Updated Intermission III (with pics)

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Amskeptic
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Updated Intermission III (with pics)

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:34 pm

So today I got stuck for the very first time in this billy goat of a bus.
It was Route 66 ouside of Needles in 105* baking sunshine, I says to myself, "hey! nice bridge, made of wood even" (Rte 66 has wooden bridges out here) so I pull a hard right off the pavement and skip down the incline right into the wash, the gravelly, sandy, rocky, mostly sandy, wash. Now I have done this a thousand and one times and the first rule is Always Keep Moving Through The Questionable Stuff. But I had a question. Where to? It looked like it was only getting worse and I could not map a path that gave me firm ground in the time allotted (the time being my rapidly diminishing momentum). When I came to a halt with idiot lights galore, I then had to obey the second rule: Thou Shalt Not Spin Thy Tires. I gently rocked the car back and forth, but the front tires had sand dams and the rears were going down more than forward or backwards. "Shit!" said I.
Shut off the engine and pulled all the sand, gravel, and more sand out from around each tire and out from under the hot engine. I collected 40 flat-on-one-surface rocks and made a cobblestone road back from each tire and stuck a few sticks to guide me through the rear view mirrors. The hot engine is not feeling too frisky at this altitude, and it wants to stall as I rock the car out of the ruts just enough to grab the rocks. Finally, I get a little widdle bit of momentum and start backing up when the transaxle jumps out of gear. No momentum now, just a lurch sideways into the softer sand still. The front tires are sand dammed even worse. The German Supply Roman Helmet tailpipe is an inch from ingesting sand. "drink some water!" yells my woozy medulla oblongata as my eyes swirl black spots through my field of view.

Back to the road grading (gee, it seems a little warm today) and rock-laying. Since I do not want to repeat this step, I gather another 40 or so rocks and make a nice WIDE cobblestone street with curbs even. Now when I back up, I keep my right hand firmly on the gearshift apologizing the whole time as I slip that clutch as though to punish my every Itinerant Air-Cooled Lesson Ever Taught about how to be nice to your clutch, man it was vicious but the bus clamored out and shook itself off with aplomb as I backed up the hill. Anyways, it was a beautiful wooden bridge that shook its timbers every time a car passed over head.

These three pictures occurred later:

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It didn't really say, "R.I.P. Fat Chick", it said "R.I.P. Fat Chad" with poor penmanship.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

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chitwnvw
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Re: Itinerary Intermission III

Post by chitwnvw » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:05 pm

Amskeptic wrote: It didn't really say, "R.I.P. Fat Chick", it said "R.I.P. Fat Chad" with poor penmanship.
Colin
I thought it said "RIP Fat Chitwnvw".Bastards!

You know we'd come get you if you ever got so stuck....

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Post by Birdibus » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:08 am

That's too hot! Did you wear a hat?

I used to try going places I shouldn't in the Anza Borrego desert. Got stuck once in the beetle and once in the westy, duh! I freed the beetle by sacrificing my aerated seat pads. When the westy got stuck, guys in jeeps just blew past, so we had to sleep the night in the tilted, stuck bus. Couldn't get it loose myself. Luckily a ranger station was a short hike away. He and my friend were able to push the bus out of the sand pit in the morning.

I've been told since that I should have let some air out of the tires. I wonder if that really works.
71 bus, 74 westy

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static
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Post by static » Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:52 am

Letting air out of your tires does work. Don't ask me how I learned this.

(*LOVE* that first photograph, by the way.)

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Post by bus71 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:30 am

Been stuck several times, will be stuck again. Allways got ourselves out. My kids still love to tell stories about dad getting stuck, backing into a tree, etc. Sigh!

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Re: Itinerary Intermission III

Post by static » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:41 am

chitwnvw wrote: You know we'd come get you if you ever got so stuck....
We would come and set up our lawn chairs, have a few beers, guffaw and take lotsa photos first, but then we would help.

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Post by glasseye » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:13 pm

Good story, Colin. Times like that test all our skills to the fullest.

I rented a Renault 5 in Morocco and, intent on seeing the Real Sahara, SWMBO and I hired a couple of locals to guide us among the pistes and dunes. One thing I remember from our adventures in the desert was the shouted advice of the guides from the rear seat as I negotiated the dodgy stuff: "Duexieme toujours sur le sable"

Always use second gear in the sand. :flower:

(with apologies to TF's if my French is bad) :pale:
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Paul Wolfowitz, speaking of Iraq.

