Thursday, April 25, 2013

Road Trip!

Chinook after being sprung from
long-term storage
Written by Karen.
It's funny how a planned three-week stopover in the Bay Area to take care of a variety of mundane life tasks has rather inexplicably turned into an extended eight-week stay.  One thing after another - both planned and unplanned - has stalled our journey somewhat.  On the plus side, we've had a great time being able to spend some time with friends and family and seeing how much - or how little - things have changed over the past months since we left from SFO to fly to Bogota, Colombia on October 30, 2012. 

When we were in the final stages of downsizing and renting out our home last year, our 1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia was placed on the chopping block.  We pulled it off the block (see blog post: Meet Chinook) at the last minute thinking that perhaps we could rehab our Vanagon in the future and take an extended drive around North America.  We thought that after living in large cities across South America, it was time to go even slower and explore life in the very slow lane. And is there a better vehicle to drive in the very slow lane than a VW Vanagon?!

So, Operation Get Chinook Up and Running Again has been underway for the past five weeks or so.  We pulled our Vanagon out of storage where it had been languishing during the fall and winter months and brought it to our mechanic for the critical once-over.  We just got it back - with a clean bill of health - last Friday night.  

We asked our capable mechanic, Tom, to check anything that could go wrong when we are in the middle of nowhere.  Not to put too fine a point on this, but I provided him with the stereotypical scenario of us breaking down in the middle of the Arizona Sonoran desert with vultures lazily circling overhead patiently waiting while we tried to figure out how to repair the malfunctioning item. So, anything that was old or cracked or had a propensity to catastrophically break down without warning was to be examined.  Sorta like turning your car over to the psychic mechanic! After all, it has been a while since we have taken our VW Vanagon out for a drive.

The last time we rolled with Chinook was in 2005, a surprisingly long time ago when you do the math.  However, it has even been longer since we took an extended road trip with him.  I can clearly remember two extended road trips over the years.  The first was a great Southwest trip rolling slowly through the backroads and scenic vistas of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.  The other was a Pacific Northwest trip which included Canada, where it seemed we broke down every two hundred miles or so.  

It seems inevitable that we will have a problem or two while on the road with Chinook.  It's just the VW way, I suppose.  Tom has provided a list of basic replacement items that we should carry with us and we will purchase a VW Vanagon repair manual - just in case. But, as we have started to scrape off the years of grit, dirt, grime, spider webs and general inattention from our old Volkswagen, I am more than excited to reacquaint myself again with the nuances of living life slowly on the open road.  Our plan is to finish our final obligations and items on our task list shortly and hit the road next week.  In the meantime, here's a few pictures of Chinook getting rehabbed for our next travel adventure.  May you swim smooth and strong, Chinook...

This assembly of wires, belts and mechanical devices
will be responsible for either putting us into debt or
getting us back home again!  If anyone can spot any
problems....please let us know!
Owner/Operator/Restoration Specialist getting down
and dirty
You can finally see out of these windows!
We pulled everything out of the van for a complete cleaning
Scraping off grime and gunk collected over the years
Spraying down the inside of the van
Preparing the driver and passenger area
for carpet installation
Preparing the floor to install the carpet
Installing the bench seat that converts into a
queen-sized bed


Vienne said...


It's so nice to see your new posting. You look good ! I I'm getting ready for my up coming vacation. I recalled Bhutan was mentioned in one of your blog. I'm going there in May.


Observers of Life said...

Hi Vienne!

Wow - what an exciting trip you are going to have! The pictures and the descriptions that I have seen and read about Bhutan are incredible. Let me know how your trip goes, okay? Best wishes and safe travels.