So, we sold our van and got a bigger van. It's all part of the environmentalist in me. It may seem backwards (and maybe it is), but the bigger van is going to be the solution to a lot of things for us.
First lets talk about the old van. The old van was a mini-van that got OK gas mileage. We got a great deal on it and it was a great car for us. But when we wanted to go camping or take a hypothetical friend for a ride, we didn't have room. What it really boiled down to was that the mini-van did everything we needed to around town (where we really wanted to be riding a bike), but it wasn't big enough to do the stuff that we really wanted to use a car for, like go on weekend vacations.
So we bought a new van. It's big. We've decided to call it Moby... you know, like the big white whale. It's a 15 passenger (except it's missing a back seat, so it only holds 11) with a V10 that gets terrible gas mileage. We took it camping the first weekend that we had it and it was great. When we got to the camp site, I asked my wife why we hadn't been camping for so long and she said, "because we wouldn't fit in the car". Problem solved.
The new van is fantastic for longer trips, but around town the gas mileage gets even worse. This provides a great disincentive for driving around town. It's just that with four kids, it is hard to find a safe alternative.
Then we found a bike for sale that will safely haul our 4 kids. We bought one. We call it Midget Moby (or Midge for short). She rides like a dream... except when the kids get coordinated and lean violently from side to side; that makes it hard to steer straight. Except the boys say that Midge needs a bigger engine so it will go faster. We're still working on that. Here's a look at our new bike
Now I just need to find a plaid hat.