Sunday, July 27, 2008

VW Fun

The annual Bus Pilots family reunion was a few weeks ago. It was fun as always, but this year we also attended the Saturday morning event which we'd never gone to before but which turned out to be gobs of fun. This was a type of scavenger hunt where we had directions like--turn left at the 17th street you pass, or turn right at the 5th stop sign. I navigated while Craig drove like he was 19 again (I'm so glad we all made it). We had the kids with us and they "helped" us count streets and I think they got a little bored towards the end, but had a good time overall. Here are a few photos of some sweet vee-dubs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

and Heeeerrrrrreeee she is!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A VW for one for the cat.

We are getting a ’72 Bug (if everything goes as planned—I have to add this disclaimer in order to try to prevent the gods of whammies and jinxes from interfering)! It doesn't look quite so shiny as the one in the original VW brochure pictured above, but it is the same color.

Craig and I have looked at a LOT of bugs. We have been talking ourselves in and out and in and out of getting a bug for, well, pretty much as long as we’ve been together and we finally found the right one and we are going to do it (if everything goes as planned).

I’m not going to try to describe it because really, only pictures can do justice, but I just wanted to get my excitement out to anyone who cares! She is currently owned by a really cool guy we met who is a VW enthusiast and quite obviously takes pride of ownership in his vehicles. He’s done a lot of work to this little girl and she is fantastic. We should (if all goes as planned) have her on Wednesday and we should also be rid of Clearwire by then so I will be able to upload some photos!

We will then have a ’64, ’72, and ’81 VW. We are kind of excited to have three decades of VW’s at our house. It is kind of like a museum—we should start charging admission (if all goes as planned).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Panic Ensues

Craig and I went camping at Kirkham Hot Springs on Friday. We’ve gone there several times and it is different every time. The pools vary a little in size, depth and temperature with regularity, but it is always enjoyable. This time, however, was altogether shocking. We started the little hike down to the springs. I was paying close attention to my footing and little attention to my surroundings when suddenly Craig said “they’re gone!”
For those of you who have never been to Kirkham, there are two tiers of pools and the lower tier (normally) borders the Payette River. Currently, the river is running “120% full” (whatever that means…it wasn’t flooding, so how is it more than full?) and the lower tier was quite literally gone. It was so bizarre—like a building being torn down overnight. There were two pools partially remaining in the upper tier so we took full advantage of those; and Craig tried to make a dam to block the river water.
(FYI—the little hike at Kirkham is fun if you are ever there and are tired of swimming/don’t want to swim/ there are no hot springs in which to swim.)

The next morning, we went to Bonneville Hot Springs because 1) Craig has been wanting to for quite some time and 2) we thought maybe they might be more separated from the river. We found them to be a little disappointing. People have used several tarps over time to try to keep the pools warm and at this point it looks really trashy. Also, the river has taken over this hot spring as well.

We also visited Pine Flats Hot Springs. These pools had a huge nerd filter on them because normally you can walk on the bank of the river to get to the pools. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the river was really high here as well leaving no bank. We “billy goated” it as best we could to get a good view of where the main pool normally is. Nothing but river.

Also, every time we drive the road to Lowman, I try to find Staircase rapids. I have consistently missed them so we made a point of finding them this time. We found them, and it is my non-professional opinion that if you want to run Staircase, but are a little chicken, this is the time to do it. It was really quite flat and nothing like the videos I found on You Tube yesterday.

Long story short—hot springs campsite camping is still great right now…just don’t expect much from the actual hot springs.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camping with kids

Last night we took Craig’s kids camping for the first time. We went to Grime’s Creek which is near Idaho City. We had a fantastic time doing several traditional, cheesy camping activities. We threw rocks in the river, made a smoky pine needle fire, roasted marshmallows…and dropped them in the dirt, ate smores, the boys peed in the river, went for a hike, and slept semi well and semi coldly in the beautiful, quiet, peaceful wilderness. It was really fun and about 100 times more pleasant than I thought camping with the kids would be. So fun, in fact, that I’d call the weekend nearly perfect even when taking today’s emergency room trip and stitches into consideration.

Last night we took Craig’s kids camping for the first time. We went to Grime’s Creek which is near Idaho City. We had a fantastic time doing several traditional, cheesy camping activities. We threw rocks in the river, made a smoky pine needle fire, roasted marshmallows…and dropped them in the dirt, ate smores, the boys peed in the river, went for a hike, and slept semi well and semi coldly in the beautiful, quiet, peaceful wilderness. It was really fun and about 100 times more pleasant than I thought camping with the kids would be. So fun, in fact, that I’d call the weekend nearly perfect even when taking today’s emergency room trip and stitches into consideration.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Road Trip!

Sometime last year in the middle of Craig's toughest semester, we decided to plan a vacation that'd we'd take after his graduation--partially as motivation to get him through the tough moments. Several hot tub sessions, spreadsheets and weeks later, we decided that it would be really fun to take a road trip in Penny.

We planned out this fabulous trip that would take us 2500 miles from Boise, through Utah to the Grand Canyon, to LA, Las Vegas and back to Boise.

