It is with a heavy heart I write this. On July 4, 2020, I drove my 2012 Subaru Forester for the last time. I know it’s just a car, but as I was cleaning out my personal belongings and sat in the driver’s seat for the last time, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my best friend. So, in memory of my faithful companion, I wanted to reminisce about all the good times we’ve had over the last 8 years.
After graduating college, I couldn’t wait to buy a new car – something with all-wheel-drive, so I no longer had to put chains on or worry about how I was going to make it up the hill by my house after a snowstorm. I did my online research and decided to test drive the Subaru Forester. It was pretty much love at first sight. The price was right, so I bought the car brand new. She had the AWD to handle the snow and enough room to load up my friends and gear for whatever adventure we were headed to next – and that’s exactly what she did for the next 8 years.
The beginning was a little rough. In the first month, a rock cracked my windshield, and in the first 3 months, I was rear-ended on the freeway (only minor damage). After that, it was smooth sailing. A few minor scratches here and there, another cracked windshield, front axels replaced, but other than that she held her own. I did always have to add oil to the car, but that is a known Subaru thing.
While the Subaru had seatbelts for five, it wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable ride for five adults. Yet for some reason, there were always six of us who needed a ride. So, someone would have to crawl in the back. Some of my favorite stories are when we were driving to a Tough Mudder at Northstar and we went through the Ag Check station at the California/Nevada state line. We threw a blanket over the person in the back, and I felt like I was smuggling in an illegal immigrant. Or the time we went hot springing in Mammoth. While we had taken multiple cars to Mammoth we wanted to carpool to the Hot Spring, so everyone piled into the Subaru. To get to the hot springs you have to go a little bit off-road. I did not inch my way down the road, and I could see the person in the back fly up as I went over a bump. They had the biggest smile on their face as did all of us.
The longest road trip I took with my car was from Reno -> Kennewick, Washington. The biggest city we saw that entire drive was Reno. I had my good friend Wilma with me and on the way up we broke up the drive into two days and spend the night at a campground near Pendleton, OR.
My friends and I had permits to hike Half Dome, and my boyfriend had a court date the following day for not wearing a life jacket on a paddleboard. Because of this, we had to take three cars so my boyfriend could take my car back a day early and drive from Yosemite to Yerington, Nevada to appear in court. The funny thing about that trip was all three cars were Subarus. We said we were basically a living Subaru ad. Oh, in case you were wondering, my boyfriend won his court case for not having a life jacket on a paddleboard.
Many times, has my car made the drive to Pyramid Lake for our annual Slip N Slide camping trip. Through the sand, down some washed out roads often with a keg, BBQ and all my camping gear in the back. She almost got stuck once. I think it took a few back and forth rocks, but then we gunned it and out of the sand she went. One trip the wind was so ferocious it broke my tent and almost blew my paddleboard into the lake; the next year we decided to sleep in the Subaru.
Then there’s the snow. She was a dream in the snow. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable driving that car through some of the worst snow storms. I’ll never forget the first time I approached Cal Trans in my Subaru on a snowy day and they just waved me through. I was so excited and might have started laughing, “Ha Ha!” to the poor souls on the side of the road that were having to chain up. Countless times we’d load the skis up top, load the car with people and head to the resort for an epic powder day. This last winter I was driving back to Reno after Thanksgiving when I hit a major unexpected snowstorm. It was slow going along Hwy 20 to I-80, but she did great. Subarus are known for their fantastic handling in the snow, and I can attest to this. But once I hit I-80 traffic was stopped. Turns out they had closed the road due to multiple spin-outs. I spent the next 6 hours bonding with my car stopped on the freeway. I called friends and family, watched some movies, ate a leftover Thanksgiving meal and had just made myself a nice little bed in the back seat to sleep when traffic started up again.
Listening to music was our other favorite pastime. I started with a small USB with all my music on it and eventually upgraded to an iPhone and Spotify. Over the years I had the stereo upgraded and the speakers. So not only were we cruising in style, but we had bumping tunes to go with it.
Besides getting me to and from work every day, the little Subie and I went on numerous ski trips, trips to Lake Tahoe, trips to see family in California, desert adventures, camping trips, hikes, tailgating at Nevada Football games, you name it. Just scrolling through the photos on my phone I can see pictures of smiling faces or gorgeous vistas and my Subaru got me there in probably 80% of them because the other 20% were fly destinations. She was always there for me no matter what kind of adventure I had planned, and it was always a good time. The Subie also sat in my parent’s driveway for a few months while I was in New Zealand patiently waiting for me to get back, and then again when I went to Europe. When I first bought the car, the salesman said he calls the Subaru Forester a Billie Goat because it’s tough and can pretty much handle anything – he was right.
In the end, yes, a car is just a car. She got me from point A to point B, and the fond memories I have were created because of the people. But it was still the first new car I ever purchased on my own, and it was a great car. I know I will have just as much fun and amazing memories in whatever my next vehicle of choice is – but I will never forget my first Subaru.
Thank you if you read the whole thing, and if you’re in the market for a new car I can’t recommend the Subaru Forester enough. Yeah, it’s not going to be to the fastest car up the mountain, but otherwise, it was everything I could have wanted out of a car and more.
In Loving Memory of Billie Goat, the Subaru Forester – May 28, 2012 – July 4, 2020