July 16, 2020
I miss my little Nissan Murano. I call her The Cruiser. But she has limited seating of 5, so when we go on vacation, we rent a minivan. This year we need to accommodate Paul and me, Lauren and Alesia, and Emily and Victoria. Grace always drives separately each year so she and her guest can go run around here and there without the rest of us. So we made arrangements for a minivan rental. Usually, actually always, when we drive anywhere as a family, Paul drives. He likes to drive and I like to nap, so it works out just fine. And even though I used to drive a minivan years ago, I don’t like driving rentals because they are unfamiliar to me.
But this is 2020. Nothing goes as planned. Just like a Seinfeld episode, the rental company failed to secure our rental. They called us at 9pm the night before vacation. “No worries,” they said. “We will upgrade you to a 12 passenger van at no charge,” they said. “Pick it up at 8am,” they said. Well, they open at 8, but the employee didn’t arrive until 8:20. And since the reservation was in my name, I’m the only one authorized to drive. So it’s me driving this monstrosity of a people-mover.
The Beast as I affectionately refer to her, could swallow The Cruiser whole and still have room to snack on Grace’s little Civic.
With the minivan, we were going to put as much luggage as we could in the back, then load the rest on the roof-rack. Grace and Chandler would be driving to the beach just Sunday through Tuesday, so they could bring Paul’s golf clubs and anything else that wouldn’t fit in or on the van. Well, this gal, she’s quite a hoss. She doesn’t need anyone to help her carry her load, thank you very much. We had 6 empty seats and nearly enough room to put a twin size mattress behind the last row of seats. We filled her up with all the suitcases, beach towels, kitchen supplies, toiletries (because…girls), the beach wagon, and Paul’s golf clubs. AND since we arrived at the beach before check-in, we went to the Piggly Wiggly and fit a week’s worth of groceries in The Beast and had plenty of room left over. She gets the job done. In fact, she’s so big, (how big is she?) Emily has enough room to completely hide in the pic Paul took, and you can’t tell there’s an empty row between The Middle Schoolers and The High Schoolers.
I’m not used to driving anything as large as The Beast. Saturday morning she struggled pulling onto Yadkinville Road when we left the house. No, I take that back. She didn’t struggle. She just does things at her own pace. She’s much taller than anything else I’ve driven and I was looking down on most of the other vehicles on the road. It was windy driving to the beach, and she felt like she was swaying back and forth. When taking a tight turn, more than once I called out for the girls to lean to one side or the other to counter balance The Beast so she wouldn’t tip. On bumpy patches of highway, she shakes and shimmies. And speed bumps are enough to make the back row passengers feel nauseated. But I think with the way she rattles and hums, she’s just dancing to her own internal music and we are just along for the twerk.
And there is music. Of course there’s music. It’s Momma’s choice of hot jam, but The Beast is a little old fashioned and behind the times and shy on technology. She doesn’t connect to my iPhone, so Paul and I found a station we like. It’s a good thing we have so much extra seating, because tonight after dinner, we rode home with Paul Simon, Steve Winwood, Jimmy Buffett, and Kenny Loggins. Just FYI, 12 and 15 year olds don’t sing Kodachrome or Footloose. But The Beast is like a sound tunnel and lyrics bounce off her walls and annoy the ears of everyone under the age of 49.
One thing I’ve learned here at the beach is that all body styles are beautiful. The Beast is not a bean-pole waif model. She’s got more an industrial, athletic build. She’s got big tires and large windows and she’s quite imposing. You definitely see her coming a mile away. And you know when you wear that shirt you hadn’t worn in awhile and now the buttons are straining across the front? Well she barely fit under the house. Paul guided me under the house stilts and he said there was about an inch clearance because of the support poles holding up the stilts. She’s not too tall or too wide exactly. But the post supporting the stilts come in at an angle, and she just has to hold her breath to get clearance. So we adjusted and found she is more comfortable parked parallel to the street instead of in a proper parking space under the house. And her steering wheel is a little cattywhompus. When I’m heading straight, the steering wheel is actually turned a little to the left. Is that an alignment issue? I don’t know. But it just feels like I can’t quite judge exactly where she is headed. Almost like a lazy eye; maybe she’s looking straight ahead, but maybe she’s looking off to the side.
I was more than annoyed at the thought of having to drive something so far outside my comfort level. But I’ve handled it like a boss, and the only problem I’ve had so far has been my shotgun navigator who is so busy snapping pics out the side window and checking golf scores on his phone that he fails to tell me where I need to turn. I might make Mr. Mauk sit in the back with Lauren and let Alesia sit up front with me from now on. I think Paul has struggled with not being in control of the driving. He’s more than once gotten snippy with me, but he needs me to drive him back to the PFT, so he’s smart enough to check himself.
What a first world problem to have. Sorry…no minivan…here’s a jumbo van to hold all of us and 6 more people and all our junk and groceries and supplies. Everyone down here is driving these golf carts. How cute! Move over. Make room for The Beast.