Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Silencing the Roar

If you thought we've forgotten about our first love, Penny Bus (as Sadie calls her), in the wake of our recent orange-rimmed purchase, you're wrong!   We have been patiently waiting for some parts to arrive for what turned out to be the best replacement of our year-long relationship with our yellow love.  

Her new muffler and gaskets arrived last week!  Something that might not be exciting on most vehicles is quite the opposite for Penny.  For those of you who don't live in Cheyenne and have not experienced her firsthand, describing her noise like a rabid thundercloud rolling down the street is being kind.  Miss Penny was loud and was prone to backfires about every block or so.  I mean not conspicuous in the least, right?

Jason was positive that the new muffler would quiet her and pretty sure that the lack of pressure from the gaping rusty hole in the old one was the cause of the incessant firecracker noises, so we set off to prove him right...

We, of course, brought along our little blonde helper, complete with her new tool belt to help Jason with her Penny.  She was also excited to help out Grandpa on his Jeep while Penny got her new muffler, although was not too excited about the loud grinding and sparks that were going on in that arena!

A few twists of the wrench and the old muffler was off the back of Penny, clearly showcasing the wear and tear that was causing her street battle cry.  

While all this was going on I was tasked with the only job that the boys would allow me, the pregnant one, to do in the shop...scrape the shipping labels off the new muffler.  I know, you are impressed.  Here's a shot of me and the belly completing this obviously arduous task...

We were even joined by a faux fox family, courtesy of Sadie getting bored in the shop and going out to help Grandma in the garden.  She needed to make sure that we were staying on task in her absence.  Such a 3-year-old slave driver.

Soon the tailpipe was attached, the gaskets mounted and the whole shebang was attached to Penny's rear. Now the moment of truth...the key was turned and she hummed to life, quieter then ever before.  OMG we have a bus that sounds reliable!  The looking reliable part will come later.  Excitement wasn't even the word.  

After our success Penny's day was not quite finished.  Now that the engine cylinders had the proper back pressure from the pretty new muffler, the timing of the engine needed to be set properly.    Jason busted out the timing light, but quickly found that these older vehicles are much easier timed by ear.  He and Sadie set to work.  


After using a handy measuring device printed off the computer he successfully found 29 degrees BTDC (before top dead center) and worked on lining up that mark with the center of the crank case.  

He made a few adjustments and judged her almost perfect!  There are still a few little things to be adjusted out, but we are eagerly awaiting new tie rods, rear wheel bearings and cv boots in the mail this week to be installed this coming weekend.  After those are put on she will be deemed camp ready.  I can't wait! 

Check back in for more of these smiling cheeks helping to install the new parts next week :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Our First Beauty Pagent

It turns out that we already had the VW's on the Green car show on our calendar even before Pedro was a twinkle in our eye, but after we acquired our pretty boy we thought it fitting to enter him in the show!  Our saving grace was the inclusion of the Daily Driver class, which fit very well into our imperfect double cab's agenda.

My parents were very heavily involved in showing their Triumph TR3 when I was younger and I tagged along with them to many a show, so this Sunday definitely brought back memories.  All of the gathered exhaust of the classic cars even smelled the same!  Needless I was pretty excited to bring my little girl to her first show...

It was an early 6:30 morning to get down to Denver in time, but the heavy eyelids were totally worth it.  We arrived at Clement Park in the midst of a bustling crowd of fellow VW's.  It was pretty amazing to see so many great vehicles all at one time!  We were promptly directed to park in Bus Row, which was (I think) appropriately the first lane to greet the show-goers, and then it was time to shine him up!  

After all the road grime was adequately cleared away and our show number was secured in the windshield corner we set out to see what the rest of the show was about.  A slow meander through the swap meet (which, unfortunately, did not have the door handles or carburetor that Jason was eyeing) and an extra-small VW t-shirt for the little one later we decided to dive into the rows of cars.  

We found tons of bugs, a size-able number of buses, two other Bay Window Double cabs (ala Pedro) and to my excitement, two Things (which I must say were done up beautifully).  For those of you that don't know, when our newest little human addition gets a bit bigger I will be investing in a Thing as my daily driver. Groan all you want, I love them!

There were also a decent amount of new, souped-up VW's entered in the show, but we skimmed past those as our interest really lies in the oldies but goodies!  We cast our vote for the red Double Cab (above) for Best in Show and headed across the street to Red Robin to grab some grub and air conditioning.  Our first taste of summer in the Rockies for the year was HOT!

