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Mountain Family: Luxury isn’t leather seats, but in-car video

Scott Miller Mug
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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” My idea of automotive luxury has changed a lot over the years.

When I bought my one-and-only brand-new car, a 1984 Honda Civic, luxury was a crankin’ stereo and 50 mpg on some road trips. Who needed air conditioning or the ability to climb Vail Pass faster than 50 mph?

Later on, luxury came to be defined by air condtioning, automatic transmissions and horsepower.

Now, though, luxury for my little family is defined by captain’s chairs and a portable DVD player for the kid.

In-car video is the obvious one here. On what turned into nearly six hours of travel from the Front Range to our Gypsum home the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the Apple of My Eye asked how much longer we’d be in the car maybe twice.

Even after watching “Enchanted” for at least the fifth time ” including in French and Spanish ” she was happily, mindlessly glued to the seven-inch video screen on her lap. When we got home, she had to be barked out of the car.

“This song’s almost over!” she yelped after being told to put that damned thing down and start moving a long weekend’s worth of laundry and other stuff from the car to the house.

I worry ” a little ” about the hypnotic effect the DVD player has on my daughter. She needs to be nudged ” OK, occasionally smacked ” on the knee if we want to actually talk to her or, God forbid, we want to point out roadside wildlife or some awesome vista. And don’t expect her to have the faintest idea where we are.

But that’s balanced nicely by a child who doesn’t much care where we are, or that we’re crawling from Bakerville to the Eisenhower Tunnel at roughly half the speed of a June bug in December. She’ll look up to tell us she’s hungry, or needs a bathroom, and that’s about it.

Don’t get me wrong ” we’re happy to talk to our child, but a kid limited to watching just the road is a kid who wants to know ” frequently ” when that road’s going to end.

But if you want real harmony in a car, the DVD player should be augmented by captain’s chairs. Our minivan has two separate seats in the middle row, and you’d be surprised how handy that is, even for a family traveling with just one kid and a dog.

In our old Chevy Tahoe, the child and the dog had to share the back seat. And if you think separating kids is a chore with that set-up, try a road trip with one child and the dog that adores her.

I guarantee you’ll almost never hear “Get your butt out of my face!” if you’re just traveling with two-legged critters.

With captain’s chairs, the dog’s butt stays out of the child’s face almost all the time, because the dog is snuggled happily on the floor between the seats.

It makes driving on a packed, slippery, slow-moving highway almost peaceful. And that, friends, is true luxury.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller loves his family, his dog and his van, but wishes the van had another 50 horsepower.


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