A 70s Van is No Place for A Bunny
I’ve recently started writing my memoir again—or at least doing some serious pondering about stories to include in Thirty Years to Alaska. The memoir centers around my mom’s thirty-year quest to reach Alaska, and how her pursuit of that dream affected my life and the lives of her family. Spring seems like an ideal time to tell the story of the 70s van and the bunny.
In February of 1978, my parents left Ft. Lauderdale and moved the family out west. When we drove our cars up to my dad’s recently-opened automotive repair shop at the edge of Carson City, my fourteen-year-old self truly thought her life had ended. The tropical palms and sandy beaches of South Florida had been abruptly replaced with the sagebrush and desert soil of western Nevada. I was as devasted as any uprooted teenager could be and wasn’t shy about letting everyone know it.
That night, we checked into the Camp N Town motel on Carson Street because it had a place in the back to park our RV. The only good thing about the motel was the game room with a pool table and a jukebox. A few weeks later, my parents and little brother flew to Florida to pack up the house and close escrow since we’d left in a bit of a hurry. When mom decided it was time to go, it was time to go. And that’s how I ended up on a three-week road trip through Utah in a 70s conversion van with my eighteen-year-old brother.
My brother is one of those people who knows everyone. He’d spent some time living in Utah and managed to convince our parents that we’d have no problem finding enough couches to sleep on for the next few weeks. And for the most part, we did exactly that. The rest of the time, we pulled over and slept in the van. Other times, we just didn’t sleep much at all.
I’m not sure how my fascination with bunnies began on that trip. Maybe we stayed with someone who had a bunny or maybe thoughts of springtime or Easter were on my mind. All I remember is developing an obsession to get a bunny that rivaled Veruca Salt’s demands in Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. (It’s hard to forget her song: “I Want it Now!”) And then one day as if it were meant to be, we came upon a family selling bunnies on the side of the road. We were basically broke and temporarily living out of a van; but of course, we stopped.
The surprising part of the story is we didn’t end up buying a bunny. Surprising because neither one of us had a practical bone in our bodies. It was always jump first and ask questions later. I remember driving away from the bunny people and thinking, “We did the right thing,” even though I wanted that furry little creature in the worst way. I learned a valuable lesson on the side of the road that day, even though I’ve ignored it more times than I can count. Sometimes the things we think we want are not what’s best for us. May we always have the wisdom to see clearly. Happy Spring!
P.S. Thanks to Michelle Wilson for the bunny photo! http://www.michellewilsonwrites.com/