Montana. Besides the clearance concern (7 inches without gear), my Legacy wagon leaves tread marks down jeep trails that give my skid plate a workout.

My latest foray in the Suby led me towards the Great Bear Wilderness, south of Glacier Park. Mountain climbing was on the menu and the Suby was making the delivery to the trailhead. At the 10-mile road marker, down the snow-filled road, I encountered the last of the “civilized” vehicles. A parked four-wheel-drive truck (with studs) marked the place where snowmobile tracks took over the road. I pushed on—or rather, the Suby pushed on. Four miles later, after a splendid display of dancing atop the snow-packed road, the Suby succumbed to gravity and slid into the deep snow on the side of the road. I was proud of the wagon, venturing only where snowmobiles go.

That pride slightly diminished three hours later as I was still shoveling snow, concerned about the effect I was having on the annual snow pack. Just as the Suby was about to make an epic turnaround, a snowmobile came down the road. The snowmobiler was obviously not expecting to see me or a Subaru so far back. The man was running a trap line on his sled. He graciously offered to help me out. I was close to getting out but found it hard to turn down this trapper’s genuine offer. He raced back to his truck and returned outfitted with chains and a winch. In no time the Suby was pointed back down my packed tracks heading for home. The combination of the trapper’s generosity and the Suby’s all-wheel-drive made up for my stupidity of snowplowing down snowmobile tracks in summer tires, with no chains and no one to help push me out.

For those of us not bound to pavement, living to take the road less traveled, long live the Subaru!

P.S. A few days later some friends and I returned down the same road in a Suzuki Sidekick. We came up a few miles short of where my Subaru turned around.

Slide for Life
by Jan Crostiere

I married my husband in June of 1996 and brought with me a 1991 Subaru Legacy station wagon. My husband and stepson (10 years old) questioned me about having a Subaru, as they have always driven Chevy pickups. I was on the road a lot at the time I bought the car and felt that it was one of the safest, as it had all-wheel drive.

In January of 1997 we all took a road trip in the Subaru to see my sister who lived on a farm 40 miles north of Great Falls. The snow-packed and slushy gravel road seemed to be no match for our little blue wagon in the black of night.

We turned a corner to a north-facing slope on the Teton River and hit a sheet of ice! Mike tried to keep us on the road, fishtailing about 150 yards; but we eventually did a 540 and the car shot over the edge of the road, sliding down the bank sideways. Passenger side first, we hit a barbed-wire fence and a post broke the side mirror off as we went through it. About halfway down, something caught a back wheel and turned us downhill. In the headlights beam, Mike could see what appeared to be a road at the bottom of the slope. As we hit the barrow pit in a flurry of snow, he gunned the engine and we drove up onto a road!

The three of us got out of the car, trembling and hugging each other, so shocked and grateful that no one got hurt. After pushing a headlight back into place, we drove two more miles to my sister’s home, passenger mirror hanging by the cable.

The next morning, we went to fix the fence. The hill was an ice-covered 45-degree slope. On the left side of where we went down there were huge boulders, and on the right side was a drop-off. The chute between the obstacles was only few feet wider than the car, with just enough hard-pack snow to slow us down a touch. Our savior was a Japanese engineering marvel with 180,000 miles on it. We feel to this day that if we had been in any other vehicle, we would have rolled the car. The balance of the Subaru was just perfect. When we took the car into a garage, it had three bent wheel rims and needed a hood and paint job due to the barbed wire scrapes. We have since bought a Subaru Outback Legacy and will continue to be Subaru owners.

Loyale Companions
by Mark Seacat

Bitterness lingered as I stepped off the plane in Bozeman. I couldn’t afford to ship Bessie home. Our separation, forced by a quick-tongued auctioneer in Christchurch, came only hours before my flight. Bessie was my white 1992 Subaru Loyale Wagon: my companion and my home. For six months she refused to let me down. The $715 I sold her for would fuel me for the next three months. At a potluck the night I returned, I was introduced to P. Thaddeus Hulst (aka, Pedro). I don’t actually remember Pedro beginning that initial conversation, because my memories begin right around the moment it ended. I started listening right about the time I heard him declare, “Oh, you mean the sweet ride parked over there.” The car did indeed belong to him. As I watched Pedro talk his way out of a parking ticket, our friendship began, and was thereby forged in Pedro’s white 1992 Subaru Loyale Wagon.

