Even though I have only been off for four days it feels like longer due to just how jammed pack those days have been. On Wednesday night we did some prep for the arrival of the appliances that was scheduled for Thursday. We got the microwave off the wall after a lot of hassle. My brief internet research said the wall bracket for the microwave is basically just a lip the back end sits on. Once the top two bolts are removed it should lift off easily.
Well after removing the bolts I was able to get the microwave to tip down but not pull free from the bracket. Evidently Maytag for some reason has some additional thin side arms that slide into the microwave that were preventing me from pulling it free. After a lot of grunting and awkwardly holding the unit by both Cindy and myself I finally got it off the wall. After that frustrating episode we deemed our appliance removal as good enough for the night.
The appliance installers had an install window between 9:30 and 1:30, a wide window. We were hoping they would arrive early which would allow us to be able to still drive to the east coast in the evening to pick up the new Tacoma. Cindy left early for her middle school track coaching gig so I got busy doing more appliance removal. Our purchase at Home Depot supposedly included free installation of the stove and fridge. The dishwasher and microwave had an extra charge. I paid to have the dishwasher installed but not for the microwave. Regardless the delivery/installer services should include pulling the old appliances out. Well to expedite things I wanted to get the removal out of the way ahead of time.
I was able to get the old stove and dishwasher out to the garage with the help of my handtruck. I removed the front handles on the fridge but waited for Cindy to get home to get it moved outside due to it’s heavy weight and tight clearance with the front door. I had already put all of the freezer items in our coolers. All of the fridge stuff was on the counter. Once we got the fridge back in the garage we plugged it right back in and put the food back in there for safekeeping until the new Samsung refrigerator was in place.
Just as we were finishing up moving the food to the garage the installers showed, close to the start of their installation window which was awesome. Both of the guys were very nice and surprised we did the prep work that normally falls on their shoulders. They wasted no time getting busy.
The install went smoothly. It was my time to be pleasantly surprised that they installed the new microwave as well, despite me not paying the extra money for the installation. When we pulled the fridge out it revealed the plastic outlet cover was broken from overly aggressive fridge pushing over the years. I ran out to the nearby hardware store and got a metal replacement. By the time I got back home everything but the new fridge was in place.
The installers said in order to get the new fridge in it would be best to pop the hinges on the front door which was easier said than done. The top two pins came out easily but the bottom pin was tough for them since you can’t get a good swing of a hammer on it. Some determination and WD-40 eventually broke it loose. I helped the one guy cart the new fridge although he did most of the grunt work. My primary role was to make sure the doors stay closed. Before long they had the fridge up and running. Both of the guys were really friendly, helpful, and professional. We gave them whatever cash we had as a tip.
After they left Cindy and I spent a lot of time just admiring our new kitchen hardware. We liked the contrast with the white cabinets as well as the way it complemented the granite which has a lot of black. The fridge was especially cool. Over the weekend Cindy did several reworks of the layout trying to figure out the best way to utilize the large amount of additional space it has. I had a big pile of manuals on the counter to look through so I had a basic understanding of how all the bells and whistles work.
So I contacted the Delray Toyota dealer and let them know that I indeed would be able to pick up the new truck that evening. We set a tentative time of 6PM, plenty of time for them to get it all prepped and ready to go. However before we left Cindy had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. The plan was for me to take her there so we could leave immediately afterward to save time. While Cindy was in the chair I ran to the credit union to pull some cash and stopped at Walmart to grab some safety pins for the race I was timing Saturday.
When we left Naples I figured we had plenty of time to get to Delray which according to the GPS should take about 2 hours. What I didn’t give any thought to was the time of day we were making the trip. We got onto I-95 right in the heart of rush hour which was miserable. We had no choice but to sit in stop and go traffic for long periods of time which made the drive 30-45 minutes longer than expected.
Our GPS got us right to the door of the dealership which was visually impressive and huge. We walked inside the massive showroom and soon met up with Owen, the sales guy assigned to delivering the vehicle. Up until that point I had dealt with a guy named Tony on the phone and via email as he is the guy assigned to all internet/Costco leads. Owen was an older, relaxed man with a pleasant demeanor, certainly not the prototypical car salesman template.
After a much needed bathroom break I asked Owen if we could first take the truck for a test drive. Despite the foregone conclusion I was buying a new Tacoma I had not actually sat behind the wheel of one, I just assumed I would like it. Owen walked us out the side door where the truck was waiting for us. It looked awesome in it’s Inferno Orange color scheme. Cindy had to jump in the back of the access cab which isn’t too bad for someone of her dimensions while Owen rode shotgun.
