Category Archives: Stories

Corollaville 300,000 Miles

In 2000, Karen and I decided we needed a new car. I went to Consumer Reports and based my decision on the most reliable compact car. On April 25th 2000, we went to Jeff Wyler’s Toyota of Clarksville and purchased a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 19,889 miles. 12.5 years later (October 7th 2012) it reached 300,000 miles.

When we bought this car in 2000, I had a Nextel i1000 flip phone. Gas was $1.50 per gallon. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 4-2 in the NBA finals. The PlayStation 2 was released in Japan and North America. 405 The Movie, the first short film widely distributed on the Internet, was released.

We’ve lived in 6 different places since then. I opened my own company, ran it for 5 years then closed it. Our daughter was 3-years-old when we bought the Corolla and now she’s driving it. The Corolla is like a living Time Capsule.

This is a big one because we’ve had it for 12.5 years. The majority of the time we’ve owned our Corolla we’ve lived in Southern Indiana north of Louisville, KY. We’ve lost count of the number of trips we’ve made to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Chicago. All of the trips listed below were made in our Corolla. It’s been the only car we’ve owned in 12.5 years. In 2003 we had a second car (coupe) for 90 days and a truck totaled it. In 2010 we had a second car (van) and it died after two weeks. Those cars didn’t last long enough to count.

January 2002. We went to Disney World (Orlando, FL) celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary (our 1991 honeymoon was also in Disney World; we were married December 31st 1990).

August 2010. After the economy killed my business and Karen lost her job we all decided to sell everything, pack the Corolla, and move to California to start over. On the way to Los Angeles we made a few stops. Here they are in order: Austin, TX (stayed with friends for a couple days)San Antonio, TX (River Walk,  The Alamo and Vera Bradley)Carlsbad, NM (Carlsbad Caverns)Roswell, NM (for the aliens of course)Grand Canyon, AZ – Hoover Dam, NV – Las Vegas, NVSanta Monica, CA (our final destination). Once we arrived, we had to find work as quickly as we could.

Los Angeles. While living in Los Angeles, CA we drove everywhere. We saw as many landmarks and tourist attractions as we could. It was one of the most exciting times of our lives. Some examples of major spots/events are: Santa Monica Pier, Palisades Park, Pointe Vicente, Hermosa Beach, Beverly Hills, The GroveLa Brea Tar PitsGrauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood Sign, The Americana, Hilary Duff, Griffith Observatory, Stan Lee, Big Bear Lake and the Pacific Wheel.

December 2010. You can’t be this close to Disneyland (Anaheim, CA) and not go, am I right?

July 2011. For our 2011 vacation we headed back to Los Angeles with our Corolla headlining the first video. This time we drove through the Mojave Desert and Palm Springs. We also surprised Allyson with a trip to many of the filming locations for The O.C.

February 2012. Chicago, IL for Allyson’s 15th Birthday. Blick Art Materials, Pandora, and Vera Bradley.

June 2012. Newport Aquarium.

July 2012. We went to Disney World (Orlando, FL) celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary. We were in Florida for nearly two weeks and also went down to Miami for the 1st time and over to Cocoa Beach, Saint Petersburg and Clearwater.


I just learned last year that our Corolla was built in the Fremont, CA factory which is now home of the Tesla Model S. I feel as though our Corolla knew it came from California and desired to return. My understanding is that Toyota and Tesla are collaborating on hybrid technology. I would like to visit the new Tesla Model S factory.

Moving to L.A. had not been as permanent as we hoped. Upon returning to Indiana, Karen started her writing career. Camel Lot: A Misplaced Adventure is Karen’s first children’s book which she began while we were living in L.A. Bermuda’s Triangle: A Misplaced Adventure is her 2nd children’s book. Area 50 Juan: A Misplaced Adventure is her 3rd children’s book and was inspired by our trip through Roswell, NM. Santa Monica: A Misplaced Adventure is her 4th children’s book and was inspired by our time in Santa Monica while living in L.A. Karen’s first novel, My Prior Life, is based on our journeys in our Corolla from Indiana to California, that is until it turns into a psychological thriller. From My Window is a paranormal and her first short story based on a beach house in Santa Monica. Our Corolla has taken us on many journeys that have lead to great memories, pictures, videos and now books by Karen Jones.

I’ve been known to drive my Corolla at times when many people wouldn’t or shouldn’t because a Jeep or some kind of four-wheel-drive is required.

In 12 years we’ve only spent a few thousand on things that wouldn’t be considered regular maintenance. This has been an excellent car and saved us lots of money.


When we lived in Los Angeles it was obvious to me that Prius was becoming the most popular car.

Our Corolla has had many different stickers, hubcaps and floor mats. But in all that time there’s only been one Lilo. I put Lilo on the dashboard in 2002 and she’s been there ever since.

