Minivans gained street cred when Chili Palmer, the hit man played by John Travolta in Get Shorty, prowled the streets of LA in a rented Oldsmobile Silhouette (“the Cadillac of minivans”). Our Toyota Tarago is a mean machine well suited for urban warfare with sliding rear doors on either side. With these escape hatches fully operational, occupants can exit in a flash and hit the ground ready for hardcore sightseeing or potty breaks. This exceptional functionality is not without its drawbacks, however, as we learned on our tour of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. After a taxing morning spent hiking the trail to the Three Sisters, inhaling the eucalyptus aroma, and learning about Aboriginal legend, we were ready to make the 1/2 mile trip to the Katoomba town center to find lunch.
The Three Brothers Viewing The Three Sisters (they’re the rocks) The big boys are taller than I am
We chose Domino’s, Dax’s pizza of choice, since our pizza selections in New Zealand revolved around hittin’ the Hut. As is always to be expected, 30 seconds after leaving a bathroom we begged them to use, Kieran and Asher needed to go. The public toilets were two doors down from Domino’s. Perfect, except for when it came time to perform the quick exit from the Tarrago, Kieran couldn’t find one of his shoes. He is down to one pair after leaving his high-tech Teva water shoes at an RV park in New Zealand, so this missing piece of foam (a Crocs knockoff) was critical to our future efforts. We scoured the vehicle, overturning seats, digging through bags, and probing every possible crevice. Nothing. He swore he had it on when we left the Mountain Visitor’s Center, but he’s 6, so after our fruitless search, we were inclined to question his accuracy. Two minutes later we found the shoe sitting in our former parking space. Whew, we thought. If he hadn’t had to go to the bathroom, we might have gotten hours away before we noticed.
Cut to an hour and a half later when we stop alongside the highway to snap a picture of Mac with a road sign bearing his name.
“Hurry, Mac. Hop out. Dad’s waiting for you.”
“Um, I can’t find my shoe, Mom.”
Another scouring of the vehicle, another futile search. Could it be possible that the People Mover had ejected not one but two shoes out of its nifty sliding doors today? Like Kieran, McKane has only one pair of shoes (an expensive one), so after the photo opp we felt we had no choice but to turn around and make the 45-minute pilgrimage back to Katoomba. There on the ground of the supermarket parking lot sat a lone Salomon water shoe in the exact spot where the ill-intentioned Tarrago had belched it.
Notice his left shoe is nowhere to be seen
Today we’re driving up the spectacular New South Wales coast toward Brisbane and we all have two shoes on. This is only because every time we close the sliding doors we now perform a shoe check. Maybe next time we’ll go with a sedan and strap one of the kids on the roof instead.
(I’m posting this almost four days after writing it. Since that time one of Asher’s pink foam shoes has also mysteriously disappeared from the van. We’re beginning to think there’s a gremlin living inside it.)