Car buying experience 2015 (part 2)

Buying a car this time around was eerily similar to my experience in 2005. In ten years the cars have changed quite a bit (so many bells and whistles these days!), but the way I went about purchasing one was about the same. First I went online and requested quotes from car dealers for two different Honda CR-V models (the EX-L and Touring). Then I was almost immediately inundated with emails and phone calls from local dealers who all wanted my business. As much as I liked the enthusiastic salesman at the dealer in Pasadena, it just wasn’t practical for me to go all the way back there to buy a car. And since they didn’t have one that I wanted in stock it saved me the trouble of seriously considering it. In both 2005 and 2015 the only dealer I had more than brief contact with was Honda World in Westminster. I’d like to say I went back there for my second CR-V because I had such a positive experience the first time, but that’s not it at all. Truthfully, buying cars there was pretty lousy both times, but their close proximity to Seal Beach was the biggest selling point.

Back in 2005 an online sales representative at Honda World contacted me to say that they had the exact CR-V I wanted (model and color) in stock and gave me a great price quote via email. So I drove down there after work, but the salesman I had been in touch with wasn’t there that evening. The guy I did talk to informed me that they had already sold the CR-V I wanted, but they had the more expensive model available. Of course. I was reluctant, but I test drove it and went through the first stage of price negotiation, but in the end I decided that I just didn’t want that particular car so I walked away. The next day I got a call from the online sales representative saying that they actually did still have the original CR-V I wanted in stock, and he even scolded me for not talking to him at the dealer. He wasn’t even there! Sheesh. Based on this ridiculous behavior on everyone’s part I should have given them a piece of my mind and then gone elsewhere. But I was a little desperate so I told the sales rep that I would be there that afternoon to buy the car and that it had better be there. It was, so I drove home that day in my first CR-V.

Fast forward to 2015 and things weren’t much different. The day I requested online quotes I got a call from Honda World. It was one of the few phone calls I answered that day since I preferred to get the car negotiations done over email instead. Believe it or not, the same online sales representative that sold me my first CR-V was on the other end of the line. I told him exactly what I was looking for and he assured me that not only did Honda World not have one in stock, but that no other dealer in Southern California did either. First of all, I had email proof that other dealers did indeed have the car I was looking for. Second, isn’t a salesman supposed to make a sale? Luckily he couldn’t see me roll my eyes over the phone. I told him, “Thank you very much. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” Not ten minutes later he called me back saying that he had found a CR-V for me. I think his strategy needs some work. However, it ultimately did make a sale. I needed a car, and Honda World was having one delivered from Ventura for me. It all worked out. So on April 24th I was the proud owner of a 2015 Honda CR-V. And so far I couldn’t be happier!

Car buying experience 2015 (part 1)

I bought a new car on April 24th. This was almost a month after my 2005 Honda CR-V died completely, which I actually wrote about at the time (in an attempt to uphold my New Year’s Resolution #4). That poor little car went long before its time. But even after it was towed away on April 3rd (I donated it to charity for the tax write off) and I was left with just a rental, I was still reluctant to go car shopping. I just wasn’t excited about it. The thought of having to interact with potentially pushy salespeople, test driving unfamiliar cars, and eventually haggling about prices made me cringe. But then my friend Natalie offered to go with me. That was exactly the motivation (more like a kick in the pants) I needed to get out there and look for a new set of wheels. One Saturday, after driving that horrible rental for a couple of weeks, I drove up to Pasadena and met Natalie to go car shopping. The first place she took me was a Toyota dealer where I looked at both the RAV4 and the Highlander SUVs. Originally I was more interested in the Highlander, thinking it would be comparable in size to my old CR-V, but it was much larger than I expected. I ended up test driving both, but the RAV4 was more appealing. I liked it just fine, despite the lack of enthusiasm from the salesman who was helping us. I didn’t notice, but Natalie said he was dozing off in the backseat during the test drives. He certainly wasn’t wasting much effort trying to make a sale! For that reason I was happy to head to the Honda dealer next. This time we got a very earnest salesman who was keen to show us all of the fantastic features of the new CR-Vs. And they were pretty impressive. I was crazy about the touch screen navigation system, the backup and side view cameras, and all of the displays on the dashboards. And the test drive was a breeze because the latest CR-V handles very similarly to my old one. No surprises there. I loved the CR-V and it didn’t take long for me to decide that I definitely wanted to buy one. That particular dealer didn’t have the model I wanted so I was spared having to make a decision on the spot, but the majority of the work was done, thanks to Natalie. Without her help I probably would have put off car shopping even longer. But after she spent most of her day driving me to car dealers I was most of the way to getting a new mode of transportation. I am so grateful!

