Motoette -in forward motion

The Plight of a Little Volkswagen Bus Known as Dorothy — Page 3

Twenty three split window bus

Twenty three split window bus

After 3 1/2 glorious summer months living with the love of my life and his beautiful family in midlands of England it was time to contact Dave in Wichita. Both Matt and I felt good about all we had accomplished in the last few months in regards to our numerous field trips out to the local bus fests and visiting several mechanics, who specialized in vintage VW buses. It can’t go without me saying how welcoming the mechanics were. Arriving unannounced, they would consistently invite us back into the bays were their past and present projects sat, openly giving us the history behind each vehicle, like a proud parent!

Ron, the first mechanic we visited said “welcome to the family” upon our arrival and introduction as a soon-to-be bus owners and rightly so! With each step we took, we felt more and more like part of a family, only without the child!

I emailed Dave a few weeks before I was to leave for the US, just to confirm that we were still “on” with the purchase of Dorothy. As always, Dave was quick to reply back saying yes to wanting to go forward with the transaction. I brought him up-to-date on my travel schedule. I decided the best way to break the news to Dave about our change in plans from transporting the bus to driving the bus back to California was to call.

Via email I arranged a time (UK to Kansas) for all three of us to have a chat. Matt and Dave had not formally met, so it was a nice ice breaker into dropping the “Driving Miss Dorothy” bomb! My evil plan worked and Dave took the news exceptionally well. I reassured him that we were aware he would be in no way responsible once Dorothy left his drive. Matt and I went on the tell Dave that we hoped for the best, but would be prepared for the worst…meaning, well, anything! Which involved bringing spare parts, fire extinguishers, multiple mechanic manuals and of course, updating my AAA card! We made a special request to have the oil changed and a general check-over before our departure half way across the country. The delicate nature of the air-cooled engines requires a 3,000 mile oil change, unlike modern cars of today, which can go triple the miles or more. So, needless to say, this was a must do on our check off list.

Dave not only obliged to our request, but went far and beyond with what sounded like a major overhaul to me! Saying “I’m doing it for a friend of my best friend (Eric) from college”. Wow, with a comment like that, I couldn’t help but wish I had more friends like Dave! I was so impressed by the statement. Honestly, how many people do you know that would say something like that (with no exchange of money) and mean it?

Panel split window, with VW's version of an air conditioner! (chrome cylinder)

Panel split window, with VW’s version of an air conditioner! (chrome cylinder)

After another painful and tearful goodbye to Matt, family and friends, I was back in California on August 29th. Here I was again, desperate to get back into the groove of things after settling into a very comfortable lifestyle back in England. Of course I missed my family, friends, coworkers, clients and most definitely, my two kitties, Moxie and Milo! Still, it was a hard pill to swallow being thrown back into what felt like a past life from so long ago. Where is the theme song to “The Twilight Zone” when you need it?!

For the next four weeks after my arrival state side was to be a busy one. Booking flights, hotel, arranging auto insurance, maintenance manuals, tools and shipping everything we couldn’t carry on the plane to Dave in Wichita.

In the process, another “call it fate, call it destiny” sidebar story; I sent Dave our date and time of arrival to Wichita, thanking him for referring us to a particular airline with good rates. He replied back to ask if we were on a particular flight. Scanning down the email, to my surprise, I saw our flight details. I immediately wrote back asking how he knew? Apparently, Sherrill, his wife was booked on the same flight! Thinking about it, what were the odds of that happening??! She is returning from a visit in San Diego and, just like ours, her flight passes through Las Vegas and then on to Wichita. It has been requested (by Dave) to make sure to treat Sherrill to a vodka and tonic on our brief layover in Vegas. With pleasure Dave!

I picked Matt up from the airport on the Tuesday before we were to fly out, so that only gave us three days to prepare. It was a little more stressful on Matt suffering from jet lag and the beginnings of a cold, which might have originated from his last visit with Rory, his 2 year-old grandson. But, with his contagious giggle, platinum blond hair, peaches and cream skin and big baby blues that could melt your heart, Rory could give me a cold every other week and wouldn’t care! Matt would have to man-up and fast!

A few days before we were to leave, Dave sent out a check list (“Parts, Location & Idiosyncrasies’ List”) it included two pages of Dorothy’s idiosyncrasies or as I like to call it Personality flaws. Let me tell you, at first glance, I was a little taken aback, thinking maybe Dorothy needed therapy or an old Volks home (a little Volkswagen humor!) But, later, after reading it over again, it was really just a lot of small stuff. Dave wrote: ” Occasionally, (hasn’t happened in the last month) when you turn the ignition key nothing happens…and “Sometimes the dash indicator lights dim, sometimes not.” He went on to explain. “The red levers on the dash are for heat and do nothing.”  My personal favorite, “the glove box has a door, but no box behind it.” Meaning anything you put in the glove box is going to end up landing on your toes! Note to self: Find alternative location for traveling rock collection!

DSCF2975At the top of Dave’s list, subtitled “Parts & Location of “Stuff”” he had listed just that, all the additional parts, he had gathered and thrown in, including 2 award plaques won by the previous bus owner.  Another favorite of mine from this list was “stool for sitting at engine compartment and staring at it”!

Giving just another example of how caring and generous Dave was as a person, a person I had only briefly met once. At the end of one of his last emails to me he wrote “look forward to next weekend, this project has been great fun for me.” I couldn’t agree more!

As I close on this final preface page and merge into the diary of our day by day journey, I would like to share with you some facts and figures from 1970. This inspiration comes from one of the “personality traits” from the Dorothy list, where Dave wrote: “Choke setting, give the accelerator pedal one complete stroke and let off the pedal, turn the key and start.” If you were born in the 60’s, as I was, this one sentence should automatically bring back some driving preparation memories. In the days before fuel injection, I had to press the gas pedal to the floor as a standard procedure to start my car. Laughing to myself, I had completely forgotten about those days!

So, in light of this new found awareness, below are a few highlights from 1970, the year Dorothy was born.

  • Aswan High Dam in Egypt was completed
  • Beatles break up
  • Floppy discs were introduced
  • 747 jet makes its maiden voyage from London to Australia
  • Concorde makes its first supersonic flight
  • 100K people demonstrate in Washington DC against the Vietnam war
  • First Earth Day is celebrated
  • Jimi Hendrix dies
  • Janis Joplin dies
  • Ziplock bags were created

Cost of living in 1970:

  • Average income $9,400
  • Average cost of a home 24,450
  • Average cost to rent $140
  • Cost for a gallon of gasoline .36 cents
  • World’s population 3.63 Billion
  • Average cost of a car in the US $3,542

“….Kansas glories in her days to be, in her horizons limitless and vast, she has no gray that men revere. Her time is now her heritage is here.” Harry Kemp

September 27, 2013 - Posted by | Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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