I'm not complaining, mind you. It's pretty exciting to get to look at new cars, with all kinds of new doo-dads (probably each with their own dreaded owner's manual), (and God only knows where they've hid the gas cap.) But the new car won't really get that much better mileage than our 1996 Dodge Caravan.
I wish I could call it our "trusty" minivan, but really, it wasn't. And believe me, it looks much better in this photograph than it does in real life! And the fact that the odometer stopped working many years ago, along with the speedometer, is not exactly a selling point for it, either.
Still, this behemoth has seen a lot of life with us. We never wanted to buy it in the first place. Our equally frustrating, unreliable, challenging Red Dodge Caravan had been leaving us stranded by the side of the road in way too many places. The final straw for the red Caravan was when we took our kids from Grand Forks, ND to Texas to live for a few months with my brother and sister-in-law, literally escaping the flood waters of 1997. Our little Daitsu was totalled in the flood, and the red Caravan proceeded to break down (predictably) all the way to Texas and all the way back. We knew we'd never make it back to Texas in the beast, to get our children, and we really kind of wanted them back!
So we had to find a new car. Fast. In the middle of devastating flood clean-up, and with our dyfunctional flood-brains, we made the same mistake twice and bought another used Dodge Caravan.
And you know how it goes with a mini-van with 3 kids; they get packed full with luggage and friends, and the dog, and very, very sticky (and stinky) things. I'm sure if I look now in Scott's compartment in the back seat, I'd find gum wrappers and gum. Brian would probably have superballs and track cleats in his. Dianna would have hair bands and little notebooks with strange messages to her friends. No one wants to know what all the stains mean. We've hauled all of Scott's belongings, and Dianna's, to Washington, DC , with dorm refrigerators and computers--and then back again. We've taken Brian's things to Missouri, with the dreaded last 200 miles of the trip interrupted by the Missouri State Police, accusing us of being $12 worth of gas-runners, and making us drive 150 miles--back to pay a second $12.
We've rushed to ERs with the minor stuff of childhood; we've searched out birthday parties and friends and sporting events and gone trick-or-treating. We've headed to Chicago to see the relatives, braved more blizzards than I care to remember, and gotten totally lost in cities and woods.
And now we're going to crush it. Drive a stake through its heart. Really, it doesn't seem right. Even though we seem to be constantly replacing some other major chunk of this clunker, and it has practically no Blue Book value (not that anyone would ever buy it, because of the recalcitrant speedometer), it does seem like it should get some kind of funeral. Not exactly a Thelma & Louise push off a cliff, or polluting any waters or anything, but maybe one last drive through the city, blasting Kenny G from its cassette player (wait! that doesn't work anymore, either!)