It was the Friday before spring break. By 3:00 pm we had loaded 5 bikes, 3 climbing racks, 4 ropes, and five guys with gear into Pedro’s Subaru. Our goal was, other than gas, absolutely no stopping ‘til Moab. The snow started to stick just as we passed the Yellowstone Club in the canyon, West Yellowstone was little more than a whiteout, and as we neared Island Park, Idaho, things became interesting. The loaded-down Subaru, in conjunction with the snowstorm, a corner turn, an icy bridge, a frozen river, and to top it all off, a semi-truck, meant that before we knew it, we were traveling sideways in the oncoming lane.

As we began the spin, I commented to Pedro in quintessential navigational tone, “DO NOT OVER-CORRECT.” In retrospect, I should have yelled. Up until this moment I had never been witness to such a magnificent tango. Pedro’s hands maneuvered the wheel through, as best as I can remember, approximately five to seven complete rotations. Finally able to rip my eyes from the dance, I glanced forward to the frozen river that shouldn’t be there, and then to my right. Craig was startled awake from his dreams, diving directly into this nightmare. We were both looking out our windows into the lights of the oncoming semi-truck, now merely yards away. Craig had just enough time to let out an alarmed, “uhhhhh,” when, at the last conceivable second; Pedro somehow managed to overcorrect his previous overcorrection perfectly into our lane. I can still hear the semi’s horn echoing into the darkness.

Pedro and I became best friends at that moment. During the trip, due to the intense effort and uncompromising determination with which he has always driven her, we decided Pedro’s Subaru was to forever be referred to as “Baja”.

Fast-forward a few years. Baja has been suffering the ill effects of every trip since she was named. The check engine light had long since been converted to a reading lamp, and with the engine sounding like a Harley, local mechanics began affixing their business cards to the windshield.

Having decided to spend the summer in Alaska, using Baja as a mobile base camp was our only option. After installing a new set of exhaust gaskets, we could hear the stereo for the first time in over a year. At the very same moment we hit the road, we were unceremoniously transformed into gas-station-coffee-guzzling, Bali-shag-smoking, caribou-dodging, mile-collecting Subaru pilots. We drove the Alaska Highway in just under 70 hours. We lost both gaskets at or around hour 39, and with them, the music. To rest, one person would settle into the navigational chair; the other would sleep in the rocket box. After his first night in the rocket box, Pedro declared, “Man, that was a dream come true.”

Our friend Hampton Carl (H.C.) had joined us for the second half of the Alaska trip. Instead of using his plane flight back to Bozeman, H.C. felt he had to “see for himself” just exactly what Baja had to offer. We settled into shifts, from driving for 100 miles to sleeping, from sleeping to navigator, from navigator to driving. Up until his first shift behind the wheel, H.C. had never driven Baja, nor had he ever piloted a vehicle equipped with a “shifter,” as he called it. As copilot, I was beginning to think driving the treacherous corners of the Cassiar Highway was no place for him to start. Eager for H.C. to learn, I permanently attached one hand to the “oh shit” handle and placed the other in close proximity to my eyes.

The Alaska trip has long since disappeared into the rearview. Pedro and Baja embarked on a journey along the California coast. Last I heard, Baja had met a sweet little thing of a hula-dancer named Nemo. After a brief courtship, Nemo affixed herself to Baja’s dashboard, synergistically entwining the two for the remaining miles. The rocket box has been replaced with an ever-present surfboard, and I haven’t seen them in a long time. I’m beginning to believe it’s time for the next adventure. We must help Ol’ Baja find a place to die.

