Alta goes to the spa (or the dogs)!

The slow car fast house momentum has ceased. We are pleasantly surprised to know that some of you noticed, and wrote us to check in.  Thanks for caring! where have you been

We packed up the dogs dogs resting in vanand headed Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco, Mexico) 1467224_10205215107050475_3805221108358489477_n

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!).

Son number 3
Son number 3
Son number 2
Son number 2
Son number 1
Son number 1


suns gamemom1What fun that was! We took Mom to her first Phoenix Suns game, we met up with family members

Geneva and her aunt in the shadows.  Mom and her brother in the front.
Geneva and her aunt in the shadows. Mom and her brother in the front.

We had a BBQ and got to hang out with awesome guys that are growing up to be awesome adults.









The family time was a much-needed break from life on the road.  Mom even got to experience a little bit of road-life.  mom in van









From there Alta returned to her favorite spa and service center, the former BB’s Project VW shop in Clarkdale.IMG_3620 This is the shop that Bruce Brimhall (Geneva’s father) worked out of for many years. The weather is mild fuel pumpand 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.  covered windowpegboard and insulation

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!

Cabinet removed. Already sold!
Cabinet removed. Already sold!
AC cabinet is removed.  Fan wiring and fan moved to other side of van.
AC cabinet is removed. Fan wiring and fan moved to other side of van.
More headroom in the bedroom!
More headroom in the bedroom!
Big open space with rear hatch open and AC cabinet gone.  I will miss the storage, but love the headroom.
Big open space with rear hatch open and AC cabinet gone. I will miss the storage, but love the headroom.

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 Unknownto 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   fitted us with the proper size tank to fit our tank holder. Geneva painted the tank to look like a hippie minion again. IMG_3619This 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! gas tankHe 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,gas tank repair gas tank workreplaced 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 shoesfront brakes.

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.  IMG_3621IMG_3622 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)

Dog party in the VW van!  Taking all the family members dogs for a ride is always good for a laugh!
Dog party in the VW van! Taking all the family members dogs for a ride is always good for a laugh!

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. new seat covernew seat coverFor 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.old seat cover

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.

seri on new cover

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.

6 thoughts on “Alta goes to the spa (or the dogs)!

  1. I just love what you guys did with the window. Great peg board. and the minion, well the minion is just very cute.
    Enjoy you trip around the states. See you when you get around this way again.

  2. Oops, I thought you were back in the states and never thought to worry!

    On 2/8/15, It’s not a slow car, it’s a fast house!

  3. I will be back in Naco late the 15th or 16th, so if you g t delayed, you are most welcome.
    Cases Grandes, most definitely to on a little way to Mata Ortiz! Fantastic pottery (which you don’t need but will want). Odd little place. Peoples are you into their living rooms and you see their work spread out on sofas and beds. Don’t miss Juan Qeuzada’s gallery. He started the whole ceramics revival.

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