Motoette -in forward motion

Day 2 – Dorothy Takes to the Open Road

Dave, Sherrill, me, Matt with Dorothy

Dave, Sherrill, me, Matt with Dorothy

Matt and I were to meet Dave outside our hotel at 10:15 AM sharp. The original plan was for him to drive Dorothy over from his house, 20 minutes away and we would travel back with him while he demonstrated how the bus worked….and didn’t work! But, that changed with a text message from Dave saying he was at the back of the hotel parking lot waiting for us.

I scanned the parking lot until I finally saw Dave standing next to Dorothy. I can’t tell you what a strange feeling it was seeing her for the first time in person. She actually looked better and even brighter, if that was possible!

Matt and I immediately poked our heads into her innards, taking in all her details. She looked great for an old girl, but her age gave her away by that distinctive “old car” smell. It took me back to my grandmother’s gold Buick Skylark. It was the car I first took my drivers test in when I was sixteen.

Dorothy at the Land of Oz

Dorothy at the Land of Oz

We spent the next hour or so going over how things worked on the bus while we waited for Sherrill to arrive to pick Dave up. Matt was growing more enthusiastic about taking Dorothy out, while I was getting more nervous.

Matt finally could not hold back any longer and blurted out “can I start her up?” Dave tossed him the keys and Matt hurriedly ran around to the driver’s side and jumped in. I found myself cringing subconsciously as Matt turned the key, anticipating Dorothy to do one of her little “idiosyncrasies”. Matt turned the key and she started right up without a hiccup and we all let out a simultaneous sigh of relief!

It was tough saying good-bye to Dave and Sherrill after we were just getting to know them. I was also struggling because I was feeling very bad about taking Dorothy away from Dave. He had shared with us that he and Dorothy had a “little talk” on the way over to meet us about the parting of ways after 5 wonderful years. My heart sank for Dave and his silent, but obvious struggle in giving Dorothy up for good.

Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road

Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road

It was decided that Matt would take the wheel first, so with waving arms of good-bye out the window, we were off, heading west down Hwy 54, but not without circling the parking lot once to get the hang of “her” before the challenge of the Hwy.

There are several things that we noticed about Dorothy right away, first was the brakes. You practically have to put your foot through the floor to actually get them to work. It’s the original drum braking system that Volkswagen installed back in the day with all their models. I said to Matt, if I hit the brakes this hard on my Audi, we would go right through the windscreen! Second, was the gear shift. There are only 4 gears and you have to shift with a light hand, but deliberately. Meaning, you need to get the gear stick in exactly the right place or she will throw a fit!

We drove about fifty miles out of Wichita to Kingman to stop for fuel and something to eat. We no more pulled into the station and we noticed the attendant coming towards us. I rolled down the window to see what he wanted and the first words out of his mouth was “ What year is she?” Matt and I both laughed, thinking we had done something wrong and was being reprimanded for it. We chit chatted with him for a few minutes and told him all about our plight with Dorothy. He loved the story, telling us about his long relationship with Dorothy’s sibling, the Beetle. This was the first of many smiling eyes that followed on our 209 miles to Liberal. At one point, we had a Jeep full of teenagers waving the peace sign at us going the opposite direction. It was clear, Dorothy was turning heads!

"There's no place like home!"

“There’s no place like home!”

After we filled her tank, we pulled over to White’s food store, just a hundred yards off. We were all set to go in and was making sure to lock her up to secure all our valuables inside. In a panic, we were discovering all, but one lock did not work! You could lock it from the inside, but you couldn’t unlock it from the outside. Ah, this was going to be a bit of a problem, so I text messaged Dave to see if there was another key he forgot to give us. The answer came back a few minutes later as a no and we were left to come up with a plan “B” in how to secure Dorothy.

Prior to leaving California, I had bought online The Club and a dummy set of security alarm lights to help ward off any potential intruders. I had them sent to Dave’s and was feeling a bit better about the times when we would have to leave Dorothy unattended. But, now with the new-found knowledge in her locking system, we had to figure something out and fast.

The fact that we could lock the back tailgate and lock the other doors from the inside gave us an advantage. Matt came up with the idea to find a store that sells bicycle locks and lock the sliding door to the passenger door by wrapping the locking cable around both door handles. It was a brilliant idea and we soon found a local Alco store to solve our pending dilemma.

Motoring down the primarily two-lane hwy 54 we were passing a growing number of big-rigs. This was becoming quite challenging with Dorothy’s lack of steering capabilities. The large amount of play in the steering combined with the big gusting cross winds from the trucks was proving to be a potential hazard. The drivers concentration was essential in keeping the bus on the right side of the road! This was also a problem because every time another big gust of wind hit Dorothy upside the left side-panel, it also knocked the wing mirrors out of alignment, which totally left us blind to the rear of the bus.

Matt's high tech security solution!

Matt’s high tech security solution!

Another stop in Pratt temporarily fixed the wing mirror problem with a tightening of the nut that held the mirrors in place, but a few gusts later and we were right back to sticking our hand out the window to readjust. We need to work on this!

The concentration that it took to navigate Dorothy was surprising to me, but very reminiscent in riding a motorcycle. You have to constantly keep your eyes on the road and stay alert, no matter what! I also had to laugh at how many times Matt and I would pull over to check on Dorothy, like two doting parents, to see how she was doing on her first real road trip in many years.

The stick straight hwy carried us on and into more flat and barren farmlands with maybe a few sparse towns in between. At 6:30 PM we arrived at our destination, Liberal Kansas. Apparently its claim to fame is being the “home” to Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ. We found the little Wizard of Oz museum and pulled Dorothy over and posed her so we could take several photo’s of her in front of the various signs posted. Matt and I found this to be really fun, but Dorothy was getting tired and she was telling us she needed to rest with her hesitation in wanting to start. We took the hint and rounded the corner to the Southwind Hotel. We chose the hotel mainly because we could park Dorothy outside our room to keep a close eye on her. If we could we would have parked her in the room with us!

Matt and I walked down the road a bit to a local steak cafe on the suggestion of our hotel receptionist. I have to say, its strange being in Kansas. The people in Kansas are very nice and friendly, but the atmosphere is nothing like where I’m from in California. But, you know, variety is the spice of life!

Tomorrow, we need to sort out our navigation system with an electrical system that looks like a map of the Tube stations in London!

Onward and upward!

Advertisements

September 30, 2013 - Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: