OK, Show-off time.
Long time readers of this blog will recall I had a 95 Astro for a few years… and around 150,000 miles. Nothing wrong with it really, but I did want to upgrade some. So, I got this one, recently, and thought some of my friends from the Astro mail groups would get a kick out of seeing this, since I so often file my long-form stuff from on the road. Generally, when I do that, I’m behind the wheel, sitting trackside, somewhere. Keep a watch, and you’ll see some in the coming weeks.

It’s a 98 GMC Safari… small for a full sized van, but not quite a minivan, which makes it ideal for our camping, and other long-haul trips… we do these quite frequently. We already have a couple longer hauls on the agenda… One to Wilmington DE in October, for example, and one to Fostoria OH shortly after that.

All Wheel Drive. Very high-end Factory AM/FM/Tape/CD changer in the front. Heated Leather Captains chairs up front, with unheated leather in the remaining four positions. Added AM/FM/TAPE/CD in the back on headphones for the kids. TV/VCR/DVD/Nintendo, also on headphones, all on separate headphone circuits.

Dual Air, Dual Heat, Heated/Cooled cup holders in the front… Keeps the coffee hot, and the pop cold. Individual reading lights at every position. I’m working on a laptop computer hookup, which would make writing easier than the Palm Pilot. Has a fridge in it, great for camping and saves lots of money on the road… Hey… 25 cents per can from the Grocery store vs $1.50/can on the road? Oh, yeah.

First test run was to Albany and back… a round trip of around 700 miles. Just wonderful. About drove itself, even through a rather nasty rainstorm. Got around 22mpg on that trip, but then again, I’ve not done anything to the engine and so on yet. I plan to do tot his what I did to the other one… such as a better breather (K&N) a better exhaust (Mangaflow) and some chip re-timing. I got the last van up to 24mpg average for longer haul work, which isn’t bad, given the size of this beast.

It’s no economy car, but it’s not a really big eater, either… a nice balance, and as comfortable as any Caddy. I refuse, frankly, to sacrifice my family’s safety for a few gallons of gas. My wife and I are both 6 footers, and we have two boys…do the math on that one. Plus, we tow a camper. With all this in mind, an Astro/Safari is about as small as I’m gonna go.

Which of course ticks off the leftists, no end, as I demonstrated in THIS long form article of a couple years back.

Astro-Safari Owners, drop me a line. Been thinking of setting out a group blog. If you’re into that idea, we need to talk.