When we returned it was the perfect time for Sadie to crawl into her tent and take a snoozer before the awards ceremony.  Nothing like sleeping in a bus tent in the middle of bus row!  

While we were relaxing and waiting for our little one to wake up, we overheard a couple gawking at Pedro and talking about the yellow and white double cab that they have down in Costa Rica.  Could it be?  While searching high and low for Jason's new truck I had fallen in love with a yellow/white version that I thought was the one.  The only downside?  It lived in Costa Rica.  Had I not been 5 months pregnant we would have seriously thought about venturing down there to pick up that little gem.

Things always work out how they should though, as we have a great addition to our car family in Pedro. It did turn out to be the owner of the truck I loved, so we chatted with them for a bit about this funny coincidence and our mutual love for the buses!

If you happen to be looking for a beach trip and want to grab a great little number, check out this listing... Pretty Little Double Cab

A little while later we meandered down to the club tent to hear the announcement of the winners.  It was great to sit out on the lawn and soak in some much needed sun, no matter what the outcome of our class!

Pedro didn't end up snagging the best in class, but it really turned out to be a great day with my family and one that we will definitely make into a yearly adventure.  We already have plans to be entering both of our beloved buses into the daily driver class next year, as Penny's upholstery should be done here in the next few weeks.

Keep peeking back for what I'm sure is going to be a fabric adventure (hopefully not nightmare) and for the rest of our VW-filled summer!

If you happen to be in the Denver area next year make sure to check out the show and click here for all of the club's pictures of this year's attendees!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are We There Yet? - Day 3

It was day three of our trip and boy, it was an early one.  We zombie ate some breakfast (although I was pretty enthralled with the automatic pancake maker at our hotel) and sleepily stumbled out into the cold, morning Montana air.  We loaded our bags into the backseat and proceeded to get comfy for the ride to come. Just as I had buckled my seat belt and wrapped the trusty blanket around me Jason attempted to turn over the motor, but to our chagrin with no avail.  Oh hello, day three...

He fiddled with some things but could not get the engine to fire, so a call to his dad was in order.  After we got a laundry list of things to check Jason set out to find what was wrong, process of elimination style.  I was a bit skeptical, so I retreated inside to see when the nearest Carquest opened and where we could acquire a uHaul.  It was too early for optimism.

I went back outside to help Jason turn on the engine when he needed me to (I have total mechanic skills, I know) and about 20 minutes into me flicking the key back and forth Pedro roared to life.  Now if you know me well, you know I don't get overly excited very easy.  Oh man, I was excited.  It was a blur of happiness, but I think I recall screaming and jumping into my amazing mechanic's arms, 5 month pregnant belly and all.

In hindsight Jason claims that this little mishap brought us closer to Pedro, but I would have been happy bonding in some other way.  And for those of you who are curious, the points in the distributor had gapped too wide which kept the electricity from flowing.  And now we know.

We were happily back on the road and trying to soak up the endless scenery, since Cheyenne doesn't offer much in the way of pretty.  A few hours passed and we arrived at Little Big Horn Battlefield in Crow Agency, MT.  Both of us love a bit of history, so we were excited about this stop and to make it even better we got out of the truck and the weather was gorgeous.  Not only did I get to soak some of the past, I got a bit of a tan while doing it!

I had never been to a battlefield site before, so it was interesting to learn about what led up to the battle and then read the markers that explained exactly what went on under our feet.  The graveyard at the site is pretty extensive, as servicemen from all conflicts can request to be buried there.  We saw headstones from the mid-1800s all the way through the Vietnam War.  Including that of General Custer, who was supposed to have his famous 'last stand' on that very hill.  The memorial standing for the tribesmen involved was also pretty exceptional and gave some insight into the injustices  that they had to face at the hands of the US government.

With some summertime color on our face and a bit more knowledge in our heads we were off again, this time finally on the last leg of our trip.  And because that was the case, we were pretty elated to see this bad boy about an hour down the road...

Now, of course our lovely state greeted us with a nice gust of wind and seemingly crappy weather, but since that's the norm when crossing any border of this state we had to admit we were happy to be home.  

One gross (bordering on funny) experience that we did not foresee was the bug massacre that we were carrying out on our entire drive home.  Apparently driving a flat faced vehicle does not allow for the bugs to get caught up in any air stream and fly over us, the only option was splat.  This was all well and good when the bug guts splatted clear, but mid-Wyoming we hit a swarm of something different.  I had to get out and take a picture to memorialize this monstrosity, as it looked like we had gotten pelted with a carton of eggs.  I mean, we still had no tunes so this was entertainment, right?