The Hero Story


In April of 2006 one of my clients was married and they were transferring their wedding photos and videos to their laptop as often as they could. Shortly after the wedding she called me and said her PC laptop wouldn’t boot. I picked up the laptop and did my best to get it to boot but it wouldn’t. I had determined that the hard drive had failed on some level and wouldn’t mount. I reluctantly informed my client of the bad news.

She decided to buy MacBook which I helped her setup and I recovered her iTunes Library from her iPod to her MacBook.

A few months later I decided to try again. I put the drive into a laptop and attempted to run Check Disk. This time the drive simply clicked over and over again never getting anywhere in the boot process.

On December 20th 2007 I purchased SpinRite, a new utility that I thought might repair her hard drive, unfortunately when booting the PC the utility couldn’t see that the drive was connected. And again I shelved the drive.

This month (May 2009) I borrowed a friends PC tower to run SpinRite on my TiVo hard drive because my TiVo was crashing every hour. SpinRite ran for less that 12 hours and repaired some sector problems on the drive. After reassembling my TiVo and putting it back into use I haven’t had a single problem with it. This made me think it was time again to try SpinRite on my clients hard drive.

On Saturday morning May the 16th 2009 I was in my work area and decided to put the hard drive in a laptop and run SpinRite. You can imagine my surprise when SpinRite saw the drive even though it was clicking repeatedly. I told SpinRite to Recover the data. I was quite excited to see that SpinRite was trying to repair the drive. I kept going to my work area to check it’s progress.

After 12 hours it had finally gotten through about 4 areas of damage or less than 1% of the drive. On Sunday I was excited to tell my wife that it was at 54% and it was actually repairing some of the drive while marking other areas unrecoverable. I was thinking that by Monday I would be able to try and recover the data from the drive after the repair.

However, Monday came and went still at 54%. Tuesday got us to 58%. Wednesday was an all 64% day as was Thursday. Friday came and moved us to 65%. One week later, on Saturday we saw 68%. Sunday was the day we saw 69%. Monday came and went without a single change. Tuesday, well Tuesday was the JackPot.

I checked on the progress of the drive repair Tuesday morning May 26th 2009. To my surprise SpinRite was finished. Some areas were marked in Red (red is bad) and some areas were marked in Green (green is good) while most areas were undamaged. I removed the drive from the PC laptop and mounted it on my MacBook. And there it was. It would occasionally click when covering a bad area but it would get over it and report an error. Then I was able to move on.

I meticulously went through every photo and video attempting to copy them over to my drive. There were the important wedding photos and videos as well as hundreds of other photo and videos. Many times the hard drive would start clicking, I had to wait until it was done about a minute later then move on. After several hours of grabbing hundreds of images and dozens of videos one by one I recovered all but a couple videos a few pictures because they were corrupt.

Now I’m going to publish this article and send my client a link so she can read that I recovered her wedding photos and videos from the laptop drive she gave me 3 years ago.

Response from Amie, “Yeah Rob it’s Amie, just checked my email and I think That’s pretty incredible.”

Letter to my Aunt and Uncle (Dorothy and Ed Winn)

This is the letter I sent to my Uncle ED Winn and Aunt Dororthy Winn in the Summer of 2003, 6 months before she passed away.

This letter was my way of thanking them for being part of the best Summer I’d ever had.

Dear Ed and Dorothy:

A song came on this morning that reminded me of the summer (1988) that I stayed with you. I just wanted wanted to say thanks for being part of one of my most cherished childhood memories. That summer was unlike any another I’ve ever had. I have a list of favorite songs that played on the radio during that summer and every time I hear them it takes me back to the summer of 1988. Some of the things I remember are my first day there when Dorothy got the neighbor down the hill to send up their attractive little daughter to keep me company, her name might have been Angie. I remember that Angie’s parent’s house was sinking because of a poorly built footer and I have pictures of the huge crack in the back of the house.

I remember us (Ed, Dorothy and myself) going out to dinner and then watching TV at night with a bowl of white popcorn. We usually watched Love Connection with Chuck Woolery, “We’ll be back in two and two”. I remember Smokey my cocker spaniel eating Dorothy’s favorite golf shoes and the fact that I have to hear that story every time I visit. I remember Granddaddy bringing me my bike and taking Smokey to my Mom’s. I remember wearing myself out riding my bike to different places until I starting driving the VW Golf, or was it a VW Rabbit? I remember driving the Golf up to the store and buying bags of Krunchers potato chips and batteries for my jam-box. I remember skiing with a bunch of kids I did not really know but whom were very fun to be with and how odd I thought it was that a bunch of teenagers were allowed to take a boat out on the lake with no adults.

