Home > Life Thoughts > When the van’s a rockin, don’t…

When the van’s a rockin, don’t…

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Back in January of 2003, my wife and I bought a new van.  It only had 17 miles on it when we made the purchase and some of those miles were from the test drive.  It was our largest car purchase and it was the only time we have ever bought a new car in our 20 years of marriage.

I can remember how well we tried to maintain it when we first brought it home.  It would get regular cleanings and we would watch where we parked it in order to stave off those accidental scratches that the inconsiderate morons absent minded would cause when letting their grocery carts rub up against it.  In short, we babied and protected it.  Somewhere along the line it received a scratch or two, the new car smell faded, and different parts started needed to be replaced.  Here is what is interesting, at the time when it needed the most care, we started ignoring the little warning signs that bigger problems were coming.  We just didn’t want to hassle with the old beast because there was a cost associated and there was a time involvement that made it inconvenient.

Our family is planning a long ‘roadcation’ out west in the near future and we need that old beast to be at its best since we will be taking in long miles across diverse conditions.  As we were preparing for the trip, it became apparent that we were going to have to do some maintenance on those things that we had been ignoring.  That is how I spent most of my Memorial Day Weekend – maintaining the old beast.

First it was just a brake job and new tires, but that soon blossomed into:

  • New drums for the back end
  • New rotors and wheel bearings for the front end
  • Replacing the AC Compressor and Accumulator
  • Installing a new serpentine belt
  • AND.. a new Catalytic Converter

Some of those things I knew I needed to do, but some of them didn’t become apparent until I started digging into other areas and opening what was hidden.  It took 2 days and about $1500 to address these issues… but it is going to be worth the peace of mind when we are on the road for our long trip.

Maybe it is a man thing, but those types of lessons are easy to apply to other areas of our lives.  Take a marriage for instance.  Mine has been running for near to 20 years and the new car smell wore out some time back.  There have been a few scratches and dents along the way.  There has also been some time spent ignoring the warning signs of maintenance needed.

It’s appropriate that this trip is coming up as it will provide opportunity for slowing down and doing some maintenance.  It will be our first opportunity as husband and wife (and family) to invest more than 2 weeks of family togetherness.  No work objectives, no piano lessons, no sports practices, no yard work that just has to get done, no.. none of that.  We just don’t need any of that to ‘come a knockin’ on this trip.  There is a lifetime of travel that our family still has to make and these times are necessary in order for there to be peace of mind about that trip.

We will keep you all updated on our ‘roadcation’ in the old beast when the time comes.    Hopefully we will learn new insights about ourselves, our faith, and our country as we ride along.

  1. June 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Your trip sounds amazing…..curious to hear where you set out to visit!

    I love the comparison to the maintenance of your van to marriage. So true. We also are coming up on the 20 year mark….had our share of fender benders and a couple of wipeouts that needed some major collision repair at the counselors repair shop. Thankfully we stuck it out and now we running better than ever.

    ps. please tell me that is your VW bus/van and I will drool. Getting one and fixing it up is on my bucket list.

  2. June 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Good story.

    And Michelle, why am I not surprised that you like this car? It jsut seems so… you.

    P.S. I also wanna get me one of those.

    • June 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      I wish I had one of those vans. But, alas, my wife would not be too agreeable. 🙂

      We have a more modern conversion van that fits our daughter’s needs.

      Our plans are to head out tot the national parks (Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest).

      We have some days in between those places that we will spend in a hotel but mostly we will be staying in cabins in the National Parks. We have wanted to do this for a long time and this year we have been blessed to get the chance to do so.

  3. June 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    You know tony that i will be praying for you guys and look forward to possibly meeting you for lunch or supper. Hopefully on a Monday since that is Jo’s day off. As for the maintenance: why does it take us so long to do what needs to be done-to our vehicles and to our marriages? Reckon if we could answer that question we could answer a whole lot more. I knew someone who had one of those vans. Spent a lot of time working on it but sure was nostalgic to see that one. Peace dude!

    • June 4, 2010 at 4:47 am

      Bill, we look forward to the opportunity to meeting up with you and Jo to have lunch or dinner depending on how our travels go. I am looking forward to some time away from work… been keeping me busy lately.

  4. Amy
    June 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Love it! Glad to hear you got the van up to par for the trip. Even more glad to hear that you are gonna do some marriage/family maintenance. Although you all are pretty cool as is! Of course it is better to not accept “as is”, don’t wanna take it for granted…and as God is always working in and on us, we should keep working too. He is constantly tending and caring for us, and since we are to become more like Him, we should so tend and care for each other. Tnanks for the message Brother Tony!

    • June 4, 2010 at 4:49 am

      Amy, thanks for your encouragement. I am looking forward to spending some down time with the family and hopefully we will be able to enjoy all of the traveling that we have in front of us.

  5. shellie (baylormum)
    June 2, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Oh, Tony! A man after my own heart! As a child, growing up in Iowa, our “family” vacations were trips to the lake. To the “family” cabin, where we could sleep about 20! No National Parks or traveling more than 50 miles beyond the IA state lines.

    Then I met my husband. In the past 24 years, we have covered many of the Parks you mentioned. Yellowstone is still my fav! But, not by much. My 2nd fav is Arches just outside Moab, UT. Grand Canyon was ok, but didn’t leave me speechless like Yellowstone. I guess Yellowstone takes some hiking & learning. Instead trying to see waaaay down in Grand Canyon. We, too, stayed at the Parks. It was always great. Good food. Good mix of people.

    I pray the family van survives all those miles! She sounds like a good ole gal! Keep us posted postcarded.

    • June 4, 2010 at 4:51 am

      Shellie, we hope to blog about the trip as we make our travels. Every place that we have booked so far has advertised free wi-fi service. So when the time comes to get on the road, my blog is going to be taken over by those ‘dreadful’ family vacation pictures 😉

  6. June 2, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Hi Tony,
    You are coming through my neck of the woods (Arizona) if you get the chance on the tour, hit Sedona, it is about 30 miles south of Flagstaff and very beautiful. Oak creek flows through this area called Slide Rock. The water has cut a slide in the red rock and it is a lot of fun for the family if you get the chance. If you need links on how to get there give me a holler. Will pray for your family to have a safe and fun trip. God Bless

    • June 4, 2010 at 4:53 am

      Thanks, Jim! I appreciate the advice as we have never been through that area. I will have to look at our itinerary to see how close we will be to those places.

      Thanks for the prayers as well. We always appreciate those.

  7. randy morgan
    June 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    make sure i’m on the list of “people who can’t wait to hang out with you.” i know that oklahoma is not very yellowstone-ish, but i’ll show you and your family a good time!

    we’ll be in touch on dates/times etc. have a blast and enjoy the time away from “real” life.

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