On our way home from a recent trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, we reached a significant milestone: the odometer on our minivan reached 200,000 miles. I had my camera ready and captured the moment.
Not only is this the first car we’ve owned that has reached 200,000 miles, it’s the first vehicle we ever purchased new. It’s a 2000 Honda Odyssey that we bought in the spring of 2000. It was the first year of the new body style and the first minivan to feature back row seats that folded down instead of needing to be removed. With the seat folded down and the middle row seats removed, it can carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood. And we’ve taken advantage of that several times over the years. The new Odyssey was so popular when it came out that there was a waiting list to buy one. This vehicle was also the first Honda we ever purchased. (We liked it so much that we bought a Honda Civic a few years ago when we needed to replace my husband’s car.) We had been told that Honda vehicles would reach 200,000 miles, so we did all the recommended maintenance over the years. I’m happy to report that this strategy worked for us. We’ve hardly had any problems with it.
To celebrate, today I’m going to write a tribute to my Honda Odyssey. I thought a good starting point would be the definition of Odyssey from Dictionary.com. Here’s the second definition:2. a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships,etc.
We purchased our minivan 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my second child, because we decided that we needed a roomier vehicle. We were living in northern California at the time. Shortly before my daughter was born, I found out that my plant was being closed and that we would have to move back to Ohio after my maternity leave ended. Most (sane) people don’t think of maternity leave as being an ideal time to travel, but the clock was ticking on our time left in California and there were still a long list of places we wanted to see. At the top of my list was the desert. Almost on the spur of the moment, we decided to drive down to Death Valley National Park for Labor Day Weekend. It was our first road trip in the Odyssey. We strapped our 2-year-old son and our 7-week-old daughter into their carseats and off we went. Along the way, we stopped at Pinnacles National Monument, where we took this picture:
That’s me with my now almost-14-year-old son, Connor, with our Honda Odyssey in the background. That was so long ago that I took the photo with a film camera and had to scan in into my computer in order to post it. Another major technology change since then is how we played movies. We had the latest and greatest feature put into our minivan–a flip-down TV screen with a VCR so the kids could watch movies. After a wonderful weekend in Death Valley, we started on the journey back home, which Google Maps says is supposed to take 8 hours. With a fussy 7-week-old baby (does that qualify as a hardship?), it took us 11 hours to get home. On the way home, Connor watched Disney’s The Lion King. As soon as it finished he wanted to watch it again. And again and again and again. In all, he watched The Lion King five times in a row on the way home.
Since then, we’ve taken many more trips in our Odyssey. I spent a few hours going back through all the pictures I’ve taken in the last 12 years looking for photos where my Odyssey made a cameo appearance in the background. Somewhat surprisingly, there weren’t very many. So here it is, a summary of our wanderings and adventures in our Odyssey over the last 12 years with commentary about the notable experiences and hardships, and links and photos where available.
July, 2000 – My husband drove me in our Odyssey to the hospital where our older daughter, Corinne, was born. I came rather close to birthing Corinne in the Odyssey. My entire labor was only three hours long and I barely made it to the hospital in time. When I got into the labor and delivery room, I was fully dilated and she was born 17 minutes later. A couple days later we brought Corinne home from the hospital in our Odyssey.
September, 2000 – First road trip to Death Valley National Park. Photo above.
February, 2001 – We moved (back) to Cincinnati, Ohio. The Odyssey hitched a ride on a moving truck.
June, 2002 – Road trip to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We stayed in a cabin at a Jellystone Campground nearby where this photo was taken.
October, 2002 – My husband drove me to the hospital where our youngest daughter Camille was born. This time we made it with plenty of time to spare. Camille also rode home from the hospital in our Odyssey.
June, 2003 – My friend Laura and I started a weekly summertime tradition that we call “Adventure Tuesday.” Every Tuesday that summer we took our kids to a local destination they hadn’t been to before. At the time, we had no idea that our weekly adventures would eventually turn into a local family travel guide book which we titled Adventures Around Cincinnati. Back then, we had only five kids between the two of us, so we would all ride together in one minivan and Laura and I took turns driving. Our book has over 80 destinations, so that means my Odyssey took us to about 40 of them. I found two pictures of my Odyssey on our Adventure Tuesdays. The first was on the Anderson Ferry, a car ferry that crosses the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The kids thought it was cool that a minivan could take a ride on a boat.
The second adventure photo was taken shortly after Corinne’s birthday party that featured a butterfly theme. We gave away monarch butterfly chrysalises as favors. Before the butterflies emerge, the chrysalis turns black. We knew the butterfly emergence was imminent, so we brought the chrysalis with us on our adventure. We went to a museum where we had to ask the front desk clerk to babysit our chrysalis so we wouldn’t have to leave it in the hot minivan. Shortly after we left the museum, while I was driving, Camille announced that the butterfly was emerging. By the time I found a place to park, the butterfly was out of its chrysalis and I took this picture. Later we went to a park where we released it.
July, 2003 – We packed up the Honda Odyssey for our first year of Family Camp at YMCA Storer Camps in Michigan. I couldn’t find any pictures of the Odyssey there, but we made many happy memories there. One year we bought a bike rack and strapped it on the back to carry all our bikes to camp. After every trip to Family Camp, we stopped at my husband’s grandfather’s (now uncle’s) house which inspired my Michigan Beaches post.
