Tuesday, June 13, 2017

vans - out with the old, in with the new!!

Terry and I have been discussing what vehicle to take on our two week trip to Utah and California for some time, months in fact. At first we were going to take the Envoy but after our drive to Sylvan Lake at the beginning of May I really did not want to take it. It's huge but has absolutely no room for luggage or anything at all besides bodies, is difficult for the kids to get in and out of, is uncomfortable, and guzzles gas. 

Our next option was the old 2001 gold van, but ever since my and Terry's dad both discouraged this, I was unfavorable, as were the kids. Plus I had been feeling less happy with the van ever since I crushed the passengers door in March, a derpy moment if there ever was one, but mostly because I couldn't use the passenger window. Anyway, the dads did not think it was a good idea to take a van with nearly 200,000 miles on a 3,300 mile trip. The kids overheard this and were afraid it would die on us, which is precisely what the dads said.

So the third option was a new vehicle. But then we worried that something new could be just as unreliable as our old van since we didn't know its history. Either way, we could conceivably be left in the lurch, and when we have our entire trip planned out by where we're staying every night and we've already made those payments, that would be bad. But we decided to go ahead and start looking at vans, something that we had actually done a couple times in the last few years since our van is getting older. We've had it since 2008 and it was a miracle van - it popped up right after I had my first van mishap in Gburg (I'm starting to see a pattern here, geesh) for extremely cheap. 

Anyway, the first van we found after praying about it seemed like a God send. It was a red 2008 Town and Country with swivel seats and two DVD players and was just all pimped out. However, the guy didn't even have the title since he had just bought it! We told him to let us know when he got the title and kept looking since Jerry had a car salesman connection who assured us he could find something even better for less money. We bit. He never did find us anything. We found a couple Honda vans East River that I was hoping to look at during our Minnesota trip, but it didn't work out. 

By this time, shopping for vans was consuming all our time and stressing us out. We started to want to just be content with what we had and so we kind of let the matter rest, thinking we'd probably just end up taking the old gold van, which I recently started calling Goldenrod ("Hurry up Goldenrod! You're gonna be a permanent resident!" HAHAHAHAHA! Anyone? Anyone? Han Solo to C3PO in Empire Strikes Back as they're leaving the cave!)

On Friday morning, June 2, after his light pre-race jog and breakfast, Terry was lazily scrolling through Craigslist and saw this ad:

We were immediately interested because of the price, the low miles, and because you simple NEVER see Siennas for that price. Terry texted the guy right away and he still had it. We went to an orthodontic appointment for Noah mid-morning and texted back and fourth about it. When we returned home they talked on the phone and it just seemed like such a great deal that we pulled the trigger and went for it. Did I mention the van was five hours away in Sioux Falls? Yeeeaaahhh. I made Terry lunch and a snack and he jumped in the Malibu for a drive! Oh, and the only reason this worked was because we had some students returning from a senior trip in Minnesota at that exact time and one of them, Jazmin, was willing to be dropped off and wait in Sioux Falls with her grandparents in order drive the Malibu home for Terry. Perfect!

Another Han Solo quote kept coming to mind because the whole thing it was such a whirlwind. Ha ha ha! One minute we were going to have a nice relaxing day together after a busy week and the next Terry was gone for the rest of the day and evening.

The kids were majorly disappointed Terry had to be gone for his whole day off. It was a bummer but it seemed worth it. We had a quiet afternoon at home and I read some Harry Potter to the kids. Ezra was bored so I told him to go up to his room. I didn't even notice that he actually did. An hour later when the kids were in quiet time and I couldn't find Ezra, I finally found him passed out in his bed. Awww!

I was keeping tabs on Terry to let Jazmin know his progress. I happened to look at precisely the moment he was crossing the Missouri River. I sent him this screenshot and then received one from him at the same time...

He took a picture at the exact same time that I took one of him! How cool is that?!

Right around dinner time he Facetimed me when he was driving away in the new van. In hindsight it probably would've been better for him to pay attention to the van before being distracted by me and the kids because it made kind of a whining noise at low speeds that he didn't notice until gassing up in Mitchell (Seth says it's nothing). But we were just so excited and glad that daddy was on the way home again. 

