Motoette -in forward motion

Day 6 – Four Corners and Almost 7 Days Ago

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I could probably go without saying it was not a comfortable night staying at the less than adequate Travel Lodge in Farmington, NM, so I will spare you the details in how uncleanly the room was with walls so thin I could hear the conversation in the next room…all night long!

Matt and I finally woke up at 5 AM, because we just gave up trying to sleep. We waited until after day break to go downstairs to see how Dorothy was doing and how she was going to behave for the day. I heard Matt start her up from the open hotel door and I could tell right away, it wasn’t good. She was misfiring and stalling, something she had not done before.

Matt played with the fuel mixture, hoping that it might be the thinness of the mountain air, but she just wasn’t cooperating. Becoming more frustrated from dealing with Dorothy and her petulant moods for the last three mornings, we both decided to let her sit there in the car park and think about what she had done and go have breakfast!

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We went back to the friendly Village restaurant next to the hotel to weigh our options on how we should handle the situation. We would be heading for Monument Valley today (Thursday) and the weekend was closing in, which meant if we needed a mechanic in the next few days, we were going to be screwed!

I decided to ask our “southern” waitress if she could recommend a local mechanic for us? We summarized on the details of our vehicle, explaining to her it was a 1970 bus. She smiled and said “Oh, is it that white one out in the parking lot? We’ve been talking about it here at the restaurant.” She came back a few minutes later and gave us the name of Rick’s Automotive, located just around the corner.

Dorothy coughed and spluttered her way to Rick’s garage and right on cue, we were becoming the center of attention. Rick, the owner came out to greet us and took Dorothy into the his garage almost immediately. Dutifully wearing his tie-dyed shirt that I made for him, Matt had a good laugh with Rick, filling him in on Dorothy’s plight as he assessed her issues. He moved around the engine with subtle confidence and I knew right away, Dorothy was in good hands. I was growing more and more impressed at how friendly everyone was in Farmington.

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Rick worked his masterful magic and got Dorothy purring like a kitten in about an hour. We were so grateful that we slipped him an extra tenner to go out and have lunch on us. By the time we pulled out of the drive, Dorothy was singing a totally different tune, which brought on a simultaneous sigh of relief that waved over both of us.

Heading west on hwy 64 and 170 miles from our next destination in the majestic Monument Valley, we stopped briefly to fuel Dorothy and grab some lunch for us later in the day. Again, drawing more attention. Matt and I had actually gave it some thought if we could recall seeing another VW bus similar to Dorothy on our trip and both agreed, we had not.

I took the wheel once again and spent the next 100 miles coercing Dorothy up more hills. The expansive scenery changed with every hill we climbed or corner we rounded, so much that I found myself leaning into the windscreen to see if I could get a quicker glimpse. Massive rock formations started to arise from the scarlet desert plains, it was an incredible sight to comprehend. How did these rock formations happen in the middle of nowhere and how long did it take?

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Before we achieved our final destination to Monument Valley, we took a 5 mile detour to the Four Corners. This is where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet in a four-way corner. The Navajo Indians have a big presence in this region and own several landmarks, four corners being one of them.

The scant landmark set us back $6.00 to look at a circle with the four states stamped on it, seriously! Matt and I took a bunch of pictures of the circle and then went and popped the camper top and had lunch with Dorothy, it was more interesting by far!

An hour later we were driving through Monument Valley, all I can say is holy cow, what a beautiful sight! I can’t even imagine how to describe the panoramic vision. Just jaw dropping gorgeous is all I can say! As we delved deeper into the valley the winds began to blow crimson sand across the tarmac with such force, little Dorothy was struggling to keep on her side of the road. I was starting to get worried that it would grow to be too much for her large angular body and suggested to Matt that maybe we should wait until the next morning to come back out.

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He convinced me it would be okay and we kept on driving another 20 miles until we crossed from Arizona into Utah by following the billboards that seemed to escort us to the visitor’s center and a hotel called The View, located in the center of the valley.

With the exception of a few nights, we make no arrangements for lodging, we basically just wing it. This is huge for me, because I have spent a life-time always planning where I would stay in my travels. To wrap my head around just “winging it” five years ago, would not be an option, so I was surprised at how comfortable I was becoming at the spontaneous idea.

Matt and I pulled up to this hotel, The View was surrounded by the most spectacular compilation of high rise rocks towering into the heavens , we just had to stay here. I was holding my breath as we walked up to the front desk to make the impossible request. To ask for a room with no prior reservation at 5:30 PM in the evening. I think a bead of perspiration perched itself on my brow in the long pregnant pause as we waited for the desk clerk to give us the bad news. Finally, she turned to us and said, “we have one room left”. Wow, that was now two nights in a row we heard that being said and like the night before, we jumped on it.

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Because it was the last room, it was the least desirable to most because it lacked the outstanding view, but to us it was perfect because we could park Dorothy just outside our window and keep an eye on her.

Being the photography nuts that we are, we quickly grabbed our camera gear and went back out into the blustering wind to get our much awaited sunset shots of the elegant gigantic stones. Matt and I had a blast shooting off hundreds of shots, one turning out better than the next as the sun’s rays cast ever-changing light on our long-awaited subject. The sun soon was gone and we were getting hungry, satisfied that we achieved what we came here for.

We ate dinner overlooking the stunning view as the sun finally dove behind the western ridge, indicating to us that is was time for us to retire for the evening. With no sleep the night before and navigating Dorothy all day, the time came not a moment too soon. What an incredible day!

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Footnote: Reading all the words of encouragement and the support by friends and family from California to the UK and everywhere in between, I wanted to say thank you. It has been so cool to see all the positive attention and encouragement from everyone in regards to Dorothy. That a little 43 year-old Volkswagen bus could evoke so much attention is just overwhelming to Matt and I. We love it and we love you for your caring words to keep her going to make that next 800 miles. We have gone 1,100 miles in 6 days and we fully accredit it to all the people who showed an interest in her.

I say this with absolute sincerity, Dorothy couldn’t have made it this far without you!

October 4, 2013 - Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus | , , , , , , ,


  1. So, what was wrong with Dorothy?

    Comment by Pete | October 4, 2013 | Reply

    • The mechanic said the contact breakers were worn and he reset the fuel mixture. Shes been running great ever since!

      Comment by motoette | October 5, 2013 | Reply

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