July, 2005 – I took the kids on our first road trip without my husband. We went to St. Louis for a few days.
October, 2005 – We drove the Odyssey all the way to Florida to Walt Disney World. It was this trip that got us started on our 50 state goal which eventually led to this blog.
January, 2006 – Our Odyssey has made many trips to the grandparents’ houses in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania over the years. We started 2006 with a New Years trip to an indoor waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells with the grandparents.
April, 2006 – I made another husband-less trip with the kids over Spring Break to Niagara Falls. That was the first time I took the kids to another country on my own.
May, 2006 – We ventured to the stunningly beautiful Hocking Hills State Park for Memorial Day weekend with my parents. Later in the summer we visited their house where my father pulled out his old river raft. Just as he did when I was a kid, he filled it with water, perfect for cooling off in the summer heat.
August, 2006 – We went on a amazing road trip to New England where we checked off a bunch of states. I’ve written several blog posts from that trip: Lobster Boat Cruise in Maine, Acadia National Park in Maine, Fort Adams State Park in Maine, and Billings Farm & Museum in Vermont.
August, 2007 – This marked the first time we let the kids pick our vacation destination. They wanted to go to Texas. One very hot day we went to the Space Center in Houston. When we got back to the minivan, all the kids’ crayons in the back seat had melted. What a mess! That evening we went to Kemah Boardwalk. Later in the trip we were supposed to go to San Antonio, but Tropical Storm Erin decided she wanted to go to San Antonio too. After some serious white-knuckle driving through Erin, we changed our plans and headed north where we discovered Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.
Sometime in 2008 – One morning I was driving Camille to her Kindermusik lesson when she announced that there was a “real live mouse” running around in our minivan. Somehow I managed not to completely panic and lose my composure and made it to the parking lot where I chased the mouse out of our Odyssey. And to prove that God has a sense of humor, that day in her lesson, Camille learned to play a song called Mouse, Mousie.
April, 2010 – We put a lot of those 200,000 miles on our Odyssey in 2010. We took a trip to my parents’ house in PA for Easter where we always have an Easter Egg hunt in their yard. We had no way of knowing that day was the last time we would see my uncle alive.
May, 2010 – Shortly after our Easter trip, my uncle found out his cancer had returned and a month later we went back to PA for his funeral. This picture was taken on the second trip.
August, 2010 – We drove out west for our biggest road trip to date. Here are the kids at the beginning of the trip.
One memorable hardship occurred on this trip and it was my own fault. On the second night of the trip we were driving and I didn’t make a motel reservation because I wanted to see how far we could make it. When we started getting tired, I started looking for a motel. Looking up phone numbers in my AAA Tour Book and our GPS, I called every motel within 200 miles and there was not a single vacancy. Eventually we pulled over at a truck stop and slept in our Odyssey. The Honda Odyssey is a terrific minivan, but a terrible motel room. The next morning we went to see some Prairie Dogs in South Dakota. A few days later we visited Custer State Park where we got up close and personal with the wild burros.
We then moved on to Grand Teton National Park, then to Yellowstone National Park, where the kids had a blast scampering all over the rocks.
We also had some memorable wildlife encounters in Yellowstone. The bison got a little too close for comfort to our minivan.
OK, so this is cheating a little since the Odyssey isn’t visible in the picture, but we spotted a bear while driving along the road and took this picture from the minivan. The picture is rather blurry, but this definitely ranks up there in terms of memorable moments in our minivan.
February, 2011 – Our first trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We went to a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile and these pictures show all the loot the kids collected.
July, 2011 – Remember my dad’s raft that my kids splashed in? Last summer for my dad’s 80th birthday, his birthday wish was to go rafting with his three sons-in-law and grandchildren (except the toddlers). So they tied the raft on the top of our Odyssey and took it out on the Ohio River where they paddled downstream for a couple hours.
February, 2012 – Odometer hits 200,000 miles on the way home from a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.
200,000 miles, 37 states, and a whole lot of memories in one minivan. And we’re not done yet. With orthodontist bills, tuition, and college looming in the not-too-distant future, we’re hoping to get a few more years out of our Odyssey. We recently got all the maintenance done that is recommended at 190,000 miles. Who knows, Connor might (gulp!) learn to drive in this minivan.
While the engine is running just fine, the interior of the minivan is another story. Between melted crayons, occasional fast food meals, and kids who think that the floor is a trash can, the interior has really taken a beating. We replaced the VCR with a DVD player a few years back, but since then the flip-down TV screen has broken off. The one thing that I have never done is to have the interior of the car detailed. I’ve thought about it, but figured it would just get dirty again within a matter of days.
Unlike some of my friends, I am not longing for the day I can get rid of my minivan. I am still relishing the minivan lifestyle; carpools and road trips suit me just fine. I wonder if my Odyssey will still be around at 300,000 miles. If so, I’ll write another tribute. If not, I already know what I’m going to replace it with: another Honda Odyssey, of course.
Disclosure: In case you were wondering, Honda DID NOT sponsor this post, nor did anyone at Honda know I was going to write it. This was my honest opinion–I really do love my Odyssey.