2014 Summer Cruise: Tucson to Tahoe in an Air Cooled VW – Part 3
The more I read that quote the more I see into it. Maybe travel means more than the academically accepted definition. I don’t think Augustine was just talking about going from one place to another. I think he may be talking about going places outside your comfort zone and gaining those experiences that add to you as a person. Maybe we’re the World and our “pages” help make us who we are. Hmmmm…maybe I should lay off the cough syrup and Tarantino films and just finish this thing up.
OK! OK!!!!…dude, I get it. You have this apnea or somethin and you can’t sleep. So your only recourse is to try to wake up EVERYTHING else?!?! Who does that?! Roosters in Grass Valley do that on the day you’re heading back to Tucson. That’s who.
It was another beautiful NorCal morning and after some coffee, muffins, and morning news conversation I set about packing up for my trip back. Brock had to leave so he gave me a hug. My body disappeared into his 6′ 9″ 240 pound future San Francisco Giant frame. It was like a hugging a coliseum pillar! He turned to walk away, dragging his feet, clearly sad. I said “Hey man….Orange.” He turned to me and said “Salad.” (sniff…it’s a thing.) I thanked the Griningers for their graciousness, hospitality and friendship. Then I topped my car off with oil, (plot point!) waved one last wave and headed out.
I was excited because I was going places I had been for the most part. I was travelling alone but really I had zero concerns. I didn’t think I was going to get lost and my car’s only issue so far had been me running out gas. (Note: That running out of gas thing really isn’t uncommon for me. I know, It’s a skill) I ripped the first chunk off in no time. A lot of people were looking and smiling at the car. It’s soooooo nice up there. I waved at the Miner statue in Auburn, and I waved at the Roseville sign, and I started to wave at the Sacramento sign but then traffic happened. Remembering the fact that I had gotten disoriented more than once on the way up, I tightend my grip and made a steely grimace face to indicate a higher level of determination to not get lost again. Then I pulled off the freeway and asked a guy at the gas station if I was going the right way. He laughed because I explained that I couldn’t see the mountains in Tucson, and I was lost even though I had only been on one road the whole time!!
I got back on the freeway and continued on to my first stop of the day….Elk Grove VW!!
Now for those that don’t know, in addition to whatever it is I do here at Chirco.com, I’m also an automotive illustrator. I’m fortunate enough to get the opportunity to do work for a number of VW dealerships and other VW related entities.
I had pre-arranged a visit to Elk Grove VW which is one of, if not the most established VW dealership in California. They have a rich history and they are also very much into the aircooledcommunity, so I was a little geeked about getting a tour and stuff. I walked in and met with my point of contact. We sat in his office and laughed a bit, looked at some of my pictures, agreed to never, NEVER leg wrestle, and then we started the tour.
The dealership isn’t the largest I’ve been to but they have a very cool showroom and like most modern dealerships the shop was immaculate. The shop guys were bustin my chops about not having AC, which was cool. (pun) I was introduced to a “higher up” and he led me on the rest of the tour. Turns out they own the Audi dealership next door too, so we went in their to see one of only 92 Iron Man R8s in the USA. All I could think when I saw it was “damn…that thing is worth like 1 million nickels!!” I was a little embarrassed when I realized I actually said that outloud. I explained to them that I have inner monologue issues so they laughed and we were all good. The visit was top notch. I established contacts within the media group and hopefully down the road I will get an chance to do some work with them. I was very pleased.
As I pulled out and started to drive away, I noticed a spot of oil where I had been parked. Hmmm….maybe it was already there I thought to myself. (Queue the impending doom tonal change to the soundtrack.) I called my friend Greg who is a great mechanic in the area to see what he thought. He was a down the road a piece so I decided to keep going and check in with him later if there was an issue. He didn’t think it was a big deal so I felt better. Thanks for that man.
The next stretch was pretty uneventful. My anticipation was building like a 6 year old on Halloween day. I was heading to CB Performance for a visit and tour!!! The traffic wasn’t an issue, highway 99 wasn’t scary anymore. If I could have climed out of my car while flying down the freeway and stood on the hood yelling “I’M THE KING OF THE WOOOOORRRRRLLLLD!!!!” I would have. It was that magical. It was a hot day and I wanted the dealership to see the Thermador so it was on the car. I was zipping through Stockon and hit a pretty hard bump as the road was transitioning onto a bridge. I heard a pinging whizzing noise and looked in my rear-view mirror just in time to see what appeared to be the bracing pole for the Thermador falling non-gracefully to the ground. The Thermador was still on the window, but now it wasn’t as stable so I had to pull over and take it off. My trip just got hotter, but at least it was saved. I’m not gonna lie….I wasn’t happy. I used some colorful language then hit the road again.
