Ruby “Rubes” Yen, 179.9″ long and weighing 4050 lbs into our world. Born in 1989 but welcomed into our family on October 30, 2016 at 2:05pm. Mother is doing well and both Keaton and Mathew are excited for our newest addition to the family.
Let’s rewind to this past summer where this all begins. In early July, our sister Evelin and her family, Earl, Karis, Elijah, and Ana along with our parents, Eugene and Rebecca rented a house in the Olympic Peninsula for a reunion of the Yen Family.
Fortunately, during our stay, Rebecca’s “Engine Oil” warning indicator turned on. With no auto shop options nearby, we went on Yelp to find a high-rated shop 30 miles away. While waiting to do an oil change, we noticed a plethora of Volkswagen vans in the parking lot. Turns out, the shop specializes in fixing and refurbishing VW vans and we engaged in a interesting discussion with the owner on the different models and pros/cons of each. (The GoWesty article clearly explains the different model years.)
VW Vanagons are the most efficient and compact-designed automobile ever built, period. Compared to a 2016 Honda Odyssey (202.9″) for example, Vanagons are almost 2 feet shorter in length. Yet they have room for a refrigerator, stove, and sink along with two tables. This efficient design also sleeps 4; the rear bench folds down to sleep 2 and the top pops open to sleep and additional 2. But wait, there’s more… clever storage solutions and built-in cabinets throughout allows for good organization for all your stuff.
Okay that’s all great but that still doesn’t explain why you bought one? The Japanese sleep capsules are efficient and compact, yet we’ve got no desire to buy one (or six as shown below)…
Well here’s the top 10 reasons that went through our noggins.
#10 – Nostalgia: There something about these old Vanagons that muster up old memories when folks see them. They are the last of a now dead breed — rear engine, rear wheel drive, cruising upright in the front seats right under the windshield, listening to old man music, and well just remembering when life was simpler…
#9 – Sleep-Overs: Instead of pitching a tent in the front yard for our traditional summer sleep over, the boys can now sleep comfortably in Ruby. No tents to set-up or break-down or wet tarps to deal with. Wake up and let’s drive to breakfast. Or better yet, coffee and toast, right in Ruby. Sometimes the best camping is right outside your house… literally.
#8 – Yin and Yang 陰陽: In Chinese, yin and yang describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. We’ve been an all-electric car family for the past several years, and we love the modern, clean, silent, and innovative technology that these cars represent. However, sometimes you want to balance the yin with the yang. The old, loud and no-technology VW Vanagon represents everything that a Tesla isn’t. Cold outside? Here’s how to adjust the heat in a Vanagon versus on the Tesla 17″ touchscreen
#7 – Slow Down: In today’s over-scheduled, chaotic, and frenzied pace of life, the Vanagon reminds us to slow down and enjoy the journey. When we get into Ruby, we’re right-most-lane drivers, detouring at every attraction along the way, and doubling to tripling our trip times. It’s a mindset that we’re not going to be time-driven or on any structured schedule and brings a slow-down perspective to our lives (when we have the time).
#6 – Mods and Hacks: You can only imagine the cool toys, accessories, modifications and hacks one can do on the Vanagon. I mean, how cool is this “Vana-Twin” below. For good examples, take a look at this website for Vanagon hacks. Some amazingly innovative and creative solutions that people come up with to really personalize their Vanagons.
#5 – Camping: Ruby makes camping so much easier and camping is an activity that we’d like to do more of together, as a family. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is so beautiful and what better way than to explore and enjoy this special area than in Ruby. We’re imagining lots of future blog posts as we take her out on overnight camping trips.
#4 – Living in Ruby: Bennet only, is somewhat fascinated at the prospects of trying to downsize and live out of the van for extended periods of time. He’s been watching YouTube videos of the Van Life minimalists and we think he might be having a mid-life crisis. But in some distant future, once the kids are away at college, we might just go on a really, really, really long road-trip…
#3 – Unplugging: Almost every day there’s a study published on the average number of hours Americans spend on electronics. Now we don’t want to lecture the perils and long term impact of screen addiction (especially as we write this blog) but we do know that our conversations do cease to exist as we’re all interacting with our devices. Ruby provides us with the opportunity to visit “un-plugged” areas where we spend time together as a family and are forced to have some good ole fashioned fun.
#2 – The Big One: The New Yorker magazine published an article that scared the bejesus of us Seattleites. Titled, “The Really Big One: An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.” Lovely. Since the printing of the article, we’ve seen folks assemble earthquake readiness kits and stress about installing home generators. While you can never be too prepared, Ruby does bring a level of comfort with her stocked kitchen, large water tank, propane stove and refrigerator.
#1 – Economics 101: One of the basic principles of economics is scarcity. There is only a limited amount of time, money, and other resources. Resources spent on one activity cannot be spent doing something else. The corollary is Ruby. When we look at our time spent on weekends, a large proportion is spent at Keaton and Mathew’s athletic events. A baseball tournament may be scheduled all day Saturday and Sunday with games at 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 6pm for example. We end up spending the entire day at the event, a lot of the time hanging out between games or in search of food. How great would it be to retreat to the van, take a nap, make some food, do some homework, or read a book instead of waiting for the next game to begin. And of course, think about all the wasted time spent waiting for baseball, soccer, cross country practices to end. Now think about using all that time doing something productive. That’s what Ruby allows and that’s why she’s the corollary of the scarcity law.
There they are, the top 10 reasons for getting Ruby.