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I'm pleased and proud to be a minivan mom

Jul 12, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

I just got it, and it's the coolest.

I drive a minivan. When you read that, you probably don't attach the "she's cool" attitude to it. Instead you think, "Big deal, she probably has a bunch of kids."

But I'd like to declare here, today, in this column that I am cool in my new 2011 (used) Chrysler Town and Country Limited edition minivan. What you are about to read is dedicated to all the minivan owners who run the mean streets of Fremont County, not the diesel-guzzling, extended-cab pickup trucks that make the windows of The Ranger vibrate ferociously every time they speed by on East Main Street.

I haven't always been a minivan admirer. In fact, I too, have supported the stigma of minivans not being cool. Why aren't they cool? Because they're big and long and not attractive? Because they can seat up to eight people, usually children? Because they don't have an attention-getting exhaust pipe, turbo-charger under the hood, and lightweight frame to help gain ultimate speed?

Pssh, who needs that?

I am now finding it hard to attach a stigma after becoming an official minivan owner -- or, perhaps it's my attempt at changing it.

I was reluctant to trade in my 2014 Chevrolet Equinox for a minivan, thinking I would feel like I'd be maneuvering a giant bus (and lose several points on the cool scale), but that wasn't the case. In fact, my kids upped my cool points after they saw the video monitors and side doors that open with the touch of a button.

I mainly did the trade-in to lower my car-loan payments, and, although doing this was an excellent move financially, I truly feel like I've upgraded to high-class minivan status.

Just to name a few features, the minivan has two video screens, automatic doors, heated seats (even the rear!), back-up video screen, remote starter, navigation capability, and no-key engine start. The Equinox was pretty basic. Those TVs really help on long trips, and the automatics doors are perfect when I'm carrying both a toddler and groceries.

I found that this minivan doesn't drive like a bus and is truly made for comfort. Minivans, as you may know, are made with the road trip in mind-- a vision of families that travel across the U.S. or to make life easier for a parent like me, who has to be in three different places in a span of 15 minutes.

I'm not new to the minivan life, however, perhaps that's why it was so easy for me to make the transition.

My dad has owned three vans in his life, one of which he still has today and drives from Chicago to the Rocky Mountains when he gets a chance. The life expectancy of these things are incredible, I assume. The minivan he owns now, a 1995 Chevrolet G20, had a box TV positioned on the floor. When this van came out, I bet it was the cool vehicle to have.

My dad has since removed the TV and uses that space for storage instead, because they don't even have VHS tapes to put in it anymore. It's just Dad and my mom, so they couldn't watch the TV. This presents the question of why would an older couple need a minivan? They don't need the extra seats. I'll leave that for another column, though. My dad just really likes minivans.

He also owned a 1993 Chrysler Town and Country that he later drove to Mexico to give to my grandfather. In fact, all of these vans took more than a handful of trips to Mexico and back for summer vacations.

When I was a teenager, he owned a 1986 Chevrolet G20. I remember he had a custom paint job on it-- sparkling pine green with a golden-brown set of stripes that wrapped around it. It was beautiful and one of a kind.

One day as it sat parked in front of our house on the Northwest side of Chicago, it was stolen. My dad was devastated, but a couple of days later we got a call from my cousin who said he spotted it parked nearby. When my dad went to check it out, it had been stripped of its surround-sound speaker system and some tools my dad had left in it.

He determined that some young gang-bangers had probably stolen it. Oh, well. He sold it soon after. There was a stigma that vans like his, in Chicago, were usually owned by up-to-no-good thugs because it fit several of them at a time and were often used for drive-by shootings. I even recommend Googling this. Start by typing in "drive-bys" and the words "in Chicago" will appear right next to drive-bys. It's a thing.

Well, back to the minivan life here in Fremont County, where the only drive-bys these vans do are for swiftly picking up half a soccer team or post-dance-recital girls. Or for people who like to "live" in their vehicles. You may be one of those if you have tons of clutter in it.

Now that I'm a minivan owner myself I find myself looking at other people's vans and questioning whether mine is cooler than that other one. What features does that one have? That's a nice van color. Is that one also "Limited" like mine?

Not too long ago I visited the Help for Health Hospice center in Riverton because a kind woman donated a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica for clients. This was the first time I really admired another minivan and its owner. I was impressed with this van. It looked sleek and classy. I was happy for them, and I told them I was a Chrysler minivan owner myself and that they would love it.

It's a very convenient vehicle. I pull up to the soccer field, school or park and press a button. As soon as the doors slide open, my 9-year-old athlete jumps in, and we drive off. Of course, I press the button again to close it. When I need to put groceries in the back, I press another button, and the back door opens automatically.

I drive a minivan. Now, when you read that, imagine how much easier your life would be if you owned one-- all the things you could carry and all the extra room you would have. There's a community of proud minivan owners here in the county-- classy vans and others with missing bumpers or, in some cases, missing windows. But we all know that even if our vehicle isn't the latest Mustang or Ford F-150 model, we can still haul people of any size, travel far, and carry lots of stuff -- all while someone somewhere envies our van.

I wouldn't mind owning a Mustang or Ford F-150 but for now I'll stick to my minivan. It's the coolest.

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2017-09-24