Motoette -in forward motion

Bon Voyage Dorothy!

 

The last of my possessions from the US.

Will it all fit??

 

Hmmm, where do I start??? (As I look up and to the left tapping the right side of my cheek with my index finger). I am embarrassed to admit it has been quite a few months since I have updated Dorothy’s blog! But, I must say, I have a good excuse, as Dorothy has kept Matt and I very busy in her new job adventure as a wedding transportation vehicle.

Let me just jump back to March, when we scheduled Dorothy to leave the port of Oakland CA to make the long sea going journey to South Hampton UK. Matt handled the exporting of the bus and started working with a company out of the UK, which put us in touch with Aladdin Shipping in Oakland CA. They were very professional and I would highly recommend them for all your vehicle transport needs.

March the tenth was the day we drove the bus to Aladdin fully loaded with all my worldly possessions. I drove the rental car for the 20 miles over bay and across the Richmond Bridge as Matt followed behind with Dorothy, clearly struggling with her extra weight gain. We made the short journey without incident and with great relief, pulled up outside of the Aladdin offices.

We were greeted by friendly faces, which immediately sensed our growing concerns in leaving the bus to board a big cargo ship, not knowing whether her delicate form would survive the harsh salt weather and the long cruise. To calm our nerves, John, one of the workers, offered to show us the warehouse where they store the vehicles before loading them onto the containers. We both nodded our heads in unison and followed him through a security door and into the huge warehouse filled with cars, trucks and even other VW buses!

Packing Dorothy with my last few belongings from home.

Packing Dorothy with my last few belongings from home.

What an incredible operation.  We could see the workers systematically loading cars and trucks into the cargo containers. There was one container where they were stacking four vintage cars with nothing but a skeleton of two-by-fours to support their weight on top of each other. I had a moment of panic thinking that was how Dorothy was going to be loaded. But, with the gentle reassurance from John, he convinced me that Dorothy would be tandem with one other vehicle. Whew!

 

After 30 minutes we finalized the paper work and Matt and I said our good-byes to Dorothy, who was to sit out front as we left her for the next hour until the people at Aladdin were ready to store her for the voyage 4 days later. Like doting parents, we sat outside in the rental car waiting for that hour until she was moved to her safe haven, the warehouse. An hour went by, then another 30 minutes. Then another 30 minutes and still she sat there patiently waiting to be taken in. After two hours, we finally had to just trust in the system and head back….reluctantly, I might add! It was the time we would see Dorothy on US soil.

 

Dorothy set sail on the Dallas Express on March 17 and was to arrive near London exactly one month later. We tracked her ports of call, starting with Los Angeles, CA then on to The Panama Canal. The ship docked in a port just after going through the canal and then on to North Carolina, where it made another stop. One more stop in Nova Scotia before it headed due east and towards the British shores.

Dorothy parked outside of Aladdin Shipping. The last time we would see her in the US...

Dorothy parked outside of Aladdin Shipping. The last time we would see her in the US…

 

While Dorothy was on her cruise, Matt and I dedicated a good portion of our day to promoting the wedding hire business, MoonstruckVW. Our main focus was to get noticed on Facebook by creating a more entertaining page for those VW bus enthusiasts. Posting fun and unusual pictures of things bus related stirred up quite a buzz and soon we were having inquiries for Dorothy. One of the frustrating things about doing wedding hire is, as a transport business, we can only do weddings and funerals (believe it or not!). So, it was a huge let down when the messages and phone calls started to come in only to request a price on proms! It was getting to the point where we just didn’t want to answer the phone anymore only to be foiled again by another prom inquiry!

Finally, people started to get the message when we changed our Web page by specifically stating our limitations. This was the turning point for us. Wedding related date requests started to pour in, and the prom seekers slowly diminished.

 

One of the other life changes we needed to make was to find a house that could adequately store Dorothy from England’s moist weather.

 

The Dallas Express, the ship that brought Dorothy to the UK.

The Dallas Express, the ship that brought Dorothy to the UK.

The prelude to shipping Dorothy:

We cruised the web for several months in search of the perfect house for Matt, his youngest son, Sean and me. Something that was big enough for the three of us, my two cats I had shipped from the US and garage big enough to house Dorothy and our two motorbikes. This would not be as big of a problem if we were doing this in the states, but here in England, garages are few and far between, especially two car garages.

 

Finally, in early February of 2014, I spotted a house in a little village outside of Stafford. The pictures looked really good, but looks can be deceiving when it comes to selling something on the internet. We took a ride to take a look and it was perfect for what we needed. A quaint, but larger house with a sizable English garden front and back and a two car garage! We had not gone back to the US as this time to ship Dorothy back to the UK, so we had no way to know if Dorothy would actually fit or not, but we were confident she would—-she would have to because the house was perfect and time was running out!

