I've put almost 2000 km on the minivan in the past 5 days. How crazy is that? I do a heck of a lot to try to reduce our carbon footprint, but I am going backwards in a big way when it comes to vehicle emissions. I put on well over a thousand kilometres just getting to Calgary and back. Then three trips to Nelson (a rescheduled piano lesson & duet rehearsal, piano recital, then the next regular piano lesson) at over 200 kms each round trip. And an Aikido trip (50 km). And the little bits of to-and-from driving in and about Calgary and Nelson. I win a few minor brownie points for being the carpool mom on two of the Nelson trips and saving another family the drive. But still. It's a ridiculous amount of driving.
We drive a Toyota Sienna. It's a great vehicle 7 months of the year -- quiet, spacious, comfortable and extremely fuel-efficient for a minivan. Back when we bought it and were still using three carseats, the space was a necessity. These days it feels big. And it's not so great in winter. Our long snowy steep driveway really requires an AWD vehicle -- but I couldn't stomach the drop in fuel efficiency that an AWD Sienna would have given us. The van has pretty minimal ground clearance too, so even when the tires grip, they can't always drag us up over the deep snow. For most of the past month we've been "parking at the top." That means we park the vehicle in a little cleared area we plow out beside the driveway entrance and walk to and from the house from there. Not bad during daylight, when relatively unencumbered, but no picnic in the deepest dark of a winter evening, with five instruments, a bundle of music and a couple of music stands in tow. And I continually underestimate the time it takes for everyone to hike up to the highway carrying all the stuff. I tend to add five minutes ... but it's closer to ten with all the loading up of the kid-mules, the huffing and puffing and the trudging of little legs up the steep hill through slush and snow.
I'm dreaming of a hybrid vehicle like this one, the first on the market that would actually hold our entire family. It has significantly better fuel economy than the Sienna, plus higher ground clearance and AWD. I'll probably lay my dreams to rest in a few weeks when the snow starts to recede and the driveway becomes reliably navigable again. But for now I dream.
While we were in Calgary, the main entertainment was a trip to an automated carwash. The kids were thrilled. This is a once-every-several-years event, and the younger ones had little to no memory of the last time. They hooted and shrieked and put their hands on the windows to feel the vibrations from the high-pressure jets. Cheaper than a movie, I guess.