Monday, March 30, 2009

Van stuff

After sleeping in today I got up and made some coffee and went to the garage to play with the van. I took off the bra that the PO had on it. I hate those things. Luckily, there wasn't too much damage under neath it. The whole thing will get buffed and waxed once it warms up. I got the GPS mounted inside. I found a perfect spot for the fly rods where the dogs wont be able to get to them. I actually painted the wheels a while back. I fixed all the dome lights (except for the one above the glove keeps shorting out after touching the metal dash and blowing the fuse for all of them so I gave up and yanked it for now). I installed a new fuel filter, air filter, plugs, wires, cap and rotor, and also a new drivers high beam. The plugs are supposed to be gapped at .028" (+/- .01) and the old ones were anywhere from .043" to almost .049". The old plugs told me what I suspected: It runs really rich. The motor pulls harder now but I ordered a new temperture sensor so we'll see if that leans things out. I also need to check timing but I need to score a light first or see if one of my students dad's has one that I can borrow or rent.

I rounded up Yakima 1A towers, clips, and extenders for the roof (need to source some crossbars). I also scored some Q Clips and 2 sets of mounting brackets for those. My plan is to see if I can come up with a way to mount a roof rack on the back for the bikes. The top rack will hold a Spacebox for camping trips. Today I ordered up a factory service manual for it (Van Cafe had em on sale for $70). I also ordered up a coolant sensor and 2 new hacth struts b/c the ones on there won't hold up the hatch let alone a rack and a bike. I LOVE MY VAN!!

Good to be home

We wanted to be home several days ago but the weather was making Heather and I nervous so we decided to hang and wait it out. We finally made it home late last night. The service was very nice and very well attended. We could not believe how many of our friends showed up even without us knowing that they knew of the ceremony. Super nice. Dad seems to be hanging in there as best as can be expected. Super sad for me to sit there with him at the luncheon that followed the service. I can't imagine being in his shoes and being cordial to guests and friends. I would be such an asshole. I love Heather and never regret getting married to her but I know that one day I may have to face that situation and it's gonna be brutal. I freak out when I think about dying.

We stayed with our friends Adam and Mary and their girls Maya and Morgan. It is always so great to see them and I miss them so much. There was so much to do while we were in town and it was awesome to just hang out with them in the evenings. I got in a 60 mile ride on Monday and it was excellent. The next day I was jumping on the trampoline with the girls and thought I'd try some flips and what not when I landed wrong and crawled off the trampoline while moaning. I couldn't even drive for the next 2 days but making the girls laugh was all worth it. I want to appologize to the friends that we just weren't able to hook up with (TK and his family, Pablo and Catina, Rob and Shannon). It's not that we don't love you all it was just super hectic. I think we are both more tired from spring break than we were before going on it. Back to work tomorrow but it may be a short week for me if I can make it work out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cool sights...some cooler than others

This I actually saw a while back but forgot that it was on my phone. Perhaps it was best that I did. But....for your enjoyment. I pulled into a gas station here in town and this was parked there. Clearly this thing is pimped. However, what doesn't come out in the pic is the custom airbrush work on the tailgate. It was an outdoor scene and the truck was actually in the artwork. Better yet....there was a smokin' hot latino gal (on teh right side) wearing barely a bikin and she was sittin' back takin in the truck and the great outdoors. Priceless.

We saw this while running errands down in Colorado Springs today. There was actually 3 cars total but tihs was my favorite one. I believe this is a 59 Chevy Impala. The kid had it on bags and it was scrapin'. Super tough lookin' flat primer red colored paint.

Kick ass pinstriping. Too bad this would look like teets on a bull or I'd have it on the Van.

We had to make a stop at the Citadel Mall. For those that don't know...this is the jankiest mall I've ever been to. Folks from St. me when I say that Northwest Plaza has NOTHING on the people that frequent this mall. I present...Ehibit A. I love to people watch and sometimes, I find something that I just find intriguing. I could not stop looking at this guy doing his best B Rad. The Citadel scares the crap out of me and I'm from a big city that in recent years was actually voted the most violent city if I recall correctly. If I can only get it at the Citadel...I don't need it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This is a nice Vanagon. This one has the South African grill and probably H4 lights. Not wild about the wheels but that's ok. These things are so cool. I should have gotten one long ago when my buddies Adam and Dave had theirs. Yesterday I was replacing some bulbs in the dome lights (there's 4) and when I put a new bulb in the one on the passenger side dash, a fuse blew. So I was rooting around under the dash putting in a new one and I found the front windshield washer reservoir. You get to it by lifting up the corner of the carpet on the drivers side.

This is an extremely nice Eurovan. These have the VR6 motor in them. Adam's dad has a blue one and he's thinking of buying it off him. He's used it before to tow the drag car. It'll cruise all day long at 80mph with the trailer behind it. I looked at them for a bit but they are pricey and I just don't like them quite as much as a Vanagon. Still's hard to not think this is sexy.

First day of Spring Break

No.....there wasn't any Jello wrestling to be had over here. We slept in a little bit. Then ate some breakfast before I went out and got in 40 miles. I almost got a beer at this place called the Thunderbird (how could a guy go wrong?). The bikers out front were looking at me and I gave a knod that definitely let them know what time it was gonna be IF I came over. I started back towards home and the wind was SILLY. Once I made it back into Divide, the sky got all kinds of ugly. I actually saw some lightning and cried out before shutting down the iPod. I started with some sun. Rode through some rain. Then ended with some snow before rolling back into Woodland. After some coffee I went out to the garage to do some work. I was gonna do a tune up on the Van but instead I pulled Heather's Cherokee in to give it an oil change and install some driving lights. It appears that her's has developed the typical Jeep oil leak. It's not bad yet but I will be doing a valve cover gasket and some oil adapter o-rings and hoping it is not the rear main seal. While I have done 3 of those, I am not looking forward to it again AT ALL. Now I'm sittin' here surfin' the net and havin a cold Mass Transit Ale. I just noticed that there is an old air cooled Van on the label. So sweet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Road trip

It's been stupid crazy at work these past few weeks what with the state assessments. People are on edge (including me) and it's been a bit stressful. Heather and I were planning on parking the Van at one of the many secluded locations along the South Platte River for a few days and seeing how it feels to not sleep in a tent but we are now figuring out when we will head to St. Louis for the funeral. I also have to figure out what to do with the beasts while we're gone. My brother from another mother (Adam 12) and his beautiful family are allowing us (once again) to stay in our apartment in the basement (complete with pool table, Blues hockey memorabilia, and all Adam's trophies from running the violently fast VW drag's now in the low 10's!!!!). So we'll be basing out of St. Chuck and be making frequent trips to the North Side to check on Dad.

If we were taking the Van, I'd consider taking both pups but it'd be chaos in the Cherokee and less stressful without them (although I really wish Dharma could pay her respects to Mom). Bodhi never met her. No matter how many times we told Mom Dharma's name, she always called her Norma. So our co-worker and neighbor (Peggy G) said that she'll look after the mutts. She's watched Dharma before but not Bodhi and I don't want to ruin any future opportunities to watch the dogs b/c of Bodhi's shenanigans. One of my parents (students parents) works at a shelter up in the next town and I'm thinking of asking her if I can drop him off there for the week so he can ruin her office (if you're reading this.....I'm calling soon). After that's all sorted then I'll have to look over the Jeep and make sure it's ready to get us through Kansas and not strand us there like the one time I decided to stretch a tank of gas a bit too far just west of Salida at 2 a.m. We ended up sleeping on the side of some dark country road waiting for the AAA to get there with a few gallons of gas. We can't pass that exit without Heather heckling me like Don Rikkles.

That's all I got for now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I've never had a good relationship with my family. I haven't seen my mother or father in about 15 years now and have no desire to speak or hear from either of them. The woman who brought me into this world has made the occasional call but I can count them on less than one hand and it's generally when she needs something or wants to lay down a guilt trip. One of the things that I was really excited about when Heather and I decided to get married was that I would then have my own family. Essentially, we did before all our friends gathered and made it official but now it IS official.

One of the things that I secretly wondered a lot about was what to address Heather's mother and father as. Do I call them by their first name? Do I just say, "Hey?" Do I dare call them mom and dad? So it's been 7 months or so now since the wedding and I haven't ever talked about this dilemma even with Heather. They sent me a card for my birthday in January. Heather's mom made it out and she signed it........"Love, Mom." I looked at that word for days. It seemed very strange and I hadn't seen it on anything that was sent to me in a very long time. It made me so happy. I called her and "Dad" right away and thanked them so much for truly accepting me into their family.

We got a call yesterday, late morning, from Dad. Mom had a heart attack while he was at a knife show and he came home to find her on the floor. Paramedics were able to revive her but her heart stopped several more times on the way to the hospital. She passed away shortly after getting to the emergency room. Obviously, Heather's going through something entirely different than me but I definitely feel some anger.

Dad's still fighting against the cancer so he's gonna need his strength and this can't be helping. Hang in there buddy.

Rest in Peace.............Mom.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Today Heather booked our Honeymoon in Mexico. I am looking forward to it but it's all Heather's doing. I'm not telling when we're going but it doesn't really matter anyway as there will be 2 Pitbull's gaurding the premises while we're gone. I really don't think Dharma would do much if a stranger came in except expose her belly or piss on your shoes but Bodhi........he might just tear into someone. He's pretty spride. And he's crazy too. We're staying at an all inclusive place and that's about all I care about. All I know is that I just need to raise a flag and they will bring me another beverage. I will definitely get some fly fishing in down there. Here's the best part: the place we are staying at is supposed to be really nice (much nicer than I'm used to). They have.........................................................................................a bidet!!!!!!!! Oh goodness. Probably only TK knows the extent of my bidet dreams/fantasies. I despise toilet paper. It's simply vile. I've never used a bidet. I think I'm more excited about the bidet than I am anything else. Warm water..........down there. I've always said that when I figure out where I'm gonna live for a long time, I'm installing a bidet. This is like a trial run. I'll have one in my room to use as much as I want. Is it like a baby bottle? Do you test the temperature on your wrist first before.......squatting? I need to know who has used one of these dream machines and what it was like. What's the process? What's your or bidet? Specify whether you want me to punlish your comment or not and I will abide by your request if you divulge the goods. Help a brutha out.
It was really cold here today and the van was not happy about being woken up. There may be a temperature sensor that needs testing. It has sat all week but I got it in the garage. It fits like a glove. As soon as the oil got done draining from the van tonight, the ups man pulled up and delivered a box to me. It had my stuff from Van Cafe in it. I opened up the package and found my filter, a low pressure temp sensor, a crush washer, and 2 bags of cookies. Those guys at VC are OK. I had one bag of cookies while I finished a coffee and the oil finished draining. I got everything buttoned up, and started the van. After I was convinced there were no leaks, I grabbed the other bag of cookies and a refill of coffee and hit the road to see if the idiot light would come on when it got up to temp. I took a drive down to Deckers which is near my favorite are to fish (Cheeseman Canyon). There was 1 car at the trailhead. During the drive, I'd randomly put the clutch in and let the rpm's drop to idle and......the light did not come on. A few miles further and I pulled in to a scenic overlook (I couldn't see anything but snow). The light came on for a split second and then I sat there idling with no light. Strange. I still think the sensor might be bad. I am definitely going to get a gauge and install it and see what the numbers look like. I also bumped up the idle just a touch in the hopes that that will help with keeping the rpm's high enough to stop the madness. I'm going to drive it to work tomorrow. I really think this van is gonna be super fun. It's stupid how well this thing handles. As I was cruising through the twisties and glancing over at the river tonight, I can't help but think how kick ass this van's gonna be with a Subaru 2.5 motor in it and sitting about an inch lower. Uh oh. Sorry Heather.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm Ron Burgundy?

I've decided to refer to the van as "Ron". As in Ron Burgundy. I did not drive it today as I have some concerns with regard to oil pressure at idle. These motors just don't make much pressure at idle and the dynamic monitoring system lights up the idiot light if the pressure at idle drops below 7 psi. My light came on yesterday on the drive home. This could be any number of things (bad sending unit, old oil, low on oil, shotty filter, bad pump, stretched rod bolts, or even worn rod bearings). I decided to start with the least expensive stuff. I noticed that the PO took it to the Grease Monkey to have the oil changed 5,000 miles ago. I'm hoping that the oil that's in there is just not cuttin' it anymore. It's also about 1/2 quart low and since these motors don't use much erl's certainly not helping matters. I'm sure their filter is worthless. So I have a good quality Mann filter on the way from the fine volks at the Van Cafe. I also ordered a new low pressure sending unit. I'll change the oil and see how it does. I think I'm on the right track. When the light does come on, the idle is fine and I can almost look at the gas pedal and that's enough to make the light go out. Bad filter, old oil, and low on oil could certainly cause this.

Heather thought I'd be really mad about this but I'm not mad at all. I really enjoyed my Jeep but it's so good to get back into a VW. I'm riding again. I own a dub again. My buddy Dave used to say that the German cars have a soul.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The glory be mine

I scored this Vanagon today and I'm pretty pleased with my purchase. This is exactly the one I wanted. It's a 1988 Weekender with 159,000 on it. It looks like a flying brick. Heather is not sure what to think. She digs it and can't wait to go camping but she just expected me to want something a little quicker. There's just nothing else out there right now that I thought would be as fun to have. The lady I bought it from has had it for 10 years but she didn't know how to fold the seats down into a bed. She said she had slept in the very back, on the back seat and even on the floor!! I showed her how to do it and we all had a laugh. It does leak a little oil which is usually an issue for my OCD. It does not leak any coolant from the heads though so that's a big plus and the temp stays nice and steady and where it should on the gauge. The body is in good shape but the roof is hatin' life. Luckily I only see that when I'm out on the deck.

Those crazy Germans are pretty darn smart when it comes to vehicle engineering. There are so many cool features in the Vanagon. The oil filler, dipstick and coolant are hidden behind the rear license plate. The oil filler is actually a tube within a tube so it extends out and makes filling easier. The battery is under the passenger seat. You can sit in the rear jump seat with your elbow out the window, facing the rear, and doing stuff with the laptop while someone is cruising down the highway. It's gonna clean up real nice. We're gonna rent a steam cleaner this weekend and clean it real good and then we're gonna head out for a little r&r over spring break. Before it's road worthy though, I need to do the front brakes (they are horribly warped) and there's something going on with the gas tank. With a full tank, it spews gas on hard turns. Hoping it's a simple fix like a vent line but I gotta get under it and see.

It's like driving a big rig. The steering wheel is HUGE!

Those jump seats come out in seconds and I could haul at least a washer, dryer and maybe even a fridge.

I hate bras. Car bras. They usually just create damage underneath. This one had seen better days but it was covering up the Wolfsberg badges so it had to go. This van is definitely going to need some love but I think it's gonna be super fun. I picked it up for $3800.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

So tomorrow is race #4 in the winter series. I was really excited about doing this race. It's on the Mineral Belt Trail. This is a 12 mile, paved trail that runs around the edge of town. The trail takes you past loads of historical mining sites and I LOVE that kind of stuff. There is also some type of wacky Leadville thing going on right on Main Street too. They have built 8 foot snow jumps. They are for some skiers that are going to be getting pulled by horses but they said we could hit em too at the finish. Too bad I wont be able to launch over the jumps like a dead sailor.

I have scoured the country for a Vanagon and been unable to find one that I am willing to go check out. Vanagons generally sell for a ridiculous amount of money due to the perceived value that their owners place on them. After much searching, I have found one that is actually close by. I will be checking it out tomorrow so I wont be racing in Pb-ville. From the pictures I've been sent of this van, it looks pretty darn clean. It's supposed to have a re-built motor with 60k on it so I'm hoping to not have to deal with the dreaded blown head gaskets anytime soon. Hoping to drive it home.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The guy that bought my Jeep stopped by tonight. I was a little concerned because it's not exactly a short trip for him. As soon as he pulled up I saw smoke coming from the Jeep. He actually came by to drop off my license plates but he wanted to confirm that I had replaced the rear main seal. I had done that repair and the Jeep didn't leak a drop of anything because I don't tolerate that. He said it had left a puddle of oil in his driveway. I grabbed a light and crawled under it and the first words outta my mouth were, "Holy #@*!". There was oil all over the bell housing and the bottom of the trans. There are several places that can leak oil on that motor and tehy all can present themselves like a rear main leak. To me it looked like a rear main leak though. What a huge PITA that repair is. Leaks like that drive me insane. Maybe it's a good thing that it sold as quickly as it did.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

State Assessments

I try to refrain from talking about work here but state testing begins on Monday. During the last 4 weeks as I walk into classrooms to check on my students and help them out and help the teachers out, all that's been talked about is the test. I really don't like the test. I understand the need for it but it really stresses a lot of students out and I really feel that it takes away from a lot of the creativity and spontaneity that initially attracted me to the field of education. Teachers are so busy with trying to cover what is going to be on the state assessment and there is little time for anything else. Today's students are so much different than in years past. It absolutely breaks my heart when I hear a student in a class that asks a question that is kind of on topic (maybe slightly off) with what's being discussed and the teacher says they don't have time to go into it. Students ask the question only because they're interested. We learn by associating new information with prior knowledge. If we don't allow/encourage our students to become interested in the curriculum, we're in danger of them tuning out and, eventually, checking out. The testing week is the worst week of the ear for me. My students ask me for help and all I can say is, "Would you like me to repeat the question?"

Van on the horizon

Well needless to say, I am pretty excited. I delivered my Jeep to it's new owner on Monday night. I must say it was a little sad to leave it behind. I really enjoyed building it up from stock. I've sold plenty of vehicles over the years that I didn't really care about but this is one that I really liked. I think it's going to a good guy though. He's a mechanic at a Lexus dealer who likes to hunt and fish with his 16 year old son.
I've been having a hard time locating any Vanagons that I felt were worth looking at. However, I have stumbled across one. I spoke with the owner tonight and will be checking it out this weekend. I will be missing the race in Leadville but I'm fine with that. I think this Van is in really good shape. I'm not even gonna post pics of it yet as I'm afraid of jinxing things. If this works's gonna be a killer summer. Perhaps the summer of Neumann.