If vehicles could talk, the Knight family’s Vanagon would speak, in its understated, German voice, about perseverance, reliability and adventure.
Purchased in 1991, the last year Volkswagon made that particular model, the Vanagon has crisscrossed the country for the last 23 years, bringing the Oregon-based family through 34 states and Canada.
This weekend, the familiar blue van notched its 428,722nd mile as it rolled into our driveway.
That’s neither a typo, nor a final number. She rolled back down the driveway last night, following a nice Wisconsin weekend visit, and began to make her way back west, showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Thanks to some impressive German engineering and the sheer will and tender care of my brother in-law John, the Knight family van has made its way cross-country more times than I can count, negotiating switchbacks on mountain passes, scaling cliffs in the Grand Canyon and plowing through all manner of American weather.
Part all-terrain vehicle and part camper, the van features a pop-up top that includes one fold out bed, and a rear bench seat that converts to another bed.
She has helped raise three children through road trips that predated smartphones, iPods and DVD players. Robert, Phil and Mari are now 26, 24 and 20-years old, and all three grew up in the safe cocoon of the Vanagon, transported during summer and weekend trips through camps grounds, national parks, quaint towns and large cities.
We saluted the Vanagon this weekend, and we also celebrated the 29th wedding anniversary of its owners, my sister in-law Carol and brother in-law John.
Clearly, in the Knight family things are built to last.