to meet up with Mom and hang out at the beach for a few more days. Then we traveled North through Tempe, Arizona to visit with the kids (young men!).
We had a BBQ and got to hang out with awesome guys that are growing up to be awesome adults.
From there Alta returned to her favorite spa and service center, the former BB’s Project VW shop in Clarkdale. This is the shop that Bruce Brimhall (Geneva’s father) worked out of for many years. The weather is mild and the tools are abundant. Working on a dusty concrete pad with a local rock-n-roll radio station playing in the background encourages some creative modifications and careful mechanical work. So we set out to do both.
Alta lost a window! That’s right. We realized that we seldom opened the curtains on the rear, passenger side window. A few months ago we sealed up the rear drivers side and really liked the additional space it offered. So we did the same process on the passenger side. Clean glass. A coat of primer. A coat of color-match and the outside looks like a panel van. Inside the glass was cleaned and two layers of silver sided bubble insulation were fitted. Then a sheet of peg-board cut to fit and held in place with L-brackets. Now there will be additional storage baskets for the little stuff that we always need close at hand. And it is already warmer when sleeping on that side, as the glass is sealed and insulated.
Have you ever slept in the back end of a VW Vanagon? How many times did you hit your head on that cabinet up there? We loved the cabinet; don’t get me wrong. After we removed the air conditioner (a few years ago) the cabinet held speakers, directional reading lamps and a whole bunch of toys and games that we gave away to kids on the road. It was great storage from the front, and even a small shelf that was reached through the rear hatch. But we are getting older, and getting in and out of bed requires more creaking, squeaking and tweaking than ever before. Also, with her disc issues Geneva’s neck really needed the extra space, so we tore out the cabinet. The items will find a new storage nook and we will find new reading lights. The cabinet has already been sold to a restoration guy and the space it left behind is fantastic!
Other projects included a new catalytic heater. We have been using a reliable, hardworking Coleman for the cold nights (it is still for sale). But after some research we found a Camco/Olympian Wave 3 to be sufficient for our heat needs and in a smaller package. We sorted out the mounting brackets and propane lines to run it from the outside mounted spare propane tank and through the sliding window. A perfect fit and a central location. Bring on the Texas winters; we are ready to test this system.
Speaking of spare propane tanks, the new minion is on board. AT Overland Equipment https://www.facebook.com/AT.Overland fitted us with the proper size tank to fit our tank holder. Geneva painted the tank to look like a hippie minion again. This version has hair and a PEACE sticker. The tank will be firmly bolted in, locked with a chain and used from that location. It will run the new catalytic heater AND the portable hot water heater without ever coming off the van. We hope this minion stays with us for the duration of our journey! (Peace be with our former minion, wherever he may be cooking carne asada or street hot dogs!)
On the mechanical side of things, Mike took a few naps under the van! He replaced the speedometer cable that we broke during the “stuck in the sand” incident. Mike also tackled the daunting task of changing the timing belt in the Ford Bostig conversion engine. While there were a few worrisome moments, but the task was swift and the van is running smoothly. He also dropped the fuel tank, replaced some dried out parts, put in a new fuel pump and fuel filter and cleaned out the tank. The sound from the pump has disappeared and we hope to see improved gas mileage. As long as the front end was open, he decided to put on new front brake shoes.
Of course, electrical work is never to be overlooked—so Mike put that off to the end! He installed a new 12V “lighter style” socket on the front console and replaced the really loose receptacle on the dash. He also installed a third brake light in the back for increased visibility on the road. And he confirmed the operation of our newest addition to the road-worthy products in the van—–an Engel refrigerator!! We are pretty excited about moving from an icebox to an electric refrigerator. Having sufficient batter storage and a foldable solar panel from AT Overland should allow us to run this MT27 with ease. We are pleased with how quickly it cooled down and how little power it draws according to the solar controller panel. It does make more noise than we anticipated, but it is a white noise that will just drown out barking dogs, crowing roosters or neighboring generators once we get used to it.
Other time at “home-base” in Clarkdale allowed us to reconnect with friends and family (and their dogs)
get our scuba refresher course done and visit our former workplaces! It also gave Geneva a chance to do some sewing modifications on the curtains and blankets and recover the back bench seat. For under $65 she was able to put on a new foam cushion and make a coordinating fabric cover. It looks like a match, and certainly feels more comfortable than the 30-year-old cushion.
We will wrap up our visit at the end of this week. We are hoping to be back on the road by the 14th of February. We will cross out of Southern Arizona in Agua Prieta and go visit Nuevo Casas Grandes for a few days. Then we will enter the US in New Mexico and go to Carlsbad Caverns. We must stop by Juarez/El Paso and turn in our TIP (vehicle permit) and then we hope to go to Big Bend National Park for some sightseeing and hot springs. After Big Bend we will point Alta towards New Orleans and the Florida panhandle. The dogs are ready to hit the road.
Please be aware that we welcome suggestions of “must-sees” along that route. If you have a parking place to offer and a hot shower to share, we just might take you up on that offer. And if not, keep following our blog to see what sort of adventures are revealed on this next leg of the journey.
Thanks for reading and being a friend to Mike and Geneva and slowcarfasthouse.