The ultimate road trip accessory

Let's start with a disclaimer - I like sports cars. Curve hugging, throw you back in the seat acceleration sports cars. My boys know how to identify the Porsche Carrera Convertibles we see, whenever we see them. Suffice to say, driving a minivan was never on my life short list. But with three kids, an au pair and out of town parents who visit frequently, it became an imperative that I recognized as a practical parent. We bought our minivan on March 31. Eight seater with integrated DVD and four wireless headsets. We realized a month later than our kindergartener had off the three days prior to Memorial Day through Memorial Day for observation of Shavout. Six days without school or grandparents = ROADTRIP. Apparently, Shavout is Hebrew for - I'm going to Disneyland.

We decided to pile into the minivan that inexplicably makes me think of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang (bought the movie to explain that to the kids). Livia (our au pair) and Jammer in the back, Taylor and Ariel in the middle and Neal and I in the front. We rationed out movies to make sure we spent some time talking and observing nature. We made a number of wrong turns and stopped for a leisurely dinner. All told, the 5 hour trip took 8 - and we didn't notice. It was so good that we decided to take US 1 north rather than US 5 - more scenic, but adds 3-5 hours to the trip. After two fun days at Disneyland, one hanging out and one at the Santa Monica pier, we piled back into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and headed out to Malibu and up the coast. We found Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. We stopped at Hearst Castle to learn that we needed a reservation for a tour. We found out that you can tour the Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force base (which is huge) every other Wednesday. But it was Sunday. So we stayed in the car. No accidents (auto or biological), no whining, some movies and some looking at the ocean and forests. All told, 12 hours trapped in a vehicle with our kids and we still like them and each other. So much so that our appetite for roadtrips has only increased - we found the ulimate road trip accessory - the eight seater Toyota Sienna. Now, if only the cooler was integrated instead of next to Livia!