We have always been a two vehicle family. My parents bought me a car when I was in college. It was a beautiful new blue Chevy Nova. It provided transportation back and forth to college and became our primary car when after we married and moved to Seattle.
When we dated, G had an Oldsmobile Cutlass. I remember riding in it to SF to see the ballet and traveling around the valley. But someone ran a stop sign, t-boned it. G was fine but the car was totaled. He bought a used Chevy Vega that was nothing but headaches. The aluminum engine had warped and burned oil like crazy. Fortunately we were able to get a new engine on warranty but it was never a great car. But he was able to use it to go to work between Seattle and Mukilteo when he worked at a nursery on Whidbey Island.
We traded these cars in the early 80's for a Honda Accord and a Toyota pickup. The Accord was great. We kept it for almost 20 years and got over 200,000 miles on it before bought our current Honda Civic Hybrid.
The Vega was traded in for the Toyota truck which has been G's main vehicle since the early '80s. What memories. It was our main hiking vehicle in many years. I remember taking it backpacking. We did one backpacking trip with some good friends. They rode in the back of the truck before it was illegal and we didn't know better. It was summer and the temperatures got almost to 100 degrees. What we did when we were young!
Later in the late '90s, it was G's main vehicle for his business. He had a small backyard nursery. He built sides for the bed and transported plants to farmers markets and plant sales for almost 10 years before deciding to close the nursery. Recently, hd has been using it mainly to transport soil and to drive to work. We have recently talked about getting a new one. It isn't used a lot and it has been hard to justify especially since we have both been working part time or have been unemployed.
We went down to Cali in late September for a family visit. We always take the cheap early flights and left about 4:30am in the morning. Normally we stop the mail and paper. I asked G if he was going to but he said... "It's only a few days". Our pet sitter was coming by every few days to feed the cat and would pick up the mail and paper.
We had a good trip. It was hot but we had a great time visiting our family and friends. We came back late at night. We noticed our neighbor had been working on a structure he was building and had moved some of the pieces of the building. It was dark and really didn't notice anything else. I do remember thinking something was off but couldn't pin point it. We were tired, unpacked and headed to bed.
The next morning, we decided to go to Costco. We were just about to head out when G said "Wait a minute...." and ran to the window. "My truck is gone!" What! It was gone. It had been stolen while we were out of town. We went out and checked where it had been parked but there was no broken glass. We talked to the neighbors. One had noticed that it was not there on Sunday - three days after we had left. We called the sheriff and insurance company. The Sheriff had told us that the incidents of stolen vehicles were up because people needed them for transportation. We agreed to pay any towing, etc. Got an incident number and they would call us if it was found.
So what do you do when your car is stolen? We called our parents and talked to others. Have you reported it to the police? Insurance? Yes. But what else? Basically nothing. We read that chances of it being found are best within the first few hours. Unfortunately we were not able to report it missing until 2-3 days after it was taken. Everytime we passed a parking lot, we could not resist scanning to see if it was in the lot. We also started going through the 'What ifs.." What if it is found wrecked and can't be driven? What if it is trashed? What if they have an accident with it? G watched Craigslist to see if it would show up.
Days went by but it still haunted us. The first few days we made certain we always had the cell phone on. What happened to it? Maybe someone took it to Mexico. Maybe it was chopped and sold for parts. But it haunted us. What happened to it?
After a month, we started to try to move on and figure it was gone. Fortunately he isn't working right now. We discussed if he really needed a truck or would it be better to get another car? He felt he had always had a truck and wanted one. G started to look at new trucks. We would give it a bit more and when we got back from Hawaii we would go and test drive a few trucks.
The phone rang yesterday evening. It was the Sheriff. The truck had been found in North Seattle. It was drivable and being towed to the impound lot in No. Seattle. We called the towing company and they told us we could come pick it up. Off we went. We did not know what to expect. The tow company was located next to a pawn shop. It was dark but fortunately not rainy. The clerk sat behind the glass and we told him we were here to pick a stolen vehicle. We gave him a license and he told us we could walk out to the lot to check it out. He buzzed the door. The lot was dirt and located downhill, no lights, a tow truck was dropping off another car. Somewhat surreal - "The land of dead cars" G said. We dodged the large puddles. There in the distance, we saw it sitting between two mangled cars.
We did a quick walk around. Looking good. No new dents. G got in and tried to start it. Nothing. He popped the hood and as he expected, the battery was missing. But everything else looked okay. So we went back to the office, picked up our license and off we went to buy a new battery.
It was still rush hour and we crawled along to the nearest auto parts store. We found the cheapest battery and returned back to the dark land of dead cars. This time we took a flashlight. We attached the battery, got in and turned the ignition. Yeah! the truck started. We went back to pay our impound charge which actually wasn't too bad since it hadn't been stored - less than $100.
We left the lot - I followed G just in case. He had to pull off to get some gas. The truck had had a full tank of gas and they used it until it ran out of gas. We discovered then that they had crow-barred off the locked gas cap but he was able to gas it up. I guess they did not want to add any more gas and just left it at the end of dead end road next to a wooded park when it ran out of gas.
This morning we looked it over. It was covered with pine needles and leaves. There was a broken down twin bed frame in the back but no damage. G pulled it into the garage to inspect it some more. A window had been left open and rain had gotten in. There was mildew inside so he put a fan in the cab to help dry it out. He gave it a hand washing - the first in probably over a year to remove the dirt and algae that was on the truck even before it was taken.
He was so happy. His ride was home and we did not have to worry that it might be found at some strange location or wrecked. We are so glad also that it was found when we were home and not while we were away in Hawaii. We would have had to pay for them to store it until we got back from Hawaii. But most importantly - we have it back.