As many of you are aware, a few months ago we bought a used minivan from my sister and her family. They gave us a generous "family discount", and we are very grateful and happy to have a larger, more comfortable vehicle. So far we have traveled to Maryland, NH, Cape Cod, and Vermont, and trips with the kids are much easier now.
However. We are beginning to think that the Powers That Be are not smiling on our minivan. First, my sister--in the spirit of true generousity and sisterly love--arranged for the van to be detailed a week before we bought it. She took it to the same place she had used, with great success, a few years before, and she was excited that the van would be clean and sweet-smelling for us. Unfortunately, the van returned only slightly cleaner, and--to her great dismay--smelling very strongly of Wet Dog. Now, my sister has two dogs, but she had only had them a few weeks and they had rarely been in the van, so she was pretty darn sure that it was not those dogs that she was smelling. So the van was returned to the detailing shop to be cleaned once again, and it returned smelling only marginally better. Thankfully, we had a few nice sunny days in which to air it out, and by the time we drove it home with us, the smell was much fainter. And although my sister felt terrible about the whole thing, we really do love her and we know that it was not her fault.
But then. Four days after we got the van home, a big tree limb fell on it while it was parked in our driveway, taking out the windshield and the roof, and resulting in a three-week stay at the body shop. Bummer. But random things happen, right? The great thing was that after the van sat in the body shop with no roof for a few weeks, the Wet Dog Smell was pretty much gone.
So fast forward to last Friday morning at 10:45. Fifteen minutes away from our house, en route to Vermont, I smelled a yukky burning smell, and after a few more miles we determined that the smell was, indeed and unfortunately, emanating from us rather than from the construction vehicles ahead of us. So we pulled off the highway as soon as possible (at which time Jim noticed that the brakes were definitely feeling spongier than they should) and luckily happened onto a garage right off the highway. The right rear brake appeared to be locked up, but it was so hot that the mechanics could not open it up for over an hour. When they finally got a look, it was clear that we had a bad brake cylinder that was leaking fluid. Now, if this brake cylinder had been in the car for a few years, I might have been a little more understanding. But this particular brake cylinder was placed in our car in June. Yes, June. So it should not have failed as of yet. But there you have it.
Now, things could have been worse. It was a lovely day, and there was a nice shady lawn nearby where we could wait for the repairs to be completed. The mechanics seemed reasonably competent. Jim was with us, so I was not stranded alone with the girls. We had some snacks and toys, as we were hoping to keep the girls entertained during a four hour drive. (We even had two--yes, two!--"Where's Waldo" books with us, which are good for entertaining a four year old for oh, at least eight minutes.) But it was still a rather trying day.
A few hours later, with brakes repaired, we continued on our way to Vermont, and we arrived without incident at 6:30 p.m. (The trip would have been more pleasant if Jim and I could have shared a few gin & tonics on the way, but--for obvious reasons--that was not practical.) Whew, we thought. Now for a relaxing weekend. But then, when we were almost done unloading the car, I shut all the doors, effectively locking both--yes, both--sets of keys in the car. No big problem, the kids weren't in it, and AAA does indeed make housecalls in Vermont on Friday evenings.
Now, one could argue that the last incident was due more to stupidity than to fate, but I think it may be time to have a Minivan Exorcism. You are all invited. Please bring limes (for the gin & tonics), but leave your wet dogs at home.
Katy at 10:53 PM