Poor Terry and Jazmin didn't roll up until like 11:30 that night and both of them were just exhausted. I took a quick look over the van and was a bit surprised by the flaws that we couldn't see in the pictures. Terry had five hours to examine everything and wasn't as excited as when he had left. The next morning the kids were happy though!

Very happy.

The leather seats were quite a bit more worn than we thought. This was partially fixed by washing and conditioning the leather. The thing with this van was that it needed cleaned up in a bad way. Either the last owners were too busy to do that (they definitely were since the sale took place so quickly, in fact they only had time to take the car seats out!) or they weren't the kind of people that kept things very tidy. The van was down right dirty and sort of skeezy! On June 5, the second day of Terry's sabbatical, we got to work completely deep cleaning and detailing this van. 

This center console was filthy but was a neat design because it opens in two places or can be removed entirely. I took the entire thing out and scrubbed away at all the soda stains that had dog fur stuck in them. So gross! I also scrubbed and hosed off the whole console in the grass. It's spotless now. Plus I got the years of filth cleaned up right next to the console. You can imagine how gross it was since pop had been spilled down there. And actually, I think pop had been spilled throughout the entire van! There are dark stains under every seat! I vacuumed like three times and discovered that yes, this van originally came from Florida because there was much sand in the carpet. Then I put all the seats down or folded them back and washed the carpet. Then I scrubbed the carpet. Then I vacuumed it again. Terry and the kids scrubbed all of the really nice custom fit rubber rugs. Those were also pretty stained but cleaned up nicely. I washed the windows. I washed the seats. I cleaned every vent. I went through many, many of gallons of soapy water that quickly became mud like. We conditioned every leather surface and the front seats more than once. I spent like six or seven hours deep cleaning this van, was bent over the entire day, and had to visit the chiropractor the next day. But after I detailed it, we felt SO much better about the van. No longer did it seem so gross and we liked it more, sort of like how we were hoping we'd like it in the beginning.

The drivers seat was even more worn.

We are thrilled to have back windows that actually go down!!

Another flaw was that the sunroof cover would not go back! The sunroof itself would but not the cover. We discovered this was due to the after market DVD player installation. There was a bolt that prevented the cover from retracting. The evening of the fifth was spent washing the outside of the van and fixing those bolts. Now it all works.

The after market DVD players is huge, and even better, it works!

Every window but one has these built in screens attached. Super cool. But oh man, when I cleaned this van out, the seat belts were the nastiest things. No joke, they were all brown instead of silver. Again, I think it was pop stains, kid usage, and not taking care of your van. My soapy water became the most soiled because of all seven seat belts that I immersed and scrubbed. People live in their vans nowadays and never clean them out. Another reason not to be so busy - your life gets filthy.

A "love tap" made by the previous owner's wife. She sounds like me. Ha! We bought a matching paint colored pen and are going to see if we can cover up some of those scratches. Plus, the passengers doors are kind of scuffed up, like kid's bikes scratched it or maybe other car doors. 

Rewind to Saturday June 3rd. We drove the new van up to Spearfish and then Deadwood to pick up Terry's race bib and then to the ranch where we stayed for the night so Terry's dad could see the van. We tested the DVD player on the way up there and it works perfect. Oh, but man, that day driving in the hills with the braking, we discovered that the brakes and rotors were bad! The van was shaking so badly! Last week and this week was spent fixing the brakes and rotors with Seth. They also replaced the air and cabin filters that were dirty. New oil, filter, wipers, two tires on the front and one new rim to replace the one they discovered was bent. And perhaps the biggest repair was to the drivers door. Some welds inside the door had come loose (a factory default) and the door popped majorly bad when opening - it sounded like it was going to break right off. But they bolted the welds and it works perfectly now! But overall, this van was a lot more work than we were hoping!! Still, it has low miles and is a Toyota so it's reliable and will hold its value better. 

Man, this is a long post. But the good news is that we sold Goldenrod this week! It went to an older couple out of Martin who really needed it. That made us feel good about letting it go. Our new van is totally ready for our trip and we replenished some of the cash we used to buy it. 

Good bye faithful Goldenrod van!


  1. It was a good van! Glad to see it blessing another family! What are you all going to name the new van?? Will you get more SW stickers?

    1. We DO need to name the new van! Got any ideas? We need to put new stickers on. Thanks for reminding me. That'd be fun to do before our trip.