Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fire on the Mountain #9

Last week I attended the 9th "Fire on the Mountain" Bus campout. This takes place in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NE Georgia. This year was very special as my friends Steve & Tammy renewed their wedding vows. The weather was perfect, the lake was lovely, and the friends were many, even a few new ones. Click here for my post about last years FOTM~

My first kayak experience~ fun!

View from my camper~ 2001 Ford Ranger with Camper Shell

Celebration Decoration

Bell looking for her Daddy/my campmate Snoopy~ with his beautiful bus Wanderlust

Typical.. beers & chit chatting with great people

I camped out in the truck because Lenny is having his engine swapped this week! Next week I can look forward to properly breaking it in, and bringing the loaner engine down to Snoopy in Charleston, this way someone else can use it.  That's what VWs do~ they bring people together & teach us to share & help each other.  Although it takes a lot of work at times, its all these great times that really pay off.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wilmington, North Carolina

I've spent the last month in Wilmington NC meeting people and checking out the local scene. So far, I like it!

The last few photos were taken last night at a club meeting for Oil & Air VW Club which takes place the first Thursday of each month.  Although there is another meeting coming up in 2 weeks to talk about a VW parade at an Oktoberfest locally.  Free admission which includes food & beer- count Lenny & I in!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

High Country Bus Festival 16

This year was my 3rd year in a row going to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, camping along the New River, the oldest river on Earth behind the Nile.  Twin Rivers campground is located along side of the New River, ending at a fork which one path flows South, while the other flows North.
This year the festival began on Monday, however I arrived Friday so I could get a little R&R in before the parties began. A few others showed up Friday and Saturday, but really started to trickle in Sunday.  Next year's HCBF will begin Sunday.

Newlyweds (middle), married in the river~ most beautiful wedding I've seen

Lenny and Karla

Jim & I ~ party animals (Sprout in background)

Lenny all decked out, with new tattoo

Tye Dye Tutorial

"Gears & Wrenches" ~ Acorn & Butternut squash


Ahhh, this is life

Rosin cooked potatoes~ strange and delicious

Wonderful Friends

Oh, Lenny... breakdown in the street makes way for plenty of help

Riding in style 1990 Vanagon can't wait to smoke these two slow Bays
The alternator went out on Lenny sometime during my drive to High Country, and I found out when we tried to leave.  So we had Nationwide tow him to Boone, where we had the alternator rebuilt. 
A word on AAA: I used AAA for many years and recently saw a decline in service.  I was not unhappy with AAA, but when suggested by Nationwide to ad their roadside assistance/trip interruption coverage for just $20 extra a year, I jumped for it.  At the moment I don't know how many times they'll tow, but its up to 100 miles each time and you do not have to wait with the vehicle for pick up.  AAA would assume I would wait on the side of the road in my car for sometimes as much as 4 hours before pick up, not to mention the delays that happen because other tows (like car accidents) took precedence.   Nationwide doesn't need you to stay and doesn't expect you to, has better service and is cheaper.  If you use Nationwide, I highly recommend the extra package.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We've got a loaner engine in, had a few tricky situations with it~ vacuum line leak, timing got a bit off, oil sensor went out, accelerator pedal sticking or coming totally off.  But we've got it all together now and plan to hit the road this afternoon for North Carolina.  Going to visit the organic farm we visited in November, and then hitting up High Country Bus Festival for our 3rd year in a row.  The first year  we camped for only 2 nights. The second year we camped for 3 or 4 nights, this year we are going for a wopping 10! Will report back with trip photos in a few weeks. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to kill an engine

Drive long distance in 110 degree heat...

engine is out, going back to Bear to be fixed, in the mean time we are putting in a carburated loaner engine.  Should be on the road Saturday evening! 

Drive smart, if the engine's air cooled (and especially new) don't drive during the middle of a steamy, southern day!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Slow Progress

The paint job was a quick one, and looks pretty good.  We've already had two friends give him "tattoos", with more to come soon. 
Last weekend we drove him up to Morganton NC and back.  We got to see our friend Peter who is traveling from New Mexico.  Lenny easily turned a 4 hour drive into 9...  the hottest weekend so far with temperatures over 100 degrees, Lenny's engine couldn't cool itself.  After only an hour of driving we had to pull off for two to let the oil cool.  Luckily we have gauges that tell us when things are getting too hot.  Now we are in the process of installing a secondary oil cooler to keep up with the heat. 