 

Dorothy all dressed up in her wedding attire in the UK!

Dorothy all dressed up in her wedding attire in the UK!

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September 5, 2014 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dorothy’s blog in chronological order:

Dorothy’s blog in chronological order:
The plight of a little 1970 Volkswagen bus known as Dorothy – Page 1
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/the-plight-of-a-little-1970-volkswagen-bus-known-as-dorothy/

The plight of a little 1970 Volkswagen bus known as Dorothy–Page 2
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-plight-of-a-little-1970-volkswagen-bus-known-as-dorothy-page-2/

The Plight of a Little Volkswagen Bus Known as Dorothy — Page 3
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/the-plight-of-a-little-volkswagen-bus-known-as-dorothy-page-3/

Day 1 – Dorothy’s Blog – A One Way Ticket to Wichita.
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/day-1-dorothys-blog-a-one-way-ticket-to-wichita/

Day 2 – Dorothy Takes to the Open Road
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/day-2-dorothy-takes-to-the-open-road/

Day 3 – Is This The Way To Amarillo?
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/day-3-is-this-the-way-to-amarillo/

Day 4 – Albuquerque and the Watermelon Mountains
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/day-4-albuquerque-and-the-watermelon-mountains/

Day 5 – Dorothy Has a Drinking Problem

https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/day-5-dorothy-has-a-drinking-problem/

Day 6 – Four Corners and Almost 7 Days Ago
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/day-6-four-corners-and-almost-7-days-ago/

Day 7 – Dorothy Has a Thing for the Beatles
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/day-7-dorothy-has-a-thing-for-the-beatles/

Day 8 – Turning Another Page
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/day-8-turning-another-page/

Day 9 – Look, But Don’t Touch!
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/day-9-look-but-dont-touch/

Day 10 & 11 – Viva Las Vegas!
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/day-10-11-viva-las-vegas/

Day 12 – What a difference a State Makes
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/day-12-what-a-difference-a-state-makes/

Day 13 & 14 – There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home
https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/day-13-14-theres-no-place-like-home-theres-no-place-like-home/

Dorothy – As Days Go By

https://motoette.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/dorothy-as-days-go-by/

Bon Voyage Dorothy

https://motoette.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/bon-voyage-dorothy/

March 10, 2014 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Family Affair – Dorothy’s New Home in California

A picture paints a thousand words!

A picture paints a thousand words!

It’s been an interesting 2 weeks since our triumphant trip, traveling almost 2,500 miles from Wichita Kansas to San Francisco California in a 1970 Volkswagen bus named Dorothy.

Just two days after we arrived, we took Dorothy to a small VW gathering called the Deutschland Dubs 2nd Annual Air-Cooled Roundup Picnic at the Presidio just over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The picnic was to be held at Crissy Field, but again, being tormented by the National Park closures, the organizers had to relocate the small group.

We were very excited to be able to attend and hang out with other dedicated Volkswagen owners just weeks after purchasing her. We were also a little hesitant to go because Dorothy had not been running well. she was stalling anytime we would apply the brakes to stop in the last few hundred miles of our trip.

Bus gathering overlooking the SF bay

Bus gathering overlooking the SF bay

In the end, it was taking both of us to drive her. One person to keep their foot on the brake and one person to keep their foot on the gas so she wouldn’t die. It was really becoming tiring and concerning. She also didn’t sound good, her idling point would constantly vary, so anytime Matt tried to adjust the idle it would soon change. Clearly, it was time to give Mike (my mechanic) a call.

Regardless, we went ahead and took Dorothy to the meet up. It was a rare clear, glorious sunny day in the famous foggy city. We pulled into the parking area at the Main Post where twenty to twenty-five other Volkswagens were parked. We saw a bunch of bugs and several bay buses with three splittys. Two of the bays looked just like Dorothy. Almost immediately Kim and Bob came over to Matt and I to say hi and ask about Dorothy. We explained to the nice couple from Sacramento about how we acquired Dorothy and our recent epic adventures driving half way across the country. They loved the story and then digressed into their personal “bus “ story when we asked about the history of what looked to be the brother to Dorothy.

Kim's bus as she found it at the wrecking yard.

Kim’s bus as she found it at the wrecking yard.

Kim literally rescued “Wes” within hours of being dismantled for parts in a wrecking yard two years ago. Kim knew she had been given a rare opportunity and spent these last few years rebuilding the engine, replacing parts and injecting some good ole elbow grease to clean him up! Matt and I were very impressed and happy to say Kim is now a fellow VW compatriot on earlybay.com and a Facebook friend.

