Friday, August 2, 2013

The Dyesses: A Series of Interesting Events part 3

We had discussed getting a 12-passenger van to have more room on trips and to be able to have more cargo room in the back for luggage and trips to the hardware store and those times I get larger furniture or appliances off of craigslist or if we just had friends who wanted to ride with us to certain places.  I liked the pluses of something larger like that, but the downsides never quite set well with me.  The gas mileage would be waaay less than our current van costing lots more in gas each month and the larger vehicle would mean parking at the grocery store or anywhere for that matter would be a constant irritation for me.  Plus, I would be the main driver and I just didn't want to have to take out the big mammer-jammer any time we had to go somewhere during the week.

Conversion Vans were our next possibility.  We liked the extra room inside because, let's face it, we've got growing kids and our boys especially will be needing more leg room in the coming years.   They are very comfortable to travel in and the bed that folds down in the back was just a fun added novelty for possible naps or lounging around.  We also wanted a tv and dvd system in whatever we got next and these vans pretty much come standard with that.  Again, the gas mileage is pretty low on those and the ones we were seeing online in our price-range were very high mileage and I really didn't have a peace about it.  

I really kept coming back to Honda Odysseys.  They hold their value well, they are good on gas mileage for a vehicle that size.  They last a long time and I really appreciate the attention to detail that Honda puts into their vehicles.  Even the most basic models have nice gadets. :)

We knew we wanted leather seats.  They are just easier to keep clean and that is necessary in this family!  I wanted a gray interior because it just hides stuff pretty well until you can get to it, but that was just a plus, not a must-have.  We wanted a dvd player already installed.  We've been using two travel dvd players and while we have been very grateful for them, we have had our share of difficulties and hiccups using them in our van.  We also wanted it to be under a certain amount total and monthly.  I called our bank and had our financing all taken care of before we actually found anything because I wanted to bypass all of the frustrations we have experienced with dealerships in the past. I was also able to include gap insurance and an extended warranty that our bank offered so that we wouldn't even have to mess with it at the dealership.

After talking about it with God and each other off and on we agreed that another Odyssey was the way to go for sure and that evening, I found an Odyssey in Austin at a the First Texas Honda dealership that has a no-haggle price policy.  That was another of my hopes.  We bought our van from Carmax and really liked that we didn't have to haggle to get a good price.  It was what it was, take it or leave it.  I really appreciate that.  So, I was really glad to find a place that was similar.  They also do a 100 point inspection with a guarantee on it, which is also like Carmax.  Another point of appreciation.  They had posted the van to their website, but there wasn't a picture.  Just a description with all the details.  It had leather seats, gray interior, dvd player and it was an 07.  I wanted to find something with all that with under a 100,000 miles, but we would have had to fly to a different state to go pick it up. Since that was totally not happening, I was okay with it having 114,000 miles on it. :)  I contacted them via a chat feature on their website, then set up an appointment the next day to look at it.

When we got there, we met one of two of the Product Specialists also know as Salesmen who would be helping us through our van buying experience.  These guys were fabulous!  We seriously had such a great experience because of them.  If you need a Honda and are in the Austin Area, I highly recommend First Texas Honda and ask for DJ or Christian or both. :)  There was a bit of a hiccup at the beginning because the van had not been completely inspected or detailed out.  They were backed up in that department so when we test drove it, it wasn't in its best condition.  We didn't really care though, because we could see that it was a good van in good shape.  The engine sounded good, it drove really well, very smooth and it was exactly as described, except the color isn't a real gray, though depending on the light it can look like that.  Not a problem, though. :)  So, we weren't able to take it home that day, which was a bummer because that meant we would have to make another trip back down there in the air conditionerless Jeep. :/  

That was what we spent our Wednesday day long date doing.  We did go out to eat at BJ's restaurant, which has excellent food and we went and took a really good look at the Domain.  HOITY-TOITY!  Whew!  We've been there several times to go to the Apple Store, but never really got to look around.  I'm convinced those people really like their stuff and really don't want me to buy it. Hahahaha!  The coolest thing we got to do was go into the Tesla shop.  That is a very neat car.  Fully electric and completely fantastic.  We enjoyed speaking with the representative in there.   They sell t-shirts and I may just have to sport one in the near future. :)

We were hoping that they would have the van ready the next day because our original plans were to go back to East Texas on Friday.  It wasn't ready until Friday, so our plans got scooched back a day.  Not ideal.  But, when we went back to pick it up, we were introduced to the free snack bar including free frappuccinos and baked goods while they last and they had a kids play room as well as a stage with instruments where several of the staff have made up a band and play often.  Not your average dealership, I must say.  The paperwork process took a bit, but because I had made all the previous arrangements it went much more quickly than it would have normally.  We did end up staying there for 3 hours, but it was really because we ended up talking, laughing and joking around with DJ and Christian and the time just kinda flew by.  Fun times...

We finally left and drove both our vehicles back home and I really enjoyed driving the van in lovely a/c. :)

Still more...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Dyesses: A Series of Interesting Events part 2

The next occurrence was the next week full of VBS.  I don't like being so very regimented and on a tight schedule for too many days in a row.  It just flat out wears me out!  The three olders were able to attend so it was fun to have Brea and I spending time together.  We totally worked the free summer lunch program for that week because it was just easier to get us all up, dressed, loaded in the van and over to a place close to the VBS place serving the breakfasts and then hit the same place again for the lunches.  There are some amazing ladies at the place we went and they are such a blessing!

