Why travel to the Sunflower State during a heat wave? In previous years, there wasn’t a compelling reason to do so. But this summer, road test editor Christopher Nelson and intern Greg Fink drove our Four Seasons Honda Odyssey to the inaugural Kanrocksas music festival at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The trek added more than 1500 miles to the Odyssey’s odometer.
Kanrocksas offered big-name headliners, decent attendance numbers, and art and food as far as the eye could see for two days and nights. But what really attracted us to Kanrocksas over other similar festivals was the fact that we could camp on the speedway grounds the entire weekend. And what’s more fitting to camp in than a van?
Before setting off, Nelson and Fink thought it would be a good idea to make the Four Seasons people-carrier festival friendly. The two spend a Saturday afternoon installing twelve square feet of hot pink shag carpet — with the unfortunate name “Girls Rock” — from ProSource Wholesale Floorcoverings in Ann Arbor on a Saturday afternoon. The addition of a lime green beanbag chair, a furry white pillow, and a pink and purple lava lamp transformed the Odyssey into a full-fledged “Shaggin’ Wagon.” Shades of the 1970s.
After a quick stop in Chicago to pick up Nelson’s girlfriend, the team set off for the speedway. During the relatively uneventful and markedly comfortable eight-hour drive to Kansas City, the Honda proved to be a perfect highway cruiser. The van’s supple suspension and numerous amenities, such as XM satellite radio and a 16.2-inch rear entertainment system with wireless headsets, helped the hours pass by quickly.
Before heading to the campground, the Odyssey road-trippers made a stop for provisions. A small cubby in the left rear corner of the Odyssey made for a perfect makeshift pantry to hold beer, bananas, peanut butter, and $117.93 worth of snacks, which otherwise would have been haphazardly thrown on top of assorted clothing and camping equipment.
That was just one of the many useful features our campers enjoyed in the dark cherry pearl minivan during their two days and three nights at Kanrocksas. Although Nelson and Fink erected a torn and tattered tent using a little ingenuity and a lot of duct tape, no one ever slept in it. That’s because the three festival-goers found that the Odyssey was not only supremely comfortable to sleep in, it provided weatherproof shelter from Kansas’s sporadic bouts of heavy wind and rain.
By the last night of Kanrocksas, the Odyssey was attracting festival attendees, vendors, and organizers with its “summer of love, revisited” feel. It may have seemed like a cutesy gimmick, but John Bukaty, art director for Kanrocksas, likened the Odyssey’s getup to the costume worn by one of the festival’s patrons, a bald man with a curly moustache sporting a red, too-small Speedo. He said that he considered the minivan’s makeover a small but significant piece of the puzzle that creates the festival experience. The shag carpeting, the lava lamp, the beanbag, and the music coming from satellite radio all helped create an aura integral to the communal aspect of the event. (A little more than we were going for, but we’ll take it.)
When the van got back to Ann Arbor, the carpeting came out immediately, its second-row seats went back in, and it returned to its role as a more conventional mode of transportation. But for just a few days, our Four Seasons Honda Odyssey was the life of the party.
Engine: 3.5L V-6, 248 hp, 250 lb-ft
EPA mileage: 19/28 mpg
Months in fleet: 6