Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vacation Part 2-The Big Tan Van

I think our worst vacation driving with the kids was when we decided to break in the NEW "Big Tan Van", as the kids call it.  I never thought I'd be excited about having a van, but back then, with 3 kids under 4, a van was a gift that brought tears to my eyes.  Actually, the tears came a year before, when I had to relinquish my cute white Jeep Wrangler. It just didn't seem safe picturing myself with the Jeep top down, music blaring and 3 baby car seats in the back swatting away the freeway debris as I enjoyed the sun and my feeling of "I can still be cool with 3 kids.. oh yeah.. uh huh." Thankfully, my mothering side came through and I decided to be safe and protective and get the "Big Tan Van" with car seats already installed with a VERY safe 5 point harness system.   The beauty of the van was it was so big we could not only take our little one's around, we could eventually take their friends with us too, or grandparents and of course it fit all the awkwardly shaped baby apparatuses that follow you everywhere doing those early years.  This van would be with us for a long time.  I could picture my kids years down the line with their friends giggling in the back, many family trips, groceries fit like Tetris on level 30, and most of all it had automatic door locks that locked safely at 10 miles an hour on its own.  
The only things we had to sacrifice to get the good price we got was leather seats and a drop down DVD player, which we felt at the time was worth saving the extra add ons. 

IMAGINE! our excitement to take our first official road trip.  It was October 2001, our kids were 4, 2, and 9 months, and we were headed to Disneyland.  The Plan: we would get to Sacramento from Portland in about 11 hours ("I'm sure the kids will just sleep") barring any long stops just in time for dinner, find a hotel, and then finish our 5 hour journey to Disneyland the next day while picking up my college friend Fran along the way.  Fran had seen our kids off and on but never had spent an extended period of time with them, PLUS she knew Disneyland and how it "works" better than anyone.  
So, off we went in our fresh, new, nice smelling van on a beautiful day.  "PULL OVER I THINK HE'S GOING TO THROW UP".  Those words were the only thing we said for the next 10 hours. Poor Luke was so car sick he threw-up 13 times on the way to Sacramento.  We stopped for baby  nausea medicine that for some CRAZY reason they offered in RED Liquid only (some sick minded pharmacist was having a good laugh at the factory somewhere in the midwest). Luke managed to throw-up all over our brand new tan cloth seats, down the crevices of the wonderful built in 5 point harness system, and on the floor.  By the time we got to Sacramento it was 8pm and most hotels were full. There were a few hotel rooms available for $250 a night, and that didn't fit in the plan at all, we are talking about "Big Tan Van People" who picked cloth seats over leather (which at this point in the trip has proven to be a poor choice)!  So, on we went a little further south, Luke moaning in the back, until we stumbled upon GALT California. It was there in Galt we found a place to stay, which at that point we didn't even care what the amenities were, or the price, we were hungry, tired, and sick of the vomit smell.  As we turned the key and entered our room we were greeted with a peculiar shaped two story loft style room which screamed "FIRE TRAP" as the kids bounded up the hard, steep, thinly shag carpeted stairs screaming "this place is awesome!!" Ward and I trying not to show our lack of being thankful for shelter and a positive attitude, went into the 1980's wall papered bathroom where we were greeted again with a pleasant surprise of a lipstick kiss on the wall, in deep maroon color, which obviously signaled Galt was one Happenin' town! "KIDS DON'T Touch or lick anything and we're sleeping on top of the beds!!"  All was fine, we made it out safe, rested, and the next morning back on 1-5 south to meet Fran who much to her delight, I'm sure, got to ride the rest of the way to Disneyland in the back with the barfing boy, and the pungent remnants of the day before.  So the "Big Tan Van" was now christened.  We found out that trip, as we left our "Big Tan Van" in the Disney parking lot, that you can leave a door wide open and the alarm will still seem activated not giving any clue that a door might have been left open displaying all of our barf stricken belongings.  Thankfully, our clear minded Fran happened to look away from the 5 person mayhem ahead to see what we had innocently stepped away from.
We still have the "Big Tan Van" and it has continued to go through a lot of abuse.  The door locks no longer work, the windshield is broken, primer paint has spilled all over the floor, the kids no longer fit in the 5 point harness (although I milked that for as long as I could), it's too embarrassing to take friends in, and now that it is almost paid off I can't wait to tell the kids that I'll be handing it over to them when they are in high school, while I honk and wave in my cute little mini cooper convertible!  
And for any of you people that actually live in Galt? I'm sure your town is lovely, we just didn't hit it on a good night, probably took a mistaken left instead of a right.  
*A few years later we again went to Disneyland, but chose to fly and Fran was "unable" to attend.
For Sale: 2001 Big Tan Van -$1000 obo.
condition: horrible 
memories: priceless


  1. that was so funny! (Obviously not funny at the time, but the story is great!)

  2. I laughed a lot! Sorry it happened to you but great that you can laugh now...Thanks for sharing!

  3. "In America, there are two classes of travel--first class... and with children!" ~Robert Benchley :D