It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, and having a midlife crisis, must be in want of a superfluous new car. And so it is with me. I am the proud, if somewhat uncertain, owner of a new 2018 Subaru Outback. Or, as my British colleague put it, “a boring old man car.” How the hell did that happen? Doesn’t the playbook say it’s supposed to be a flashy sports car?
As I have mentioned, I’m thinking of driving to Alaska. My solid reasoning is as follows:
- It will be light almost 24 hours a day at this time of year.
- I’ve never been to Alaska.
- It is technically possible to drive there.
The biggest problem with long trips is the Hobson’s choice of accommodation often available in small, out-of-the-way places. The prospects of spending $75 a night on squalid accommodations, or of simply arriving in town late in the evening to find that there is no room left in the inn, were hardly appealing. A rational person would conclude, “OK, fine, I’ll plan and book well ahead of time, thereby ensuring myself a reasonable place to stay at modest cost.” I, on the other hand, decided, “I know! I’ll buy a car and sleep in it!” In so doing, I cleverly avoided paying those thieving bastards $75 for their sketchy motel rooms with a modest amortized expenditure of $300 per night, assuming I sleep in the thing 100 times or so. But we’ll get to that. I also encumbered myself with a depreciating albatross. But we’ll do our best not to think of that.
My first thought was to sleep in my 2006 MINI Cooper by taking out the passenger seat. I am not a tall person, vertically speaking, but a quick session with the tape measure revealed that there was simply no way I could lie down in the MINI without having the hatch open. And indeed, tents are made that are little more than fabric that fits across an open hatch and serve this purpose. But the prospect of sleeping nightly in Bear Country with little more than a bug screen separating me and my food from the Great Unknown was somewhat daunting.
I next looked at rooftop tents, of which a staggering number have come on the market. Unfortunately they all seem to require more real estate than the roof of the classic MINI has to offer. There were a few made for the Clubman, but alas, I do not have that model. At this time, I also began to consider the age of the MINI (some 12 years now) and wondering about how one would get service if it broke down. A news article from an Anchorage paper speculated, with obvious incredulity, that there might be as many as 400 (!) MINIs running around in Alaska. There are probably 400 MINIs running around my neighborhood. So I thought perhaps something more purpose-suited to the vast, frozen North.
Now my story is growing over-long, so I’ll cut to the chase: after consulting with friends, family, and the internet, I decided on a Subaru Outback. It’s big enough for two people to sleep in, and it’s well known in the remote areas of North America so it can probably get serviced if required. I visited a few local dealerships in April, took a test drive, crawled around and lay down inside to the amusement of the dealer, haggled a bit, got offered an amazing deal, and got cold feet. I started over on Memorial Day, got an almost-as-good deal (with a color I liked better), and bought the damn car. I wanted green, but nobody had it in green, and nobody was willing to cut a deal on a car they didn’t have in stock. So, I got red. There were more mildly amusing anecdotes but this entry is already in TLDR territory.
Up next, I’ll be documenting my work to get the car camp-ready.