Similitude in Silver Gate
by Holly Thompson

Well, my Subaru tale isn’t from being an owner of a Subaru but comes from being the property manager of a group of log cabin rentals in Silver Gate, Montana. My husband and I observed something very unique to our area that had us thinking about Subaru vehicles in general and the folks that drive them.

Starting back in November, right up until this spring, we noticed that most all of our guests that traveled to Silver Gate to stay in our cabins were driving some type of Subaru. If we kept track we’d have to say that 90% of our winter guests were Subaru owners. Whether the vehicle was brand new or 20 years old with 250,000 miles on it, there was always a Subaru in our parking lot. It got to the point where my husband and I would just laugh to ourselves when our next group of guests would drive up to their cabin in a Subaru with either the family dog packed in or skis attached to the roof.

What we learned this winter is that for the most part, folks that drive Subarus generally are wildlife enthusiasts and skiers/snowshoers who respect and enjoy the nature that surrounds them and are conscious of the environment. Not to mention dog lovers.

We are not asking to be entered in your contest for the most amazing Subaru stories; what we would like to do as business managers is offer one of your winners a free night’s stay for two at one of our log cabins for this coming fall and winter months. Of course this is on the condition that they drive to Silver Gate in their Subaru to keep our streak alive and bring the family pet.

Revenge of the Bird
by Kurt Dehmer

My good buddy Matt used to have this 1986 faded blue Subaru wagon whose odometer had quit working at 150,000 miles. In September of 2001 she took us on an adventure that still remains paramount among many.

Old Blue was only blue in the legal sense. She had been refitted with various blue-shaded body panels because most of the originals had been mangled by, among other things, attempts at flight, a trip to the ditch, a cruise through a row of mail boxes, and a jaunt through a fence while racing for the Bridger parking lot on a powder day. Of course she wore the telltale smooth patches from being parked in a pasture unattended, as the resident Angus used the poor car to scratch all those places trees and fence posts wouldn’t reach. Around the wheel wells she had pockmarks, most likely due to afternoons of rallying down gravel roads en route to obscure fishing “accesses.” Some slight rust coloration had to begun to erupt along the lower doors, which would squeak when opened, mimicking to perfection a gopher’s whistle (this fact did not go unnoticed by the Matt, myself, or any one of the thousands of dead rodents duped by the seductive squeak of the rusty door hinge).

She always wore either a coat of mud, highway grime, county road dust or a combination of the three so that parked in a puddle she would appear to be emerging from a primordial sludge. Her interior was “lived-in” and at first glance would appear to be upholstered by fast-food wrappers, chip bags, pizza boxes, Matt’s homework, various layers of jackets, empty beer cans, fleece coats, socks, and soggy waders. Sunglasses, ski goggles, and wildlife calls festooned the rearview mirror and gearshift. The dashboard had accumulated a collection of CD cases (the only brand new thing in the car was a sound system valued at twice that of the vehicle), Red Man packages, shotgun shells, .22 boxes, gloves, a hay hook, a large survival knife, a slingshot, and of course a shed whitetail antler. Her pale blue visors and roof fabric had become a graveyard for frayed and unraveling flies; everything from Royal Wulffs to Wooly Buggers could be found and occasionally used. Old Blue also had an odor that can only be described as that of a moldy gym towel, which would get worse if at any time her floorboards got wet.

In 2001 Old Blue had evolved into the ultimate waterfowl-hunting vehicle when Matt picked up a 20’x10’ piece of desert camo netting. We would simply drive Old Blue up to the edge of Uncle Dick’s farm pond, set out the decoys, and deploy the netting. With both front doors open and windows rolled down we would hunt from the relative comfort of Blue’s soiled interior. One particular morning the hunting had been unusually good, two greenheads shy of our limit, and with a couple hours remaining before morning classes the telltale horns of Canadian Geese pierced the morning calm. We had placed two goose decoys in the water and one sat atop Old Blue. As I wailed on my goose call the geese slowed and began to descend. With three pops of Matt’s 870, two ganders folded and dropped dead from the sky—or so we thought.

