In 2006 we found out we were expecting a third kid and it was clear that James was not going to cut it as the family car anymore. We were going to need three five-point harnesses, because the Captain was still so small, and we simply could not fit three car seats in the Forester. It was time for a van.
Sir Monkeypants somehow found out about this awesome deal on a used van at our local Ford dealership. They were running some sort of barely legal thing where they bought up a bunch of ex-rental cars from the southern United States, brought them across the border, and sold them up here for cheap. I think this loophole has since been closed, but we scored a great deal on a 2006 Toyota Sienna that had just barely 10K miles on it, was not even a year old, and had tons of features we wouldn’t have paid for otherwise, including eight seats and automatic sliding doors. Just about the only drawback was that it was white – both Sir Monkeypants and I are not fans of white cars, let alone white vans that look like you’re a lurking serial killer wherever you go – but the deal was too good to pass up.
The big problem was deciding which car to get rid of. At the time we still owned Spencer, Sir Monkeypants’ beloved Integra, and James, my beloved Forester. The new van was going to be mine, mostly, as I would be the one schlepping kids around all day long, so it made sense to replace James; but the Integra was nine years old and gently starting to show its age, plus as a backup car its two doors made it less practical for car seats. So in the end, I convinced Sir Monkeypants that keeping James was the right thing to do, and we traded in Spencer and came home with The Van, now sporting the ACKV license plate.
There aren’t any white trains in the world of Thomas (at least, there weren’t back in 2007) so we always just called the van The Van. Very recently – in the last year or so – Little Miss Sunshine has felt sad that all our cars have names except the van, so she’s been pushing for Molly, which is a big yellow girl train on the Island of Sodor. It’s sort of half-sticking. We’ll see how it plays out.
I have to say, I have loved having a van. When the kids were little, it was so great having all three of them in a row behind us for easy access and comforting. When we go down to visit family, we just put the back row of seats down and you can throw anything in there (and, as Sir Monkeypants will tell you, I DO). Now that the kids are bigger we can easily take all three of them plus a friend each to the movies or camping or Funhaven. It’s the ULTIMATE PARTY CAR. And on the techy side, it’s been super reliable, it’s pretty good on gas for such a big vehicle, and it has a kick ass turning radius. It performed like a dream on our driving trip out to PEI a couple of years ago. LOVE IT.
On the sadder side though, Sir Monkeypants was left with James. James continued to serve us well and came in handy for smaller trips and times when one of us needed to take one kid somewhere, and the other needed to take the others somewhere else. But most of the time, James was being driven back and forth to work by Sir Monkeypants and theirs was a relationship of basic service, not true love. They went together, they came home together, but there was no thrill, no joy in the driving. And I always felt pretty bad about it, so when the time came to take action, I took it.