September 17, 2017
Me and Winnie (Minnie Winnie)

School has started and fall is here. I recall this time of year (when I had young children) as wonderful and very, very, busy. Time to gear up after an easy summer. Don’t get me wrong summers were crazy busy, but somehow with the sun and long days, it seemed relaxed.

When I met Jim, I learned about hunting. Not that I became a hunter, but I came to appreciate what a great bonding experience it was for boys and men. It was 1970 after all. Jim was gone every weekend and sometimes 3-day midweek, from Oct 1st to Dec 1st. He traveled to very exotic places (North Dakota, Iowa and Northern Minnesota) to shoot ducks and pheasants. I did learn to cook these “delicacies”, but not well enough that he asked a lot.

Jim had a VERY OLD Pace Arrow motor home, that the hunters lived in while hunting during the season. I loved to cook, so when we started dating I offered to send food along for the weekend trips—the guys were thrilled. I made, packed, wrote heating instructions for 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, cookies, and treats for every trip. What started out as a way to win Jim’s heart (thru his stomach) turned into a volunteer catering business. I think of those days fondly, I actually miss them, but what began as a single girl’s ploy turned into a married mother’s challenge.

About the time that we married, the Pace Arrow was looking sad and very untrustworthy. It was then that I made a major mistake in saying I was concerned about the hunters’ safety driving so far in such an old vehicle. Well, we couldn't afford to replace the Pace and have insurance on three vehicles (my cute paid off car, Jim’s car, and the hunting vehicle). So I very naively offered to research if there was something I could drive, that could also be used for hunting.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth, then we visited every motorhome dealer in Minnesota. Two weeks later I was the “proud” owner/driver of a Minnie Winnebago Motorhome. In a flash, my cute little Dodge Challenger was gone, along with the old Pace Arrow and I was driving a mini motorhome everywhere, every day. My dad actually called when he heard about my new wheels to make sure Jim was being nice to me and not brainwashing me. 

Minnie and I were inseparable, and after Molly was born (colic and all) we were in it together.

 Good Things about Minnie:

  • Never without a bathroom
  • Could always take a nap if needed
  • Could have 10 friends with me
  • Could drive forever – 50-gallon gas tank

Not so Good Things about Minnie:

  • Parking at Grocery or Mall – all the way back in the parking lot to avoid other vehicles
  • Windy days it was hard to stay in my own lane, I did get better at that after a while
  • Pumping and Paying for 50 gallons of gas

When we built our first home in Eden Prairie, of course, our heated garage was built to accommodated Minnie. Jim didn’t want me to be out in the cold (with the kids) starting the vehicle.

Friends and people from Jim's work started borrowing Minnie and then I got the chance to drive many different vehicles: trucks, vans, and cars, some better than others while they used Minnie. When I was expecting Kate (#3), we bought a New Minnie and sold it to Jim's construction company; the employees loved using it with their families. My replacement was a Pinto Wagon, think a bit bigger than a mini Cooper (but nowhere near as cute or comfortable), with NO air conditioning. The car salesman said with such a small car air conditioning was not necessary – HE WAS WRONG.

In the ensuing years, I drove station wagons and several 12 passenger vans. I finally graduated to a 4 seater convertible. I suppose, if I needed to, I could put these skills to driving a long haul semi trailer.

Or not.

From time to time we would borrow Minnie from the company, the kids LOVED IT and it saved a lot of stops. Now it would be a great vehicle to drive my 10 grandkids on our annual summer cottage trip.

 

Bullet Points:

  • Do not offer a service or ability you are not sure of doing long term.
  • Enjoy making someone so very happy and proud. Jim LOVED the hunting trips and was proud that I could drive Minnie—no one else’s wife did! (I wonder why?!?)
  • All in, expenses of the hunting trips, each duck could have retailed at around $650 or a really nice pair of shoes. I would take the shoes!!
Colleen Ryan

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