With the birds and gear loaded and five minutes late for class, Matt gunned Old Blue down the road, hell-bent for vinyl and an assured talking-to from his feminist issues professor. I was proud of my expert calling and looked in the back to examine the morning’s harvest; to my befuddlement staring back at me was one of the ganders. His long snaky neck periscoped over the rear seat and his beady little eyes registered a threat from up front. Hell broke loose from inside Old Blue that morning; feathers flew and so did the car as Matt tried to navigate around traffic on the highway and put us in the opposite barrow pit while the goose tried to peck out his eyes.

I finally managed to grasp the gander’s neck and he focused his aggression on me, wings flapping, honking and hissing like Satan himself as we did battle. Meanwhile Old Blue had screeched her way back up onto the road and Matt gunned the engine, weaving through morning traffic. My hand fell to the survival knife on the dash and blowing through a red light Old Blue’s four cylinders cried for mercy. Somehow I freed the goose of his head and, covered in blood and goose crap, Matt, myself, and Old Blue shuddered into a parking spot, with just enough time to make the last half of class, and that talking-to.

The Phantom Menace
by Andy Dosmann

A few winters ago a few friends and I found ourselves in an unenviable position. Fresh powder, normally a cause for celebration, became nothing more than a tease. The slopes of Bridger Bowl beckoned, but we were stuck without funds for a ski pass. We also lacked the expertise and equipment to foray into the backcountry where our legs could pay the price of the lift. But ignoring the fresh powder was not an option. We would just have to find an alternative to the ecstatic feeling of carving through the steep and deeps. Low-key was not what we were looking for, but low-cost was. One of us came up with the idea to rent snowshoes from MSU. It wouldn’t be the adrenaline rush we were hoping for, but for five bucks a piece, it was really the only option besides building a snowman.

So we loaded into my friend’s white Ford Bronco. But this was no ordinary Bronco. Nor was it an OJ Simpson version. It was an old, jacked-up, mud-boggin’ affirmation of manhood. This vehicle didn’t run on gasoline; it took only high-octane testosterone. Perhaps it was fit for something more extreme, but its duties that day were to take us to the trailhead of Lava Lake for our first snowshoeing adventure. As we drove from Bozeman into Gallatin Canyon, the road conditions deteriorated. But we were riding in a beast, so we didn’t worry.

When we reached the highway turnoff for the trailhead parking, things looked a little sketchier. We admonished our friend to find a better parking spot, figuring we could just extend our hike a bit. Just as he seemed ready to acquiesce, he spotted tracks leading down to the trailhead.

“Somebody made it,” he said. Then, as his eyes caught the red Subaru, he exclaimed, “If a Suby can make it down there, we sure as hell can.” Remember, this truck ran on testosterone. It was almost like he could have let it slide if the perpetrator was a Jeep Wrangler or something; but to let a Subaru one-up his beast was too great of an affront.

So rather than find a sure parking spot, we hurtled into the deep snow. Notice I didn’t say through. The horses under the hood were firing, but the wheels were spinning. My friend was in disbelief. He gunned the engine, refusing to accept the fact that we were stuck. “But the Suby made it down there! How could I not?” The rest of us would have been laughing in his face, were we not shoveling out a path back to the safety of the highway. Eventually, we dug the Bronco out and parked in a less demanding spot.

We strapped on our snowshoes, and as we passed the red Subaru at the trailhead my friend wouldn’t even look at it, refusing to acknowledge its existence. “We’ll probably see the owner on the trail,” I joked. “Maybe they’ll trade it for the Bronco, straight across.” Sure enough, we saw the owners, a nice couple in their mid-fifties. My friend decided not to extend my offer. The entire trip we jabbed at my friend’s exposed nerve, but the truth was that none of us gave the Subaru the respect it deserved. When we got back down to the trailhead, the “Phantom Menace” was gone. We finished the last of our insults as my friend drove away, but that red Subaru is still a black mark on my friend’s white Bronco.