Kim, Bob and Wes

Kim, Bob and Wes

We parked Dorothy next to an early sixties single cab splitty owned by Lloyd and Diana from San Jose. Not long into a friendly conversation, Lloyd told us he found his prized rustic relic from a convicted ax murder, who apparently liked to collect vintage Volkswagen’s when he wasn’t hacking people up! Obviously we thought Lloyd was joking, but unfortunately (for his victims) he wasn’t!

Lloyd and Diana from San Jose

Lloyd and Diana from San Jose

I loved what Lloyd did with the single cab, by giving it a “rat” look, which is the new term used to describe retaining the original rustic patina that is becoming so popular with vintage bus owners. The unique feature to this single cab, was he had retro fitted utility bars on the flat-bed that included a retractable awning, a removable table off the tailgate complete with a mini Weber and a Tepui tent folded neatly in its own case on top next to the sun deck. I was thoroughly impressed with his creativity!

Matt and I really enjoyed talking with the cute couple and was sorry when they finally had to leave after having a full weekend of camping. Hopefully, our VW’s will bring us together again sometime in the near future!

Lloyd and Diana's cool single cab creation!

Lloyd and Diana’s cool single cab creation!

As the morning progressed into the afternoon, we met more interesting Volkswagen owners like Jason who owns a 1973 convertible bug. He had done quite a bit of work to the engine, which was very impressive considering our current situation with Dorothy. I noticed a Hawaii license plate attached to the bumper, something owners do to indicate where the vehicle originated from. So, of course I asked the obvious question thinking I would get the obvious answer “oh, so you brought this bug all the way back from Hawaii?” His reply (to my surprise) “no, I’ve just been there 23 times!” Another new Facebook friend!

Kyle, another bug owner (and Facebook friend) apparently had one of the original “Herbie” cars from the famous 1960’s Disney movie. This bug was immaculate and amazing in its preservation. The glossy cream bug with the off-centered red, white and blue stripe was definitely in its element with a backdrop of San Francisco and parked in the same vicinity as the Disney Museum, founded by Walt Disney’s daughter exactly four years ago this month.

Kyle's "Herbie"

Kyle’s “Herbie”

One of the last bus owners we talked with that had another interesting story was a guy who had purchased a 21 window splitty sight unseen from Colorado about nine months ago. He told us he found this bus on eBay. The seller was a widow trying to sell her husbands bus which mainly sat in a garage for most of the years he owned it. Looking at it, I could see it was in really good shape, but that there were little things that needed doing.

He went on to tell the story about how he bought it. How he sat there for what seemed like hours, holding his finger over the “ buy it now” sign, contemplating whether or not to pay the thirty thousand plus sales price. He said he kept asking his girlfriend if he should do it? Her boisterous reply was “just do it!” So he finally did….seconds later, to his disappointment the screen displayed “ bidding closed for this item”. He was crushed!

Splitty bought on Ebay from Colorado

Splitty bought on Ebay from Colorado

He continued on, explaining to us how a light bulb went off in his head several minutes later to send the seller an email in his new-found overwhelming desire to buy the vintage bus, just in case the bus came up on auction again. Within a few hours he heard back from the seller, informing him that indeed the original bidder couldn’t come up with the money and the bus was up for sale again. Needless to say, the rest is history!

Matt and I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon sitting next to Dorothy in our red folding chairs basking in the autumn sun talking to people who passed by us. Our good friend Jan rode up on his BMW motorcycle to check out the action and to visit some of his VW friends. Jan has been an avid VW collector and fan, owning two rare models. A late fifties split window barn door bus and a split window bug, along with a small fleet of other Volkswagens in his drive. It was great to see him – Jan gave us a lot of information about Dorothy’s engine while all three of us sat at her back side, taking inventory of all her parts!

Matt, Jan and me

Matt, Jan and me

At three-o’clock we pulled out and headed home, extremely pleased with the events of our day. We met some great VW friends that will continue on with the aid of Facebook and gained valuable input from seasoned owners with our moonstruck goal to revitalize and maintain these delicate metal creatures.

I guess a person could be wooed by worse…like a Studebaker or an Edsel!

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 13 & 14 – There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home

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We left Tehachapi at around 11:00 AM, our next target point was Monterey, CA to have a quick over night visit with my 99 year-old grandmother. She still lives alone (I know, scary thought!) and is always up for some last-minute company.

Descending down the 4,000 ft drop from Tehachapi, we drove through hills that looked strangely like a huddled sleeping litter of tan sharpei puppies. Soon after, we leveled out into Bakersfield, a large farming town with (to my surprise) wineries popping up here and there along the long and arduous hwy 58. I had always heard Bakersfield was not the prettiest of towns and I have to agree. It had an industrial influence with clusters of unattractive suburbs surrounded by a lot of dry, dead, brown weeds!

