Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Old Van vs Armadillo

First you have to understand that if you live in certain parts of the United States, there are armadillos.   Then you have to understand about armadillos.  They are armored mammals, which works for them when they are up against predators.  It doesn't help much when they've wandered into the highway in front of a vehicle traveling at highway speeds.  

They also have short little legs and very poor eyesight.  They seem to like to waddle along the side of a highway.  You can see the inherent issues.

Occasionally you will see a live one hoofing it down the shoulder of the road, but for the most part, the ones you see near highways are relatively flat.  However, live ones are out there, chugging along on their short little legs.  

There never really was an Old Van-Armadillo standoff.  The armadillos moved faster.

But there was this time that the Old Van ALMOST zipped by an armadillo.  It was on a downhill slope, and the van was gaining.  But then, there was a little rise in the landscape, and the van lost momentum.  And slowed down.  And the armadillo drew even with the van and then veered off into the desert.  Low, cheating armadillo!  Play fair, you!!!  

I think that at night when it slept, the Old Van dreamed about that encounter.  It almost got the drop on an armadillo.  And if the armadillo hadn't cheated, it might have.

Seriously, nobody thought Old Van was going to hit an armadillo, did they?  Good grief, no.  Hippie vans are very peace loving.  And also, it was very possible that running over an armadillo could cause an old VW bus to tip over.  

This is all.  Next time, I promise to make up a better story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Like Talking about the Old Van

I really do.

Because it had personality.  Not unlike a large, badly behaved pet.

And if during the summer the front seat passenger wanted to put his or her bare feet on the dashboard, it not only really didn't matter - it was more or less expected.  It harked back to The Day.

Everybody says 'Back In The Day'.  The thing is, nobody really knows when that day WAS.  For some, it was the '60s.  But not for all.  Just some.  There are people out there for whom Back In The Day was the mid '90s. Flexibility is good.  Especially if you are wanting to put your feet on the dashboard of the vehicle in which you are riding.  (It is uniformly agreed that it is very bad for the driver to do this.  Especially when the vehicle is in motion.)

Our old bus had quirks.  Although as I'd never really gotten the hang of driving a standard transmission vehicle, there's a possibility that not all the quirks were of the bus.  I may have caused a few.  It almost always stalled out when I drove it, especially when I tried to shift from First to Maybe Faster, the next gear up.

There allegedly was an ''H' pattern?  On the old bus, it was more of a drunken Y with codependency issues.  If you thought really pure thoughts, you could usually get from First to Maybe Faster.  Sometimes it was hard to tell because…maybe it was faster.  Or not.   I suppose speed is relative.  5mph is faster that stopped.  10 is faster than 5.  You can extrapolate this for yourselves.  Don't bother getting into larger numbers.  It never went over 55 unless there was a long downhill stretch involved.

There were basically4 gears.  First, Maybe Faster, This One Might Be Neutral and Sometimes It BacksUp.  None of them did anything consistently.  As stated, sometimes it backed up.  Sometimes all that happened was that the steering wheel fell off.  But that wasn't a big issue when it occurred  as the bus was not, nor likely to become, a moving vehicle.  So you just woogled the wheel around until it more or less went back in place and had another go at finding Sometimes It Backs Up.

To park randomly in a place where you could simply go forward as needed was the idea.  Sadly, most parking areas were not designed with this need in mind.  Sometimes you had to just attempt to find neutral and then push the thing around until you could drive away without a need for Sometimes It Backs Up.

We were extremely trim and fit while we had the old bus.

This is all for today.

Tomorrow I might remember The Trip In Which We Bought a Sheep Fleece.  It's a good story in that involves both an old VW bus and a real sheep fleece, which at one time had been worn by a real sheep.  Although the real sheep is not a player in that story.  I suppose we could have easily carted a sheep around in the old bus.  We just didn't.

There are many stories, among them The Time We Had To Stop Quickly, The Time There Were Cattle On The Road, and Head To Head With An Armadillo.  My numerous avid readers can vote.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Which Cozy Natters On

I have not blogged in a long time.  Should I make a confession now?

Nah.  Let me just tell you some stuff.  A  friend of mine has a vintage ad, circa 1966, featuring the brand new 1966 VW mini bus.  It's shown sitting proudly in the driveway of a cute little mid-century bungalow, as if it's the ideal vehicle of the middle class 1965 family.  Dudes.  Really?  The only way a V-Dub bus would have shown up in that family's driveway is because their raggedy-ass college age son parked it there.  Possibly because he'd come home to announce that he was dropping out of school, renouncing the establishment and going to live in a commune somewhere unspecified.  

So, let's forget about RACAS now, because we know what happened there.  He dropped out, did his free living thing for a while, went back to school, got an MBA and now earns a 7 digit annual income.  

Let's talk about the micro bus.  Because we really don't know what would have become of it 50 years later.  Would it be nothing but a clump of metal in a wrecking yard somewhere?  The odds of it being still road worthy are pretty slender.  It might not have sustained roadworthiness into the 1970s.   If it survived today, it would likely be more in the lines of garden art than a functioning vehicle. They were badly underpowered for the size of the vehicle.  We actually owned one for a time - something art students were easily lured into because they were essentially just a big rectangle that you could configure however you liked, to transport your glazed pottery to the craft fair, hold all manner of oddly shaped supplies and gear, large canvases, etc.  And the interiors were really easy clean.  The seats were vinyl and bolted to the floor…which was just metal floorboards + rubber matting.  You could pop one of the bench seats out really easily for extra space.  And you could hose them out if something got spilled. Excellent in all respects except the little picky detail of - will it actually start, and then if having accomplished that, will it actually proceed in a forwardly direction?

Ours was prone to wanting a little boost to get into 1st gear. You could either get other art students to give you a push in return for carting their stuff to the craft fair. Or park on a hill. Or get an assist from what looked like a bunch of kindly Mafia guys on the turnpike in New Jersey.

(Why yes, yes we did. And yes, I'm pretty sure they were Mafia. Four guys in black business suits in July, driving a big Lincoln with tinted windows? You tell me.  They were stopped at the rest area where the van chose one of its (numerous) times to crap out. The potentially Mafia guys thought the kids were adorable and gave them a bag of tomatoes they said was from one of the guy's mom's garden. There were several bags of produce in the trunk of the Lincoln. If there were body parts or cement shoes in the trunk also, we did not see those.) Nor would we have seen them if we HAD seen them. We were stupid enough to have actually purchased a VW micro bus. But not total idiots. (It cost around $500, and the previous owner was VERY happy to get that…and this was not so long ago that $500 was a sum of money usually related to even very used used car prices.)

In time, we graduated from art school and did the Real Life thing, during which it rapidly came apparent that we'd need a car that didn't require a push start.  And so we found someone with a few bucks to spend on an iconic way of life.  Handily, his brother-in-law was a shade tree mechanic.  Who knows.  Maybe the old bus is still out there, chugging around somewhere.  But probably not.

We got a Buick and became boring.  

How about you?