Me and My Hyundai
Let us now praise the 2004 Hyundai Elantra, the best little pickup truck ever. Without it, my garden would be nowhere.
I didn't always love my car. Even as a teenager I was never wild about driving, and spending most of my adult life car-less in New York City only made things worse. Consequently, when we moved to North Carolina in 2005, the thought of getting behind the wheel again was positively horrifying. Alas, you need a car to do just about anything here. Ron, the master of Tough Love, was determined to make me as independent as I had been in New York City. So he bought me this car, with the crazy idea that I should drive it.
Week after week, month after month, Ron sat in the passenger seat while I did terrifying things like get on the highway at rush hour and drive to and from the airport. Trust me when I say that re-learning to drive in your 40s, when you have actually figured out that yes, you are going to die some day, is quite different from learning to drive when you are 16 and the possibility has never entered your mind. Exhibit A, pictured below: my steering wheel. I haven't been chewing it. I've been holding on for dear life.
But let's not dwell on past neuroses. In the intervening years, I conquered this particular fear (mostly), threw myself into gardening, and in doing so came to appreciate just how fabulous a cheap four-door sedan can be.
You wouldn't think it to look at it, but this unassuming hunk of metal holds 13 bags of soil in the trunk and another 9 in the back seat, provided you know the magic loading formula. If you push the front seats forward as far as they will go, you can fit a pair of 3-gallon shrubs on the floor behind them. You can also ram a young tree into the back seat if you turn the pot on its side and open the windows.
Then there's the really heavy stuff, the kind that would send normal people over to Home Depot's Rent-A-Truck. My little Elantra has hauled a patio's worth of bluestone, assorted concrete statues, and the 8-foot cedar rails for our backyard fence (put the back seat down, open the trunk, shove the rails in, and drive very, very slowly). Even that most annoying rite of spring, the annual lawnmower tune-up, is a piece of cake with this car. Yes, we do squeeze the lawnmower into the trunk. Granted, the top doesn't close, but as long as we tie it with some string, the lawnmower stays put and we don't get a ticket. Win-win.
So let's hear it for my Hyundai Elantra pickup. Next month my car and I celebrate our 9th anniversary, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not a fancy car. It's not a cool car. But it's an incredibly tough car. Best of all, it's the kind of car that you don't mind getting filthy. Which is good, because the spring gardening season is here.
I have kept bungee cords in my Buick for years to keep the trunk lid respectably low when it won't close over things like a Christmas tree (I also have a saw in there year-'round, and ancient pine needles) and big pegboard from Home Depot. One year I used the bike rack on the back to haul hay bales, also secured with bungee cords. I hear you.
2/27/2014 08:59:37 am
You have me beat. I do have ancient pine needs, but no saw. I am trying to envision the bike rack with hay bales but can't quite picture how that would work. I'll have to take your word for it.
2/27/2014 04:18:35 am
That steering wheel pic is *hilarious*!
2/27/2014 09:00:26 am
Well, I do like to chew. But not on steering wheels. They don't taste very good. Or so I'm told.
You put me to shame. Having always been able to walk to work (2 jobs, over 35 years) I did very little driving for the longest time. Now that I live in the country I have a pick-up truck but I have become nervous about driving in town and on highways. I suppose I need to give my steering wheel a lot more use!
2/27/2014 12:55:02 pm
I feel your pain! If you are anything like me, you need someone to force you to do what you hate doing. I still get nervous on the highways, by the way. That steering wheel didn't get that way overnight.
Yay for an all purpose garden hauler! My old Prius was like that -- like you I was amazed at what I hauled in that hatchback, the branches and leaves of a 12 foot container tree wrapped around me in the front, the dirty pot on its side handing almost out the back. That car was great for carrying yards of stuff in bags, and stones and lumber. It's gone now, and we have an old-people's sedan with no trunk room at all. I may be down to borrow your Elantra.
2/27/2014 12:56:04 pm
It's yours whenever you want it. Not as classy as a Prius, I'm afraid. But it does get good mileage!
2/27/2014 12:18:21 pm
Gotta have a vehicle like that! Yay! I'm glad springtime is in your garden!
2/27/2014 12:57:17 pm
Every gardener needs a really, really crummy car that you aren't afraid to mess up. Or at least, that's the way I see it. It's not quite spring yet, but it's almost here. I hope Wisconsin thaws soon!
