Ellie: The Journey Begins
After a long day of flying, driving, waiting, and buying, I finally have Ellie. She's a 2005, Rallye Red Honda Element that I purchased from John Steinhauser at Encore Motorcars in Sarasota, Florida. Paying the non-refundable deposit for a car I'd never seen then buying a one-way flight to Florida was certainly a leap of faith.
But Ellie looked to be in great condition, with 92k miles and great service history. So with little more than a backpack on my shoulder, I boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from love field to Tampa Bay to buy a car I'd only seen online.
Upon arriving in Tampa, I was met by a driver from the dealership who drove me back to Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa. To my relief, the car was, as advertised, in great condition and there were no surprises during the purchase process. Within a few hours of landing, Ellie was mine and we were ready to begin the long drive home.
Before departing Sarasota for the 18-hour drive back to Dallas, I cruised Ellie around town. We crossed the Stickney Point draw bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (Little Sarasota Bay) to Siesta Key, a sleepy little strip of bungalows and small motels on the water.
On Siesta Key, we took Midnight Pass Road south down to the Turtle Beach Access to see the water and get some sand under our feet. After about thirty minutes of people watching on the beach, we started out for the long drive home.
Ellie drove like a champ. At a rest stop along Interstate 10, I pulled over after a brief rain to admire my purchase and take this photograph.