I decided to stop just outside Merced to get a coffee. I ran into Starbucks, came out and saw some people drooling over my car. I talked to the strangers cause that’s what I do, then I checked under the car to see if my oil issue was still and issue an OH YEAH…it was an issue!! Now…You may not know this about me but I have the ability to skip intermediate emotional stages where things like logic and introspection live. That means I can go from calmly talking to strangers to full blown hysteria over a cap full of oil. No middle man. (note: I learned this at that moment.) I was past where Greg was so I called Chirco. Frank answered the phone, our call went like this.
Frank: Thank you for calling Chirco, this is Frank how can I help you?
Me: LOUDSCREAMJIBBERISHJIBBERISHCANCELTHECOTILLIONFAINTSPELL*! !@$#@ MORE!!@*&$! “oil” LOUDSCREAMJIBBERISHJIBBERISH!!!”
Frank: I’ll send you to the shop.
So…here’s what happened in case you haven’t figured it out. Earlier while saying goodbyes and chatting with the Griningers’ I absentminded-ly waaaaaaaay overfilled my oil. You know how oil is. A cap full spreads and it looks like a gallon on the ground. Bob in the Chirco shop thought that was the case, Greg mentioned it earlier and the point when I could have logically come to that conclusion myself was one of those intermediate emotional steps I raced past on my way to catch the Panic Train. After the oil “non-issue” was solved I got instantly happy again. (see how I do?)
The next stretch was great! Oil temp was fine, car was purring, and I managed to get a turkey pita down my gullet so everybody was happy. I flew through Fresno (sorry I couldn’t stop James and Pammie) and got off on the Visilia exit. Heading East towards Farmersville I began to notice that I may be in the most aptly named place ever! In my neighborhood it’s gun store, liquor store, gun store, liquor store (D. Chappelle)….in Farmersville it’s tractor, hay bale thingy, tractor, some guy in an Edgar suit, tractor, CB PERFORMANCE!!! wait….wha??? Seriously. Bam! There I was! I got my camera out and pulled into their parking lot all smiles and chocolate happiness and then I saw their door sign….Closed on Monday.
The montage of bitter disappointment in my mind went like this:
Price Is Right Failure Music, colicky baby crying, Sasquatch and a Yeti pointing and laughing at me, John Candy saying “Sorry folks,parks closed, the moose out front shoulda told you.”, and the Ohio Players Love RollerCoaster repeating the “say what?” part over and over.. .I was devastated.
There were a couple of guys painting the outside of the building. I asked if they worked there or if they were just painter guys. They said they were just painter guys so I walked like sad Brock back to my car….then I heard the door jiggling and the sound of frantic key rustling and the door flew open and a lady’s voice shouted “Lemorris!!!! Hey!!! We’re all in here putting stuff away from The Classic. Come on in!!”
Man…CB Performance is so frekkin cool! Great showroom including a doublecab that was a VW trends cover bus back in the day. Tons of plaques and schwag. Memoribilia for
days!!! Dave the CB counter guy was all mic’d up doin his thing. It was awesome to meet him in person. My man Marcus came up to meet me and do the tour. I got to see my designs hanging up on the wall. I got to see their shop areas, their offices, their human head borer, their manifold mountain and I got to meet “The Pat”. That’s right. One of the best aircooled VW engine builders out there. I always thought he was a myth like a Centaur or Grandmas with soft candy, but no….he was real! We all chatted for a while and Pat looked at my car. He came to the conclusion that I was silly and the car was fine. Marcus and I talked about work as I am doing some things with them and then they gave me a crap ton of stickers!! On my way out I said I feel like a beer. It was the end of their day so I got joined for a brew at a local pizza joint. We talked shop and ecommerce goofiness and in general had a really great time. Chirco.com carries CB Products so it’s nice to have a professional peer to peer business relationship with them as well as a personal business relationship with them. I can’t say enough good about CB Performance from the standpoint of their products which my car is full of, or their people. Outstanding, best client visit I have ever had, hands down. (Thanks for the beer too.)