2/28/2014 01:53:38 am
That's my kind of car! My last car was an SUV that I needed for my 30 mile drive to work in Occupied Canada, aka absolute upstate New York. (If you missed the exit to our town, you had to go to the border and make a U turn.) I loved stuffing it full of compost, etc. When it died here, I didn't care what kind of car replaced it as long as it was Shrub Worthy. A gardener has to have priorities. :)
2/28/2014 02:50:55 am
Occupied Canada and Shrub Worthy - two expressions I am planning to steal as soon as I can work them into a sentence. The only problem with Shrub Worthy cars is when you have to pick up guests at the airport and don't have time to get it cleaned. Some people just don't understand "priorities."
I am very impressed by what you have managed to fit into your Hyandai! We transport plants in the car since we typically buy in Chapel Hill and I don't want to drive our gas guzzler truck that far. For other stuff though, we use our truck. No matter what, I couldn't fit 20 bales of hay into a car!
3/1/2014 12:41:11 am
With your property, to say nothing of the horses, I would think you'd need two trucks!
Wow, you have fit a lot of stuff into that little car! I think you've managed to fit about as much as I put in my SUV! I am totally thrilled to finally have a tow hook put on mine - I'm getting a trailer at some point! (Of course, then I have to learn how to drive while pulling a trailer.)
3/1/2014 12:43:45 am
A trailer! How cool. What are you planning to pull with it? I'm surprised to hear you say that drivers in the Triangle drive faster than up north. I've seen more than my share of maniac drivers in the North.
As a fellow New Yorker, I did not become a driver until my mid-20s. I actually drive a Ford Taurus, which is serviceable for driving around bags of compost, shrubs, etc. I've also done my sharing with various objects sticking out of the trunk, rear windows, etc. My fantasy is to have a real pick up, nothing too big, just enough to haul a couple cubic yards of mulch ...
3/1/2014 12:49:19 am
A pickup would be fun, I agree. But that would mean three cars in the family, which seems totally unnecessary (for my family, anyway). But let's get back to your driving. Was it scary learning to drive in your 20s? Or were you still feeling pretty immortal?
2/28/2014 10:11:04 pm
I am curious to know how many miles you have on it in nine years. I got rid of my Toyota Sienna van after putting 163,000 miles on it and being towed twice in four months. I LOVE my 2010 Subaru Forester, but haven't filled it with much of anything except groceries and dogs.
3/1/2014 12:51:54 am
I'm nowhere near your Toyota van. I have a mere 57,000 miles on my car. But since metal and parts have a way of decaying, even if you don't have that much mileage on them, I doubt I'll even get to close 163,000 miles before I have to say goodbye.
3/1/2014 08:36:52 am
Here's to your Elantra and all the hardworking cars that gardeners routinely use and abuse! I once found myself driving down the road with two trees, their branches snaking around me and pushing against the front windows, their trunks wedged between the seats and running the distance to the back end of the car. When I bought a new car last year, I made sure we also purchased a complete set of rubber mats to go with it.
3/2/2014 02:06:14 am
I can picture that scene exactly, probably because I have also lived it, or something similar to it. It's amazing what you can cram into a small space if you put your mind to it.
A couple of months ago I celebrated 11 years with my SUV-an Acura MDX. I keep saying it's time to replace it but it still runs like a top, holds lots of stuff, only has 137,000 miles and is relatively cheap to own. I likely won't drive it down to your neck of the woods in May for my annual garden axe murderer and serial killer get together because my friend has a Suburban and that holds more plants (BTW, if you're interested in joining in on that weekend, let me know-I think it will be the week after Mother's day).
3/3/2014 08:55:26 am
Count me in. I am intrigued by your axe murdered reunions. Let me know, also, if you want recommendations about nurseries and gardens to visit, or if you have all that covered already.
3/6/2014 01:45:41 am
Yes. Forget clean energy and fuel efficiency - how many bags of compost can I stuff into the trunk?
3/28/2014 04:01:34 am
This post is not only charming, as usual, it is particularly useful to me because it is is Possible that we may be moving from being a 2 car to a 1 car family. O frabjous day! I have already started mulling over possibilities. We try to get all our cars to the moon, and at least partway back. Many thanks for the review,
3/28/2014 04:19:24 am
Thanks very much for the compliment. My husband (the car person in the family) is a long-time Hyundai fan and has driven them for years. Sadly, they have started to catch on now and the prices have gone up from their ultra-cheap days.
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The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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