VW bus adventures

all daily posts about VW buses

The sun’ll come out . . . sometime?

After a busy week at work getting ready for the Katinas concert (which I must say went off without a hitch), I was looking forward to half a day off on Sunday afternoon.  I envisioned myself using part of that half a day off to get outside, preferably in the woods – maybe hiking or geocaching, or maybe trying to find and explore some abandoned structures, cloaked from view by trees, yet clearly visible through the amazing eye of Google Earth.  For me, nature offers an escape from the rat-race of life, and I always look forward to these moments, however brief, when I can get away and breathe in the relaxing smells and sounds and sights of the world as it ought to be – no schedules, no worries.  Ahhhhhh…

So why then does my one half a day off have to be cold and rainy?  After all, this is the first weekend in May!  How do you spend a cold rainy Sunday afternoon?  Well, not doing what I had planned, that’s how.

But all was not lost.  My wife must have sensed my dispair,  (or she got tired of my whining and pacing) and suggested that we could go for a drive in the bus.  It may not seem like a big deal to most folks, but this simple activity of meandering around some back country roads in our old`73 VW is indeed on our top-ten list of things my wife and I both enjoy.  (Ok, so we don’t really have ten things on our list yet, but we’re working on it.  Even polar-opposites can find some common inerests.)

I reminded her that it might be a cold ride, since I had to disconnect one of the bus’s heat exchanger control valves a few weeks ago when it gave up the ghost after forty years of road grime, abusive mechanics, and hippie smoke.  For those of you who don’t know a heat exchanger from a blinker fluid reservoir, let me simply say that on an old Volkswagen with an air-cooled engine, it’s the thing that sends warm air into the vehicle so condensation won’t freeze on the hippie’s bongs.  For those of you who don’t know a bong from a ….. Oh, nevermind!

Despite my wife’s insistance that I’m a packrat, there are times when that tendency is beneficial.  Since these control valves are no longer in production, a working replacement can be hard to come by.  Except that I remembered I had a pair of spares in my shed – yes, that place where packrats chuck their junk until the day it is called upon – that glorious moment when it becomes suddenly valuable again.  Today was that day.  Twenty minutes under the bus, and we had heat again.  Well, as much heat as you’ll get from one of these German wonders.  But it was all we needed to spend some simple time together, enjoying what was left of our half a day off.

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Categories: daily chatter, VW bus adventures | 4 Comments

What would Jesus drive?

I’m a guy.  Guys for no logical reason are attracted to things which are loud, greasy, belch smoke, and generally will squash you like a bug if you can’t manhandle them into submission.  We embrace this challenge as something that defines us as “men,” and confirms for those women who put up with us that we most likely will never ever grow up.  This is my excuse for adding yet another addiction to my already-full pallet of interests. The VW disease had bitten me several years prior, but had gone into remission until this latest relapse.  It’s a known fact that the disease originated in Germany, but spread like wildfire to virtually every corner of the globe in the 60’s.  Even today, there is no known antidote available, although a compound named “rust” has proven over time to lessen the potential for outbreaks in certain humid climates.

In late 2006, I contacted a gentleman who had advertised a couple of old buses for sale in a local bargain sheet.  Eventually, my curiosity had gotten the better of me and I found my way to his place to see them firsthand, all the while knowing I didn’t have the money to spend on old junk that would require even more money to restore.  What I found was a pair of very rough 1973 buses, both in progressive stages of disarray,mostly the result of abuse, neglect, and weather.  Neither had an engine where it should have been, although parts from various motors were scattered throughout the interiors of both buses. One had a solid, nearly rust-free body and frame, and the other I decided would never be anything more than a donor.  The owner had a title for the nicer of the two, but insisted that he needed them both to go away and would only sell them together.  When we finally got around to his bottom-dollar asking price, I admitted that he was not out of line. I believe he knew that he had something with unique potential, but perhaps just didn’t have the motivation to undertake the project.  After spending a few minutes poking around these two forlorn heaps, I was now highly motivated but still didn’t have the cash to do it.  I promised him that I would think about it and let him know.

I spent most of the ride home trying to justify to God why I was praying for some supernatural intervention here, and spent the rest of the ride deciding it would be best not to expect any sympathy from my wife.  Did I need them?  Well, no.  But think of the possibilities if I did have them.  I was so focused on convincing myself that I didn’t even realize I was home until I noticed that my house had pulled up beside me.

Several weeks passed, and I got a call from from a vaguely familiar voice asking if I was still interested.  I responded with an honest  “absolutely,” but explained that I didn’t have the funds to make the deal happen.  We agreed to stay in touch.  Several months later,  when I had pretty much flushed this pipe-dream from my mind, I got another phone call.  After explaining again that I couldn’t afford to do anything more than look, he let out an audible sigh. “Listen,” he said, “If I sign the title over to you, will you come haul these two things off my property?”  Being the ever-cautious planner that I am, I took at least half a second to weigh the situation that had just slapped me in the face, and responded as calmly as I could muster, “How late will you be up?” I was completely speechless when I hung up the phone.  How cool is God?!?

A good friend offered his truck and trailer, and soon the eyesores were dragged out of the former owner’s yard and into mine.  Well, actually one went into my shop and the other was strategically hidden behind the shop. Learning to keep the peace at home is an acquired art, one that I’m often reminded I’m still in the process of acquiring . . .

If you’re interested in seeing how things turned out, check out my “VW bus adventures” page for the rest of the story.

-Mike

Categories: daily chatter, VW bus adventures | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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