Backcountry Pimpin'
by Andrew Hertsens

I love Subarus. Ever since I got my first 1988 Subaru DL I was hooked. Now I own two Subys. My friends and I love going camping in the summer. Many camping spots are deep within the Montana woods, and in order to get to some of them you need a more off-road-friendly car. So I made a few modifications to my 1981 Subaru GL wagon to make it a one-of-a-kind mountain patrol Subaru. First I did a 3-inch lift on it from, then I had my hubs re-drilled to a different lug pattern so I could get bigger rims and off-road tires. I also got a custom off-road bumper so that I could protect myself and my Suby from trees and most of all, deer. I had to add a CB radio so if I got stranded I would have some way of getting help. So this isn’t a Suby tale it’s more of a story about one Subaru and its owner’s quest for greatness. May the stars be with you.

Abominable Snow Fan
by Wade Haldeman

In late November, a buddy and I went deep into the Bridger Mountains to hunt the wild yeti of southwest Montana. We only became stuck after the Suby was high-centered, and with snow coming over the hood. Luckily (after shovelin’ snow for a little while, a couple of separate times in a gnarly snowstorm) we got it back on the road.

The Real Reason They Give 'Em Backseats
by Melynda Coble

From looking at her, you wouldn’t have guessed that Nellie was a babe magnet. She was a little faded and old, bluish-silver on top. That “damsel in distress” act was never my thing, but it sure seemed to work for her.

Nellie and I met at a used car lot. The day before I moved from Victor, Idaho to Bozeman, I crashed my beloved Toyota pickup, coincidently, also named Nellie. It was sad, but it was Nellie-the-truck’s time to go.

When I saw the new Nellie sitting in the lot, shining and light blue, I knew she had to be mine. The used car salesman wove tales of her invincibility, of how she could plow through several feet of snow without even slowing down. So I bought her—a 1991 Subaru Loyale. My first four-wheel-drive vehicle. No more sliding off the road for me; no more depending on the goodwill of passersby to dig me out and push me back onto the snow-packed asphalt.

I took her and the dog up Hyalite one snowy winter day knowing that Nellie would get us to the Emerald Lake trailhead without problem. I was a little cocky, but if a used car salesman says she can plow through several feet of snow, it must be true.

It was white-knuckle driving all the way. We made it to the north end of the reservoir. We made it to the turn off to Emerald Lake. We made it to an eighth of a mile from the trailhead before I slid off the road. Unbelievable.

I got out, looked around, pulled out the shovel, and started digging. Then they pulled up on their snowmobiles. Five very cute boys. Now, I’m not much for snowmobiling, but they did push Nellie out. And they were very cute. And I did get asked out to dinner by one of them.

Once I hit snow-free pavement on my way back to town I started considering all the folks I’d met by sliding off the road. The family of four who simultaneously hopped out of their truck, grabbed shovels from the back and dug me out in Island Park, the two women with the winch up Sourdough, and snowmobile boys—it was all part of Nellie’s plan to attract people into our lives. And usually good-looking ones.

Early one winter I took Nellie on a trip to Mill Creek in the Absarokas. They hadn’t closed the road at Snowbank, yet, so I kept driving. I clicked the 4WD button on the stick shift, gripped the wheel, whispered positive encouragement to myself, and slid into a ditch.

A huge truck filled with men pulled up. I think they were laughing at me, but they poured out of the truck and pulled me out of the ditch. And one asked me out. I loved my car. She knew how to do something I didn’t—attract men.

Nellie and I don’t live together anymore. I gave her up for a boy. A smelly-hairy-stinks up-the-car kind of boy. Well, I had the boy first, so it was only fair.

After that trip up Mill Creek, Nellie never went off the road again. And I ended up selling her and replacing her with a four-wheel-drive Dodge truck named Nellie. My dog was too smelly and furry to share a space with anymore. In the truck he can have a dirty section in the back and I can have a clean space in the front. It’s sad, really, having to give up my boy-attracting car for another boy, but I guess that’s true love.

