Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

21 January 2014


On October 10, 2011 I wrote a blog entitled “Tale of an Odyssey.”  I failed to follow up with the addendum to that entry.  For all those longing to know what happened to our beloved Odyssey which crossed the sea only to be locked away….in December of that year, once our taxes had all been paid, we received notice that our van would be delivered.  I anxiously awaited and watched for the truck.  Emily and Abby were home with me and we were enjoying lunch when they arrived.  We watched them back our minivan down the driveway and finally park it.  We met the gentleman at the door with a huge smile and I couldn’t contain myself any longer.  I had to hug him.  I actually had tears in my eyes.  My girls hugged him.  I was worried we’d scare him, but he was surprisingly okay with our abundance of emotion.  I explained to him why I was so overcome; how long we’d waited for this day; how squishy we were in our current car; how much we loved that little Odyssey.  After he left and I put the girls down for their nap, I kept looking outside just to stare at it.  So beautiful.  I know, it’s just a car.  But it was something we could call our own and it was finally here.  It was a great afternoon.

It's been interesting driving our van here.  In Europe, cars are generally smaller.  There are probably three pick-up trucks in Holland and about five Honda Odysseys (all of which live in Wassenaar and were imported by American families).  Larger vehicles just don’t fit.  They don’t fit well in the lanes nor do they fit well in parking spaces.  It is a rule of thumb that you will not leave here without several door dings and scrapes on your car.  There have been many times we have driven down a road and I’ve said to my kids upon seeing an oncoming car or service vehicle, “Think skinny!  Think skinny!.”

Four weeks after the delivery of our car, I sent the following email to Dano:

'Just wondering, but how do you say, ‘dork’ in Dutch?  Upon exiting the Klus Wijk (equivalent to really small Home Depot) today, Abby and I noticed the Mr. Shine across the street and thought it would be a super idea to get a carwash!!  I was excited to have found one in Wassenaar.  I located the entrance then backed up around to the gas station when I realized you had to have a code or something to enter said carwash.  The very nice man gave me a card, after I paid for what I assumed to be 'the works' carwash, and explained how to work the machine, reminding me to remove my antennae. 

I pulled around, waited for the person in front to finish drying, even though the light was green.  (I thought it might splash his nice Lexus.)  Then I got out and approached the machine to enter my card.  As I was entering the card, the Lexus man made a point of kindly getting out of his car at the end of the carwash and hollering back to me that I didn't need to wait for the drying cycle to end and explained to me how a carwash works.  I smiled and thanked him (for the tutorial).  He probably didn't realize I was a regular at Firehouse in Midland and the lady at Ron's Express in Powell knew me well.  I loooove our car to be clean.

We slowly entered the carwash, lining up the (beautiful yet filthy) van along the runway, as I've done a hundred times before, yet never here.  The machine started up and immediately I knew we were in trouble.  (Are you nervous yet?)  I could see the machine inching its way toward the (beautiful yet filthy) van and knew it wouldn't clear it.  I had ignored the beeping signals indicating an object in the front and actually turned off the signal.  The behemoth machine clipped the mirror on the passenger side and then grazed along the passenger door as I grinded my teeth and moaned.  Abby couldn't figure out why I was repeating, "Ohhhh we're in trouble.  Ohhhhhh we're in trouble."  Then I guess its sensors went off because it just stopped.  Yep.  We were stuck in the carwash with this thing enveloping our (beautiful yet filthy) van.  I thought I'd just make a break for it, but there's a garage-type door that keeps you inside.  I pulled forward thinking I'd trip something back into working.  Nope.

The poor gas station attendant appeared through some magical side door. I think some man I saw lurking in the rear had tipped him off.  (I saw him in the rear camera when I tried to back up so it didn't look as though I'd moved.)  I sincerely apologized and thankfully he was very kind about it.  He fiddled with some switches, opened some boxes, but couldn't get it going.  He asked if I wanted to try it again or just wanted my money back.  Not wanting to drive off covered in soap, I opted for the offer to try it again.  (hellloooo!)

We pulled around for round 2.  He had gotten it going again and said it just needed to run through the previous wash cycle and then we could go.  Poor guy then had to dance through the waters (remember we had gotten 'the works' which included undercarriage wash which, when a car is not there, looks pretty much like a geyser) back to his magical side door.  I'm not sure why he didn't wait for the water to stop, but oh well.

We waited for the green light which never came.  The attendant came back out.  I apologized over and over again (really just wanting to crawl back home and forget Mr. Shine forever.)  He fiddled some more, a lot more.  Then told me to proceed inside.  He assured me if I left my mirrors in, the car would fit.  I had the windows down to be able to hear him.  This panicked Abby as she was sure the water would start spraying in at any moment.  I wasn't so sure it wouldn't! 

He couldn't get it working and told me he was going to just have to shut it down for the rest of the day.  I apologized yet again and proceeded to the exit where something started working because the dryer quickly descended onto our (beautiful yet still filthy) van.  The man motioned to just wait.  Oh good.  Dried soap.  As I watched the dryer moved along the sides I held my breath.  I could barely watch.  There was some part the dryer that was molded funny, like one of my icing tips, but left with raw metal edges.  Watching it so close to the sides of the van reminded me of U571 where the torpedo barely missed them and scraped along the sub.  Ugh!  Finally it finished and I went to get my refund.

Once more I expressed my profound apologies.  He shrugged it off as though it was bound to happen.  The coffee machine, freezer, ATM, and something else I didn't understand had all gone out that day.  He said, "Might as well have something else not work!"  and laughed.  I drove to the self-wash and washed the (beautiful yet filthy) van the best I could after translating from their nine options for spray.  I think, though, they use dirty water because it doesn't seem to look any better than when I went in.  But, Abby enjoyed it.

I was able to look and couldn't see any scratches from where the carwash ran alongside the passenger doors.  Needless to say, we didn't get any of our other errands taken care of.  This took everything out of me. 

Anyhow, I thought you'd like to know.  We got home safely in our (beautiful yet filthy still) van.'

Now, two years later, we have amassed thirty thousand miles on that wonderful car.  It has been all over Europe.  Every time we take a trip it is reaffirmed that having our Odyssey was so worth all the trouble.


Effie said...

Melissa, I always enjoy reading your blogs. It has been way too long since I have been on my own blog so it has been even longer since I have checked in on any one else. Glad you got your van and that you have had fun driving it all over. I miss traveling in Europe.

Dara Porter said...

What a great name for a van driving all over Europe! I've missed your blogs - I frequently check to see if something new has been entered. You describe things with such detail - they are all so fun to read because it's like being there experiencing it with you.