Since I’m a practical parent (that’s debatable I guess) and also a weekend warrior I’d like to chat a little bit about previous experiences with vehicles and give a few pros and cons of each. Again this will never be a one size fits all type scenario but I’ll expand a little of why each car I’ve owned and how it worked out for my family and our weekend adventures.
I once had a big heavy Chevy. It was a 3/4 ton 250HD which meant it was way too much muscle for me. It was really great for weekend kayaking trips with my bros though. We could toss 4-5 boats in the rear and all of our gear covered by the camper with no worries of a complete yard sail on the interstate due to some faulty rope, strap or boat strapping skills.
She was big and blue and beautiful. Fully loaded with Bose surround sound stereo. Heated leather seats to warm your buns after a cold winter run and plenty of space for 4 good sized guys to be completely comfortable. This ride was as sweet as it gets but oh my…THE GAS!
Fortunately I worked really close to home and my daily commute was less than five miles round trip. My friends weren’t complete dirtbags in that they all had good jobs and could afford a nice weekend away…including the gas. Split four ways was no big deal and quite an easy price to pay for the lap of luxury that we were able to roll in. Then my first born son came along and things changed a little….
Getting on and out of parking spaces at Babies’R’Us became a taunting task. Running to the grocery to get milk or diapers was the biggest pain in this quite impractical method of transport. Less time was spent on the river and more time at hime tending to the little guy….and as any of you know that’s the way you want it. I traded time with my bros on the river for quality time at hime with my child. I still wanted to go paddle but I didn’t desire the time with them nearly as much as I did the moments I would get with my new prized possession.
Another thing that was difficult about the truck was putting my son in and out of the back in his car seat. I always kept him in the center so getting UP and OVER there with my little bundle of joy got more and more difficult and became an unpleasant task.
So things change, situations change and eventually people change and vehicles must change. I had told my wife to NEVER let me get minivan and all those years ago I never thought it to be possible. But the more I looked at all the benefits of a van the more it began to make more sense to me. So, I found a van and went to great lengths to purchase it and pimp it out for my weekend warrior lifestyle that I was hoping to someday get back.
All of my kayaking escapades didn’t always involve overnight trips to West Virginia, Tennessee, or North Carolina. Central Kentucky has the whitewater options and after work runs available…when there’s water.
So I still needed a kayaking vehicle but maybe not necessarily a whitewater assault rig. So when I settled on the Toyota Sienna I began noticing other boaters in the same scenario. Using the Sienna for it’s versatility. My friends started calling it the Daddy Wagon and not long thereafter a cute little YouTube video came out called the Swagger Wagon. It was a pretty hip uptick for the minivan crowd and I can’t tell you how many times I was emailed or tagged in Facebook posts with that video.
More on the features of the van. Leather seats, drop down DVD player to keep little bit in the back entertained. The tailgate lifted automatically which was nice for groceries and stuffing kayaks in the back for quick local whitewater runs. Another thing the automatic tailgate was good for was changing into or out of your dry gear when it was raining. It provided a nice shelter from the storm as you were getting ready…a nice feature not many vehicles can claim to have. It also had automatic sliding doors on both sides which made loading the baby seat much easier than before. One evening I dropped some friends off in the van at a local nightclub. I was somewhat embarrassed and thought they may too but they actually thought the automatic doors opening was like a limo dropping them.
The Daddy Wagon had leather seats too and of course they were heated. A nice feature for anyone with kids or who cares about the interior and smell of their vehicle. Leather is more expensive yes indeed. But leather doesn’t really stain or smell or get wet. It’s easily cleaned off and doesn’t stay wet after patted down.
Another fantastic feature of the Toyota Sienna is the seating. Throw a roof rack on top and you and 6 of your friends can hit the river or the slopes. Or maybe a jaunt up to the ski hills in the cards. Pile in and get going and enjoy the generous gas mileage of a vehicle with such ample storage and fun capacity. So trips and gas in this thing can really be affordable…because you’ve got diapers and formula to buy ya know?
While we are on the topic of seating I must mention one of the best features of the van is that the two front copilot seats are totally removable and the back rear seats fold down and stow away in the floor leaving a nice flat open area in the back.
What did I do with that space? Well it was great for a few things.
- Hauling tools and materials for weekend projects. Who would have ever known that a minivan could be a workhorse?
- Trips with the baby were now really easy by folding the third row into the floor and piling all of his weekend requirements in the rear.
- Stuffing kayaks in there for incognito mid workday runs. If it’s raining and your boat is on the roof everyone at work will know why you’re “sick”.
- CAMPING!! I could place an entire mattress back there and have my very own SUPER DRY tent that actually had some sound proof-ness a tent just can’t provide.
So in case you couldn’t tell I’m a HUGE fan of the minivan for people with or without kids. If you like to boat, ski and car camp this thing really does the trick!
There are only a few drawbacks I can think of when it comes to rocking a daddy wagon. First is it’s not 4 wheel drive with huge ground clearance. This isn’t a big deal most of the time but sometimes can be in back road shuttle situations or simply getting your vehicle off the side of the road and avoiding traffic.
Sadly enough the man van just isn’t sexy. Not long after my divorce I decided that no one was going to look my way in a minivan and that I was deleting most, if not all of my options when someone found out I was a single guy rocking a minivan, So I must admit that my ego got the very best of me and i sold it and got something that was more of an extension of my penis rather than practical. But hey…they change…life changes and people change.