Craig spent three nights putting in a subwoofer, after all, you can't spend 49 hours in a car without mind blowing tunes. We packed everything snuggly into Penny's cabinets and drawers which was so exciting since we'd never before fully utilized her built-in storage space. Craig and were so happy with our impecible preparation. Our campsites were reserved, our daily routes were mapped and printed, our neighbor was ready to take care of our garbage, mail, house and cat, and we were stoked to get going.

We headed out on our potentially awesome (albeit ambitious) road trip. Craig--who is always the pilot--was ready for a good 8 hour stretch of driving. We got 5 miles out of town and realized that, while we'd considered the fact that we'd have to take it easy so that Penny wouldn't overheat, we didn't realize just how much hotter Penny would run in the summer (we bought her in October). We got several miles out of town and Penny's engine temperature had reached 245 (warranty is void at 250) so we pulled over into a rest stop to consider our options. We were both upset and frustrated. We pulled the engine cover off to let Penny's engine cool down and amid our frustration, Craig said--wait--just how many miles did we make it? We checked the odometer and discovered that we had made it a whopping 15.6 miles of our grand road trip. At this point, the irony was too much and we both burst out laughing.

To make a long story short, we decided that if we had to make the trip in 15 mile intervals, stopping one hour between each leg to cool down, it would take us approximately 3 weeks to get to SLC (okay, we didn't really do the math). We decided instead to fly to LA and then drive to Las Vegas. Our trip turned out fabulously, and while it was much less secluded and grass-root-esque than our originally scheduled trip, and we were, for a while ready to give Penny away to the highest...or lowest...or really ANY bidder, after talking to our mechanic and getting some new tips, we have renewed faith in her and we are ready to take another trip up to Kirkham next week.
Somewhere in the Lake Mead Recreation Area
Craig's improv version of a road trip...airport video games.

At the Las Vegas temple.

A mine we hiked to in Nevada.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Never too cold to camp...

I decided a while ago…probably mid-December when it was REALLY cold that Craig and I should go camping for his birthday (March 19th). I had it in my head that March would be so much warmer than mid-December. I was wrong. March may actually be colder than mid-December.
Anyway, we went ahead and took Penny on her maiden camping voyage of 2008 last Friday.
We went up to Kirkham Hot Springs which is, in a way, more pleasant in the cold because it is 1. not crowded and 2. the water temperature makes the trip worth it—otherwise you’d just spend all day frozen in the bus.

So, here’s the photo tour of our trip. We took the Highway 55 route on our way up which was nothing less than heavenly. When we left Boise, it was pouring rain and I was cranky, which made my husband cranky, but we recovered and managed to have a fabulous drive through the country. It is amazing how wonderful the country feels when you’ve spent the winter more or less cooped up in the city. We saw no fewer than 200 elk and deer (including bull deer—I think that is what the boy deer are called—I’m a bit of a wildlife doofus). Here are a couple of photos that we took on the way up.

When we got to the hot springs, we found a place to park and went straight down to the water. It was snowing a little when we got there which turned out to be a very interesting combination of hot and cold. Here’s a picture of the hot springs…someone else’s picture, but it gets the point across.

Here we are upon getting back to Penny after our first trip down to the hot springs.

I always get incredibly nervous about getting CO poisoning. Craig has to spend half of every trip trying to convince me that if we crack the windows we will be fine and that since Penny was built with a propane stove, it isn’t deathly dangerous to use the stove. Despite all of his persuading, he finally caved and bought me a CO detector which we set up in Penny so then I spent the evening trying to convince Craig that the CO detector was broken because it wasn’t detecting dangerously high levels of CO. At this point you can understand why he might have been mildly frustrated with me…
Anyway, we watched some South Park and went to sleep in our 15 degree bags with a comforter on top and slept quite comfortably (aside from my feet which are ALWAYS cold).
When we woke up in the morning, there was 3” of snow on the ground. Here's a couple of photos after the snow on the ground had mostly melted.

We had planned to stay until after dinner on Saturday, but we decided that all of the people who had told us that we were crazy for going camping in March were right and we decided to hop in the hot springs one more time, eat breakfast and head home.

We had a very exciting discovery on the way down to the hot springs. I saw a little creature flit by and Craig said—what was that?! I said—oh, probably just a snow covered chipmunk. He had run under a rock and then as we were passing by, he darted back out a couple of times and we named this adorable animal “merret” because we thought he looked like a tiny white ferret with a mouse head. It turns out that what we had seen was an ermine, which neither of us had ever seen before. It was fun.

When we got down to the hot springs, we found a bunch of garbage had been left by the kids whose headlights we had seen late the night before. The beer cans and glow sticks were tolerable. The empty bottle of Jager was terrifying (knowing that they had probably made the two hour drive to Boise after downing it) but the thing that pisses me off more than everything but the wind are cigarette butts. I don’t care that people smoke, but it drives me nuts that they leave their garbage everywhere and throw burning cigarettes out the window at bikers who get their legs burned by their carelessness. Anyway…dismounting soap box… We felt rewarded by cleaning up the mess because we also found a Mag-lite that was left behind. Score!! You can never have enough Mag-lites.