The Suby Downhill
by Jeff Hostetler

After 14 grueling months working for corporate America as a mortgage loan officer, I abandoned my brand new Honda and bought a $2,000 1987 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 4x4 wagon with 132,000 miles. Liberating expectation surged through my 23-year-old body as I blasted that October morning through the Columbia Gorge listening to Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” as the fall sun rose in the east, where I propelled myself toward Missoula, Montana.

The Subaru carried everything I owned. Inside were four boxes of books by adventuresome idols like Hemingway, Joyce, Wolfe, Burroughs, Bukowski, Homer, Shakespeare, Silko, Fromm, Duncan, and an assortment of best of the western writers like McGuane and Harrison. Jammed alongside the boxes were Pioneer speakers, wires, a stereo receiver, six-disc changer, VCR, snowshoes, .270 rifle (that fall I filled the back end with my first mule deer, a 4x5 beast that sustained me throughout the winter) .12-gauge shotgun, 4 fly rods, waders, boots, a milk crate full of fly tying materials, and two boxes of CDs. On top were my Trek 8000, 207 cm K2 XKs, 157 cm Kemper snowboard, 2 pairs of Scott ski poles, and a shabby pair of Rossignol rock skis. I was set to live the dream.

It came true two months later in Missoula when Snowbowl hired me as a Level 1 ski instructor. With four studded snow tires, the Suby was the ideal machine for the perilous Snowbowl road. With the push-button four-wheel drive placed like a futuristic laser launcher in the handle of the shifter, the wagon was ideal for bulletproof corners lurking in the shade at 5:30 after a cool hour in the mountaintop bar. The digital dash lit up with orange LED images, including large digits for the speed, and a fantastic Hurricane Katrina-shaped indicator for the turbocharger, although the increase in Gs when the turbo kicked in left no doubt the baby was whirring.

Most afternoons, we attempted to set Suby Downhill descent records. The car had a trip computer with an average-speed-per-trip indicator and a fully retracting sunroof. To set a record, the passenger would stand on the center console with his hands wrapped around the Yak rack, and for added safety his goggles over his face. With the backend sliding sideways and the front tires turned into the turns, the record was set at 41.3 miles per hour during a surprise blizzard on a February afternoon. That morning the road grader had slid 300 feet off the cliff alongside the road, bowling down trees; the driver broke his arm and four ribs.

That winter the Subaru also climbed the bunny hill alongside the rope tow in front of a packed bar, and set a Suby Downhill freeway record of 104 mph with the begoggled racer clutched to the ski rack on our way to Bridger Bowl to hike the Ridge for the first time.

On a warm night that winter I had drunken sex with the seats folded down; but the best roll in the hay, so to speak, was in the spring, when I miscalculated a corner and the laser push button had not engaged. We rolled the Subaru twice, broke out all the glass, left the ski rack and Dead Kennedys stickers shattered and scattered for a quarter-mile, the roof buckled down on our heads, and the Grateful Dead continued to sing “Bertha doncha come around here anymore!” on the tape deck. My front tires were mere feet from the same 300-foot cliff the grader had slid down. Fatefully, we left our snowboards at the ski school instead of on the roof, and my buzzed friend Jason at the bar. Good thing because the back seats didn’t have seat belts. My buddy and I brushed slivers of glass from our eyelashes, and for kicks, I turned the key. She started, and with my cap on backwards and my goggles over my eyes, I limped that dog back down to the valley, where I sold it to a salvage yard for 300 bucks, and with the proceeds tapped the keg fridge for the next four weeks.

Alternator Angst
by Nathan Park

Think “Suby Tales” and images come to mind of botched backcountry adventures with several feet of snow, or an endless muddy mire where the small-but-powerful Subaru played a pivotal role in extracting its owners from certain disaster. My Subaru is not so off-road inclined, however, and all of the events in this Suby Tale transpire in the safe, paved haven of the Costco parking lot.

