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The Little Civic That Could

Our Summer Adventure

Eek! Just spent $500 in repairs on the old civic, but I think it was money well spent. The nice men at the garage did a bunch of the work for free since I was already going in deep on repairs on such an old vehicle and getting 4 new tires. I think I’ll follow the Car Talk advice and take them some brownies, following, of course, the proper brownie to mechanic ratio.

The car is a 1997, and it’s been with me since 2001 or 2002. Before that, it belonged to my fantastic Aunt Pe. It’s lived in California, Washington D.C./Virginia, the country of Panama in Central America, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky and now Ohio. It has over 207,000 miles on it, and it still runs pretty well.


After Uncle Cole passed away, Aunt Pe wanted to hang onto his Jeep and so she passed the Civic on to me. At the time, I was driving a 1984 white Volvo station wagon. It was a good around town car, but it probably wouldn’t have been able to stand the trips between Louisiana and Georgia that I started taking all the time once I went off to college at Tulane. Plus, we found out the Volvo’s undercarriage was completely rusted out. Mom ended up donating it to an artist friend who was taking off for New Mexico or something to start a new life in a Teepee. No joke.

All I really remember about the woman is that she had a daughter and she was only wearing one hoop earring. I think I spent the whole time we talked to her just starring at it. Wearing just one hoop earring seemed pretty damn cool to me.

I digress. In any case, fixing a few of the creaks in the Civic today has made me even more conscious of the other noises going on, but hopefully I can get to them at some point. Blake and I would be just fine with 1 car most of the time, but since I’m still applying for jobs all over the country and we might have to live apart for a short while if I get one of them, it’s good to have a back-up vehicle.

The body is a mess from people having wrecks with it while it was parked (I’ve thankfully never been in a wreck myself.) Hit and run types of things when I lived near a bar in New Orleans. The windshield is spattered with tiny cracks from highway driving from Baton Rouge to New Orleans behind trucks for years, and it developed an obnoxious mysterious leak just into the passenger side floor a few months ago. Thankfully, I believe I found the source of the leak (the windshield and/or behind the side view mirror on the passenger side) and have sealed it up.

I’ll probably give it a good cleaning this week inside and out. I feel I owe it that!

I certainly didn’t intend for this whole post to be about the Civic, but I guess I’ve blabbered on just about long enough for now. It really has been a good car. It was my only vehicle from 2001-2011 when Blake and I got the Kia Soul together. It made countless trips from New Orleans to Georgia, and went all over the place for printmaking conferences including to Chicago, Kansas City, etc. Later, it became a commuter vehicle for bi-weekly trips between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and sometimes Lafayette, Louisiana.

Red Light

Blake and I shared the Civic for all of our driving for the last several years of that time period after his Toyota was totaled by a driver not paying attention in New Orleans. Thankfully, Blake wasn’t badly injured and the insurance paid out, but they didn’t pay enough to replace the Toyota. It’s another car that would have lasted forever if not for that unfortunate turn of events. At the time, we were really struggling, so I told Blake we should just share the Civic and save the insurance $ for a down payment on a new car later, when we really needed it.

The summer we finally decided it was time to get a second car (the Kia,) the civic had a ton of breakdowns, exploding radiator coolant and stranding us in all manner of tiny, auto-shop-less towns across the country. Blake even made a series of Prints about it called Our Summer Adventure.

Our Summer Adventure

These are “No Prints” and Screen Monotypes, processes he learned while studying with the very sweet and talented Lynwood Kreneck at Frogman’s Print and Paper Workshop.

Our Summer Adventure marker print light

It is such a nice feeling when we get in the Kia to go on a long trip and we don’t have to wonder if we’re going to break down. I probably shouldn’t be so paranoid about the Civic, but I think it’s just at that point in its life when pretty much every part on it has had its share of bumps and scrapes and general wear and tear. The worst part of it all is that we’ve had some bad luck with Firestone mechanics and the Civic–especially with our distributor cap, which we had put on incorrectly twice. This most recent issue with the Civic was also a related issue where a wire just came loose.

Hopefully, through these most recent repairs, I’ve found a mechanic in town to trust with the Civic upkeep. At least until we move again, which could be anytime and to anywhere. I feel like, at this point, when it does die, I should give the civic some kind of fantastic funeral. Send it off to sea on a burning pyre…

In the meantime, hang in there, Civic. Hang in there just a little while longer.
Our Summer Adventure marker print dark

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