Monday, August 18, 2008

Links to Facebook Pictures from the Summer of '08

Now that Vanessa (the picture taker) is on Facebook, I no longer have the burden of adding the pictures here... So, check out the links below for images from the summer of '08 so far...

Durham Region Bugfest 2008:

Goose Island 2008:

Bon Echo Camping:

Stacey & Bryon's Wedding:

June Jitter Bug 2008:

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Town & Country VW Spring Fling - The Speedster Takes Home Hardware!!

Despite rain, thunder, lightning, and power outages all Friday night, the Town and Country VW (formerly Greenbelt) Spring Fling went on today. Because of the atrocious forecast we decided we would take either Bob's Bug or Vanessa's New Beetle. However, when we stepped outside this morning the sun was shining and we decided we'd take the Speedster. Though we had polished and waxed it this week (see the technical blog) there were a few loose ends like vacuuming and filling up with gas that had to take place before we could really get rolling.

We put the top up, with no side curtains, and took highway 7 to 407. We were greeted by a lot of friends when we arrived. Bob, Fiona & James Weber, Greg Potts, Gord & Marg Potts, AJ Welsh, Clyde Walters, Travis & Sara Doll, "Harry" (the bus parts hippy looking guy), as well as some other people that looked familiar. The sun was doing its best to peek out around the clouds, so we put the top down and washed the bugs from the front of the car.

We ate complimentary hot dogs and popcorn, and drank iced tea and coke, all on Town & Country. We also received a loot bag for coming. The big surprise was the end of the show. This is a participant and visitor judged show. We won both the participants choice, and peoples choice air-cooled! The only other award was for water-cooled, so we were pretty flattered!

There were about 10 bugs of different vintages, a Thing, the Vanagons, and our Speedster present. AJ brought the only bay window bus.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Myrtle Beach / Everybus 2008

We left last Saturday with Stacey and Bryon following. After stops in Niagara Falls for the "Wet and Chilly Swap Meet" and in Grove City for the Prime Outlets, we made it to Wytheville, VA, on that Saturday, then cruised into Myrtle Beach with lots of time to setup camp at the State Park on Sunday. Temps were cool, but the weather was clear and sunny! We had a little rain on Monday, if I recall correctly, but it cleared right up and got warmer every day until it was into the eighties on Friday when we left. The State Park in Myrtle Beach is pretty nice. We had some good sites this year on a rarely traveled loop, so it was pretty private. The showers and bathrooms are almost always vacant because most of the campers are retirees in their motor homes with built-in facilities. It's a five minute walk through the campground to the ocean, and the park is located right on the main strip, so it's close to everything. We split up with S & B most days, but crossed paths occasionally at the local shopping or dining establishments. Vanessa and I made a side trip an hour and a half south to Charleston, SC, which was as scenic and charming as its reputation. We had plenty of time walking on the beach, swimming (I was the only one brave enough), walking, shopping, and eating...

We all took off Friday morning for EBX, with a stop in Cheraw, SC, for me to pick up some bug parts. The drive north to EBX was great, as it was about eighty degrees and sunny. As always it was great to see old friends and make new acquaintances. I'm amazed that Bob and Fiona still chose to tent-it at the park after the problems with their bus. Let's hope that it gets fixed up as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible. The beer and moonshine went down easily Friday night, and back up easily for Jamie and Greg the next a.m. I enjoyed becoming the glow-in-the-dark-bocce champion, too. Saturday morning came without the rain that was forecast. Despite our usual reputation of leaving early, we decided to stick it out - it's so great to soak up the sun and chat with good friends. However, ultimately Vanessa and I would keep our reputation and take off. The combination of the first raindrops, and some kid putting a 16" scratch into the drivers door of our bus with his bike put us in the mood to leave. We got packed up and were out of there just in time to need the windshield wipers as we merged on the 220 north. The rain let up almost as soon as it started, but came back with a vengeance as we came out of the second tunnel in VA. The five mile climb as you leave NC and head into VA was a killer - the fog was so thick I really could see nothing, and worried the faster vehicles behind would have the same problem. I had headlights and 4-ways on. I even had Vanessa looking straight ahead for the back of slower trucks, which seemed to appear out of nowhere. We stopped at the top in Fancy Gap for fuel, and merged back on for about one more mile of fog before it cleared. By Beckley it was pitch black with occasional shots of lightning. The wipers could barely keep the window clear. I hoped to get all the way up the Mountaineer Expressway (19) but we wound up stopping at a Comfort Inn in Summersville WV. I found it tough to navigate the big hills at any kind of speed - I just couldn't see far enough to feel safe.

