Nice wedding on Saturday. Nice neighborhood party on Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, a nice long think about which car to buy.

Jonah’s somewhat uncharacteristic fussiness kept me from observing up close Saturday’s wedding of Erin’s former student teacher Pam, but Erin, Matt, Ginger, Kathy, and Leif got a good view of it. I was out back swinging Jonah in his car seat to try to induce him to sleep. Got a wave from Pam just before she walked the aisle—kind of a fringe benefit for having to hang with the boy. I finally got Jonah settled, but I didn’t dare move him back into the nave since his cries would’ve been like a bomb in an echo chamber. From the back of the church, it appeared to be a very nice wedding. Congratulations to Pam and Dave!

Fortunately, Jonah was much more with it by the reception. I held him much of the time, but this proved no real impediment to enjoying either the conversation at the table or the reception buffet. Good times!

On Sunday, we held a neighborhood party at Fred and Jeff’s next door (since theirs is the perfect backyard for this sort of thing). Attendance was very good, and we enjoyed meeting folks new to the neighborhood and talking with people we see frequently but don’t chat with much. One other item of note: We have some seriously good cooks in the area. It was a potluck affair, and at least a couple folks around here know their way around a kitchen or BBQ or both. We’re already looking forward to the Christmas party.

Erin and I have been in discussions about what car to buy. We were already planning a second car in September before the recent series of catastrophes with Six, our Mazda 626. It’s already a given that a second car will roughly double our car insurance. Having run several different vehicles by our insurance company, it appears that what vehicle is unimportant. The price roughly doubles, end of story.

Here’s what we’re looking for specifically: 4 door mid-size sedan, AT, AC, dual side airbags, and under 120k miles. Antilock brakes, cruise control, and a V6 would be nice bonuses. Anything above that is really a bonus, but probably one for which we don’t care to pay. I’m sure power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, power mirrors, power brakes, power steering, etc. are all great, and I’d be happy to have them, but none of them are anything which sets my world on fire.

What does set my world aflame is the 1992-1996 Toyota Camry. As many of you know, I’ve long been enamored with this car. Prior to ’92 the styling is much like our somewhat boxy 626 and while that’s OK, it’s not nearly as attractive as the ’92-’96 era in my opinion. After ’96 Toyota messed with the simple lines and elegant styling of the car and, for me at least, visually ruined the car.

My research thus far shows that I need to go with at least a ’94 Camry LE to get the dual side airbags. Other possibilities here include the Toyota Avalon, sort of a biggish Camry which Toyota introduced in 1995, and, believe it or not, the ’94 Lexus ES 300, sort of like the most elegant Camry ever containing every feature you can possibly imagine. I was very surprised to find that neither the Avalon nor the Lexus had an insurance cost appreciably higher than the Camry. Additionally, these cars all share the same basic engine. A quick call to the mechanic this morning confirmed what I suspected: Repair costs are virtually identical for all these vehicles.

All of which does not mean we’re going to run right out and buy a Lexus. It does, however, expand our pool of options, and I’m an option-loving person. Although I wouldn’t rule out a Honda Accord or an Acura Legend, I’m guessing that within the next 60 to 90 days we’ll be driving a Camry, Avalon, or Lexus. We’ll be keeping the Mazda 626 as a second car but, as I’ve said previously, only for around town driving. Regardless of what we end up with, it’ll be a step up, and one which is unlikely to leave us stranded in 100 degree weather outside of Arlington, Oregon. (Yes, Six, I’m glaring in your direction.)