Lenny and Dean
However, all of these small problems cropping up are adding up- leaving our pockets sad.  This time we may only get to travel to Colorado and back, because we are too afraid to drive all the way across the country and run out of money or face more costly repairs.  If we run out of money here we have lots and lots and lots of friends who would put up with us while we find jobs/places to live/etc.  I guess right now I am choosing the comfort of the known, and shying away from the excitement of the unknown. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Yesterday I woke up at 5am and got to work around 6am sanding and painting Lenny~ I am about 80% done.  I decided to go with a spray paint job again, with pretty much the same scheme. I want people to recognize us still. I left out the teal side stripe and the white bubble on the front.  I also painted his "eyelids"...  today I plan to finish up the dark blue stripe on the driver's side and the dark blue on the rear and his paint job will be finished.  Now just need to get these tired muscles moving...

Bondo Nightmare

Rust reforming around windows/windshield the worst

removable cushion cover (was a bedsheet, then a curtain..) with "poop tent" to left~ fits perfectly

Trey installed the gauges and they work! Just needs to wire into the lighing

Ta-daaaa! Fresh coat of paint looks nice

looks a bit sad with out the VW emblem, need to stick it back on
Next week I plan to spend all week in NC visiting friends in the Raleigh area and possibly a trip to the beach.  I am going to let my friends do some custom art on him, it will be a nice way to remember all of my friends over here while I am over there.
We still need to bleed the breaks so we haven't driven him since Friday.  Although I did move him about 2 feet yesterday...  engine starts with just a slight turn of the wrist.  So nice! I believe this evening when Trey gets home we will bleed those breaks. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome Home Lenny

We drove Lenny home Friday! His engine sounds amazing, shifts smoothly and breaks badly~ we figure there is air in the break line. We plan to bleed to breaks tomorrow since this weekend we have been busy installing gauges, stocking the cabinets, patching holes in canvas & various odds and ends. Tomorrow morning I will wake before the sun comes up to begin a paint job touch up. I am hoping this Wal Mart has the gloss version of the paints he already has~ I love the paint job too much to change it now. Besides I foresee more body work in the future...
replaced the large pile of pots and pans with 2 person camp cookware purchase for $10 @ the flea market

Put cleanable wood grain shelf liner in all cabinets

Ooooh Engine looks and sounds amazing

Cut a scrap bit of wood to cover spare tire hole in "closet", use to be just cardboard

New stickers added

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Preparation is Key

While Lenny is having his various kinks worked out we have been taking this extra time to make sure we are 100% prepared for our trip.  Last time we purchased the D. Light solar lantern and absolutely loved it!  It charged even in cloudy weather and since it recharges freely we never had to worry about leaving it on during night time walks or using it too much.  There are 2 settings- dim and bright but they are both about the same...  Since our trip we have lost our beloved solar lantern so we purchased two more.  This new and improved lantern even has a luminous button!  Its affordable and works beautifully.  I highly recommend it.  Now, it isn't as bright as a flashlight or headlamp, but its a great lantern.
Last time we found ourselves with a tad too much stuff inside the cabin.  We found ourselves wanting to get rid of items we were not currently using, but was very useful in the future (i.e. seasonal clothing, full propane canisters, seasonal bedding, etc).  We purchased this water, grit, and light proof cargo bag to fit on top of our luggage rack.  Since it is summer time, we will store our down comforter, winter clothing, and various others safely out of the way.
I mentioned before in my post about my Goodies for the Road that our diet was severely lacking in the health dept.  Also since we were eating bland, highly processed meals we found ourselves dining out more often.  With all the delicious new foods you find traveling that instant box of mashed potatoes is quickly forgotten.  So we purchased a sampler pack of dried foods from Harmony House (who is based out of Greenville, NC) and a 12 ounce container of dried veggie mix for use in soups, rice, and other meals we will make. The sampler pack is amazing and will allow us to figure out what we will use the most and what we like.  We plan to order more from Harmony House in the future. The deluxe sampler pack we ordered contains 1 cup of the following- " Broccoli Flowerets, Green Cabbage, Diced Carrots, Sliced Celery, Whole Sweet Corn, Green Beans, Jalapeno Dices, Tangy Green & White Leeks, Chopped Onions, Green Sweet Peas, Red & Green Mixed Bell Peppers, Diced Potatoes (excellent flavor), Spinach Flakes, Tomato Dices, Tomato Powder, Lentils, Split Peas, Red Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Dark Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Beefish Bits (Meatless), Chickenish Bits (Meatless), Hamish Bits (Meatless), Taco Bits (Meatless), Chickenish Chunks (Meatless), Beefish Chunks (Meatless)."
Last, and *eh hem* most importantly we purchased this privacy tent, or as I like to call it, the "Poop Tent."  Now we won't have to worry about late night trips out into the desert with a shovel, or early morning drives to the nearest gas station/walmart/ etc to use the restroom.  We have our own.  It even has a hook on the inside to hang our solar lantern on, plus screened windows.  Reviews stated that the hook is not strong enough to hold a solar shower, but I figure I can set it up close to a tree or the Bus and set the shower bag on something sturdy.  The fabric does feel a bit thin, so we must take care to not tear or rip the tent.  But it sets up easily and is something we very badly needed last time. 
Now all we need to do is pay 6 months of insurance ahead, get the Bus all in order and hit the road.  I've already written down some of the best looking free campsites from the wonderful site http:/

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Curse of Lenny

A cold start valve was leaking gas, which produced the fire last week; which came in today, but was the incorrect one.  The mechanic was able to locate the correct one and it will be in Friday at 1:00pm, with the Bus being done that evening...  If everything goes accordingly...
At this point it we are stopping and asking ourselves, whats going on here? Is Lenny Cursed?  So many different, random events keep happening delaying, aggravating, and costing money. Maybe its the Ultimate test of Patience? Hmm...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Towing & mechanics

This year alone Lenny has rode on the back of a tow truck 5 different times.  This brings him up to 10 times total.  Apparently he prefers to ride around instead of drive himself...
Today he is going to be looked at by a skilled mechanic who has done work on several VWs over the years and has himself a VW dune buggy.  He was aware that my Bus was fuel injected and a strange year.  He will re-check everything the previous mech had done putting in the engine (to ensure accuracy) as well as diagnose why the fire happened and get that bad boy running for me for good.  He is also going to install  3 gauges for us: the oil temp sensor, head temp sensor, and RPM.  The first two are exteremely important in keeping that engine alive.  Going up hills, or driving long hours in the heat can raise the oil temperature to drastic levels, damaging the engine.  Also ensuring the heads are functioning at the right temp is important, if any of these temps get too high we will be able see this on the gauge and cool off.
All that is left is putting some new bushings on the shifter, getting the tires balanced and rotated, breaking in the engine and paint job.  I purchased high gloss, anti-chip tractor paint from my local tractor supply.  I chose "Ford Blue".  I bought two gallons but I may return one for another color to do two tone.  After all the grief Lenny has caused I sort of want to paint him all blue, so he will now be renamed "Lenny the Blue Meanie." I'll have to teach him the way to Know and instead of No. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Road closed due to fire

not actual photo of lenny's fire!
Less than 2 weeks from our date to leave and the engine has caught fire.  After the backyard mechanic we've paid to remove and install the engine connected the fuel injection vacuum hoses all wrong, we towed the Bus back to our house to put in new hoses we bought, plus the clamps that he never put in.  That solved our engine rough idle, and began the initial break in process.  Revving at 2500 RPMs we got to 3 minutes of the 15 needed before Trey yelled "turn it off! Fire!!" he ran inside for an extinguisher (we misplaced ours last week!) and I ran over to the hose, yanked it over to the Bus and put out the small fire near the distributor.
Now we feel like we are back to square one.  Just a few wires are burnt, but the damage is minimal.  We are lucky to have supportive family who are able to help us financially and emotionally, and help us get the Bus to a mechanic to have it on the road for good.  We hope to find a local mechanic tomorrow who knows VWs well, so far we haven't found such a person and we have searched for 7 months... The option to sell has also crossed our minds.  Maybe we will find resolution tomorrow, we hate to come this far just to give up, but we are also becoming over-burdened by our troubles.  Regardless we plan to depart from South Carolina in less than 2 weeks, bus or no bus.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Engine installation and various odds & ends

The engine is in! Tonight we will break it in as Bear instructed.  I don't think I can put in to words how excited I am to be driving the Bus again to new adventures.  It has been far too long, my friends.  We let him sit too long and now I look forward to a week of sanding, grinding, priming and painting.  There is even a new development of rust on the beams.  We went over to the tractor supply store and bought some tractor paint in "ford blue" which is just a dark colored blue.  I wanted to go for a buttercup yellow but there was only one gallon left and I wanted to get two just in case it takes more.  Also I really didn't want him to be too bright, so the blue will do well.  In time if I meet a good graffiti artist Lenny may get graffiti'ed.
We bought a cupholder which was very badly needed last time.  And I fixed up the bench seat storage door, took the paper off that was covering the old formica, painted on it and attached a weather stripping around the edges.  The top of the wood that the seat sits on also  has the weather stripping to protect from damage when the seat is folded out as a bed.  Just 2 1/2 more weeks and we are on the road.  I plan to have the tires rotated and all that checked out the end of this week.  Pretty soon we'll have close to a brand new Bus!