We had a long nap in Summersville and didn't get back on the highway until 11am or so. The weather held and it was otherwise a great ride home. We stretched the fuel stops longer than S&B were comfortable with on the way down, filling up every 200 - 225 miles instead of every 150. We even stopped somewhere in PA for a sit-down lunch, and in Grove City briefly at the outlet stores again. The Border crossing was uneventful and I had blast screaming across the QEW and 401 at 75 - 80 MPH in places. By far the worst drivers we encountered on the whole trip were from the Peace Bridge to Oshawa! I think we pulled in the driveway a little after 9.

In the end it was about a 2365 mile trip. Interestingly, last year's trip was 2344 miles. Last year we took the slow way (I-81) down, but didn't do Charleston. My fuel mileage was 17.8 MPG. That was NOT driving for economy, 65-70 MPH average highway speed, climbing all the mountains as fast as possible. I was fully loaded with camping gear, and pulling my backpacker trailer the whole way, with a full water tank in the Westy, two bug doors and two bug fenders in tow as well!

The first day of driving was a little disappointing with my new FI system. I saw my head temps hit 450 on a couple not-so-steep uphills and was easily passed again and again by Bryon with his smaller engine and 3 rib tranny. I chalked some of that up to the speeds he was passing at and his lower gearing, but I was concerned with the head temps. With no other options I popped the cover off my rebuilt AFM Sunday morning. I marked the cog's original position with two dots of white-out, and turned the cog five notches richer, then adjusted the idle mixture and speed. I thought maybe the spring tension was too tight and that this may help my problem. Anyway, I saw a marked improvement in power with this change and never saw a head temperature over 425 even on the steepest and longest full throttle climb after that. Maybe as the spring breaks in I can put it back to the factory setting, but for now it's much more pleasureable to drive, and the temps are very, very good. Last year I got a strong whiff of gasoline everytime I floored the progressive carb, this year, not even a trace of gas smell. Last year I stalled coming off the highway a few times, this year I never stalled. What I'm getting at is I love the FI system.
Here are some pictures from the trip:

6AM Saturday, meeting at Country Style Donuts for Breakfast...

We made good use of the CB's, which allowed constant conversation, and a little singing.

We stopped near Beckley for dinner at the Cracker Barrel on Saturday night. The Bus parking seemed appropriate.

It was dark by the time we left. We pushed another hour and a half to Wytheville Red Roof Inn.
Ash enjoyed the $50 room.
Sunday morning at the motel - my creative parking and the mountains in the background. This is where I adjusted the AFM.
We've arrived at the State Park.
Making some Jambalaya.

The obligatory "camera to camera" shot with Stacey.
Stacey and Bryon's bus.
Ash in her chair.

Some pictures from our Charleston excursion...
Watching TV on a rainy night, Ash in the luggage area.

More of Ash in her chair.
A real Alligator at Huntington Beach State Park... And more pictures below from this excursion... Huntington Beach is just south of Murrell's Inlet, about 20 mintues south of Myrtle Beach.

This is the summer home for the Huntingtons, the people for whom this park is named. It's a national historic site.

Vanessa on Huntington Beach.

Skinny (V) and Fat (ME) shadows.

Dinner out at Nance's, Stacey and Bryon playing with Stacey's food.
Vanessa's idea.. The buses caught in a shark's mouth.
Get me out of here!!!

A nighttime shot.
V's cute new shoes and the resulting blisters.
Ashley moved to the picnic table, her new favourite spot.
Ash and V on the beach.

The park is right beside an airport, with regular air force / military traffic.

Starting a book on the beach.
Playing in the surf.

The obligatory long arm shot, just before we left Friday morning.
Lined up at the park exit.
The loot from a stop in Cheraw, SC.
Trying to get the scope of Everybus in NC. 100+ buses, at least 7 other sage green ones, split window, bay window, vanagon, eurovan, and everything in between.

The Canadian corner. Note our spot allows for a quick escape.

Our bus in a reflection.

Heading up the mountains on the way home... It started raining heavily on the other side of this tunnel.