That is, until it hit a deer in March. Since that time, it drove around like a one-eyed monster, without even the decency of a patch to cover the hollow socket where its headlight used to be. It tried to ignore the stares of the SUVs, and the pointing antennae of the young Smart cars, but every time it had to dash downtown, it's ego became a little more bruised.
Finally, it got to go to the plastic surgeon. The doctor promised it would have a new headlight, new fender and hood, and come out looking better than before!
However, it seems that Li'l Red had had one blow too many: just as it was going to get cleaned up after surgery so it could go home, it's heart gave out. Apparently, this particular species has the fuel tank as part of the fuel pump assembly, and this made the repair significantly more expensive. Li'l Red also had transmission issues which we had been putting off repairing, since the van was not even worth the cost of the repair.
Alas, for Li'l Red, there was not to be a happy ending. This final blow for the red van was the final straw for our pocket book, and we decided to purchase a newer vehicle instead of pouring more moola down the "older-vehicle" drain.
The news of the Pontiac's demise came to us last Tuesday morning. I spent the morning researching makes and models on the internet, and the afternoon test-driving vans from the two dealerships in town that actually had some. By the next morning, the craziness was in full swing: Mom and Mike were bringing the body of his recently-deceased mother up to Montana by Friday night for her memorial and burial. Thus, they suggested that we save money by purchasing a vehicle State-side which they would bring with them, and then we would meet them in Montana to pick it up.
While a twenty-hour-one-way jaunt with three little kids has a certain amount of interest if you get a chance to stay and relax on the other side, there was one more wrench to factor in to the calculations: My year-end piano recital was scheduled for Sunday at 4:00 p.m. This meant that there would be little-to-no relaxation as part of the trip.
Nevertheless, somehow, everything came together. We chose our van from an Arkansas dealership on-line, then had Mike check into it closer before purchasing it. We pulled out of Peace River at an unprecedentedly-early 10:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, driving down to Sylvan Lake and staying at my Dad's place that night. The next day, we set more records by managing to leave shortly after 9:00. We had no trouble at the border, and I had managed to bring most of our food with us, which saved us time and money. (We only ate out three times on the entire four-day trip!)
Unfortunately, it was raining almost the entire trip, so there were no energy-releasing stops in the park along the way, and by the time we reached the ranch in Montana at 9:30 that night, we had one boy sleeping and two ready to bounce through the roof!
The next day was a little more interesting, and we unfortunately did not leave the ranch until about 10:30 in the morning. We also had a longer wait at the border on the way up. But, eventually, we made it back to Sylvan Lake (at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday), where we crashed for a few hours before hitting the road again, with one more passenger in tow--my brother opted to come and stay the week with us, which was an added bonus to our little trip.
By Sunday, we were all tired of being in the vehicle, and even the novelty of the new van was wearing thin with the kids. Jabin kept saying "I 'tuck! I 'tuck, Mom!"
"You're stuck in your car seat?"
"Yeah, me too, buddy."
We made it back to Peace River by 2:30--just enough time to prepare for the recital with the extra set of hands Logan provided. And that night, we all had the best. sleep. ever.
Jude obviously had a lot of time to think on this trip. Here are a few of the interesting things that came out of his mouth on the road:
"Dad, did you pick your nose as a kid?" (He asked me the same question yesterday.)
"I think I'll be a computer fixer when I grow up."
"You don't want to be a cowboy anymore?" Jason asked.
"No, I've changed my mind. But I've got to choose! There are so many things!" (Where did he get the idea that this is something he needs to get started on? I certainly haven't been asking him!)
Logan, with a comment that was so far over Jude's head that it was in orbit, remarked, "And remember, whatever you decide today, you're stuck with it for life!"
"We don't have time to answer that, buddy." (For the record, I eventually told him a few of my official titles.)
This is not the first time he has asked this question. I think he must keep hoping the answer will change from "Poop, eat, cry, and sleep!"
As we waited in line at the border, Noah looked over at the side of the building and started exclaiming, "A robot! A robot!" We glanced over and there was a gas meter with a rectangular digital readout like the face of a calculator, towards the top of a squarish box with various pipes, hoses and wires protruding out of it. While we conceded that it looked somewhat like a robot, we could not convince the boy that it was, in fact, not one. Oh, well. Gotta love the imagination on the kid!
The end result of the weekend is that we now are driving a pretty white Dodge Grand Caravan that is the newest vehicle Jason or I have ever owned--only a 2006. I LOVE it! If only the darn price of gas wasn't so high, I would just drive around to enjoy it.
But since it is, we'll just have to enjoy Snow White in moderation. And bid adieu to Li'l Rose Red.