And We’re Off…

Yeah, I know this is a shit blog for not being constantly updated. My bad. It’s just that between work at work, work at home and a few intense road trips thrown in for good measure, I had to draw the line at spending my remaining waking hours recounting events. It takes me more than a few brain cells and considerable time to craft a coherent post, download and edit photos and try to condense what has happened into a manageable narrative. I read a lot of things on the web. There are a lot of really compelling stories being told. Unfortunately, many of them are waaaaay too long and lose me before the end. The content failed to fulfill the promise of the headline. I don’t wish to emulate that result. Or I could  just   prattle    on…       endlessly… That said, I have taken a few pictures so all is not lost. Just a bit delayed.

Anyway…

It’s been a great ride, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had one of my best summers in years. New and improved job, reconnecting with old friends, once again pretending to be a VW mechanic, rediscovering old hobbies and embracing the moment. Well, Summer’s over and it’s the beginning of my favorite season, Fall. And for the first time in ages, I’m actually going to have an old fashioned vacation. My 3 week plan, is to embark on an old school road trip in a 1970/71 VW Westphalia-ish bus. True to form, a week to go before departure and the bus just went on it’s maiden voyage.

In it’s past life, the Bus I have chosen to revive was known as Isabelle. Louie, her previous owner, found her in an industrial yard in Washington State and drove her for a number of years, occasionally living in her for extended periods of time, all over BC and beyond. Isabelle was pretty well done by the time she came into my possession several years ago, she’d start but she no go nowhere no more. At the time when we met, she was a clubhouse for Potsies boys, parked in the weeds at the top of the Railgrade in Upper Lower Rossland, just around the corner from where I live. 200 bucks and a 20′ chain on my work truck to get her home, she then became a shed on wheels in front of my shop, housing all manner of things.

Three or four years pass…

2015 The Rusty Westy comes into my life. It’s the van I’ve always wanted. A 1971 stock Westphalia with a motor that runs and those lovely front disk brakes. The furniture in particular is in great shape, considering the age of it. Aside from the minimal rips or tears in the military grade Naugahide, the operation of the bed mechanism and sliding door is smooth and solid. The downside turned out to be rust in the underbody so extensive it resembled Swiss Cheese. I’m not entirely sure how the passenger cabin and the frame are still connected. It’s actually quite impressive that it drove reasonably well on the highway, although a few klicks on a logging road would have probably broken her back. That would have been fun to do actually… It still might…

Over the years, I’ve owned a ’70 Westphalia (my first four wheeled vehicle, purchased in 1983), a ’72 window bus, a ’73 campmobile and various other parts vehicles which were stripped of their useful bits before scrapping. The relationship was rocky, as they required constant attention and repair. But they grow on you. That is, until the day when you’ve finally had enough of the constant drain and say “fuck it , I’m done with bloody vans”, and swear them off.

They say that absence make the heart grow fonder or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment but since the motoring gods have decreed that the Type II is once again a part of my life, I now have a project and a goal. Make one bus out of two and take it on the road. Just what I needed to do, really. The big difference from the struggles of the past to today is that I now have the tools, the knowledge, the resources and the time to make it happen. It’s going to be fun. I fully expect to overcome some sort of mechanical issue. I haven’t had a road trip yet this year without some sort of breakdown or component failure putting the trip in jeopardy, so why would I expect anything to be different this time around. However, each trip, I’ve either managed to return home with the vehicle in better running order than when I departed or have diagnosed the issue and repaired it soon after.

Two more days on the Mountain then two weeks to get to Tofino, at the outside. Then a week to get back. That sounds doable. All based on the assumption I can get the bus roadworthy in a reasonable amount of time and get everything that needs to work, working. If I can’t, then there’s always plan B MW… Embracing the moment. Wish me luck.

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