Tacoma - 14th August 2007

Trip Start Jun 11, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We arrived in Tacoma by the ever so reliable and 5 star travel (better known as the greyhound).
In our prior conversation with Bob, our ever so friendly car salesman, he said it would be too far to walk to the car lot.  Keeping in mind him saying "it'll take you 10 mins in a cab'', we thought sod the walking lark with our 30 kgs burden.
The cab was on its way. The driver was called Keven and it WAS yellow, the cab I mean! We did all the usual '' has he been busy, has he lived in Tacoma long?" All that kind of stuff and we did the same, where we were from, how long we're travelling, you get the idea, whilst on the way to CURBSIDE CAR LOT.  Dubious name I know, but you have to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Anyways we arrived, passing car lot after car lot down Tacoma way.  We dragged our burden out of the cab and paid Keven his fair plus a couple of dollars, but prior to our leaving the cab we got his business card just in case (didn't want to get stranded).
And there was Bob, all smiles and happy to greet us, commenting '' I bet I know which vehicle you're here for, the Mazda mpv?'' I felt like saying "no! We're looking for something decent.  Have you got anything?'' but didn't. We introduced ourselves shook hands, laid our bags down inside the building and off we went to view our possible new member of the family.  I'd looked on the Autotrader.com site for a mini van (so we could sleep in it, possibly), around $2000 (1000 pounds) all in. And this is what I'd come up with. Mazda (reliable) MPV, 160,000 miles, family owned for the last 5 years.  $2000 and 4x4 (bonus), it looked good on paper.
We walked up to the Mazda, the white bodywork was ok, the interior was ok, everything seemed to work that needed to. Then the stuff that HAD to work; tyres - ALL bald, exhaust blowing in 4 places and could drop off and last but not least the engine had an oil leak. That was the nail the coffin for me.  Bob wouldn't replace any of the faults (tyres, exhaust) and with the oil leak, I couldn't risk it. Bob said '' it is what it is.''  So with doubt in our minds we asked him if he knew anywhere else "reliable" that sold mini vans within our price range.  Surprisingly he said "yes. RIGHT PRICE MOTORS, 2 blocks down on the right."  Bob gave us a business card, ''I'm open till 8.30 if you change your mind''. Yeah right!
We arrived at the lot, same scenario ''yes! We're travelling, yes! Our luggage is heavy and NO we don't want to buy a knackered old mini van!'' They had 4. One of which was a beast not sure what it was but the fuel economy would be rubbish! Next was a Ford, tidy, but couldn't sleep in it. 3rd, another Mazda silver mpv, which even the young car salesman said was crap! So to the 4th another Mazda!  gold though with beige interior nice eh! The guy said it's probably the best out of them all. Anyways, looked over it.  Tyres good, exhaust solid, but bloody oil leak on engine and passenger window wouldn't go down, but took it for a test drive.  More faults! It was an automatic and you couldn't tell which gear you're in as the indicator on the dash didn't work and it had rear bearing noise, "well!"  Got back to the lot, and told the guy about the faults, he said that he would fix them ''no extra charge", but the bearing would take two days (waiting for parts). We didn't have that kind of time. The young sales guy (the car owners son) tried to fix the oil leak, but couldn't.  We asked about registration and insurance, basically what we'd need to get it on the road. He said that it wouldn't be a problem, but some of his methods and suggestions seemed dodgy. Feeling more and more dejected, we said we'd go for a coffee and have a think about it. He said ''no problem, there's shop half a block down''.  It didn't take us long to decide that buying a car in USA  was not such a good idea, bearing in mind how long we'd keep it and selling it at Los Angeles with that oil leak, however  fatal. So it was a NO! Christine went round to the dealer and told him the situation. He was understanding and thanked us for letting him know.
So a phone call had to be made .yes! Keven.  It took him around 15 mins to get to us; between that time we sat in the sun and had a coke. We loaded our luggage in to the cab, Keven, all smiles ''no car?'' ''nope all rubbish!''.  Off we went back into town, we asked him if we could stop off at a bank as we needed to cash some travelers cheques , so we can pay him, he laughed '' no problem''.
Well this turned out to be even harder than buying a car.  If you ever need to go to Tacoma get you're money sorted before you go!  The first three banks wouldn't change them unless we held a customer account with them (hello, the reason we're using travelers cheques is 'cos we're from out of the country, thus we're not going to have a local bank account!!!) , one did "helpfully" say that she could sell me some travelers cheques!  At the fourth bank I asked if they could cash the cheques and she said YES... After I'd endorsed three $100 cheques she told me that there would be a fee (not unusual) of $10 per cheque (aarrgg!) I was stuck.  I couldn't tell her to stick it as I could be sure of finding anywhere else to cash them and I'd endorsed them all with todays date, so I couldn't even just get one done instead!  So I bit back the abusive words that were forming and took my $270.  At least we could pay for the cab now!.
Keven, bless him, had turned off the meter whilst I was in each bank, and was really sorry that we'd had so much hassle, we said goodbye to him back at the Greyhound where we got our tickets to travel to Portland about 2 hours later.  There was a café just up from the Greyhound station called Alfred's, this turned out to be a really nice place and we had breakfast/dinner (it was 4pm, and this was the first we'd eaten all day).  Then it was back to the greyhound and a driver that didn't know where he was going or how to get to his stops, fortunately some of the passengers knew and were able to, more or less, guide him.  We arrived in Portland 40 mins late.
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