After leaving CB I was pretty tired. I went to Bakersfield to stay in a hotel. I was out like a light. I didn’t get a ton of sleep because I was up at 4am and ready to hit the road again. It was going to be significantly hotter than my trip up and I wanted to beat as much heat as possible. Leaving Bakersfield I slid up the hill from the dog poo to the grassy lands of Tehachapi and then realized another issue. I can understand now why Vampires hate sunrise. The sunlight coming over the hills was so intense I saw spots…sparkly spots I tell ya. I had to slow way down to make it through. It was pretty but it wasn’t pretty pleasant. By the time I got to Edwards Air Force base things were good again. My carbs were singin to me and my car was cruisin. The temp was still under 100 so I decided to tear off a bigger piece. I went past Barstow and stopped at a little gas station in Newberry Springs. Usually this would be insignificant if not for the fact that it is right on old historic Route 66 and the station was right against a tall rock formation….anybody else seein this? It looked like the rundown version of Radiator Springs from the Pixar movie “Cars”! I saw a couple old trucks, a beat up Chevy sedan and definitely a few local characters. It was a feel cool moment for real. I’m glad I stopped there.
Now I was in full driving mode. Me and my car were like one. Like one big sweaty bag of skin meat in a tin can in the scorching desert. On top of that I was STARVING! I tore off another 120 miles and pulled into Needles, Ca. I got some gas and some water and a 44oz cup of ice. (this would prove to be pivotal) and then I saw a Taco Bell across the street. Score!!! I went to Taco Bell and decided to be real bad…I mean it’s already bad enough but I went for it…why not right? I ordered the horrible for you in every way Chalupa meal! That’s 2 Chalupas and a regular taco aka heaven. The fella doin the fixin took a while, like a long while but finally I got my food. I hopped in my car and thought “That poor little taco…he needs to be free of this mortal coil.” I unwrapped it and bit into it and all I got was a loud crunch, some bits of cheese and some lettuce fell out! I’m like what?!?! No meat? Was the meat not on sale?? I go back into Taco Bell and politely let them know. (Note:I never treat people who are preparing my food badly. I don’t like the taste of spit.) Anyway the guy makes me a new taco and I’m on my way. I totally scarfed the taco in the car…jut because he was Gen2 didn’t mean his fate would be any different. Then I hit the road. About 5 miles later I said “It’s Chalupa-thirty baby!”I unwrapped it and bit into it…..yep….you got it….no meat. My co-worker Pat laughed at this tale because he recalls when the same thing happened to me with 2 cheeseburgers from McDonalds one day in the office. He says it’s a sign that the universe wants me to be vegan. oh, and yeah…I ate the chalupas!!
The next 5 and half hours was pretty much the same thing. Hot…blistering, stinking hot. When I stopped I got another bottle of water and a full 44oz cup of ice. I drank the water for the first 30 minutes and then the ice water was melted to perfection so it was very refreshing. By the time I got to Buckeye I had to up my game. I soaked my shirt in the ice cold cooler water and put it
on. It was soooooooo nice. It was like the Thermador was my torso and the wind whipping through the car made me a human swamp cooler. The next town, Gila Bend was 37 miles away. When I got there, my shirt was bone dry. I was mad, but happy because I was an hour or so from home.
For the next 80 miles to my Tucson freeway exit I thought about all the fun I had. I felt lucky to have had an opportunity to even try something like this. I felt lucky to have such great friends and clients in the VW community. I felt lucky to have gotten a chance to make even more friends in the VW community. I looked down and my oil temp was 215 and it was 109 outside. I smiled…it was pretty damn hot, but both me and my car were still pretty damn cool because of what we did.
Whew…ok Augustine….there ya have it. Three more pages in my “World”.
I want to thank Chirco for sponsoring me and building my engine and caring about my car as much as I do, it’s the Chirco way. I also want to thank Chirco for letting me have a job where I get paid to do cool stuff like drive 2000 miles for fun.
More thanks to all my friends who helped me along the way. All you Havasu guys are next level to me now. I will see you again. Cory, Bob, Mona….Thank you Thank you Thank you for everything.
The Griningers, Bruce, Jill, Brock, (Sup D?!), Hapa, Stella, Millie, Bullfrogs, Chickens, Pigs, ramp, pond, and t-shirt shop, Thank you so much for just being. You guys are great great…great friends. Thank you for having me.
Thanks to the SR49 peeps and the NorCalians in general. Your show is off the chain and your local VW community is one the rest of the country is envious of. Thanks for all your help too. Knowing folks had my back made all this possible. (I’m siphoning tears over here.)
Mateo…I’ve never rubbed noses Eskimo style with another man while driving on steep mountain roads, but I sure hope it’s not the last time I get to with you…..You are my friend. I wish we had met sooner too.
…and finally thanks to all the people that took the time to read this series. If you have any questions you can shoot me an email at email@example.com, or my personal email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit Chirco.com and buy somethin so I can get a trip next year!
See ya next time.