When I go home after work this week, on one of these nights, I plan to take a drive in my 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.

I’m planning on cruising out to Lake Minatare, as it’s one of the first places that I took my car after purchasing it brand new in 2012. We had to pose for pictures and take a ride. This trip will be about saying good-bye. A tow truck will be coming and picking up my denim blue baby sometime this week.

When I first started on my Volkswagen journey, I wasn’t pleased. I’d been looking for a new car. I had even test driven a friend’s car and had every intention of purchasing it. I had the down payment set aside and my husband was supposed to finalize the details for me.

We were newly married.

I mention that because, while I covered a week-long court case for my job, I had tasked my husband with finalizing the details and other things to purchase that car for me. He surprised me with a Volkswagen New Beetle instead.

I was hoppin’ mad. Really mad. I couldn’t drive the car. It was a manual. I knew how to drive a manual, as I’d learned to drive an employer’s car for delivering newspapers at my first newspaper job. The manual on the Volkswagen New Beetle was touchy. It died at every stop sign. It died at every stop light.

I figured my husband had gotten a new car. I was out of luck. Then, one day, after an odd dream, I woke up and drove that New Beetle without a problem again. It really worked that way.

And, I grew to love that car. It had character. It was a turbo, and it went fast. And, when it went fast, which I knew because all kinds of pick up drivers loved to challenge me at stop lights, it had a satisfying little feature where a turbo wing would pop up after you went over a certain mileage point. That mileage point usually meant I was speeding. I can’t believe I didn’t get any traffic tickets while driving that car.

It got hailed out in 2012. I decided to use the insurance money to purchase myself another Beetle. I wanted a specific color and looked around until I found it at a great dealership, which happened to be recommended by a friend. When I called on the denim blue Beetle, the salesman kept trying to talk me into the sunshine yellow Beetle. No, I want the denim blue Beetle. He told me how women really like the yellow beetle and it was cheaper. It’d been on the lot for awhile, it seemed.

Well, it was going to stay on the lot longer, because I wanted the denim blue Beetle. I went on a Saturday, picked up the Beetle and drove home a happy camper.

Volkswagens made me really understand why people like cars. I’d never quite gotten it until I had purchased a Beetle. I went to my first car event, a bug-in at Red Rocks, meeting a fellow Beetle friend I’d gotten to know through a car forum. I was actually a member of a car forum! And, in that car forum, my friends helped me — yes, me, do my own car repair — installing a switch and repairing a leak. I went to other car events in Fort Collins and met “car friends.”

We had a lot of fun.

My daughter drove that denim blue Beetle to her high school graduation, to college. We drove it to college graduation. I even drove her to Lake Minatare, where she got married this summer, in the denim blue Beetle. We’ve enjoyed visits with my grandson in Valentine, driving to see him in that car. We’ve made a lot of memories in the Beetle.

However, the recent hail storm took its toll on my Beetle. It’s a little surprising its made it through so many hailstorms, actually, but we were always able to get it moved in time. It wasn’t meant to be this time.

Lauren Brant told me that she thought the car’s top looked like a golf ball after the storm — you know, with all the texture of the ball. It seemed a pretty accurate description, especially considering that golf-ball to baseball-sized hail is responsible for its damages. Adjusters with the insurance company looked at it Tuesday and the car is totaled. A towing company will pick it up sometime this week.

I’m not sure if I’ll get another Beetle, despite my affinity for them. I’ve loved driving my Beetles. I’ve loved getting to know people. I’ve loved when people stop me and ask about my “Luv Bugn” license plate (because I love buggin’, which is what everyone in the group calls driving the bug). People would stop me and talk to me about the retro wheels or the retro color. I had a similar experience with my first bug, as people loved to talk about the cars and their favorite memories. They also loved the Hello Kitty decals I had on the windows.

I’m getting older and some features of the car aren’t as friendly — like being low to the ground, which makes it difficult when I need to take some family members out of town, or difficult to put a car seat in for when I take care of my grandson. I’ve experienced great cars, great service from the dealership, but change may be in order. Maybe I’ll change back when VW releases its van, of which I am a huge fan in theory.

I’ll always be a fan and love my bugs. And I’ll laugh at the one newly-wed mistake my husband made that lead me on my Volkswagen journey and made me understand car aficionados every where.

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Maunette Loeks is the digital news editor with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier.

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