Where Do I Live Again?

The snow-covered Subaru logo on the front of my XV Crosstrek

Our winters here in Portland are generally mild, but this fall has packed a bit of a punch at the end. We got a little bit of snow on Thursday a week and a half ago, and thankfully since I have some flexibility with vacation time right now, I was able to take the day off and let our dog Ellie enjoy the snow. But then as so often happens in Portland, we got some freezing rain and suddenly everything is coated in ice and trees and branches started falling all around our old neighborhood. We lost power a few times on Friday but never for too long. While walking Ellie I noticed a tree had fallen on a lovely old Mercedes a couple of streets over, completely crushing the back.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning while we were asleep the power kicked off and we didn’t get it back until that evening. Sadly the house was at its coolest when we lost power since we let it cool down at night, so I piled on extra layers and a hat until we had heat again. The house never got that cold so we weren’t exactly suffering, it was only down to 57 when the electricity returned.

This past week we got more snow, not very much but it arrived right before the evening rush hour and made a mess of everything. Fortunately I had also taken that day off but my wife wasn’t so lucky, since the train she was going to take home got shut down when some switches froze, she ended up spending the night at work. It’s going to warm tomorrow and the remaining ice should be gone, which will make a certain dog (and her walker) very happy, even if it takes the snow with it.

That’s enough winter weather for me this year, and winter hasn’t officially started yet!

At the End of the Trail

Our 2000 Subaru Outback parked at the trailhead of the Storm Point Trail in Yellowstone

I became intrigued with the Subaru Outback while in graduate school so when we moved to Oregon and were ready to replace my wife’s car, it was our first choice. It was my wife’s daily driver for fourteen years and I took it on all my hiking trips, near and far. It was always a welcome sight when I arrived back at the end of the trail, in this case the Storm Point Trail in Yellowstone.

Late in its life it got hit a few times, once by someone who ran a red light and twice by people who inexplicably plowed into the back of it. I suppose one sign of how much we loved it is not just that we drove it for so long, and not just that we replaced it with another Subaru, but that we replaced my Honda with a Subaru too.

We bought this model when it first came out and fell in love with the color, which had literally just arrived at the dealer (they hadn’t even had time to take the protective wrapping off). Apparently a lot of other people loved the color too so we ended up seeing them everywhere, including a few nearby in our neighborhood. There are still enough on the road that I frequently get a nice reminder of our dependable little wagon that I took to so many of my favorite places.

Good Morning

A view of Rest Lake at sunrise from my Subaru XV Crosstrek

The last day of the year got off to a cold but sunny start. I stopped at Rest Lake when I came across this great blue heron sitting beside the frozen channel and then sat listening to the cackling geese and tundra swans in the lake behind it. I couldn’t resist a self-portrait when the rising sun created a perfect shadow of my little Crosstrek on the bank.

Leaving Paradise

My white 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Limited in Mount Rainier National Park

My little Subaru on the road between Paradise and Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park. I’ve taken it on a trip before but this was its first big hiking trip with all of my camera gear. I used to take our old Outback on trips like this but bought the Crosstrek with the hopes of using it both as my daily driver and for hiking trips short and long. The storage in the hatch is much smaller than the Outback so I was worried all of my stuff wouldn’t fit but most of it did, I only had to put some drinks and snacks behind the front seats. With some different luggage in the future it should all stay hidden in the hatch.

On this day with rain and low clouds I practically had Mount Rainier to myself as I drove up to Sunrise and then on to Olympic National Park. I was thankful for the car’s visibility, both the view out of the car and the visibility of the white paint to other drivers, as it poured rain for much of the drive. As I drove off the bridge and onto the Olympic Peninsula in the rainy darkness, police were directing traffic around an accident that had occurred not much before, so I was thankful for the improved safety of this car compared to my old one even though I didn’t have to put it to the test.

Really love this little car.

A Good Fit

Lights, Cameron, Action

I’ve put about 2000 miles on our new XV Crosstrek over the past four months and I have to say, I absolutely adore the car. Somebody at Subaru loves me.

Subaru has announced a hybrid version of the Crosstrek that will come out this fall that, while barely improving the gas mileage, adds a number of other features I like — especially since it looks like it can go short distances on battery alone, which would make it perfect for visiting Ridgefield. Some of the improvements are things that were already available on Crosstreks in other regions of the world — turn indicators on the mirrors, keyless entry and start, and a stop/start engine. Others are new and address a couple of criticisms I have of my Crosstrek — more sound insulation and an easier-to-read speedometer.

While it mostly sounds like a nice improvement on a car that fits me so well, there are a few downsides. Price hasn’t been announced, the gas tank got smaller so range isn’t really increasing, and the wheels are a little more traditional and not as fun as mine. But above all, they abandoned the lovely tail lights of my car (shown above) and went with a clear LED cluster. Whoever designed the lights on my Crosstrek gets top marks as I love both the front and rear light clusters, and that’s rare for me. I’m also glad to once more be driving a car with orange turn signals in the back, another thing I’m going to make mandatory when I’m king of the world.

Despite its inferior taillights, we’ll likely replace the aging Outback with the new hybrid this fall and become a two-Crosstrek family. Assuming the Outback makes it that long, it was out of commission for a couple of weeks for repairs after getting rear-ended while stopped at a stop light. The repairs were expensive enough that I was afraid the insurance company might write the car off, but thankfully they didn’t. It’s been a great car and sold me on the Subaru brand, I hope the Crosstrek serves us as faithfully.