Friday, July 26, 2019

The Green Lantern Van Gave Its All For Adventure

The 1998 Chevy Astro van, which we dubbed "Green Lantern," finally gave its all at the end of May,
Memorial Weekend in fact, on my return trip from the Black Hills of South Dakota. Chevy built these vehicles tough. It's not the first Chevy we have owned, and may not be the last.

Its motor mind blew between two exits at North Platte, Nebraska. Big Red Towing came and moved us from I-80 to the next exit where we spent the night at the Flying J truck stop, ate a great dinner and breakfast at the Denny's, and waited for rescue. Two of my brothers drove out from Missouri with a car trailer and carried us both home. The Green Lantern expired with 319,724 miles on its odometer. It fought a good fight. It gave its all.

We purchased the van used in 2011 from private owners, and for the last eight years it has faithfully taken us through snow storms, thunderstorms, and hot weather. It has hauled appliances, cabinetry, remodeling materials, toys, kids, grownups, furniture, bicycles, and camping gear. With nearly 300,000 miles on it, it made a trip to the Creation Museum and Ark Experience in Kentucky in 2017, crossing Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, the corner of Ohio and the western edge of Kentucky, and back again. In 2016, it took my mother, a friend, and myself to Branson for one of the shows at the theater there. Two days after we bought it in 2011, in 100-degree-plus heat, it carried myself and six passengers across Nebraska to attend a funeral. The Green Lantern has made numerous trips to St. Joseph and back, one to Des Moines, Iowa, and many jaunts around our local area while I've been researching books, attending events, and tracking down story sources. It took me to the Black Hills in May of this year, 2019, for a job opportunity, and allowed me to enjoy a journey through Custer State Park, and to tiptoe along the route to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. It made it across the state of South Dakota on the first leg, and most of the way across Nebraska on the return.

The Green Lantern van has been a great blessing in our lives and I will certainly miss it. My five-year-old great niece asked me to send a picture of the Green Lantern to her mother's iPhone so that she can look at it. "I'll miss our van," she told me and she wanted to remember it. We've had it for the entirety of her life, and half of her older brother's. I will miss its reliability and its versatility.

It was towed away today, but it will give to the very last. It was donated to the Wheels for Wishes program, which helps fund adventures for terminally-ill children. It's the second vehicle we have donated to that organization since early May of this year. Whether they are able to fix those vehicles, part them out, or recycle them, the vehicles won't just end up in a back lot rusting away in the elements.

The Green Lantern van had a classy escort during its last ride. On the flatbed, in front of it, was a bright yellow Harley Davidson motorcycle, someone's pride and joy. Despite being "a wreck" it was still a beautiful bike. I hope it may find a master mechanic who can restore it. If not, its parts may help another Harley continue down the road to adventure for years to come.

Now, it's time to begin the search for a replacement. I'm not sure what model, make, or color that vehicle will be. I can only hope that it will serve us as faithfully as the Green Lantern van did.

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