Traveling With 10

 From the Farm:


Published in the Casper Journal May 25, 2011

We found it at last ... the vehicle which five car salesmen said “didn’t exist,” an 11-passenger, all-wheel-drive van with doors on both sides. I saw it on the internet and called the dealership, in Indianapolis.
“Does that eight-passenger van have a third bench option ... to seat 11 people?”
“No ma’am,” the salesman responded. “Those vans don’t exist.”
“Well, if there’s any way to add a bench, call me back.” I hung up. Ten minutes later my phone rang.
“I just went out to look at the van and it already has 11 seats.” The salesman sounded a bit surprised.
“What about a passenger door on the driver’s side?”
“No ma’am.”
“Well, I’d still like to see some pictures,” I told him. Within a few minutes I had several photos in my inbox. I pulled up the first photo: three benches, 11 seats. I pulled up the second photo: AWD, printed on the back door. I pulled up the third photo and called the salesman back. “It looks like it does have an additional door.”
“Yes ma’am. It does.”
“DO NOT SELL THAT VAN TO ANYONE!” I nearly yelled into the phone.
“Where are you calling from?” he asked.
There was a stunned silence before he asked, “And you want to purchase a vehicle in Indianapolis?”
“Have you ever tried buying an 11-passenger, all-wheel-drive van in Wyoming?” I questioned.
“Well, ma’am we can only hold it for 24 hours with a deposit.”
“It will take us 24 hours just to pack our family,” I said. “I’ll give you a deposit every day next week, but you can’t sell that van.” He transferred me to a manager, and the deal was made.
“It’s very red,” the kids said when they saw the pictures that night. “It’s an apple van,” my daughter piped up. “Remember, it’s from Indian-APPLE-is.”
“What should we say when people make fun of how big it is?” one son asked.
“Tell them people made fun of Noah’s ark, too, but it sure kept his family safe,” joked my husband.
And so, we planned our trip to the Midwest to pick up the van. Have you ever taken a long trip with 10 people? Clothes for 10, food for 10, backpacks for 10, entertainment for 10 ... what might any of these people need at any time during the next week? Coats for the cold, swimsuits for the sun, shoes or sandals, pajamas, underwear, socks, and a change of each, just in case.
We’ve traveled to the Midwest before, but this time we tried something new and took the train. Driving to Denver was the most stressful part ... almost as stressful as boarding the train. Each child had a coat, a backpack, a small bag and a blanket. In addition we had three car seats, a double stroller and a huge food cooler. A friendly conductor seated us near the front of the train, with lots of space.
Once the ride started, it was heavenly. No red lights, no traffic, no seatbelt signs, both parents free to help with kids. In addition, everyone had their own comfy seat. It reclined, it had a light, and the bathroom was available whenever anyone needed it. (No, Amtrak isn’t paying me to write this.) In addition, there were pillows for sleeping, foot rests and an observation car with huge windows.
The scenery was incredible. As we stared out the window at the green fields of Iowa my preschooler commented, “How about in Wyoming we stop planting yellow grass, and start planting green grass?!”
The travel seemed to take a fraction of the time, and we arrived rested and cheerful to pick up our van. There it was: big, red and all ours. We all climbed inside. All-wheel-drive? Check. Fifth door? Check. Eleven seatbelts? Wait ... there were actually twelve, an unexpected bonus! The van had other surprises as well, including a cool DVD player.
The ride home was as enjoyable as the train trip there. Everyone had their own comfy seat, plenty of foot space and big windows to watch the green fields go by. We left on the Amtrak and returned in the apple van. Traveling with 10? There’s nothing like it.

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