Archive for Monday, June 25, 2012


River City Jules: Van excavation

June 25, 2012


Apparently I had not cleaned out my car since September.

I remember thinking I would pull out the vacuum over Thanksgiving. And again having the same thought after Christmas.

Then we had that one snow, and I decided to wait until winter was over. Then March Madness rolled around, and I figured all of that dirt, grime and mystery grit must be good luck for the Jayhawks, so I left it there.

(You’re welcome.)

Easter turned into Mother’s Day, and then school was out, and before I knew it, I was signed up for a turn driving a van load of 13-year-old girls to a volleyball camp in Kansas City. And, while our family could certainly travel comfortably in the filth we (they) created, I couldn’t have a gaggle of girls riding in it.

Fearing the potential shame of having to answer such questions as “Why is the cup holder so gooey?” and “Mrs. Dunlap, what do you want me to do with this Ziploc bag full of molded grapes?” I finally pulled out the vacuum and went to work.

First task was to remove the Goodwill donations that had filed for permanent residence in the trunk. And a sleeping bag. And some lawn chairs. And a few Legos, an empty diary and a potholder.

I made my way to the front of the car, pulling out the floor mats and old homework, “Jurassic Park 2” (received six thumbs down) and one rubber band.

Relieved, I pulled my now very sweaty hair up into a ponytail with the newfound rubber band and plugged in the vacuum.

The trunk was a piece of cake. No slime, no hidden trash, nothing stuck to the carpet. I folded down the back seats, though, and found myself on less of a cleaning spree and more of an archeological dig, reminiscing about the past nine months as I excavated my way to the front seat.

The handle to someone’s trick-or-treat bag. The Laffy Taffy wrappers. The discarded Whoppers and Tootsie Rolls. And an orange Skittle — no, wait — a Reese’s Pieces that, in my delirium, I may or may not have eaten, along with three Smarties.

A thank-you note my daughter wrote in November.

Red and green ribbons, probably smuggled out of a family Christmas get-together for later use, now held hostage under a pile of dried-out markers.

An entire bag of metallic, heart-shaped confetti, scattered festively under the middle seats.

A dollar, which I pocketed.

A Jolly Rancher, which I did not eat.

A photo from Amelia’s sixth-grade graduation (2011), which I have every good intention of sticking in a photo album (someday).

This wasn’t a car; it was a time capsule. And in just 90 minutes, I had sucked out every last memento … including three fruit-flavored Mentos.

Now the mobile treasure chest is ready for a road trip to Chicago to visit my brother, just me and my kids. And I can’t wait to see what we bring home.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


Jean1183 5 years, 8 months ago

Too funny and too true to life! Thanks for another entertaining story.

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