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Baumgarten: The end of the road for the Red Monster

It’s been an interesting ride, but it looks like this journey has come to an end and it’s time to begin a new one.

Don’t freak out just yet. I’m not driving away from Dickinson, at least not forever. But I do have a new traveling buddy.

0 Talk about it

If you have seen me rolling down the road, you may have noticed that I own a Pontiac Grand Am. The Red Monster has given me a lift for the last five years. He came into my life after my my first car, a Buick Riviera, left me for that big garage in the sky.

I remember how it shined in the sun with its sparkling, green paint. The leather seats heated up in the winter, keeping me warm like the man of my dreams. The car kept me cool in the summer by rolling its sunroof back. And if I ever got lost, he could point me in the right direction with his compass.

But, alas, nothing lasts forever, especially the good things. Riv, as I called my first, was involved in an accident. His heart — I mean the engine — broke into two pieces. The airbags deployed and the dashboard cracked down the middle. The Riviera was no more.

I’ll never forget that car, but as a college student I needed another one to get me around. I went to the dealership where a bright, red sedan waited. I took it down the road, loving how its speedometer glowed in the dark. It was small, but it was a good fit.

The years passed and the Red Monster’s luster soon faded. I spent about $700 in repair on tires and wheel bearings last year. It didn’t carry me down the highway with ease but rather a slight but annoying jitter.

In short, the 10-year-old with 128,000 miles was old and had to go.

So, I began the long process of finding the dream car. Easier said than done.

When it comes to vehicles I am, like everyone that has car shopped, very picky. I wanted a car that got good gas mileage, had less than 50,000 miles on it and was under $12,000. Before you start laughing, I did find several like that, or close to my specifications. I took several out for a test drive until I finally found a convertible.

I can hear you chuckling as you drink your morning coffee, but think of this. I found it for less than $11,000, it had less than 50,000 miles on it and it didn’t shake, rattle and roll like Big Joe Turner. I loved the color, and it’s actually a practical car with decent gas mileage. The retracting roof is just icing on the cake.

A few weeks ago — actually, I’ve been thinking about this for almost a year — I couldn’t wait to get rid of my old car. I couldn’t run away fast enough. I would like to think that I made the best decision I could. Driving down the highway hasn’t felt so good since I left college.

But I’m a bit nostalgic as I look at this old, red Grand Am. We had a lot of fun together. We’ve put on a lot of miles in the last five years — approximately 60,000 miles. It was never the “love of my life,” but it always made sure I got home safely. It guided me through a lot of decisions, and it never let me down. Someone told me the Red Monster would be sad when I left it for another. I’m not going to lie. I have a tear in my eye as I write this.

You were good to me, old friend. I hope that someone else finds a friend in you. Happy trails.

And as for the convertible, well, I can’t wait for spring to get here so I can try out your full potential.

To open roads.

Baumgarten is the assistant editor for The Dickinson Press. Email her at

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.