With all of the posts about trips and upcoming vacation ideas, I've neglected to actually talk about what's going on around the casa.
As previous posts indicated, we were on the hunt for a new vehicle to replace the Saab when it came off lease. We started our research early on in the summer as we knew there were several cars we were interested in but had no idea which ones would be the best for us. We liked the Volkswagen Tiguan but the dealership never got back to us with the color combination we were looking for, the Subaru Forrester was okay, but I didn't love it. The BMW X3 felt small. The Mercedes GLK had a really tight suspension and felt more like a car than an SUV, the Honda Pilot drove like a truck (a really nice truck) and the used Land Rover Discovery had a really weird interior that didn't really work for us.
In the end, we found ourselves going back to the Toyota Highlander. Because Alan's dad used to work at the dealership in Oakland we were able to negotiate a really great deal. They also stayed open late for us so that we could pick it up after work instead of having to wait until the weekend. The deal happened rather quick - quicker probably than any other major purchase we've ever made together. On Sunday afternoon we were talking to Alan's dad and we told him we thought that was the car we want but we were surprised by how much it would cost for a Toyota. Then I showed him the colors we liked and didn't like. On Monday at 2 p.m. Alan called me to tell me they had the car available in the exact right color combo (pearl white with tan leather interior) from a dealership in Novoto and it was ours if we wanted it. I said okay. Then around 4 p.m. he called back to say that one had been sold but there was one in Sacramento that was nearly the same except it had gray interior. I said let's go for it. And we did. Our payments are about $200/month higher than they were on the Saab lease but given that this is the second Highlander we've decided on, this time we're buying and hoping to have it for many years.
We're also in the process of trying to do something about the death trap we call a back deck. When we moved in the inspector told us that it was terribly constructed and probably wouldn't last many years. Then, in the past year the wood started rotting and my heels were going through the boards. This summer the railing down the steps came away. It was time. We called our neighbor's family friend who came last week to look at it and give us an estimate. We knew he "wasn't cheap" and that he did good work but we had no basis to compare what was expensive or inexpensive when it comes to decks, so we got the estimate and were kind of shocked when it came in around $2k more than what we put "at the high end." It's not that we don't have the money, but I think we'd set our mind on one price and this is well above what we had guessed. (I say guess because it really was.) So we're calling in one more person to come and give us an estimate. If it's at all close to the first we'll likely go with that guy since he's a family friend of our next door neighbor and pissing us off would make their lives hell.
We're planning on spending Thanksgiving in Lake Tahoe (notice, I say planning ...) with Alan's family and then Christmas with my sister's family in Ohio.
Other than that, we're spending a lot (a lot!) of time at work just trying to make it to the weekend.