For over 23 years we’ve driven a minivan. We’ve only had two in that time span, but they served us well, and were an integral part of our family life.
We succumbed to the trend shortly before our third child was born, and luxuriated in the spacious capacity of our new vehicle. Shortly thereafter, we bought our cabin Up North, and the minivan was soon christened the “Northstar Navigator,” named for the lake where our cabin was situated. As nature and outdoor lovers, we chose a cabin four hours north on a pristine lake surrounded mostly by forest land. So we spent a great deal of quality family time together in the minivan going to and from our little haven. That was before iPods and vans equipped with VCRs so conversation was encouraged. Even singing. As I sat up front, handing out sandwiches, coming up with entertainment ideas and mediating squabbles, I was queen of my brood.
It’s amazing what you can fit into a minivan. As hard as I try to be abstemious about packing, the longer I’m at it, the more I find to bring. And there was always room. The minivan carried our gear to all sorts of destinations – camping equipment out to the Black Hills, canoe paraphernalia to the Boundary Waters, XC skis to the North Shore trails, accordions to competitions in Chicago, bikes just about everywhere. In more recent years, it moved kids into college dorms, made numerous trips to the dump when we moved out of our home of 26 years, and hauled furniture to our new house in Duluth.
I loved the minivan’s seating capacity. Even with a family of five, there was still room to bring Grandma and Grandpa along, or extra friends. Cat and dog? Sure, plenty of space. That youngest child graduated from college last year, and we piled kids, grandkids and girlfriend in the minivan for the 10-hour journey to his graduation. That was true togetherness!
But today we are moving on. Now down to just the two of us, we decided to replace the minivan with a Subaru Outback and will soon donate our 13 year old minivan to a good cause. The new vehicle’s all-wheel drive is great for Minnesota winters, and it has a decent capacity in the rear compartment. There’s no doubt it was a practical choice. But I’m going to miss the minivan. Good thing my daughter and her husband bought one recently. It’s my turn to jump in with the grandkids!