I remember having a girlfriend who lived across the street and we would ride around on her Spree scooter, I think her name was Missy and she worked at Holiday World but that’s were most of the kids worked. I remember Ed telling me to take her some flowers when she was sick, and that she had a poster of Tom Cruise in her bedroom. I drove Dorothy’s Buick Lesabre to Jasper where we went to see the movie Cocktail with Tom Cruise and Steve Winwood’s song “Roll With It” was playing an the radio. I remember taking her out on the lake in Dorothy’s (the lady who lived on the lake) paddle boat.

Ed would give me some money for doing odd jobs or no jobs. I remember working on some lady’s landscaping to make some extra money. I remember Ed wanting me to get up on the roof to do some tar coating, but I don’t actually remember doing it. I must have cut the grass at least once because I remember being annoyed about having to cut around the concrete dear. I remember going to Glen’s house and climbing up in the attic to hang a ceiling fan. I remember going out to dinner that night and I got water to drink instead of soda and Dorothy looking at me like I was crazy because of all the RC Cola I drank at your house. I remember there always being a picture of me on a nightstand somewhere in the house.

I remember a phone call I had with my Mom telling her I was going to stay in Santa Claus my Senior year of high school and that I did not want to go back to Clarksville. Which was followed by a letter she sent me pleading for me to change my mind, which I eventually did. I think I still have the letter somewhere.

I remember leaning back in one of the aluminum patio chairs and breaking the leg and then spending the next hour reattaching the two pieces by grinding down a foot long piece of wood to insert (hammer) between them.

I still have the drafting equipment Ed gave me that summer which I remember using when I won the Louisville Technical Institute Drafting award in 1989. The first time I ever played golf, Ed was trying to explain to me to keep my head down by pretending there was a string with a fishing hook attached to my lip and the other hook was attached to my personal area. I played golf one time about two years ago, that makes two times I’ve played golf in my life. I don’t ever remember driving a golf cart. I remember swimming at the pool by the golf course club house and the cute lifeguard that drove a Dodge Shelby. I remember going to a Buick showroom with Dorothy and seeing a Buick Reatta for the first time. And Dorothy’s favorite shampoo was Pantene.

I remember baby sitting for Tony and Donna’s little girl but don’t remember her name, maybe Ashley. I remember going to a public swimming pool with Donna and her daughter, and Donna telling me how she lost her job driving a UPS truck because she backed it into something. I think I remember swimming in the pond at Tony’s trailer in Hanson that was close to my grandparents but I know Tony had a house in Santa Claus so I could be wrong about the trailer. I remember Tony taking me to my Mom’s house in Clarksville on his way to work one early Friday morning for the weekend because he worked in Louisville.

I have a few pictures and a drawing I did of the basement from that summer that help me remember. I can remember the floor plan of the house and if I ever built my own house it would be very similar because I think it was one of the best designs I’ve ever seen.

So thanks again for being part of that memory. I love you both very much and hope to see you soon.

P.S. I can go back a few more years and remember being at the softball game where Dorothy got hit in the eye. I also remember going bowling a couple of times. If I go back a little more I can remember a house you had where your dad lived in the basement and it had a basketball goal on the driveway and the sides of the driveway were lined with stones that kinda went up a hill, that was also where Ed taught me how to dribble a basketball. I remember Glen giving me some Hot Wheels to play with. I remember one of you working at a car related business and it having one of those old Coke machines where you got a short coke bottle. You had some friends who were midgets that had a son or father named Gwen. I remember visiting their house and they had one of those bobbing birds on the refrigerator. I remember a house you had in Evansville with a dart board in the basement and when Ed would cut the grass he would start at the top and mow across and back up in one direction only so all the clippings ended up in the same spot.

At Dorothy’s funeral my Uncle Ed told me that she loved this letter.

Here is a copy of her obituary.

SANTA CLAUS — Dorothy Mae Winn, 69, died Thursday, Dec. 25, 2003, at St. Mary’s Medical Center, Evansville.

A native of Hanson, Ky., she was born Feb. 3, 1934, the daughter of the late Givens and Abbie (Wines) Baldwin. She was married in Evansville on Aug. 12, 1960, to Ed Winn.

She was a member of the Santa Claus United Methodist Church and the William Tell Senior Citizens. She loved dancing and was an avid golfer and was Christmas Lake Golf Champion numerous times.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, Dale and Givens “Bob” Baldwin and two sisters, Bettie Jones and Hattie Laura Hanner.

Surviving are her husband of 43 years, Ed; two sons, Tony Hayden Ashby of Santa Claus and Glenn Edward Winn of Richland; three brothers, James, Richard and Paul Baldwin of Hanson; and three grandchildren, Randi Mae Ashby and Brittany Ranee and Cody Edward Winn.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday (today) at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Santa Claus. The Rev. David Blystone will officiate. Burial will be in Santa Claus United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Becher Funeral Home, Ferdinand, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Santa Claus United Methodist Church Building Fund.