I think it's a Chevy Traveler van. It may not be a Chevy, but knowing my dad, it is. My dad was a Chevrolet dealer in Burley for many years when I was young. He later bought his own used car dealership, but his heart always remained with Chevy.
In 1982, my mom's family, the McEuens, had their first ever family reunion. Well, the first reunion that I remember. It was to be in Redding, California.
My dad had use of any car on the Don Ovitt Chevrolet lot, so he brought home a new traveler van for our road trip to Redding. How many people do you think can safely travel in a traveler van? Here's a picture of the inside of one of these vans:
Four bucket seats and a bench in the back. So does seven sound about right? Well, my parents had seven kids at the time, so that answer would be correct. Except, we still needed to fit Mom and Dad in the front seats. Oh, and Grandma and Grandpa Christenson needed to come.
So what does that total? Eleven. We crammed eleven people into that traveler van. I was six at the time, so that meant that I almost never got to actually sit in a seat of my own. I sat on my mom's lap, or Amy's lap (my big sister), but mostly I sat on the floor. I think it was Mary, the baby at that time, who got to sit on Grandma's lap for nearly the entire trip. Mary! Mary! Mary!
But it was a glorious trip and ranks in my memory as one of the best trips ever. If you know my parents, you know they like to take the long way to anywhere. Did we take the direct route to Redding from Idaho? Oh no.
We first traveled south through Utah. Stopped at Bryce Canyon. Then we meandered to southern California to visit Disneyland and Grandma and Grandpa McEuen, but not without stopping for Indian jewelry along the way.
I remember it being very hot through the Arizona desert. The car had air conditioning, but with that many bodies in the car, it still got hot, especially in the back. We would dip our paper towels in this big pitcher of water my mom brought, then wring the paper towels over our heads.
And my mom taught us a song that we sang during the whole journey: "California here I come, right back where I started from." That's all I can remember.
And I'm sure we stopped for treats at gas stations along the way. And I'm sure my dad grumbled about it being so expensive, but still allowed each of us one treat. You can bet that my oldest brother Doug always chose jerky as his treat.
After visiting Gma and Gpa McEuen, we took Highway 1 as far north as we could. Highway 1 is very winding but beautiful. It follows the California Coast. I remember stopping in Carmel for one night.
Mary threw up during one of the winding parts of the journey. We stopped to take pictures every 50 miles or so (maybe a slight exaggeration, but maybe an under exaggeration as well. I don't remember all the details).
And we finally made it to Redding for a memorable reunion complete with a tandem bike, a trampoline, a pinata, and all the makings for a great family reunion.
And it's always been my dad's dream to actually own a traveler van. And now that he has it, he continues his travels on the road east. He and Mom took my sister Kathy's family on an unforgettable journey east through Nauvoo and Indiana, through Pennsylvania where he served his mission, and up to Palmyra, New York. And then they're traveling through West Virginia to visit Kathy's mission, and somehow they'll make it back home.
I hope the van doesn't break down. Or luggage doesn't fly off the top.