Much like many of you, I spent the holidays at home with my family.
Unlike some of you, however, home is in Wesley Chapel, North Carolina, where it was a lovely 70 degrees most of the week.
My parents’ house is about the same distance from Charlotte, North Carolina, as Two Harbors is from Duluth. Since we fly most visits, my wife and I need the use of a car if we want to do anything other than sit around the house.
Dad doesn’t really drive much anymore, so in the past few visits we’ve just used his old pickup truck.
Unfortunately the pickup is no longer available due to an accident. Thankfully my brother-in-law said we could use his new car while we were in town. Here is where the story gets a little more complicated.
My brother-in-law wants to buy a domestic Japanese camper van. My sister claims the vehicle looks like the van from the TV show "The A-Team." I find this unlikely, but I have intentionally not googled “Japanese camper van” because I want to believe that’s what it looks like.
For some reason, he has to wait until 2021 to import this van — I stopped asking questions prior to this point. My head started to hurt.
To bridge the gap until 2021, he purchased a white 2000 Ford Mustang convertible. The first observable issue is the thing has an aftermarket exhaust system that sends some exhaust into the cabin, which means you have to ride with the windows open or the top down to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
You also don’t so much drive this car as aim it and hope for the best.
Another warning sign: my brother-in-law and I needed to go pick up antifreeze and brake and power steering fluid before we used it.
My wife and I took it out to do some last-minute shopping one afternoon and let me tell you something: my wife was NOT IMPRESSED.
“It’s like a DeLorean without all the cool stuff,” she said.
I had been looking forward to getting it out on the highway and opening it up a little. That’s what a Mustang is for, right?
We get on the interstate heading toward Charlotte and up to about 70 mph — the posted speed limit — and there seemed to be a little vibration. Maybe more than a little.
“I think it’s shaking my brain stem,” my wife said.
We ended up cutting our trip short after discovering this fine machine didn’t have much in the way of lights and couldn’t be out after dark.
We tried to take it out again later in the week, but I noticed the oil pressure was a little low. I thought I would check it.
I go to pop the hood and I can’t find the lever. I’m on my hands and knees looking around the console for this thing.
Finally, I open the glove box and the lever for the hood — quite literally — falls out on the floor.
“Huh,” I thought, “That’s not very helpful.”
We decided to drive it anyway. We were within 10 feet of the driveway when the entire glove box opened and its contents fell to the floor.
This really ended our Mustang experience.
While I wasn’t particularly smitten with my brother-in-law’s car, it was an adventure — to say the least — and one of the things I’ll remember most about this trip home.
These little things are part of what make going home fun, and my brother-in-law is the king of weird little tasks gone wrong. Like last Thanksgiving when he took my sister and their kids to the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree and ended up buying one in a grocery store parking lot.
Knowing him is nothing if not an adventure, but he’s become a vital part of our family, and I can’t imagine a visit home without him.
Jamey Malcomb is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle and Pine Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-879-1950.