To be continued…

Spring weather

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
-Attributed to Mark Twain, but not verified

A few years ago a friend of mine visited San Francisco and Los Angeles in June. I reminded her to bring a jacket because coming from Florida the last thing you think you’d need in the summer is a jacket of any kind. Proving my point, the one day I met her for lunch was chilly, overcast, and overall really dreary – typical for Los Angeles in June! After growing up where it’s extremely hot most of the year, I was thrilled to discover a milder climate when I moved to California. Unfortunately, it’s much hotter here now than when I first arrived fifteen years ago. We even had some days in the 90s this past January. Yes, January. That’s nuts! I live in a beach city and it should never get that hot here any time of the year. Fortunately we’ve been enjoying some spectacular spring weather this week. The highs have been in the upper 60s and low 70s, and it actually rained a little bit on Tuesday night. I loved being able to throw on a sweatshirt when I went to pick up dinner tonight. It’s too bad I’ve had to put in so many hours at work this week because it’s kept me from fully enjoying the beautiful weather. But walking out of work in the evening to a cool breeze is something I can’t get enough of. Based on the last few years these pleasant days won’t last. I’m not looking forward to summer. Hopefully May Gray and June Gloom (there’s actually a picture of the Seal Beach pier in that Wikipedia entry!) will help keep the temperatures down over the next couple of months. I’ve got a lot of running to do!

Rewards and incentives

I’ve had a weird and somewhat disappointing Saturday, but I’ll write about that tomorrow. It’s late and I’d like to spend more time on that subject that than I have tonight. However, I would like to share a little something before I go to bed. Last week I wrote about my internal struggle regarding the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend in November. I spent a couple of days debating it, and in the end I made a deal with myself. I would register for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10K + half marathon), but then I had to get serious about training again. Afterwards I realized it was like giving a child a treat before they earned it. Oops. I didn’t say it was a good deal! (Not that running 19.3 miles is exactly a treat, but I sure do enjoy the medals at the end!) Fortunately I did get my rear back in gear as far as exercise goes this week. I ran last Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and went to a spinning class on Monday evening as well. It felt really good to be active again. Difficult, since I’m still out of shape after my injury, but good. And the best news is that I was lucky enough to sign up for the Avengers Infinity Gauntlet Challenge on Tuesday during Disneyland annual pass holder early registration. Once again the process was a bit of a disaster, but I was fortunate enough to get a spot two weeks before open registration. According to my deal with myself, this means I have to stick to my training schedule during the summer and fall. (It also means I need to make a training schedule for the summer and fall, but I’ll worry about that after my races in May.) This dedication should help me with my New Year’s resolution #3 to wear a bikini in Hawaii in June too. I’m going to Maui in less than three months. Yikes! I got myself another treat, of sorts, to help me with all of this. New running shoes! I bought the new incarnation of my Nike Zoom Structures to see if they work as well as for me the old ones. So far the results are promising, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve put more miles on them. Hopefully they will be properly broken in by my next race. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle renovations

I took this picture last Friday when I spent the morning at Disneyland. (It was my day off before working all weekend, but I still had to go in to the office for a few hours that evening.) The 60th anniversary of the park is this year so Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is completely under wraps while being renovated for the occasion. I haven’t ever seen work this extensive at Disneyland. The 60th anniversary celebration this summer promises to be quite the event!

2015 Resolution #3

New Year’s Resolution #3: Wear a bikini

This one scares me a little bit right now. Especially this close to Valentine’s Day when there’s a whole aisle of candy in bright red boxes tempting me at the grocery store. It’s hard to resist. But I think I need to do more things that scare me so I’m actually kind of excited about this resolution. It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure, but I think it’s a good idea to force myself out of my comfort zone. At least for a little while. The good news is that this is a resolution with a specific end date in mind. I am going to Hawaii in June with some friends and I am determined to feel comfortable enough to wear a bikini on the beach (and snorkeling, of course) while I’m there. One of my friends is renting an amazing house on the beach on Maui so I’m looking forward to rolling out of bed, throwing on a bathing suit, and going swimming in the morning. It’s going to be amazing! And it’ll be the perfect reason to finally cut the tags off the bikinis I bought last year. It’s terrible that they’ve been sitting unworn in a drawer for so long, especially when I went to so much trouble to get them. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but at least the purchases will pay off in June. The challenge will be making it through the time between now and then! The road to bikini-wearing starts now!

Full circle

I had an optometrist appointment this morning so I stayed home from work beforehand. On any other day I might have gone to work for a couple of hours prior to the appointment, but then I realized that today was no ordinary day. At 9 AM this morning the annual passholder registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend opened up! So about ten minutes early I pulled up all of the pertinent webpages (including Facebook so I could monitor the Run Disney and Annual Passholder feeds) on my laptop because I knew the pre-registration spots would sell out quickly. A friend of mine reminded me that this is the tenth anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon so all of the races were going to be very popular. And that was definitely true. Based on what I saw on Facebook while waiting for the race registration link to become available (which didn’t happen until about 9:05 AM, much to everyone chagrin), it seems that Disney WORLD annual passholders were able to start signing up quite a few minutes earlier than the DisneyLAND annual passholders so that put us West Coasters at a distinct disadvantage. Luckily I was obsessively refreshing the registration webpage so I got into the system when the link was finally available and I was able to register for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (10K + half marathon) without any further problems. Now I know what I’m doing Labor Day weekend! Let’s just hope I’ll be ready. But before I get too discouraged because of my injured knee (more on that in another post), I’m remembering this time last year when I was signing up for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon – my very first half marathon. I was so nervous! I’d never run more than about 6 miles and I had no idea if there was any way I could complete a half marathon. It was so intimidating! Little did I know that I was starting something very exciting. Fast forward a year and I’m now fairly confident that I can survive it 13.1 miles (although we’ll see how I do in the Huntington Beach half marathon on Sunday), assuming my body is healthy! Fingers crossed that I’m back to my old self soon.