First, we went to the older park on Algonquin. There were two kids there just about Katie and Julie's age and not a lot of other activity. Naturally, as I unstrapped the girls, the mother of the other kids decided to beat a retreat across to a picnic table across the field, probably because her younger child was having a meltdown of some kind. But Katie and Julie had fun running around the park for about an hour, interacting only sporadically with the only other kid who was around their age.
I decided to pack them up and head over to the new park, which was where Katie had wanted to go in the first place. There, we hit the kid jackpot. Katie and Julie had a fine time running around with an assortment of kids there. Actually, Katie spent more time with the other kids, while Julie was content to remove her socks and shoes and run around chasing her new bouncy ball from the vending machine at lunch.
After about another hour of this, Julie was falling asleep in her soup, so I packed them back in the car and went to pick up Gretchen to go shopping for a minivan.
Now what you have to understand is that we are not intending to buy a minivan. However, experience dictates that it's a good idea to know what you intend to buy if you need to buy a replacement vehicle right now. And I'd seen that the Honda Odyssey had just been redesigned for this year...
So we went to the Honda dealer in Des Plaines. They were very busy, ignored me, and didn't seem to have any 2011 vans on the lot anyway. It's early, I suppose.
I said to Gretchen, "It's a nice day. Want to try the dealer in Schaumburg?"
And off we went to Schaumburg, pausing only to buy Katie and Julie the popsicles that I'd promised them at Dairy Queen. When we got there, we were immediately greeted by a salesman (and what looked like a woman who he was training) who took us to the only 2011 Odyssey that they had on the lot. Now this was a loaded model that had far more gimcracks on it than we'd ever want, but that was ok. We'd warned them that we weren't looking to buy today, but that we wanted to see what the new van was like.
And they let us and the girls crawl all over the car. This made a pretty good impression. :) Of course, it didn't help when the girls and I found ourselves locked in the van with none of the controls for the door locks responding from the inside. Oops. The salesman got a key and let us out.
Unfortunately, the van isn't quite what we're looking for. The cargo compartment is just a bit smaller than our current van or the Toyota Sienna, which is a problem for fitting everything in to go to a con that we're dealing at. And the fold-flat seats fold flat in a way that would allow small objects to fall into the well under the seat, necessitating unpacking the entire rear section of the van in order to get at them.
Or as Gretchen said, "That would be a bad place to drop your keys."
So it looks like the leading contender for Next Minivan remains the 2011 Toyota Sienna.
Which is a shame. I liked the dealership.