I’ve always fancied myself a truck driving kind of gal. I learned how to drive a stick shift in my Dad’s olive green International Pick-up. It took both arms and all the strength I could muster in my 100 pound spaghetti-armed frame just to turn the wheel. I recall that the act of wheel turning would bring me right out of the bench seat. This was before the seatbelt law, btw.
Except for a period of time in my 20’s when I went through the sports car phase, and owned a Gold 280 ZX, followed by a Honda CRX Hatchback, I’ve always preferred trucks.
When I got married, I brought with me as a dowry a black Toyota pick-up which lacked air conditioning. In Los Angeles, this was not a big deal, but upon moving to Florida, I thought I was going to die of heat prostration every time I climbed behind the wheel. Not to mention what Florida humidity + no air conditioning + open windows did to my hair every day. I made Rosanne Rosannadanna look well coiffed.
When my Mom died in 1999, she left me her Chevrolet 3-door pick-up WITH AIR CONDITIONING. I loved that truck. Mostly because I had such wonderful memories of trips between Los Angeles and Phoenix antique hunting with her in that truck.
Then a funny thing happened. I got pregnant. Somewhere around month 7, I could no longer fit behind the steering wheel of my truck. Fiddledaddy announced that it was time to shop for a van. A VAN? When pigs fly. I never thought of myself as someone who would EVER own a van. Pfffffft.
Fiddledaddy did all the research, and determined that the Honda Odyssey would fit out needs best. I was dubious. We had saved the money to be able to buy it, since we were a 1-truck family and had no car payments. We had to drive to Orlando to pick it up, and I was terrified to drive it home. So I squeezed into the driver’s seat of my truck, and followed Fiddledaddy home. While he drove the van. Shaking my head and muttering the entire time.
I did warm up to the van. Especially since it was the only vehicle we owned with a seat that moved back far enough to accommodate my enormity. But I swore that our child would NEVER eat in it.
(insert maniacal laughter)
Fast forward 11 years, 3 children, and 4,000 Happy Meals later. I have been known to find petrified french fries stuffed into seat pockets, yogurt stains on the interior roof, and entire sandwiches of unknown origin stashed under carpet mats.
I can tell you now that I love my van. We’ve had it for more than 11 years, and have put well over 100,000 miles on it. We’ve had to do little more than change the oil and keep it filled with gas. It has given us no trouble and has been extremely reliable.
We’ve noticed that our engine light has been coming on. We had it checked out, and the service shop said that likely our transmission is going. How much would that cost, I asked hopefully. Oh, somewhere around the tune of $5,000.
I do not like that tune at all.
We did discover that there was a class action lawsuit involving 1999 Honda Odysseys because of an issue with transmissions failing after 100,000 miles. And in 2006 Honda replaced the transmissions for free. But you had to know about the law suit. We did not. And we would not have known about it unless we happened to take our van in for service and ASKED about the transmission.
Fiddledaddy talked to the mucky-muck suit and tie guys at Honda corporate, and we are out of luck.
Yesterday, I decided to take the van so that I could drop the girls off at their A.H.G. Christmas party. The van had been running just fine, so I didn’t see a problem, even though Fiddledaddy offered to rent me a car since he was going to be taking the Prius out of town for a job.
I waved that idea off. After all, we’re trying to save up for a new car. Every penny counts.
Jensen and I dropped the girls, and were heading back home. The back way. In the middle of Nowhere, Florida. Both of us dressed inappropriately for the frigid temperatures that have found their way down here close to the equator. On the way home, my beloved van began talking back to me. And shaking rather violently as it attempted to auto shift from one gear to the other.
All of a sudden I had visions of my crippled self and Jensen, dressed in his Mario red t-shirt, stranded on the side of the freezing road. And me trying to wave down help with the aid of my crutches, hoping above all hope I didn’t attract the attention of a criminal type.
I began praying fervently for God JUST TO GET US HOME. The last 7 miles were treacherous. I was a bundle of raw praying nerves. When at last we turned onto our street, the van made such a noise that I was certain I was going to look out of the rear view mirror and see the transmission lying in the middle of the road.
But by the grace of God we made it safely home.
Then I began thinking, okay, how am I going to pick up my girls? And in a flash of brilliance, I called my girlfriend who was staying at the party, and asked if she would bring my girls to me after it was over. She said that of course she would. Huge relief.
Can I just stop to say that as much as I gripe and complain about Florida, I admit now that this town is seriously growing on me. I never thought I’d say that. And I completely owe my change of heart to not only my sweet in-laws and out-laws who live here, but also to the gaggle of homeschooling girlfriends that I have been getting close to over these last 2 years. I’d be lost without them. AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Anyhoo. Now we’re in the throws of used car shopping. Via the internet. I have my heart set on another Honda Odyssey. I’ve been saving up in my car fund for several years now, but we still have to find an awfully good deal. Preferably a late model with low miles, and one owner who only drove it to and fro church on Sunday.
And I’d like a side of bacon to go with that pipe dream. 🙂
So, I’d like to take a poll. All of you mini-van driving mommas, what is your favorite van and why?