Motoette -in forward motion

Day 5 – Dorothy Has a Drinking Problem


I woke up to another gorgeous day, the fifth one in a row and joined India, Pete and Matt in the kitchen to say a cheerful good morning. The four of us were to go on a brisk autumn walk along the Rio Grand to start our day, so I was feeling excited at the prospect of getting some much-needed exercise in. But, what I was greeted with instead was three faces of shock and disbelief of the news that our US Congress decided to shut down the entire nations state and recreational parks in a ditch effort to save our financially deteriorating country! I was in complete shock at the ridiculous prospect. How could this ever save the dire economical condition of our country?
I immediately thought of the man we met in Texas at one of the many petrol stations we would visit. He was telling us about his sole trip to the Grand Canyon he was in route to and how excited he was about it. I felt so bad for him and all the other travelers who were trekking great distances to see some of the great wonders of this country.
Then I thought of Matt and I and how we had planned into our trip to visit the Grand Canyon, it was to be Matt’s first visit. Needless to say, we were very disappointed.

DSC00342 (Mobile)

To add to our day, Dorothy was not a happy girl. Matt and Pete opted to do some work on Dorothy before we were to set back out on the road later in the day, while India and I went on with the scheduled morning walk. India and I came back to more bad news with the bus and how she did not want to start. To be more specific, the events of the morning concerning Dorothy are explained in better detail in Matt’s own words below:
“Major problems!!! 8.00am checked on bus. Oil leak wasn’t too significant but the tray under the car was full of petrol, with a steady dipping coming out of air inlet, and to cap it all the engine wouldn’t turn over on the starter.
With thoughts of a carb rebuild, Pete gave me a lift to an auto shop to get a fuel system cleaner for the tank, a stop leak additive for the oil filler and a battery booster pack.
On attaching the booster it appeared to make no difference. We tried to bump start instead, but drawing up the clutch just stopped the car in its tracks the engine didn’t turn over at all.
Fearing a seized engine, i attempted to rotate it using the fan belt pulley. It turned fine! Confused, I went up to the cab and, with complete amazement, on turning the key she fired right up – with a huge plume of unburned fuel ejected from the exhaust.
We can only think that one of the cylinders must have filled with petrol, jamming the cylinder, our rotating of crank must have opened the exhaust valve and allowed the liquid to drop into the exhaust.”
DSC00346 (Mobile)

I can’t help but think there is a god up there looking over us as we make this unique journey. For a good portion of this trip, we have been on some pretty wide-open space hwy with little to no services, especially from Amarillo to Albuquerque. To think about how fortunate we have been with our little “episodes” with Dorothy and the timing in which they come up is just amazing to me. It could have been so much worse sitting on the side of the desolate highway waiting for hours in the hot sun for a tow truck, not fun! Something told me early on our way to Albuquerque to just keep going and not take our usual frequent stops. These are the times when you have to think there has to be a greater power out there, looking over us.

With sad good-bye’s, we pulled out of Pete and India’s drive about 2 PM. With the change in our schedule of events, we decided to do a short 170 miles north to Farmington, on the breath-taking 550 hwy. It was a sight to behold as we continued to push Dorothy up another several thousand feet into the giant mesas of New Mexico. The magnificent grandeur of the scarlet carved mountains, designed by hundreds of years of erosion from the intense desert rains was just a vision to behold. Each mountain more interesting than the next, I couldn’t stop hitting the shutter on my camera as Matt enticed Dorothy up and then down the rolling hills, climbing further into the indigo sky.

DSC00357 (Mobile)

I expected Farmington to be a quaint little town nestled atop of the gorgeous Southwestern plateau, but it was run down and even kind of unnerving to be in. We had to make the best of it, because the next town was an hours drive (by a normal car!) which meant several for us. We finally found a cluster of low-budget hotels and stopped in at one  to book a room. I was shocked to hear the girl at the desk say she had no rooms available. It was a Wednesday and we were in a town that would be last on my list as a must see vacation destination! What the hell was going on here!

We finally caved-in to a beat-up Travel Lodge across the street, taking the last (smoking) room on the third floor! Nice! The clerk was kind enough to hand me a bottle of Fabreeze to help with the stale odor. I was laughing with Matt about it, trying to find the humor in our tiring day.


We went next door to the Village restaurant, a down home type of place where all the waitresses had a southern accent. Strange, the more north we went, the more southern the locals became?? I had to laugh at the idea of it.
Regardless of how they sounded, they were very friendly and had the best selection of homemade pies. A full dinner for two with dessert for $20, I’m still trying to figure out how they can survive charging those kind of prices. They even threw in our two coffees to-go for no charge. I was growing more impressed with the shabby little town’s hospitality!

It should be mentioned that Dorothy continues to receive attention daily from passing motorists and chit chatting with people along the way. We had stopped in Cuba New Mexico to fill Dorothy’s hungry belly up when I heard “WOW” from the other side of the bus. I walked around to find a slight dark-skinned older man staring at Dorothy with a big grin on his face. He wanted to know all about her and with most everyone we met, it would always morph into getting to know each individual. He was no exception. By the time we pulled out, I knew he had just retired from the oil company, how long he had lived in Cuba and that he had a tractor!
Matt and I are really enjoying all the attention Dorothy brings and with our “Cali or Bust” sign hanging in the back window, it brings waves, peace signs and honks from all the vehicles that pass us, and let me tell you, there’s a lot of them!
It’s a pretty special day when we get to actually pass another car!

As is stands, we are still smelling gas, but can’t really tell where it’s coming from. All leaks have been stopped, but she still is having a hard time starting after the engine has been running for a while. Next on the list, is to have the spark plugs changed and both the air and fuel filters changed. Dorothy is a temperamental girl with a heart of gold, but that is to be expected when she has only driven 4,000 miles in 5 years.

October 3, 2013 - Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus | , , , , , ,


  1. Enjoying the saga. When I was a teenager my late Stepfather bought a bus just like Dorothy (that we picked up in Europe and brought home after the trip) also had a Mercedes 220 deisel non-turbo that Dorothy would have been able to pass it on a grade. (I guess he liked slow cars).

    Comment by Dan Albertson | October 4, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks Dan, its fun to hear everyone’s VW stories!

      Comment by motoette | October 5, 2013 | Reply

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: