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!

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

Day 9 – Look, But Don’t Touch!

DSC00718 (Mobile)We woke up to another brilliant sunny day, the temperatures were noticeably back on the rise, which meant we could put our shorts on! Still feeling a little disappointed from the day before in our choice to drive all the way out to Page, Matt and I decided to take advantage of the complementary breakfast at the hotel, in order to make our quick exit out-of-town.

The confining eating area was filled with lodgers, who most likely had the same plan as us, because it was standing room only at the Corn Flakes counter! This actually gave Matt an opportunity to start chit chatting with two couples from Kent, England, who had also been left to rethink their travel plans due to the government shut-down. They enlightened us on a few scenic viewing points we could go to in order to not make our trip a total loss.

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On our way to the recommended viewing sites, we passed a do-it-yourself car wash and decided Dorothy needed a bath. Matt lathered her with bubble gum pink suds in an effort to remove the accumulated road debris from her pug face and wide girth (don’t tell her I said that!). It was a two-person job to clean her up, but twenty minutes later she was a sparkling beauty! Matt went to start her up and she wasn’t turning over. We both looked at each other with the same expression of “uh oh”. Four or five clicks of the ignition and were now really getting concerned. It was clear, Dorothy did not like having a bath.

Finally, Matt was able to turn over the engine, I kept my foot on the accelerator while he went back to her hind quarters to douse her contacts with WD-40, which we think got wet from the intensity from the sprayer.

Wiping another bead of sweat off our brow we putt, putted down to the viewing area to find a car park full of tourists. The minute we pulled up we were accosted by at least 10-12 people all wanting to know about Dorothy. There was a couple in particular from Michigan who asked if they could have their picture taken in front of the bus. Matt offered the option of sitting in the bus, but they were happy to stand by Dorothy, explaining that the picture was for an ongoing family joke.

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Another woman we talked to from Australia reminisced about how she rode Route 66 back in the 70”s in a VW bus with a group of stoned hippies. Seeing the glow on her face as she relived the story, I could tell she was enjoying the fond memory. It was very cool!

Several minutes after we came back to see what we came for, the dramatic Glen Canyon with the Colorado River below, being held at bay with the enormous Glen Canyon Dam. The small canyon was surrounded by these really interesting layered rock designs in a lush red tone, which made it even more authentic .

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Back on hwy 89, retracing our tracks from the day before, we traveled the eighty miles back to Kanab and hung a right still on 89, heading north to hwy 9 to Mt Zion National Park. A few minutes of climbing, we reached the entrance to the park, where we were greeted by a ranger. He told us because it was a public road we could drive through, but under no circumstances could we stop. Along with his stern instructions came a white sheet of paper echoing the same words stamped in bold black ink. I proceeded to drive Dorothy as slow as I could in order to fully take in the incredible colossal terra-cotta mountain range. There is just no decent way to describe the stunning views we encountered. The famous park gave the feeling of intimate closeness within the tight peaks and valleys, but with the most immense mountain ranges I had ever seen.

Twisting and turning slowly descending downward, we were immersed in the most exquisite deep rich cayenne red forest of towering rocks for the next 5 miles, even the road was a beautiful red clay color. By not being able to stop was like giving a child candy and then forbidding him to eat it! It was seriously difficult not to do. Matt took as many photographs as he could out the window. When we exited the park we were able to stop and take a few more.

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We continued on for a few more miles to the town of Virgin, where we (and I use the term loosely!) decided to camp with Dorothy for the first time. I actually resisted and was a little relieved when we were finding it difficult to go forward with the original plans to camp because of the parks being closed. I thought this would actually benefit my reluctance to want to camp. But, I was sweet talked into it or maybe it was more like being quilted into it from making Matt wear the tie-dyed shirt I made him! Either way, I consented!

We got a nice spot nestled in the Zion palisades and made a fire and then cozied up for the night in the van. It was actually pretty fun and I would definitely do it again, especially with Matt!

October 8, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 7 – Dorothy Has a Thing for the Beatles

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This morning we were up and ready by 5:00 AM, but this time was purposefully in order to be prepared for the magnificent sunrise that would soon come to light behind the massive statuesque crags.

Matt and I sat in the lobby waiting for a few minutes until we started to see the sun begin to peek its head up. We ran out to the overlook where we were the night before, shooting the same scene in the setting sun. I was surprised to find several other people out as well. But then thinking about it, why wouldn’t they?

It was absolutely freezing out to the point where I started to lose the feel in my finger tips. It was an unexpected temperature change from the past week wearing shorts and t-shirt. It must have dropped 30 degrees from the day before! We hung on for as long as we could, enduring the unfamiliar frigid atmosphere until we were satisfied with our photographs.

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We fired up Dorothy around lunch time with no issue other than her stalling a few times before she was completely warmed up. Matt and I are convinced she is an attention seeker, always wanting to be dotted on first thing every morning. We gladly accepted the minimal demand and made our way back to Kayenta and west on hwy 160 hoping to get into the Grand Canyon, a hundred or so miles away.

Driving a vintage VW bus is not like driving a modern car. We found ourselves envying other drivers with advanced technology cars…like power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning! If one of us was only able to drive the long trek, it would have been a major problem, because of the concentration and strength to maneuver her around. She is exhausting!

DSC00617 (Mobile) It was my turn to drive and we decided to play the 60’s & 70’s play list on my iPod I had downloaded for the trip. I made a compilation of the Young Bloods, The Guess Who, Beatles, Santana and others. There were approximately 72 songs on the play list. On shuffle, the first song that came on was Get Back by The Beatles, second song, Strawberry Fields Forever, The Beatles. This went on for 4 or 5 songs. Matt and I both looked at each other and started to laugh, convinced Dorothy was controlling the music selection on the stereo. Dorothy almost exclusively played every Beatles song on the list before any of the other songs played…..hmmm?

Later I was thinking about it, 1970 was the year Dorothy was born and it was also the same year the Beatles broke up…..Coincidence? I don’t know, you be the judge!

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Twenty miles into our journey, the scenery slowly morphed from a beautiful silhouette of mountain ranges into more of a desert landscape. At a steady 5,000 ft, we started to climb another 1000 ft before reaching the Desert View entrance to the Grand Canyon. Earlier, we had been informed by several different people that the Northwest entrance was run by the Indian Nation and that it might be possible to enter the park.

We arrived to find a park closure sign. Disappointed, we retraced our tracks back up 89A , passing our original turn from 160 and up into Echo Canyon. What an incredible massive display of sienna stained cliffs that seems to go on forever. It made little Dorothy seem infinity small in comparison. With some of the most gorgeous backdrops this country has to offer, both Matt and I found it interesting that the towns and scattered dwellings appeared to be owned by communities with little to no revenue. The small run-down town of Tuba, AZ was filled with beat-up mobile homes perched on dirt lots. It was difficult to imagine what life would be like living there.

Passing the scattered small rectangular shaped fabricated homes, we noticed spare tires as a commonality on the roofs. We could only surmise that it was a local economical technique in preserving their shelter from the harsh seasons from the desert.

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Unexpectedly, we had to travel another 13 miles off course because of a road closure at the gap on 89, due to a landslide last winter. Twenty minutes later we pulled into a Chevron station at Marble Canyon. A dot of a little town, if you want to call it that. There was a hotel there, so we both thought it best to stay for the night. I had to go into the gas station in order to book a room, very strange..

We were literally in the middle of nowhere, engulfed by the most spectacular cayenne colored cliffs I had ever seen! This also was where Lee Ferry & Glen Canyon National Park entrance, which was directly beside the Navajo Bridges. Two magnificent bridges (pedestrians and motor vehicles) that overlooks a gigantic gorge to the Colorado River below.

After checking in and unloading our gear into the hotel room, we took a walk down to Marble Canyon to take pictures of the awesome views. We noticed a large gravel parking lot full of what looked to be a make-shift campsite. We thought it strange but carried on walking until the penny dropped after seeing the big red sign that read “ Glen Canyon closed after a lack of appropriations”.

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We learned early the next morning after hearing some of the campers talking with other travelers in the local cafe how there was a combination of rafting and hiking groups that were stranded because of the government closure of the National Parks. We heard a young guy telling this couple about how he knew of people in his group that had been planning their trip for over a year. He also went on to explain, because the group organizers had planned out meals based on the daily stops while on the trip, the guests were having to ration out their own food supplies as a result of being stuck in a parking lot.

We had talked to a few people from the hiking group that had planned to stay a few days in Marble Canyon and then head into the Grand Canyon, but those plans were obviously squashed because of the National Park closures as well.

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In the beginning, the closures had only inconvenienced us with our plans to visit the Grand Canyon, but now we were starting to get worried hearing all the sad tales of other people’s disappointing experiences. We were excited about visiting Zion National Park, but we now had to start rethinking that idea and the rest of our trip…..

October 6, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment