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Sciart-L Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 16:55:14 -0500
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Dear All,

I was grumpy about the non-technical chat until I finally went through all
the messages entitled "Re: Serbin" that I had saved until I had time to read
them, and discovered they were all about vans. I loved the story about
Hawai'i. Well, I guess I missed the era of VW's, but I've got a 1985 Toyota
Van-Wagon, mid-engine, with the rear seats removed and a crumpled side door
(courtesy of someone who briefly drove the van in its days as a delivery
vehicle and accidentally wrapped it around a column in an parking garage,
which is easy to do if you've never driven a car with no front end beyond
your toes and whose front wheels are right under the driver's seat). It was a
college graduation gift, and I immediately took it on that great
Cross-Country Adventure in 1993. The country is still great to explore these
days. I kept a futon folded in the back and camped in truck stops, up
dead-end ravines in Wyoming, and in many great Forest Service campgrounds,
which BTW are listed in Triple-A's camping guides for each state. I still go
off on weekend forays, and a friend has dubbed the van "The Party Van"
(although birdwatching hardly qualifies). I call my trusty steed Eileen,
after the 1980's popular song "Come on Eileen," so that when her battery dies
or she spins out on icy roads I can sing the refrain to help her along.

One of the best things Eileen did for me on my cross-country trip was to help
me earn money to get home to Virginia: I was stopped at a red light in Green
River, Wyoming, when the guy in the enormous shiny new GM truck behind me was
fiddling with his radio and thought he saw the light turn green out of the
corner of his eye. Without looking he let off the brake and slowly plowed his
bumper into my back door. We pulled over and I determined that the door still
worked (at least from the inside, which is all it ever did reliably). The
fellow was distraught and offered to fix the big dent at the local auto body
shop he happened to own. Well, I was due in Salt Lake City the next morning,
and couldn't take time to stay around. Besides, why bother? Now the back
matched the side! So the fellow studied a moment, and took a hundred dollar
bill out of his wallet. He handed it to me and said, "Are we even?" I
couldn't have been happier. That was just what I needed to round out gas for
the trip home, and to this day the door still works fine, it just rattles a
little bit, but you can't hear it over the engine anyway. I wonder if anyone
else has a Toyota van? Do you suppose there's a club for Toyota vanners? And,
is there anyone else who would rather ride a bike than drive anyway?

Yours in science illustration and automotive technology,


Kate Spencer
Scientific Illustrator
122 South Highland Street
Arlington, Virginia 22204
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