VBS was Monday through Friday and I had Saturday to pack for the kids to go and stay with grandparents in East Texas.  I only packed myself an overnight bag because the plan was for me to take the kids to my mom's house, stay the night and then I was to come back home while they stayed there.  Mom was to take them to meet up with Sam's parents and trade midweek and then I (possibly Sam, too) would return Friday evening, stay the night there and then come back with the kids Saturday.  Sam and I were supposed to have 4 glorious days of no kids just hanging out together.  Sam even took Wednesday off so that we could go on a full day-long date!  Woohoo!  So exciting!  

Yeah, well, that is not what happened.  On my way back from Mom's, I stopped right outside of Tyler and picked up a set of lockers advertised on craigslist.  $50 for a set of six!  Oh, yeah!  So, had those loaded up in the back of the van and got on the other side of Tyler right past Chandler and the a/c started blowing hot air.  I was thinking that the freon needed to be charged and that I was going to have to finish out the drive with no a/c, when I noticed that the engine was actually overheating.  Nice.  I turned the a/c off and slowed waaaay down in the hopes that it would calm things down.  Nope.  Oh, by the way, this was the week when the temps were over 100.  The week before had been pretty cool and the week after it rained nearly every day. :/  I was really concerned about irreparably damaging the engine, so I pulled over and turned everything off.  Of course, I had didn't know how far past Chandler I had come and how far the next town would be.  I called Sam who was just getting off of work and apprised him of the situation.  My phone didn't have much charge left, either.  I had the ipad, but no hotspot, so no help there.  Sam got home and was able to tell me where I was because of a county road sign I could see.  I was closer to the next town, Brownsboro, but was still about 2 miles out.  I was about 3 hrs from home at this point.  Yay.  

I decided to walk into town rather than swelter in the van.  Oh and to make matters just that much more interesting, right before the engine overheated, I determined I needed to find some place to stop due to digestive issues.  See?  Not one moment was boring. ;)  I gathered up my necessities, busted out my bright orange umbrella, locked up the van and aimed myself down the road.  I was pretty sure, that my feet and legs would be pretty red and crispy by the time I reached the town since I had no sunscreen, was wearing shorts and flipflops and the umbrella can only cover so much.  I got about 10 yards from my van, when a truck from the sheriff's department pulled a U-y and came up behind me.  The man asked if that was my van, I confirmed and he offered me a ride to the gas station in town.  I was beyond thrilled!  This was a Daddy kiss moment where I was still in a difficult and far from ideal situation, but He said, "Here, let me help you with this."  He didn't make it go away because I was learning to keep my peace and joy in tact and just be okay where I was.  It was a good lesson and not really a struggle because I chose not to get mad and upset about the inconvenience.

The gas station he dropped me at has a subway and bank in it as well, so after explaining my situation to the ladies behind the registers to make sure it was okay that I would be hanging out for three hours and getting plenty of sympathy, I was told I could sit in the subway seating area for as long as I needed.  The Subway employees were immediately offering me water and could they do anything for me.  So nice.  Yet another Daddy kiss, just letting me know He was right there with me.  I was gonna just play some games on the ipad to pass the time, but discovered the bank had wifi, so I was able to connect and get on the internet and start looking for a substitute vehicle.  Our van has been such a blessing to us.  It is old,  a 2000, and it has had its share of wear and tear.  The inside looks worn out as well, but we've had it for over 5 years and its gotten us where we've needed to go and been super dependable.  However, we knew our time with it would be ending sometime in the near future and had started discussing getting a newer van a little over a year ago. 

All in all, I really had a pleasant wait passing the time until Sam came to pick me up.

When he arrived, I hopped into his Jeep, which has no a/c, and we went to go assess the situation with the van.  We decided to see if we could drive it back towards Tyler.  Our hope was to be able to get it to a dealership in Tyler that would just buy it off of us.  We made it a couple of miles down the road and then it overheated again.  So, we hooked it up to the Jeep and decided to tow it in.  Apparently, when you put an Odyssey into neutral with the engine off, the brakes don't quite work right.  We made it into Chandler and I knew there was no way we were gonna make it back to Tyler towing it ourselves. And don't forget, the lockers are still in the back. :) We found a place to park it for the night and decided to head back to Sam's parent's house, about two hours away.  This was all on Monday.  Sam had to take off Tuesday from work to help deal with all of this.  By the time we got to Sam's parent's house, it was too late to do anything about the van, so we had a circle discussion about options and decided we would rent a tow dollies the next day and tow it back to their house with his dad's truck and then just called it a night.  

The next morning, we went to the rental place and got the worst customer service ever!  I called the head office to see if there were any other places that had a tow dollies available and was informed that we could not tow our van on one because it was too heavy for it.  An auto transport was suggested as an alternative.  Well, that might work, but the truck wasn't heavy duty enough to pull it. Okay.  Thankfully, Sam's parents had borrowed a family member's truck to haul a tractor from Oklahoma and they still had it.  It was definitely heavy duty enough.  This was another Daddy kissy.  Another one was that we didn't have the kids with us during any of it.  I am so glad I wasn't stranded with 4 kids in that heat!  We were able to find a transport at a smaller business place that we had actually done business with before and it was a very good experience.  Sam's parents pulled the transport while we drove in the Jeep and we all went to go load up the van.  We stopped at Sonic and ate and I had my first of several slushies that day.  

We loaded the van and we headed home and Sam's parents took it back to their house.  On our way home, we stopped at sonic several more times to get slushies because we felt like we were being sucked dry by the heat and the wind.  Oh, and we decided to go ahead and haul the lockers home in the Jeep because we couldn't see a feasible way of getting them home otherwise.  Even though we were hot, sweaty, windblown and stinkin' tired, we had a pretty nice ride home.  Our air conditioner at home welcomed us with its wonderfully cool loveliness.  We wallowed in it.  That and a shower. ;)

And more to come....