Trials and Tribulations- The VW Experience

The plan was to leave Joe’s Valley on Friday, spend the night in Moab taking a day to see the sights, and then head down to Arizona. But living on the road/fellow bloggers at thervproj.com have taught us, don’t get too attached to the plan! As we were searching for a campsite Austin made one of those “uh oh” noises that makes your stomach drop to the floor and your heart skip a beat because you know something is really wrong. His foot was on the brake pedal and the brake pedal was on the floor, but the van wasn’t stopping! We slowly rolled over to the side of the road and I was terrified that we were going to roll right into the Colorado River. (We didn’t). After some deliberation we decided to backtrack a quarter mile up the road to the nearest campsite to ask for help. There was enough resistance on the brake pedal to make it if we drove really slowly. We putted into the campsite past the sign that read “Campsite Full” to talk to the camp host. He was understanding despite the fact that we had no cash to pay for a site and no way to drive the 10 miles back to town on a Friday evening to get any.  He told us we could stay the night in the overflow lot across the street, which we did.

I found myself surprisingly upbeat about the whole experience. We’ve had this van for seven months and brake downs no longer phase us since they happen about once a month. Of all the places to brake down, the middle of the road in Moab, UT with a campsite on one side and the bouldering area on the other, we weren’t terribly upset. We took it as a sign from above that we were meant to stay and climb in Moab. The most logical thing to do was check out the boulders with the remaining sunlight. The climbing here is phenomenally unique and beautiful. For all you fellow boulderers out there, while the bouldering scene in Moab is small, the problems are fun and the landings are perfect. It’s like someone plopped down a climbing gym on the side of the road. The problems are either stout, techy slab climbs with slick feet, or relentless power-endurance jug hauls, a perfect training ground.

We hadn’t originally planed on climbing in Moab. Both Austin and I have mild injuries, the kind where if you had the self control to take a week off they would heal and never bother you again, but if you continue to climb on them you risk something more serious. Of course we have no self control and after climbing for two months straight, we were looking forward to hanging out in Arizona doing some healing and catching up on blogging and video editing. Don’t get too attached to the plan!

That night we experienced something strange. While checking out the boulders we ran into several groups of climbers, but what’s this…? No pads, no spotting… We offered to grab our pads from the car and throw them down.

The next day we hitched a ride into town to buy some brake fluid, thinking there might be a leak. As soon as we stepped out onto the road we were immediately picked up by a middle-aged mountain biking couple who hadn’t abandoned their hippie roots and chatted with us about how difficult it was to get Burning Man tickets this year. They were going the opposite direction so they dropped us at the crossroads and we walked the remaining 3 miles into town. We stopped at an amazing vegan friendly, local products type of restaurant, gorged ourselves on huevos rancheros and salmon scramble (it’s probably the most food we’ve eaten in one sitting in a very long time) and then unable to walk further, proceeded to take a nap in the grass on account of our full stomachs. The restaurant is called Eklecticafe, for anyone planning a trip to Moab I highly recommend it. After deciding we had digested enough we bought the brake fluid and tried to get a ride back to the campsite.

A little night climbing to avoid the heat

It was much harder to catch a ride back. Downtown Moab is surprisingly touristy, something we hadn’t expected when we arrived. The town makes its money catering to adventurers of all types, not just climbers. Though, we were probably the dirtiest and most ragged looking pair there. Some people stared, some people ignored us, but eventually we got a ride from a guy towing a bunch of ATVs. I think he worked for one of the tour companies. He told us that there are around 9 fatalities a year, mostly mountain bikers who tend to ride off the edge of a particular cliff. He dropped us back at the crossroads where we got another ride from a girl from Salt Lake City who was coincidentally moving to Oakland. We talked about the differences between Utah cities and cities in the Pacific Northwest/Bay Area, (she’s originally from Seattle) about Bible salesmen, and the fact that there are hardly any coffee shops in Utah. Did you know that they have Bible dispensers here? Like newspaper stands, but for Bibles.  She said she gets heckled in Salt Lake because she has shorted dyed black hair and facial piercings. We told her she wouldn’t have a problem in Oakland.

To wrap things up, we made it back to the campsite with our brake fluid thinking maybe there’s a leak and if we top the reservoir off we might make it to an auto shop without having to call a tow truck. That wasn’t the problem, the reservoir was full which means the problem is more serious. We should have known, it’s a 1980 Volkswagen, the problem is always more serious. We drove very slowly to the auto shop and were informed that the 30-year-old brake master cylinder (what the hell is that!?) was bad and it would be $500 to replace since there was only two places in the US (Detroit and Philidelphia) that remanufactures them and they would have it ship it in. Oh yeah, did I mention they charge $75 and hour for labor and it would be a 2.5 hour procedure! !$#@@%&$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, we’ll been chilling in Moab until Tuesday waiting for the part, trying to stay out of the heat and climbing at night. After we pick up the van we are driving though Arches National Park and then on down to Arizona.

Wish us luck!

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7 thoughts on “Trials and Tribulations- The VW Experience

  1. Great post, Emily… I’ve been reading all of them! You guys are having a heck of an adventure… and you are doing a great job of describing it! Hope things smooth out with the van. The news around here is that Raymond gave Marla and Eric’s kids a basketball hoop to use, so now all the little kids (YOU were that little when I moved in here all those years ago)… are out there shooting hoops. Eric and I just lowered the back board to “little kid” height tonight. We also all really freaked out about the eclipse yesterday… the light got really weird for about an hour and cast these cool crescent~moon shaped shadows everywhere! Stay well.

  2. Oh… davidthorough is my pen name on WordPress… it’s you neighbor Patrick in case you were like “Who the hell is THIS!?!” 🙂

  3. I remember that hoop. It was an upgrade from the one nailed to the deck. We didn’t even know about the eclipse! We went to bed early and missed the whole thing!!!!!

  4. Yeah, we gave the girls the basketball hoop that was just lying on the ground in the back yard and also gave them two of the three Drake basketballs to use. Hope you don’t mind. It’s making quite a stir in the neighborhood and apparently is quite a guy-magnet for the girls. Christopher and his guy friends are really interested, especially since it “belongs” to a couple of really cute girls. By the way, Patrick…it’s Neil, not Eric.

  5. Great post guys, definitely don’t be too attached to the plan! Glad you found Big Bend, and Eklectic. Good places, both. Also, great first video, Em you are looking strong as hell girl.

  6. I every time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as
    I am a user of web thus from now I am using net for posts, thanks
    to web.

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