Sunday, December 18, 2011

So Long, Good Car

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Let me start out this blog post by apologizing for the lack of a story last weekend. For the first time in two and a half years, we were not able to publish our weekly story due to unforeseen circumstances.

This weekend, we are paying tribute and saying a sad goodbye to our tried and true friend, Good Car (the left-most car in the photo below).

In 2004, we took our first major photography trip, heading to the beautiful state of Pennsylvania to photograph on the backroads for a week. Good Car had only been in my possession for a few days, but we discovered on that trip how perfectly suited she was for the way we operate on the road. For more information about this trip and “Good Car,” see our blog post from January 22, 2011 entitled The Car's Point of View.

We had a great time on that trip, in spite of the unseasonably hot and humid weather during the first week of May. We came back with wonderful photographs, many of old mills and covered bridges, for which Pennsylvania is famous. Good Car had a great time driving slowly through the covered bridges and hearing the clip-clop of Amish buggies as they traveled along the backroads.

In 2006, Good Car took us to the wonderful state of Kentucky where we visited an old friend and soaked in the beauty of the Kentucky backroads. We spent the first part of our trip around the Lexington area and captured numerous images of horses in the pasture.

Our next big trip occurred in the spring of 2007, when Good Car transported us along the shores of Lake Michigan and into the countryside to capture barns and other rural scenes. One of our favorite days featured a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Our next trip was in 2008 to the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas. We spent a lot of time in the mountains and enjoyed some beautiful scenery in the Ozark National Forest. Good Car did a spectacular job maneuvering us through some interesting situations that we found ourselves in on some narrow and rough mountain roads.

In 2009, we spent 10 days with Good Car on the backroads of Ohio, many of them in the Ohio River Valley. We hunted up a lot of Mail Pouch Tobacco barns and a few Ohio Bicentennial Barns. From 1997 to 2002, artist Scott Hagan painted the Ohio Bicentennial mural on at least one barn in each of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties. He used 100 paintbrushes and 645 gallons of paint, along with traveling 65,000 miles to complete this work. Ohio then celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2003.

Our most recent photography trip occurred in April, 2010 and it was the longest trip we’ve ever taken. Good Car took us to North Carolina and we spent close to two full weeks photographing our way there, photographing eight full days on the backroads and mountain roads of North Carolina, and photographing our way back. We worked 16 hours a day and Good Car performed flawlessly.

Over the past seven-plus years, Good Car has taken us to hundreds of counties in 16 different states. She’s done her hardest work on our lengthy photography trips, all of which have been taken in the spring.

She has had a bit of a “summer vacation” every year, taking a good amount of time off due to our reluctance to photograph in the hot and humid weather.

Every autumn, however, Good Car is called to duty in a big way. Autumn is our absolute favorite season and we have added many, many miles to Good Car’s odometer in this beautiful season of the year.

And every winter, Good Car has taken us safely down icy and snow-covered backroads in search of many wonderful winter snow scenes. And she’s also worked hard on our annual Christmas Bird Count, our April Owl Monitoring and Midwest Crane Count, our June Breeding Bird Survey, and our special birding projects for the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

So, why are we bidding a fond farewell to Good Car? She’s served us so well that we hate to let her go, but it’s time that we gave her a well-deserved retirement. This might sound strange, but yesterday, when I said goodbye to her, it almost brought tears to my eyes. On her request, we have already given her replacement, the next generation if you will, a proper name. But that’s a story for another day.

So long, Good Car. As you drive off into the mist, know that we will miss you.

Happy Shunpiking!


  1. Cars do come to be so much of our lives that having a good one is like having a relationship. You have my sympathies.

  2. Thanks for the story about Good Car! It's so true that good cars become like old friends and it's sad to see them go. I'd like to add a trip in Good Car that we'll long remember - the trip we all took (the 5 Ringelstetter sisters) with our Dad this past May to visit the areas in Sauk County where Dad and his extended family lived when Dad was growing up. Good Car did a great job of comfortably hauling the six of us around for the entire day. So long, Good Car!