Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Jumping to the Big Van

I am a card carrying member of the society of large families who drive a Big Van. I'm going to talk a little bit about my journey into Big-Van-dom.

I am a little car person. My first car was a Jetta. Then I had a series of three Toyota Corollas. Then we bought a Nissan Versa. I love little cars. They are nimble. They are cheap. They are good on gas- what more could you want?

In 2011 when I was pregnant with my third child, we made the jump from the little car to the minivan. There was no way that three car seats would fit across the back of the little car- it was time for the minivan. I had flown out to New Jersey when a friend had an emergency. I bought our first minivan because we needed to buy a minivan anyway and I needed a way to get around New Jersey. I bought our 2003 Ford Windstar in New Jersey, used it the duration of my trip, and then drove it back to Colorado. Oh, I loved that minivan! In July of 2013, when I was pregnant with my fifth child, a drunk driver crashed into us and totaled my Windstar. We were all OK- the Windstar did exactly as it was supposed to do- it kept us safe.

We replaced the Windstar with a 2005 "short" Chrysler Town & Country. The Town & Country served us well for a few years. We gradually started putting money into it, first a little bit and then a lot. I was a strict believer in not having car payments, but with over $5000 in mechanic bills in one year, and being stuck on the side of the road too many times to count, saving money by not having car payments was actually costing us money. We were planning a road trip to Florida, and our Town & Country broke just a month before the trip. It sat the mechanic in a coma for nearly a year.We finally got it back on the road just last month after too much money than I'd like to admit.

Jumping to the Big Van was a tough decision. We are a family of 8. We fit in some minivans and I suppose would fit in some SUVs. We were enjoying the better fuel economy of a minivan compared to a Big Van, especially since we drive so much. We were not enjoying having just barely enough room for our family with every seat taken up. We decided to make that jump and get the Big Van.

We decided against a large SUV because we wouldn't have any extra passenger space should we have to take another family member with us. The cost was significantly higher. The fuel economy was equivalent. Other than looking cool, there seemed no significant advantage to having a large SUV over a Big Van.
This is not my minivan, but it's one similar. We were at the Costco
in Aurora and I was impressed with the size difference between
my Big Van and a minivan.

We are so grateful for the extra room in our Big Van. I love that we no longer have to think about space. I love that I can spread the kids out so that they fight less. I am really grateful for our Big Van. We have driven the Big Van over 40,000 in the year that we've had it. We have taken our minivan to Florida and New Jersey twice each during three trips. When my son was in a wheelchair after his Florida surgery, the Big Van didn't even blink at holding the wheelchair, the walker, shower stool, and all the road trip stuff. With the minivan, even a trip to Costco was a game of Jenga.

Comparing the Minivan with the Big Van
Now that I have our minivan back on the road and we have the big van also, I would like to share with you the pros and cons of both, comparing the minivan and the Big Van:
The minivan is inconspicuous. The minivan looks normal even thoughmy minivan that has a lot of hail damage and "character". In the Big Van, there is no doubt in who you are. Big Vans are white. I'll get to that in a future blog post, but it suffices to say that I hate white as a vehicle color, yet I drive two of them.
Yup, easy to find in parking lots. 
The Big Van is easy to find in parking lots. Because it literally sticks out so much, there is no forgetting where you parked- just look and you'll see it easily.
The minivan is more intimate. I can see and hear all my kids in the minivan. There's no guess at what's going on in the back or literally shouting over the little ones in the middle and road noise.
The Big Van allows the children to spread out. I find they fight less if they are further away from each other.
The minivan is easily able to navigate a parking lot or Manhattan or whatever else life has in store. The Big Van is big, clumsy, and doesn't fit into parking spots, parking lots, or anywhere else.
The parking garage clearance
is too low for my Big Van at
Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital
in Denver. Who knew St. Luke
was a Presbyterian?
The Big Van holds gear for our family of 8. Last fall, we drove 1900 miles each way to Florida for my son to have a complicated orthopedic surgery that he could literally get no where else This surgery saved his leg from amputation. We were gone a month. We stopped by New Jersey for a quick visit "on our way" home. We had to pack for two different temperature ranges. We had to pack school stuff. We had to pack my son's wheelchair, walker, and shower chair. We packed our crockpot and food for the road. Our Big Van literally had room for everything without even blinking. The minivan can barely handle a trip to Costco. Our Big Van can even tow or hold hundreds of pounds of farmers market goods without blinking.
The minivan is more fuel efficient. Our 2015 Big Van gets about 18 mpg. Our 2005 minivan gets about 21 mpg. Our 1995 Big Van gets about 13 mpg. The fuel difference is huge.
Here is my minivan in Manhattan in 2016,
on our way to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Notice the doors on the left.
The minivan is actually a family vehicle. It's designed for an actual family. It has tons of cupholders. When you call for a service appointment, the dealer doesn't automatically ask what company you're with. Dealers actually know about it. They don't look at you like you have ten heads when you tell them that you want to buy it.
The minivan has a sliding door on both sides. If we go to downtown Denver and park on a one way
street on the left side, it is so wonderful to get the children out on the sidewalk-side. I can have the children get out of the van on whatever side I want or even both sides. Having doors on two sides is a great convenience. I really don't know why a vehicle for ten rear passengers has one door and a vehicle for five rear passengers has two doors.

My daughter by our old Big Van.
We've had the 1995 Clubwagon for
five years I think. It has served us well.

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