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We pushed on traveling hwy 99 for a short distance and then redirected Dorothy west, onto interstate 46, which would connect us to hwy 101 eighty miles later. If you have never had the pleasure of visiting the southeast portion of the golden state of California, I can tell you as a native of northern California, you will know you have crossed the state-line by the bad, beat-up roads, high gas prices, ugly inland terrain and aggressive rude drivers! It was seriously the most uninviting state we had been through until we reached Monterey.

We arrived at my grandmother’s at just after 5 PM and had a short visit before going out for dinner. We had to get my grandmother’s petite, five-foot-nothing frame in the front seat of the bus, which was quite a picture! She couldn’t get over why we bought such an old vehicle and kept asking the question “why is it squeaking so much?” Matt and I just laughed not knowing exactly how to answer such an obvious question.

DSC00787 (Mobile)We had a nice visit, Matt fixed a few items for her, we spent the night and we’re gone by 9 AM the next morning, our fourteenth and final day.

We took off under typical coastal overcast skies heading north on hwy 1 before connecting back onto hwy 101 for the crowning 160 miles to San Francisco. It was no doubt a rewarding feeling for both Matt and I, but at the same time, a very sad moment knowing the next few miles was to be the conclusion to an epic and life changing journey.

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at lunch time and decided we needed to have a picture of Dorothy with the famous landmark, so we drove her down to Fort Baker a the base on the Marin side of the bridge. We posed Dorothy just right with the massive brick-red spanning arch behind. Before we could take our long-awaited photo’s we had a group of Chinese tourists come up to ask if they could have their picture taken with Dorothy. Matt politely obliged and accepted their camera for the unique photo opportunity.

DSC00798 (Mobile)Matt no sooner finished and a group from Holland approached us asking all about Dorothy. He explained happily one more time knowing it would probably be our last while still on our trip.

Twenty minutes later, after we managed to get our own pictures of Dorothy, we jump back in and made the short decline down into the picturesque town of Sausalito. Sausalito is perched right on the bay and the first town just after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, a place I know very well from growing in Mill Valley, which resides just next door. It’s an area that is very foreign to me now because of wealthy people moving in and an over abundance of tourists visiting all year-long. Remarkably, both towns used to be total hippy hangouts, so driving through with a 1970 VW bus was apropos. It’s just too bad no body would get it!

We stopped at a little Italian place for a quick bite just outside of the harbor town that Matt and I frequently go to when passing through. A mile down the road we voted to make a surprise visit to my sister, Barbra while she was at work to show her and her co-worker Eva the famous Dorothy.

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They both couldn’t stop giggling over her and what we had just accomplished over the past two-weeks. For my sister, seeing the bus really took her back in time to our dad’s VW bus growing up. She kept repeating the words “ It’s so small inside, I remember it being so much bigger!” Clearly reenforcing that everything looks bigger when you’re a child!

We talked her into taking Dorothy for a spin around the yacht harbor she works at. She excitedly hopped in and started Dorothy up. Putting some muscle into it, Barbi turned the 18 inch steering wheel navigating her slowly around the parking lot and harbor, waving and honking that distinct Volkswagen honk as she passed everyone she recognized. She couldn’t get over how difficult Dorothy was to drive, which (I think) gave her a more real understanding of what we went through in transporting the bus such a long way.

Soon after our little cruise through the parking lot, we said our good-byes to make the last 5 miles to San Rafael. Pulling in the drive, Matt and I both looked at each other and without a word we both embraced, silently comprehending and appreciating our great accomplishments over the past fortnight.

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Two weeks, 8 states, 130 gallons of fuel. 4 fuel additives, 1 litre of oil, 1 litre of brake fluid, 1 fuel filter, 1 set of points, two visits to the garage, 2,468 miles, a wedding and an incomprehensible amount of messing with her backside and we made it!

We know that Dorothy couldn’t have made it without the love and support of family and friends to encourage her along the long path back to California.

Matt and I would like to personally thank Dave, the previous owner for being a wonderful guide and mentor throughout our trip by text and/or email to help us pilot Dorothy to her destination. His last text to us upon arriving in San Francisco, “I am frigin’ crying! I love it and so proud of both you crazy people! Drive on!!”

Also to Pete and India in Albuquerque, NM for treating us to a delicious dinner, a cozy and beautiful place to crash out and Pete’s help to get the ailing Dorothy back on the road! Love you both! Everyone on Facebook, family on Viber and comments on the blog, your words of positive encouragement were overwhelming and so amazing in helping us to keep the faith to make our goal. Thank you from the bottom of our (and Dorothy’s) hearts!

Love.

Matt, Cindi and of course, Dorothy!

October 13, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment