Friday, October 9, 2009

VW Repair time! 10.9.09

We purchased our VW Westfalia early this spring and it has been a very, very good little van. I like to call it ‘Tillie’ as in the Little engine that could. It’s a great runner, gets good gas mileage, can carry all of our ‘stuff’, and has been pretty problem free. We do have a few minor ‘issues’ that need to be looked at though and there are very few Westfalia repair shops since they aren’t made anymore. I have been signed up to a Westfalia e-mail group called or ‘Been there done that for Vanagons’ for quite some time and have been asking questions and, in general, ‘listening’ to the questions asked. There were two main responders who helped me the most and one has a repair shop in Southeast Oregon so we decided to stop and have him look at the van for us. We contacted him the day before and he said he’s meet us around 11am at his shop and gave us directions to get there. We both arrived at the shop around the same time closer to noon. Now I’m not one to stereotype but one look and 5 minutes of chatting with this guy and my insides screamed CRAZY!! He had crazy white hair that reminded me of Doc on Back to the Future, in fact almost everything he did reminded me of Doc. He was wiry, jittery, super smart, bounced around from one subject to the other, had white hair that stood up in every direction and appeared like he had just rolled out of bed.

Michael with the VW Repairman in Medford

But I’ll tell you…he sure was a wizard on the van. Michael had the pleasure of working with him until 9pm and they fixed all kinds of things. Things we didn’t even know were wrong! Haha… Parts were exchanged, tweaks were made, lots of areas were inspected, wrenching was done, the van was taken apart piece by piece, there was even some cursing & bloodshed…but put it all together and WOW! We have a brand new van! Well, almost. Some of the highlights were the starter was replaced (yes, the starter that was replaced in Ketchikan….the starter that was supposed to be new….grrrr…), the muffler and all it's parts were tightened, the throttle body was adjusted, this and that changed and whalah! What an amazing guy – so incredibly knowledgeable, patient, happy to explain how everything works to me (now that says a LOT!), and very fair in his labor and parts. One of those people that are put into your life for a reason! And best of all…it starts! Hey, maybe we won’t even overheat at the border crossings anymore….now where’s the fun in that?!

We specifically came this way so that we could also pick up additional solar panels for the boat in Mt. Shasta, California. Of course, Friday morning we realized they probably weren’t open on Saturday and sure enough….they weren’t. We also didn’t want to hang around in the area for two days just to pick up the darn solar panels (I would have, no problem!) on Monday….so it’s off to Plan B. Since Michael was working with the mechanic all day, I figured I would rent a car, drive the 1 ½ hours to Mt. Shasta, pick up the panels, and drive back! No problem! I did a little research and found cars for about $30/day with unlimited miles at the airport. Now if only I could get to the airport... As luck would have it, our mechanic had a visitor come by and ask him to take a look at his van. He looked like a decent enough person so I asked him how far out of his way the airport was and if he would mind taking me. No problem he said…it’s only 5 miles or so out of my way. So I grabbed my purse and jumped into his car, headed for the airport. Soon after pulling onto the road, he remembered he wanted to go to a fruit coop for some asian pears and would I mind going with? No problem, I said. We stopped at the fruit spot and he picked up a whole box of pears & apples for $7….my treat, I said. We got back on the road and he proceeded to tell me his whole life story – worked as a contractor for the past umpteen years, was upset with his kids as they didn’t want to do any ‘nature’ stuff (hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing) they only wanted to play wii, get a new iPhone, a new Macbook, etc., didn’t like his wife because she wanted to go to Mexico and he wanted to go to Alaska, was ready to leave her, etc. It went on and on. He was a weirdo, in all aspects of the word. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car at the airport and vowed not to ask strangers for rides again…at least in Oregon. :-)

I made it to the airport and went to the car rental booth, then found the right car rental booth (they all look the same!) and checked in. The lady behind the counter asked for my drivers license and credit card. I dug and dug through my purse and couldn’t find my credit card! Doh! I had left it sitting on the computer when I made my reservation. Thankfully, I had an old Discover card that we very rarely use and handed it to her. Declined. Impossible I say!! When I was a the shop, I realized I had a dead cell phone so I borrowed the phone from the gal at the counter. Thankfully there were no other customers in line. Turns out, Discover had sent me a new card and deactivated the old one…what?! The lady on the line explained that I must go home and find the new one and that one would work. I very calmly explained that I was far, far from home and would she please re-activate this card as I really, really needed to use it now! Hmm…I don’t know if that will work but I’ll try, she replied. I looked at the woman behind the counter, gave here the go-ahead, and got a thumbs up – success! Whew! Crisis averted! I didn’t know what in the world I would have done if they had not fixed it.

I drove back to the mechanic, spent 20 minutes searching the van looking for my charger with no luck, and then drove the 1 ½ hours to Mt. Shasta, picked up the solar panels & drove back! Ahhh…..all is right with the world again.

We finally finished with the mechanic around 9pm, threw everything back in the van and headed back to the hotel.

What a day…


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