We made breakfast burritos and then heated some water up for my frozen feet (my husband is so sweet), cleaned up and headed home. We decided to take the Idaho City route back to Boise, which, as it turned out was nothing but snow and ice. Here’s a picture.

All in all, we had a great time and yeah, maybe we were crazy, but at least when my co-workers asked me what I did over the weekend, I didn’t have to say “nothing”.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dimes Nickels and Quarters...

It has been brought to my attention that I didn’t do a sufficient job of explaining where Penny got her name. Okay, seriously, it isn’t that hard. What color is Penny? Copper. Copper…Penny…Copper…Penny. PENNYS ARE COPPER COLORED!

Additionally, we became friends with a doe on a backpacking trip last year that Craig named Penny. For some reason the name carried over as being a cute name for a car.

Well, I haven’t made ANY progress on the curtains; as we went snowboarding in Sun Valley last weekend and then we bought a cat (see my blog for additional details). Speaking of our trip to Sun Valley—Penny was a super star. She maxed out at 76 MPH. This was the fastest we’ve ever driven her. So what if it we were going downhill with a tailwind—it still counts!

The curtain fabric will at least be unfolded and measured before Monday! (Somehow saying that on the internet for the world to hear makes it seem like more of a possibility!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Purists vs. Functionalists

Most VW enthusiasts know that there are two schools of thought when fixing/repairing your VW. Craig and I fortunately subscribe to the same school of thought; therefore avoiding the arguments that would inevitably ensue if we had opposite VW beliefs. We are functionalists, which means that when we make repairs, replacements or updates to our VWs we don’t care whether the new carpet matches the original carpet. Actually functionalists often prefer that the new carpet doesn’t match the old carpet. We want it to be the most fun, functional, and fresh carpet around which also means that we will never be able to sell one of our VWs with a $20,000 price tag advertising it as “fully refurbished with original parts”. No, ours would only sell as “fun and funky—totally customized beyond recognition”.
My point in sharing with you our views on VW customization is that I’m about to fill you in on our current Vanagon project.


Oh, damn, I gave it away. Yes, last night we went out and bought new fabric for replacement curtains.
We finally decided on a dark green microfiber that has a various colored stripes stitched through it at random. It is #1 really cute and #2 entirely opaque—which means I don’t have to line the curtains—making my job of sewing the curtains SO much easier. Yea! I don’t have pictures of the fabric yet, but they will be coming next week. My goal is to get these babies done before mid March so we can go camping!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

About our Girls...

First, a brief history of our VWs.
Tranny is a 1964 Samba. Craig bought her in high school, sold her when he went to college and regretted the sale for 7 years when one day his dad got a new job. Irrelevant to my story—you say? I think not. It just so happened that Craig’s dad’s new secretary pulled up to work in Tranny herself. Finally, after much coercion, the secretary (sorry I don’t know your name) sold Tranny to Craig. Yea! Craig was whole once more. You may ask—why do you call her Tranny? Well, Tranny is fickle. She has a thing for transmission problems…transmission replacements…and transmission leaks. We’ve given her two new transmissions in the last two years. (I should point out that we got royally screwed on the first one, so it hardly counts and is not Tranny’s fault. Shortly thereafter we got a new mechanic and HE ROCKS!)
Last summer we took Tranny camping—I’ll point out here that Tranny is not a Westy, a Riviera, a Campmobile or a camper of any sort. We were on our way to a backpacking site and decided to spend the night at a hot springs, so rather than breaking out the tent, we stayed in Tranny. It was awesome, but by about midnight the kinks in our necks and cramps in our legs started to sink in. By about 2AM we were coming up with plans to build a platform that we could put in Tranny that would allow us a comfortable night’s sleep. By 4 AM we had a cot system with mattress planned out and then by 7 AM we had decided to get a camper.
Enter Penny: We looked, and looked and looked on ebay,, craigslist for a camper. At first my heart was set on a bay window, but finally decided that it might be nice to have a vehicle that was happy traveling over 50mph. So, we decided a Vanagon would do the trick. We finally found Penny on the internet and decided that she was the one after discovering that our mechanic was the one who had rebuilt Penny’s engine two years prior. So, we flew to Park City and drove Penny home. Penny’s a little hottie. We didn’t realize this when we bought her, but her engine had been severely overheated. The result was that we got to buy her a new engine and our third transmission. (No, I don’t need your advice about how you should always take a car to your mechanic before you buy it. Yes, it is good advice—no, I’m not smart enough to take it!) Anyway, we love Penny and she is very happy at 65 mph.
We love having two buses in our garage. Sometimes we just stand at the door and stare at them. Our kids love them too. They have their own names for them: Big Red and Little Brown…the ironic part of these names being that Penny is much, much bigger than Tranny. If anyone out there is thinking about getting a camper—yes, they do fit in the garage. Craig and I measured our garage prior to getting Penny and determined that—no, she will not fit. We got her home and very nervously drove her right in. Home sweet home.