Friday, April 25, 2008

Mini Saga

Oxymoron? You decide!

Some people purchase vehicles when the one they currently drive hits a certain odometer reading or develops too many mechanical problems. Our motivation for acquiring the last few vehicles?


We only claim four.

Something to remember about children is that they expand with age.
Some of them grow very long legs & arms which fill up the space in a back seat very rapidly.

Thus the desire for a different vehicle.

Act 1

About three years ago I began praying for a mini van.

Most homeschoolers have them - you almost feel like you are not really in the "home school club" without one but we'd managed so far with our beautiful burgandy buick.

The boys said their friends called it the clown car because when the six of us arrived somewhere, with all the unfolding of arms & legs (remember they are LONG) as the boys extracted themselves from the Buick bowels (aka the back seat), more people seemed to be exiting the car than were actually squeezing out. Hm.

An alternative would be for us to drive the Beast > our 1984 Clubwagon (the tan van driven by my man Stan) which seats 12 & is great for packing with friends for FIELDTRIPS
However, with no A/C, the high humidity along with summer temperatures in north Florida (NOTE:summer in N FL can begin in March or April and often lasts through November)experienced while traveling in Beastie leaves one stuck-to-the-vinyl-seats drenched and hot-air-in-the-face windblown by the time church is reached a mere 20 minutes away. The Beast can pull heavy loads but is ravenous (10 mpg loaded or empty - in the photo above, you can see Stan through the window feeding the beast). It has been a fun ride & a wonderful blessing. We actually bought the Beast when I was expecting Caleb because my '69 Mustang Grande' didn't have enough seatbelts...
No, it's not for sale.

So, as I said at the beginning, I began to pray for a minivan. Months passed but I persisted. I knew we really couldn't afford to purchase another vehicle but MY FATHER owns the cattle on a thousand hills
so anything was possible.

I answered the phone while I was fixing lunch one day in January 2006 and my friend Rachael
said to me, "You know we just recently bought a new minivan and we were thinking about selling our old one but when we prayed about it, we felt like we should give it away and you came to mind. By any chance would you like to have our '93 Mercury Villager? It has some problems..."

When I could talk again we rejoiced together over answered prayer then discussed the details. Soon Mini came to live at our house & my wonderful live-in mechanic fixed her up.

What a fantastic A/C! Leg room for the kiddos and even one extra seatbelt.

Over the past two years, we took Mini to visit friends & family (ours, not hers, Silly!) in Texas, Alabama, Georgia & Tennessee as well as taking her to church and fieldtrips on a regular basis.

Why, you ask, is Mini a "her"? Excellent question! The answer is that she is moody. Sometimes the radio works - maybe there is a song on that she likes? Sometimes she locks her doors when we are inside > keeping us safe, perhaps? Sometimes she locks all the doors when we get out or just locks the driver's door - not wanting to go? Sometimes the door attached power seatbelts work & sometimes we have to do them manually - not that we mind. What personality!

When Jacob got his license we let him drive Mini since she had the smallest engine which in our minds equaled safer driving. We hoped he didn't get teased too badly about driving her to work & college. On the contrary, everyone loved having the spacious Mini to take the whole gang places. She was a hit!

Act 2

Speaking of hits, earlier this semester, when Jacob pulled into a parking space at college, Mini's oil filter (which we didn't previously realize sticks down in front of the front tire - whose bright design was that?) collided with the concrete barrier at the edge of the parking space. This cut the filter resuling in a huge oil spill and a drained engine. Mini conked-out on the way home.

After an oil transfusion, my marvelous mechanic managed to motivate Mini's motor to move. But she had a bad knock. Her days were numbered.

Jacob was told to "baby" her so she'd last as long as possible.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - okay, it's just a rural lot on a deadend dirt road - the mama (that's me) called around seeking a replacement engine. A new one was over $2000 (more than Mini's blue book value). A used engine with 175,000 miles on it was $750. So we waited.

Stan saw an ad for a comparable minivan posted at work. If I remember correctly, the asking price was $1000. Stan called & the guy said he'd take $700. He went to see it & asked some questions about it & the guy offered to sell it for $500.

So we drove to Jax to get Red.

Driving home, Stan noticed that Red's engine had a knock but a different kind (read "he could fix this one") than Mini. Since Mini is the nicer of the two vehicles, Stan decided to do a motor/transmission transplant when Mini finally bit the dust.

Act 3

Alas, the dust has been bit, uh, bitten.

On the way to class one morning before Easter, something broke loose and shot out of the bottom of Mini's engine through the oil pan. Poor thing bled out & died. We used the Beast to drag her home again and now she sits in the garage patiently awaiting her transplant. We are not expecting any rejection trouble with the donor parts. The surgeon's biggest hindrance is a backlog of projects - and no, they are not (all) on a "honey-do" list.

Jacob is driving the Beast until he's legal to drive the 450. On Sundays, the boys sardine into the Buick's backseat, Rachel snuggles up front between her two favorite parents and the clown car rolls to church.

Our goal is for Mini to be road-worthy by the time Stan's folks come to visit us at the end of May.

I'll keep you posted!


mCHRISTe said...

Haha! Before the end of the story, at the Mustang pic, Hannah said, "There's our van!!" But I guess it's not, is it? We have 3 Villagers (all Idiots-- our joke), incl. a twin of your "Red." Now do I see alloy wheels on that baby? You should transplant those! We'll soon sell our green one (a '95)because we don't want to spend $400 or so to fix the a/c, but I'm having Kirk swap out its alloys for the standard wheels on our red which is my current transport. I LOVE these short (easy to park) but roomy vans.

Patti said...

Thanks for the post!
We only have the 2 Villagers so I guess we aren't up to "idiot" status yet. I'll have to ask Stan about the wheels. I agree about the size of the vans making them easier to drive. I quite impressed my FIL by backing down my driveway in the Beast. :-) Mini is much easier but not as impress-able.
Great name - Christ in me - great song too!

Anonymous said...

LOL...I laughed so hard I was tearing up. :) Poor Mini, you all have loved her so well. i wish the surgeon well. I am so glad the Beast was around to save her.