As I slid into the driver seat for the first time I could not believe how big the truck felt. It felt tons bigger than my 99 Tacoma, almost as big as a full size truck thanks to the large and in charge hood design. It feels bigger because it actually is bigger in every dimension. It’s longer, wider, and sits higher.
I immediately loved the interior complete with the high tech info center that was equipped. It had all the bells and whistles. This was a pretty big thing for me. Yea I had bought a total of 4 new vehicles in my lifetime but the only other time I bought one 100% based on what I wanted was my Pontiac Sunfire GT after my first divorce. It felt sort of surreal.
The big size of the truck felt a bit disorienting. Plus I found myself distracted checking out all of the feedback the truck gives you through the two screens, one in the radio position and another integrated into the instrument cluster. The test drive was a couple miles at most but it was enough to convince me I made a good choice. Cindy shared my enthusiasm for the truck, she thought it was awesome in pretty much every way.
So when we got back it was time to run some numbers. This deal was unconventional in several ways. Not only did I have to drive to the other side of the state to find a Costco affiliated dealer, I had no idea exactly what the truck would cost me since they will not pull out the Costco pricing book until you are inside the dealership. So Owen brings out the book and we begin the negotiation process which again happens in reverse to what is normal.
Normally you start at the marked up price a dealer has on a vehicle which usually includes their addendum sticker and work down from there. In our case we started down way low at the Costco member price which according to the book was 1100 under INVOICE, not MSRP, INVOICE. So I had all of my internet pricing info with me so I immediately knew the invoice pricing they were listing was a little inflated but not much. However from that number there were additions for stuff like floor mats, nitro filling the tires, and title/tag work which of course were dramatically inflated in pricing. In addition there was a $799 dealer fee that Owen said was added to every vehicle they sell. When I asked him what exactly that was for he said prep but admitted that of course there was additional profit taking in there.
So even with this subtraction followed by addition, the out the door pricing was much, much better than any number any other Toyota dealer offered. They started their pricing at MSRP plus since the Tacomas have been selling very well with the new redesign of the truck this model year. When I started doing my research I assumed I would be lucky to just get the truck for MSRP. Even with the overpriced add ons I was still well under MSRP and able to very easily swing into my financial wheelhouse. Even so I asked Owen if he could do a little better for me. When he came back with a price 250 bucks less that was good enough, we agreed to the deal and moved on to stage 2.
So I had all my financing in place so I hoped our visit to the F&I guys office would be brief. Even with my own financing and turning down all the extended warranties and other profit padding options we were in there for a while. There seems to be a lot more paperwork involved than when I sold cars. I was signing and initialing for quite a long time. After we were done it took awhile to track down Owen so we could head out. He had already attached the license plate and gave me a brief run down of the vehicle although I probably knew as much as he did based on my extensive internet research ahead of time.
When we left the dealership we were both starving and hit a nearby Chipotle to fuel up. By the time we left the east coast it was quite late. At least the traffic situation was much better. The disorientation with the new truck continued on the way home. It’s bigger dimensions made me feel unsure of my position in a lane. Once we got back out onto Alligator Alley things were fine. We didn’t pull back in the driveway until after 11PM, much later than I was expecting. The garage was in no shape to house the new Tacoma with the old appliances residing there. Cindy and I planned on working on alternatives over the weekend. As we were laying in bed we could hardly believe that we got new appliances and a new vehicle, on the east coast no less, the same day.
On Friday I kept busy around the house for a good portion of the day. Cindy had a fitness class to teach. I told her to take the new Tacoma since she hadn’t had a chance to drive it yet. She gave the truck a glowing report card as well. One of the things I did was list the old appliances on Craigslist, hoping to quickly sell them to reclaim garage space. I had exactly zero responses from the ad. Used appliances on CL are a dime a dozen. I followed up later on in the weekend posting on a local FB yard sale group and at least got some possible interest but as of now all of the appliances are out there. Although I would like to get a little bit of money to offset the expense if we don’t move them within the next week I have no problem donating them as well.
I also needed to do prep for the race I was timing Saturday. During the day I met up with John to pick up one of his generators. The race finish line location had no nearby power available. I also picked up Sadie for an extended visit while Ali and her boyfriend are up in PA. I chose to do both of these things in the old Tacoma. I figured I may as well try to keep the 2016 Tacoma as pristine as possible while I can.
On Saturday morning Cindy and I awoke to the 4:30 alarm clock. Cindy actually had a track meet she had to attend but she agreed to follow me to the race to help me get as much equipment set up as she could. The inflatable arch is particularly difficult to get set up solo. I punched in the address for the race that was on the entry form which took us into the Immokalee Airport access road. We saw noone around so I called the race director. He said he was 5 minutes behind me and would be there soon. We sat for another 10 minutes without seeing him so I called again. He said he was now there but did not see us. He described a park where the race was held which was nowhere in sight. We came back out of the park and used his verbal guidance to get to the right spot.