My Japanese gem is 1989 GL with an automatic transmission, a four-cylinder engine that has the combined power of one horse and four squirrels, and old tires that like to go flat (or in my sister’s experience, explode) when you least expect it. Aside from this, it’s a low-maintenance vehicle that can get where you need to go even with a foot of fresh powder on the ground.

On a fine summer day last February, an unexpected occurrence turned a routine errand into a cross-town trek on foot. My Mom and I planned to quickly complete a few necessary errands before coming home to prepare a nice meal for my father and sister, who were returning that evening from a long trip.

As we entered the Costco parking lot for our final stop, the Subaru spontaneously lost power and died. We concluded that it had run out of gas; though the needle wasn’t quite pointing to empty, it was close enough to confirm our judgment. Rather than call a cab, I told Mom I’d walk down the road and buy a can of gas while she got the groceries. “I’ll be back in no time,” I told her, which turned out to be an hour and a half.

I soon discovered that gas cans sold at Home Depot do not, in fact, come with gas already in them. Bummer. I extended my walk to the Holiday gas station at Durston and 19th. When I got back to Costco, I proudly explained to Mom my cheap solution to our problem. For eight dollars I got a gas can from Home Depot and two gallons of gas from Holiday: much cheaper, in my mind, than a taxi.

After pouring the gas in the tank, we revived the Subaru and headed home. We got to Oak Street when the second incarnation of the Subaru came to a sudden end. We managed to push it off the main road to an out-of-the-way final resting place. Somewhat irritated, we began the long on-foot trek to our house, which is near the hospital.

Later the next day my Dad managed to once again revive the Suby and drive it home. He had to keep the engine at 2,000+ RPMs, which meant putting the car in neutral at stoplights and revving it up like some kind of high-end sports car. When the green lights came, Dad popped the Subaru back into gear and squealed off the line, only to drive 50 feet before having to stop at another light. This process was repeated several times before the Subaru made it home.

As it turned out, it was the alternator that, without any prior signs, decided to die in the middle of running errands. It also turned out to be a bit more expensive of a repair than my eight-dollar solution. Although it has never performed amazing all-terrain backcountry feats, only having to replace an alternator without needing a tow after 16 good years of service is something remarkable indeed.

Baby Gas
by Marcus Gruber

Amy woke me up at 7:17 am. She was having major contractions and wanted me to call the hospital and ask some questions. They told me to come on in and get her checked out. Amy was lying on the bed and I couldn’t get her out because the bed was too high. After about five minutes, she found the strength to get out with my help. I asked her to brush her teeth while I grabbed the bag we already had packed. I thought we were going to be there for many hours and I wanted her to be comfortable. We made it down the 20 or so stairs and got to the kitchen. She said “I’m tired and I want to lie down and take a break.” She told me she was hurting really bad and didn’t want to get back up. I told her that I would rather do this at the hospital and she agreed. When I noticed that her water bag was coming out, I knew we didn’t have much time. Somehow she managed to walk the final 11 steps to the car.

We finally got on our way to the hospital and were cruising fast down Babcock. I was listening to Pink Floyd while she was screaming loudly from the contractions. We were about halfway there and she said she felt the baby starting to come. I asked her if she was sure and she said “YES!!” At that time the car showed signs of being almost out of gas. So I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted. As we turned onto East Main, she again said the baby was coming. Of course I asked her again if she was sure, and again she said “YES!!”

About that time, we turned right at the Main and Highland intersection. The car just about died but somehow kept on going. Still in the turn, Ione decided she wanted to be born. She immediately started crying which made me feel a lot better and I knew we were safe from there. Climbing up the little hill to get to the hospital, steering with my knees; I reached over and grabbed our daughter out of her mom’s pants. The car was running on fumes and had no power. I was so shocked that I kept holding her while driving with my knees. Amy finally said, “Hand her to me and get to the hospital.” So I did and I got to the emergency room and some lady came out and noticed what was going on. I didn’t think she knew so I ran inside and found almost nobody. I ran back outside and everyone was out there.