Trusty RSTBUKT got us there and back again

Against all odds the faithful (so far) ’99 Burb carried us off on an adventure into the deep wilderness and, even more comforting, back home safe again in the midst of winter most foul.

The white behemoth with the blotchy orange highlights (thus the RSTBUCKT license plates) and seats for nine if we go cheek-to-cheek, has taken us to the mountaintops of Wyoming and Montana. Also, deep into southern Colorado for grandson Dominic and friends on a spring break ski trip a couple years ago.

This recent trek to Broken Bow for the funeral of Aunt Jean, 92, was less grueling. There were challenges to overcome, nonetheless.

The hurdle this trip was snow and ice packed highways twixt here and there. We faced the worst of it on Hwy 34 from York to Hwy 2 north of Grand Island. This obstacle was a direct result of us getting 8-10 inches of snow compared to just a couple, three up yonder in Custer County.

The Burb’s 4WD was deployed a good bit, mostly on ‘automatic’ so it could engage and disengage at its will on a patchwork ribbon of crunchy ice, packed snow and brine, brine, everywhere brine.

Doggone thing did not put a foot wrong the whole day.

Before I impart the impression this is a substandard vehicle, permit me to set that straight. It has been driven less than 145,000 miles in a quarter-century, roughly equal to my 2012 GMC Canyon. We ride in smooth comfort on a set of new Michelins a bit beefier than the vehicle’s specs require, so the rubber is superior to most other vehicles of its vintage, too.

The seats are sized and padded for more than adequate comfort, even to hind parts as girthy as my own. Leg room is generous, no small thing to what remains of a creaking carcass at six feet, four inches and 253 pounds. You sit up high with the benefit of great visibility, and a full 40-gallon fuel tank (I make that 240 low-slung pounds of ballast in the belly) delivers beaucoup stability and traction.

The beast doesn’t skitter and wobble at all is what I’m saying.

Not surprisingly I suppose, we had no need to deliver a refrigerator to Aunt Jean’s funeral. Yet, I find it oddly comforting to know we could have slid one in the back had it been necessary.

The old girl got 16 mpg right on the nose for the round trip. I’ll take that, especially given how much 4-wheeling was required.

I planned the trip to include a nice breakfast at Grand Island en route, however strings of dead-slow traffic had us down to a snail-like 30 or 40 mph for long stretches.

In moderate panic, I reneged on GWN’s breakfast to restore lost time. Instead, we opted for a mad dash to the drive-through line at McDonalds in Aurora. (Be still, friends of GWN, I made it up to her at Chances R when we got home.)

Speaking of Aurora reminds me of Hamilton County which leads to a sidebar tale, namely the shocking difference in winter road conditions that day between York County (hold onto your hat buckaroo) and Hamilton (smooth sailing). It was like driving over a scribed line exactly at the county line. I am 100% unqualified to explain this phenomenon, one I commented about in a previous winter column, however it was obvious.

Driving a vehicle from a bygone era is a simple pleasure in many ways. No vexing bells and whistles at all.

None.

The Burb is not recognized, never mind tracked by satellites. It lacks those damnable air pressure gauges inside the wheels, designed to reliably fail eventually. I can see if a tire is low with my own low-tech eyes, thank you very much, and then check it with my even lower-tech but ever-present Wally World tester.

It has a nice onboard sound system, which GWN will not tolerate so what’s the diff, and the heater/air conditioner can toast the toes or numb the nose as you choose from controls in front or back or both.

When you need lights there are no obscenely expensive-to-replace gadgets to handle that small chore. No siree.
All you do, see, is reach your left hand up to the dash, grasp the switch twixt your fingers and twist the knob clockwise to turn the suckers on. I find the pure simplicity of that refreshing.

Bottom line; the old gal has not let us down yet and I don’t think she will.

One even dares to wonder; is it conceivable ‘old’ might occasionally be better? For vehicles, maybe. For a shufflin’ old man with a prosthetic hip barking like a seal above a bone-on-bone knee? Not a chance.

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