Last Saturday, I drove for ten hours to deliver a dog down to southern Connecticut. Today, I get to do the drive again, to pick her up from her Week of Loooove.
Yes, I will have the kids with me.
Let’s just say that this week’s Dadcation (which will take place either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning) will be particularly well-deserved.
The Grand Marnier is now in its sixth year–we got in in December 2005. (Hey, I blogged about it back then…revered excrement, I’ve been doing this Interblogs thingie for a while, haven’t I?) In its five and a half years, it has been almost entirely trouble-free, which is undoubtedly attributable to the fact that we purchased the 70k miles extended warranty. Other than regular wear-and-tear items like brakes and such, it has needed no parts replaced other than a passenger side window motor (under warranty) and a tailgate latch pressure switch. Six months ago, it carried us all the way down to South Carolina in our Epic Family Vacation and Family Visit without a hiccup.
Now, a lot of guys knock minivans, but I wouldn’t want to make a trip of that length with anything but a Grand Caravan or similar vehicle. We had enough luggage for two adults and two kids, a ton of wedding and family presents, and provisions…and not only did everything fit into the cargo compartment behind the third row seat, but we still had the third row available for taking naps, changing diapers, and so on. We also had enough space to hang up the fancy wedding clothes in their garment bags so they’d arrive wrinkle-free. The sliding doors make it easy to load and unload little kids in crowded rest stop parking lots, and the seats are comfy and offer lots of leg space in every row, even for people who are six feet plus.
In everyday utility use, the folding seats are incredibly handy, because you can switch the seating configuration around as needed, turning the van from a seven-seat minibus into a two-seat cargo hauler “pickup with a roof” without ever having to take a seat out of the car. I’ve hauled bedroom furniture, bales of insulation, renovation debris, bookshelves, a dozen eight-foot 4x4s, and a hundred other items in that minivan without trouble. For sheer utility and flexibility, it’s handily the best vehicle I’ve ever owned.
The best part is that we made the last payment on it a few months ago. It’s still purring right along, and our intention is to drive it into the ground. At my current rate of mileage accumulation, I’ll probably have the Grand Caravan for another five years at least, by which time I probably won’t need a minivan anymore. But you know what? One of those Siennas with all-wheel drive would be a slick upgrade…and by that time, they’ll probably come with all kinds of Star Trek gadgets that will make the current models look like 1970s panel vans. With the way air travel is going, I foresee us driving everywhere we can, and the minivan is a long-range family cruiser without peer.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still want that Porsche 911, but there’s no law against having both…yet. <cue Rush’s “Red Barchetta”>