Sunday, December 07, 2014
The End of the Road
Planet Honda gave us a call, and we happened to be on our way to Utah to go "camping". Bob was stationed at USAFA as an air officer commanding, or AOC, the officer in charge of a squadron on cadets. USAFA was on spring break, and we had planned a trip to Arches National Park (where we "hotel-camped" with the L's--hey, we brought crockpots and made our own meals!) and then on to Salt Lake to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin. So we packed up our Pathfinder, drove up to Denver, waited around for several hours to do all the paperwork (L's waited patiently with us, even watching Nathan and Luke for us). Finally we got the keys, transferred all our stuff to the new van (so much room compared to the Pathfinder!!) and drove off to Utah in our brand-spankin' new van.
We put a lot of miles on the trusty minivan, PCSing to Ohio and just traveling around the country visiting family and friends. Eventually we PCSed to VA in 2004, and when Anna was born in 2006, we filled up the van. So when we found out the shocking news that we were expecting Grace a year after Anna was born, we knew we would have to find something new for us all to fit in. We ended up heading to Laurel, MD, where the Carmax dealership sells new Toyotas. We bought a 2007 Sienna in what had to be the smoothest, most-hassle-free car-buying transaction ever. I love, love, puffy-heart love the Sienna. We decided on it as opposed to another Odyssey because it had 3 full seats in the middle row, seats that all could fit carseats, since obviously we had a lot of carseats to fit, and the middle seat in the Odyssey was a little one. I still love driving the Sienna. It is a wonderful van. We have had absolutely no trouble with it, while we did have to replace the transmission on the Odyssey.
Anyhow, when we bought the Sienna, the Odyssey became the second car, racking up 10 miles of driving a day, to and from the bus stop for Bob's commute. And eventually we had Faith and needed to buy the big van. Once Nathan started learning how to drive, however, the Odyssey came out of its life of retired leisure, as he became its primary driver. It faithfully carried him to cross-country meets, Civil Air Patrol meetings, college-related interviews, and even down to VMI where he drove himself to an overnight. But it was definitely showing its age. Then we had to get a yearly inspection for it right before Thanksgiving, and it failed soundly. It needed at least $2000 in repairs, and that just didn't seem worth it, especially when there were other things, like really squeaky brakes, that also needed some attention. But what would we do?? We really need 3 cars at this point, with all the running around everyone is doing, and especially with Nathan taking classes at the community college 3 days a week. And we still need the flexibility of 2 minivans, since we still have so many people to transport.
So we started thinking about buying another minivan. We pretty much assumed that we would head back up to Laurel to buy another new Toyota Sienna. We wanted to buy a new one, since we were planning on having it for many years, and many, many miles. Used Siennas are still expensive! But before we drove up to MD, Bob wanted to check out the price on a new Sienna from the dealership that works with Costco. Saturday night Bob, Verity, and I went to that dealership and met with the Costco guy there. We were not that impressed with the Costco price--not anywhere near as low as the Carmax price--but what I was surprised at was how not impressed we were with the actual Sienna itself! The new Siennas have a really little middle seat in the middle row. It's too narrow for a carseat (and not flush with the outer 2 seats--it's a lot lower), and it's also too narrow for an adult/teen to sit there. Also, it's physically attached to the left middle row seat, so it doesn't come out by itself. So what you have is a seat that is only useful for kids between the ages of 8 and maybe 12 that you can't take out if you can't use. Honestly, we couldn't figure out what car designer from what planet figured this Sienna design was a step forward. The 2007 one was so perfect!!! (Note to potential used Sienna buyers: Toyota redesigned the Sienna to this new crappy design in 2011.) We left the dealership very disillusioned.
Just for due diligence, Bob had also contacted the local Honda dealership that works with Costco. We decided that since we were out, we should swing by there to see what the new Odyssey looked like. I had very low expectations, since I knew it used to have the non-carseat middle seat. When the salesman showed us the van, however, we instantly fell in love. What a great van! So many neat features! And a middle row that can fit 3 car seats! So after some hours of negotiating, we agreed on a price last night. This afternoon we dropped our old Odyssey off at Carmax, where amazingly they gave us money for it. Then we headed back over to the Honda dealership where after 2 hours of waiting and signing papers, we got the keys to a new Odyssey!
In the meantime, I used all the time this weekend that I had planned on writing an anatomy exam to shop for cars. Tomorrow is going be a long day! I feel like I need a weekend to recover from this weekend. Only 1 more Rivendell until Christmas break . . . We did also buy a dishwasher last weekend, although so did everyone in VA, so we're not going to actually get it until maybe Dec. 15. So that just leaves cell phones/plans to shop for. And all the rest of our Christmas presents . . .