So the location confusion cost us valuable time since Cindy had to leave asap. We hustled and got the arch up and running off the generator and most of the other finish line equipment in place before Cindy had to head out. The morning had a hectic start and it only escalated from there. The location of the finish line was not good. It was staged on the main road used for vehicles to park. I had cars coming back and forth the entire time before the race.
At one point while I was setting more equipment up I heard the generator start to sputter. Just as I thought to myself, “it better not die”, it of course did, sending the arch quickly to the ground as yet another vehicle was approaching. I ran over to the generator and realized I did not have the vent on the gas cap turned to the ON position which caused it to shut down. After opening the vent the generator fired back up on the first pull and was fine the rest of the event. The registration area was at least a couple hundred yards from the finish line which was problematic as well. I had to go back and forth several times to do data entry while trying to finish the equipment set up at the same time. I definitely wished I had Cindy there to help me.
So with the vehicle traffic constantly going through the finish line before the race I wasn’t going to put the timing mats in place for a chip start. The field of runners was small so using just gun time wasn’t a big deal. As the race was getting ready to start the race director came up and made some announcements on my bullhorn. He then asked me if I had a starters gun we could use to start the race. I told him no but the bullhorn had a siren we could use. I showed him how to start it, assuming he would start the event. Instead he asked me if I could start the race since he was going to run the race as well. Um ok. Of course he didn’t realize that I already had a clipboard, my atomic watch, and a stopwatch I utilize when starting a race. Trying to awkwardly work the siren was not going to be a good thing. I managed to get the race started in a rather clumsy manner.
So once the runners cleared I had to quickly get the timing mats in place but I had to get the race clock set first. I had some issues getting it set just right but eventually got it working. I then jumped on the laptop where I have to do stuff like set the time on the timing box. I was getting no response. A quick diagnosis revealed that the USB ethernet adapter seemed to not be working. My only option was to power off the laptop and bring it back up. By the time I got it back up I getting close to crunch time time-wise. I quickly set the time on the Ipico box and got everything up and running literally seconds before the first young kid crossed.
So as I started looking at my finish line time reports I noticed something was wrong. The times on the report were almost a minute more than they should be?? WTF… So I started to try to figure out the problem. This was my first timing with the Ipico equipment in roughly a year so I wondered if I missed a step. Part of the process is setting the time on the laptop to match the time on my atomic synched watch. The laptop time is then used to set the time on the timing box. I had set the time on the laptop to match my watch before the race. Well somehow my shutting off the laptop had caused the time to fall out of synch by almost a minute so I set the time on the box with the incorrect time, causing the problem. I was luckily able to apply an offset to the finish times to correct the problem. I was glad I had my new security dvr there to allow me review the time the race winner crossed the line so I could determine exactly how much offset I needed.
The security dvr system also came in handy for environmental conditions. The way I was facing the rising sun was directly in my face. The large 27 inch monitor I have attached to the DVR served as a sunvisor. I spent much of the race ducked down behind it so I could see.
So in the end all of the race results worked out without anyone realizing just how much scrambling I was doing behind the scenes to make it happen. It also revealed some weak links in my GMT race equipment. My $149 Asus laptop is going to need to be swapped with something more substantial and I need to get more adept at setting the race clock. Clean up from the event took FOREVER with me doing it solo. I bet I spent damn close to an hour just tearing down and putting everything back in the truck. I pulled off site mentally and physically tired. Just as a final exclamation point on the morning, I had a hell of a time getting back on Immokalee Road due to a farmers parade going down Main Street. I probably spent 15 minutes finding a route around it.
By the time Cindy got home I had already finished unloading all of the equipment and had started on post race work like posting results and ripping finish line video. After we ate lunch turned our attention to the garage. At first I had given up hope on keeping the new Tacoma housed in the garage. It’s bigger dimensions would not allow it to fit where the SSR resided. Initially Cindy’s suggestion of changing the layout of the shelves in there, which meant removing them, was not appealing to me since I hate losing storage options. However the more I thought about it the more open I was to it.
We first had to get the old appliances moved to the opposite wall as they were sitting where the Tacoma would go. We then started pulling stuff out of the garage. Of course this was also an opportunity to purge some shit. I had a bunch of maintenance items like transmission fluid, air/oil filters, oil and other stuff that were needed for the maintenance of the old Tacoma and the SSR. Obviously I had no need for these anymore so we deposited them by the curb for someone else to use. Like I said almost everything was unopened. We moved some shelves around and completely removed others. The non-Tacoma side of the garage looked like a mess.
