an ode to my minivan:
oh minivan, oh minivan
you look like shit
but drive like a dream (mostly).
150,000 miles of childhood road trips
and a hell of a lot of trips to alma and florida.
occasionally you burn up an alternator
but most of the time you're cool.
one time you beat a guard rail.
drive on, sweet crimson avenger.
i really like my minivan.
i've blogged about it before. but it's time for another post about it because it gets me where i need to go in a pretty cool fashion.
we got my (my dad's) ford windstar seventeen years ago this month. i remember being very excited. i don't remember what vehicle it replaced. i think it was my dad's beloved taurus (or topaz or something) that got totalled when he got rear ended on the way home from the grocery store.
what a shame.
anyway, i vaguely remember going to the dealership with my parents to get it. i was seven. i remember that it was really really hot and i was probably cranky and whiney.
i remember that the van was big and shiny and new and literally a week after we got it, we drove it to colorado and climbed pike's peak.
"welcome home, minivan. CLIMB THIS MOUNTAIN, BITCH."
it performed beautifully.
we used the van regularly until i was in high school. my freshman year of high school my dad was teaching at the school he's always taught at and my mom was teaching at the ghetto high school downtown (where i now teach swim lessons). she took her car (now my brother's) there every day and my dad drove the van to work like he'd been doing for the past seven years.
i had a permit, so my dad made me drive it to school every day. we left for school really early because my dad likes to get there at like, six in the morning, so i would drive the van to school and sleep in my dad's classroom until it was time to go to first period.
we built our house and moved that summer closer to school. my parents bought their little stick shift. i got my license. my brother and i adopted my mom's car and my parents carpooled in their new car.
the van went into the third bay of the garage and sat there for a long time. occasionally we took it out.
we drove it to florida when i was eighteen. that was a big trip for it.
most of the time, it sat, its travelling days over.
in college, we had my brother's car except when my brother spent his summers there doing research with his horny spiders. then he kept the van in alma because it got shitty gas mileage. at this point, it was over ten years old and we would make fun of it, calling it the ghetto van.
it was originally named the crimson avenger by my brother's boyscout troop when i was in eighth grade. but now we just kind of joked around about it being the ghetto van.
the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, my parents bought their SUV. the big new shiny SUV. the van got displaced to sitting on the driveway so everyone could see the rust.
it was pretty beat up by this time. i had run it into the side of the house twice in high school (DON'T ASK), my brother had gotten rear ended in it (but i think we fixed that dent) and two of the hubcaps were missing from an incident when aaron popped a tire driving home one summer.
my dad sat me down and told me that i would now be driving it most of the time.
my dad: it's basically yours now.
me: I WANT AARON'S CAR.
my dad: too bad, i don't give a shit.
my dad: HERE ARE THE KEYS, SUCKA.
i was upset. i didn't like driving it because it felt like driving a really tall, wide, boat. it was hard to park in the parking lot at the pool where i coached. i wasn't used to the wider turning radius.
but after about a month, i fell in love with it. now i hate driving my brother's car. which i drove consistently for six years.
it's amazing how these things happen.
i spent most of high school hating it, and now it's mine and i love it.
everything is mine except the title. i pay the insurance, i pay the gas, and i pay (most of) the repairs.
in my custody, it has lost another hubcap and been in an accident with a guard rail. you can read about that here.
i totalled it.
oh well, we paid for it.
in october of 2013, the right mirror fell off. i tried to replace it, but the part was obsolete. i've folded it in and i've learned to compensate.
in january of 2014, the alternator died in alma. it sat in the polar vortex, completely and utterly dead, for two weeks before i towed it to a mechanic. there was another 200 bucks.
on the way back from visiting my man friend in march, the battery light came on. i still had another 120 miles to go so i called my dad. he told me to keep driving until it died.
it died halfway home. i pulled over onto the side of the highway and called AAA.
they love me by now.
my poor van had burned up another alternator. my dad drove an hour and a half each way to come pick me up. for the second time in a year, my sweet van was stranded in michigan without me.
the mechanic guy that talked to me over the phone lied to me. he told me that the alternator i got a year ago didn't have a lifetime warranty and he charged me 600 bucks for a new one.
my at home mechanic, a friend of my dad's and a really great guy, told me that the alternator i got in alma most definitely DID have a lifetime warranty, it was faulty to begin with, my van was fine, and i was way overcharged.
i replaced a power steering part in february of this year, which was expensive. at this point, my van was worth about $500 and that's about what it was to repair it.
i sat down with my dad multiple times about this issue. we've put about $1400 into the van this year (JUST THIS SIX MONTHS), which is about three times more than it's worth.
because it's worth more than $500 to us.
my grandpa is always telling me that i need to get rid of the van. he calls it a piece of shit.
nobody can call it a piece of shit but me because i drive it and i love it, okay?
(i've offered to sell it to my man friends for a reasonable price of $300. he told me he didn't want that piece of shit. i cried.)
yeah, it looks crappy. the front bumper is being held together with duct tape, it has some dents, it has only one hubcap, and it's missing a mirror. but now that i have a decent alternator and new power steering, it runs like a dream.
for being seventeen, it's in great shape on the inside, and that's what counts.
when i drive it, i feel like i'm sitting on top of the world. unless i'm up against a truck, i'll win most car accidents. i can take a bunch of my friends places or i can haul a bunch of stuff. we used my van to road trip to emma's wedding with the bridal party. it has as CD player, which i value more than pretty much anything in a vehicle. the air conditioning doesn't work too well, but hey, whatever.
the only problem is that it has a huge gas tank, which is costly to fill up, and people visibly stare at me when i drive it.
the other week my mom and i were going to the YMCA to work out and my mom was like, "do people in traffic always stare at you when you're driving the van?"
yes, yes they do.
my grandpa wants me to get a new car. i told him that i'd get a new car if he would pay for it.
plus, i'm keeping it until i finish my master's degree.
that's another post coming soon to a june challenge near you.
i just really love my van, okay? i hug it. when it goes up steep hills or goes incredibly far on the fuel light, i pat the dashboard. it holds all my crap that i'm too lazy to bring into the house. (i think i'm up to two coats and four pairs of shoes and an umbrella). it totes my marriage equality bumper sticker.
it's a great vehicle that has stood the test of time.
every day i get up and get into my precious minivan, my sweet crimson avenger that has driven me to over thirty states and all across canada.
it will be a sad day indeed when i get rid of it.
here's a cute picture of me sitting in it. because.