Along with a million fly and mosquito carcasses, plus that swarm of yellow-guts bug, we also managed to ensnare two butterflies in the crack of the front vent.  I nicely asked Jason to save one outside of the Pizza Hut we stopped at, but even with all of his efforts (he took off the vent to save the little guy) I'm afraid we were just destined to be bug sadists that day.  

With one more fill-up in Casper and a chat with a motorcyclist who followed us and flagged us down to chat about the bus, we were almost home!  The rest of the drive was uneventful and around 9pm we pulled up to our driveway, exhausted but so happy to be home.  I must say, the outside of our house is infinitely cooler with our dual VW situation.  

I'm pretty excited to see what's in store for a summer full of Penny restoration and camping, as well as attending our first VW show in a few weeks!  Quickly, a speedy thank you to the best roadtrip and life partner a girl could ask for.  How could I say no to taking our little boy on his first road trip before he was even born! And also to the 30 people who waved, honked or let us know in some other way how stellar our ride was. Yes, we kept count.  We agree, these VDubs are a pretty awesome breed.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Still in the Slow Lane - Day 2

Day two...Pedro greeted us outside covered in chilly spring dew and roared to life.  It was a beautiful sunny day so in good spirits we fueled up and prepared for another long drive.  What is a better way to start the second day of our journey then a day two selfie and some scenery...

As we approached Spokane, WA highway signs were announcing an event called Bloomsday, which happened be held the very same morning that we were passing through!  A quick google search told me that it was a downtown festival held all day.  Sweet, we were in.  We pulled off only to see about a million people running, the Bloomsday 5k apparently.  A bit further on down the road I spotted a suspended sky ride going into a waterfall smack in the middle of downtown.  How could we be here and not ride it?  I coerced my handsome driver into taking us downtown, only to find out that almost all of the streets were closed and parking was not to be had.  My dream of a random Washington gondola ride was kaput, but it has officially been added to my bucket list.  Spokane we will be back someday.  

A few gondola-less hours later and we proudly crossed the WA/ID border.  A high five for one state down and we were successfully chugging through Idaho.  

While taking advantage of our free hot breakfast (all of the billboards were pretty excited about it) at the hotel that morning Jason picked up a brochure for a resort town in Idaho called Coeur D'Alene which we promptly put on our itinerary for the day.  After a bit more googling (googling and farm signs were really the only entertainment) we found out that the Coeur D'Alene were a pretty large tribe named by the French settlers in the 1800s.  They are pretty spread out over the WA/ID area and are the namesake of numerous things we passed, including the town, river and mountains.  Just in case you were wondering!  

We rolled into town and decided it was time to give Pedro a bit of a rest.  We parked him on a picturesque downtown street and got out for a little stroll.  Along the way we took in a bit of the waterfront and kissed a moose...nothing wrong with that.  We hopped back in the truck and were on our way again!

One or two 35mph mountain passes later (I have lost count at this point) we see a pretty cool looking building off to the side of the highway and soon after a sign for Old Mission State Park.  Another state park merely 5 feet off the road?  Done! 

The cool building turned out to be Idaho's oldest standing building and was the refuge for Catholic missionaries and missionaries-in-training in the 1800s.  They would use the compound as a jumping off point to preach to the Native Americans and nearby mining camps.  The church was pretty great to see and always makes you wonder how these pioneers pulled off such a feat of architecture in the middle of nowhere.  The view didn't hurt the experience either.  

Finally, two states down!  As the rain and Montana sign welcomed us we were nearing closer to the close of our second day.  Rain greeted us over every single mountain pass but always opened back up to shining blue skies.  We took a blue-sky'd opportunity to stretch our backs at serenely wooded rest stop and soak in a bit of sun.   

After a quick conversation with a guy who was oogling Pedro as we approached (we learned all about his buses, too) we were back on the road and ready to do some more mountain climbing.  A trip over the Continental Divide and the sun began to set as we ventured up the Tobacco Root Mountains.  At the top of the pass we stopped for a bit to let Pedro's butt cool off.  Spoiled truck.  I couldn't get enough of the views as we were driving and snapped more pictures then I know what to do with.  

We were aiming for Billings but settled for Bozeman since our eyelids were getting mighty heavy.  Pedro guided us to a Holiday Inn where we tucked him in for the night and we tried to shake off the feeling that we were still moving while actually sitting still.  

Wyoming was getting so close, I could almost feel the wind.  One more day to go!