Carlson Skunk Works

December 23rd, 2013

Goodbye Old Friend

Posted by Roger in news

Saturday we said “Goodbye” to a faithful and long time friend. Our 1995 Dodge Caravan went to meet its un-maker.

It had served us well for over 16 years and 330,000 miles! It took us on many safe trips from Sidney, NE to Harris, Minnesota. It took us safely over the Rocky Mountains at Christmas time to California. It took us on an Easter quick trip to Dallas, TX. It took us to see a doctor in Chicago. It took us on vacation to Yellowstone. It happily transported frozen rats to the Sand Hills and served as primary transportation for our youngest while he saved his money for his first car.

A lot of memories have been associated with that van. We bought it in 1997, the summer that we moved from Minnesota to Sidney, NE. I rented it from a local rental shop to go back to Minnesota for a weekend. When I brought it back I commented that I thought we would want to get a vehicle like that in the very near future. The owner of the rental shop said it was available to purchase and made me a deal that I couldn’t refuse. His son had an automobile maintenance shop in town and had done all maintenance on this van, so we kept taking it to him until we moved to Kearney.

We decided to visit Ben when he was living in Dallas and took advantage of the Easter break from school for the younger kids to make the trip. We drove from Sidney to Dallas in one day. We started early and just kept going. We took I-80 to 183, then went south to Hays, KS and picked up I-70. We took I-70 across to Salina, KS then headed south. We now know of faster ways to get there, but it was an interesting trip and we survived.

We decided to spend Christmas with Nathan one year. Ben came up to our place in Sidney a couple days before and on the evening of December 21st we loaded everything into the van, then tried to get some sleep. We were all so excited that we were up about 3:00 am, so decided to just head out. We crammed five of us into the van and headed out. We drove down to Denver and took I-70 up through the Eisenhower Tunnel. The roads when we came out of the tunnel were glare ice and I know what a bobsled driver must feel like! We made it safely to Silverthorn where we stopped for gas and breakfast, then continued down the mountain behind a logging truck at about 45 mph. Once we got past Aspen the roads got a bit better and things continued to improve as we neared Grand Junction. The roads through the rest of Colorado were good and remained so for the rest of the trip.

Supper that evening was interesting. We pulled into Las Vegas about supper time, filled up with gas and proceeded to look for a restaurant not connected to a casino. Finally we just gave up and stopped at a casino and partook of their buffet. Good food at a reasonable price and a chance to teach the kids a bit about the culture of casinos and gambling. After supper we continued on our way and made it to Barstow, CA where we found a hotel room for the night. The next day we drove across California via some back roads and made it to San Luis Obispo. On the way home we took a more northerly route and stopped for the last supper of our trip at the Old Country Buffet in Cheyenne, WY. When I went to fill up with gas to finish the trip my credit card was declined! We called the credit card company and were told that they had decided to block our card because they were seeing some unusual activity on it. We were gone for almost a week and were 100 miles from home and THEN they blocked it.

The trip that we made with the most tension and anxiety was when we needed to take our daughter to a doctor in Chicago. This was in the late fall, about Thanksgiving time. We took a detour to drop off our son at Grandma’s place in Minnesota, then proceeded to make the trip down I-94 to Chicago. The doctor performed a successful procedure and we re-traced our path back to Grandma’s and back home.

Vacations were mostly spent going to see our parents and relatives in Minnesota, but one year we decided to go to Yellowstone park. We got hotel reservations in Gardiner, MT which is the north entrance to the park. It was a great time.

Of course there were lots of shorter trips and day-to-day driving. We enjoyed going shopping in Cheyenne and Fort Collins. We liked to do a day trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park and up to the Alpine Center. Doing over night trips to Denver were always fun. Then there were lots of trips to Lincoln for various reasons. Of course we had to visit Aunt Pat in Chadron and go see what was happening in Scottsbluff. And there were the trips to WalMart in Sterling, CO.

Yes, we spent many miles and many hours with our faithful old friend. Now it is gone, but we still have the memories.