After we got done we did a test park with me backing into the space. I fit fine but it was tedious backing in there. We discovered that I could pull in forward and still have enough room to get out of the door once I raised an adjustable shelf on the wall, awesome. Cindy came up with the good idea to utilize the wall space where the shelf use to reside for extra pegboard space, something I have been in dire need of for many years. We stopped at that point since we were going to a sweet 16 birthday party for Cindy’s niece.
Even though I knew sweet 16 parties existed I never attended one and I never knew anybody that had one. I was surprised at the size and scope of it all. It almost seemed like a mini-wedding reception. It was held at a cool little marina that I never knew existed. Of course we cruised there in the new Tacoma. By Saturday I was finally feeling adjusted to the different driving dimensions and was comfortable on the road.
The party was very cute. Cindy’s niece is a terrific young lady with a bight future in front of her for sure. Cindy’s daughter and mom were there as well so we got to hang with them to varying degrees. We also got to meet Cindy’s brother’s girlfriend who was very nice as well. I chilled out with four beers to take the edge off. After the prior three days of go go go it felt good to just sit and chill for a bit.
Despite our high activity level up to that point, Sunday morning Cindy and I decided to get out and run, something that just has not happened on a consistent level for a long time. We put in a little over 3 miles at the track. With my lack of running of course I never felt comfortable the entire time but at least I got it done.
When we got home we loaded up Sadie for a ride. I needed to stop at Home Depot to get stuff to expand the pegboard and a few other things. Going there when we have Sadie is so much more fun now that we found out she is allowed to shop with us. The 4×8 piece of pegboard hung out over the edge of the old Tacoma but was held in place by the weight of three bags of mulch pretty securely. We took the old Tacoma, trying to spare the 2016 from unnecessary dirt and labor until necessary.
Most of the remaining daylight hours of Sunday were spent out in the garage getting the new pegboard up. I had some challenges along the way due to inconsistent stud placement on that wall but I worked around it. In addition we built a small shelf/table to get back some of the storage capability we lost. We also hung a tennis ball on a string parking aid we found at HD to make pulling the new Tacoma in far enough a no brainer. We were both quite pooped when our day’s labor came to an end. We now are quite anxious to get the old appliances out of there so we can again welcome the Prius back into the garage as well.
Like I mentioned earlier, we had a bunch of stuff by the road to give away. Late in the day Cindy noticed like it looked like it was scattered. We walked down there and saw a big freaking mess. Some idiot ran off the side of the road and into the various bottles of automotive products. In particular it looked like he squarely ran over one of the full bottles of tranny fluid, causing it to spray all over the other items, ruining them. The only good news I could see was the spray pattern included a good portion of the road as well so I hope the asshole has transmission fluid dissolving his paint as we speak.
Of course I would be remiss to not mention the celebrity deaths over the weekend. Chyna, one of the first big name female WWE stars died at the young age of 45. Her death was quickly overshadowed by the shocking death of Prince who was 57, far outside of normal dying range. It sounds like there are some odd circumstances in the week or two leading up to his death which I am sure will be beaten to death in the media. Regardless of how it happened he was an extremely talented performer and musician that in my book gave Michael Jackson a run for his money. I hate being old enough that famous people I grew up with that aren’t that much than older me are dying off. RIP Prince (and Chyna).
I also have forgot to mention my thoughts about the Eagles big move, trading what many (including myself) think was too much to move from the number 8 position to number two in the upcoming NFL draft. The team is presumably going to pick one of the top two projected QB ‘s in the draft and at this point it seems it will be the kid from North Dakota, Carson Wentz. This move concerns me on several levels.
If the Eagles were already holding the number 2 pick and wanted to draft the kid I guess I would be ok with it. To be successful every team needs a franchise QB eventually and the Eagles don’t think they have one currently on their roster. I agree with them. However to trade 5 picks to move down 6 spots to get this kid seems really, really stupid. How often do early pick QB’s fall on their face? The answer is all the time. More of them fail than succeed. To compound that, they are giving this up for a QB that played at a small school that faces a competition level far less than bigger programs go up against. Expecting him to jump from that scenario to play in the NFL where the talent level is magnified many times over seems like a stretch to me. When you factor in giving up all those picks it all just makes little sense to me.
Last year when Chip Kelly made all of those questionable moves, I said I thought they were bad decisions (which they obviously were), but I hoped he would prove me wrong. Once again I am hoping Howie Roseman turns out to be some sort of super genius and Carson Wentz proves to be the Eagles franchise QB for the next decade or more but I have a bad feeling it’s not going to be the case and cost us dearly in future draft talent to boot.