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Post by Amskeptic » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:51 pm

Got stuck again today. . . worse. This time it was a beautiful flash-flood-torn-up road and I saw a pretty packed sand wash that I drove up about a 1/4 mile. Took a nice hike.

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As I was backing down, the FRICKEN transmission jumped out of reverse AGAIN and the car sank down under the crust. But WAIT! We're talking a slide sideways into a rivulet gulley,

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we got sand up to the engine, we got cows looking at me with disdain "four legs good two legs better ha! I'll stick with hooves." The mother cow with her calf gave me a dangerous look as I started searching for vegetation to make today's Rattan Road. I got photographs to stick in here tomorrow. But even the rattan was not up to the task.

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I had to do the cobblestone road with rattan garnish. My poor clutch! Oh man, you could smell that poor clutch. The engine just wasn't putting out enough torque, I had to wing er up to 3,000 rpm just to get enough oomph to turn the rear tires at all.
Finally had to remove the retard hose to the distributor and lean the mixture (found out later that I was just below 5,000 feet elevation, no wonder there was no power). It took 14 repetitions of the following to get my sorry bus out:


Clear the sand dams from around the front wheels.
Clear the sand from around the rear wheels and make a gutter to the front wheels. Apply rocks to the wheel trenches from the rear wheels to the front wheels. Cover with the desert cactus leaves in a latitudinal direction.

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Start engine and rev to 3,000 rpm and find the rocking cadence to finally allow the rear wheels to climb onto the rocks nail the accelerator while letting out the clutch fully and see how many feet I get before a) the engine stalls, b) the car bogs down in the sand again.
Clear the new sand dams around the front wheels and rear wheels (that are getting too low in the trenches)
Repeat with the rock layouts and the nasty spiky rattan cactus things. 14 times I went through this, cursing and apologizing to the bus.

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Meanwhile, the sand is drying out! The wash had a firm base early in the morning (8:30AM) but now was turning into dry sand dunes with no base to be found underneath. I had to slowly direct the bus towards the side of the wash where the firm ground was, but any deviation from straight ahead just piled up the sand in front of the front tires and made even bigger sand side walls along the rears. It was looking hopeless. And I was thinking that at any moment the clutch would refuse to even hook up any more. Finally finally finally, the car eased up onto the firmer sand at the front and the rears were still digging down when I just told the clutch "nice knowing you" and proceeded to slip the clutch at 3,000 rpm while lurching rocking the car forward onto the firm side of the wash. Once moving for sure, I told the bus that we are off-roading bigtime and I ran over large bushes and cacti and branches and rocks as I tried desperately to find a turn around spot. Finally found one that required a 10 point j-turn with all momentum, no dead stopping allowed in that sand.
Parked at the edge of the wash to plot my return down the wash (no other entry to the washed-out road).

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Now it is 1:30 PM, and the wash sand is dry and loose. I figure that if the car will do 3,000 rpm in first with the foot off the poor clutch, I will sand slalom, fishtails be damned. Barely made it too. Car started bogging down near the scene of the 14 dig crime and the engine started dropping revs even with the accelerator floored. With a pretty ugly yank to the left and a clutch pedal dip to let the engine get back up into the torque curve, the car slid sideways and found the road. Then it started to rain.

So, am I chastened? A little more cautious? Two days in a row and almost 50 years old, maybe I am losing my touch, heh, well? Nah. I was proud of my rugged WEAK little goat, and I was pretty proud of my use of native vegetation and geology and careful pedal work, and heck, the clutch feels no different than normal after all of that. Damn good exercise too. And as I was tooling down the highway at 70 later this afternoon, I thought, it is in this VW's genes to get into scrappy little predicaments. I was so filthy it made me laugh. Three day beard, sand and dirt all over me and the ratty cut-offs were . . . even looking ratty to me. People at the gas station couldn't believe that I was actually asking for a gas receipt, their eyes said it all "he doesn't even own a car, and he sure as hell ain't driving one". All in all, a splendid beautiful day in the Arizona wilderness.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 129,490 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 94,225 miles

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Post by Birdibus » Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:14 pm

Have you read Desert Solitude by Edward Abbey? It gave me a respect for the desert, though I doubt you were in a dangerous situation... depends on how much water comes down that wash. Abbey got himself in a real pickle jumping down waterfall chutes above the grand canyon until he got stuck just before a storm. He had to wet himself in a pool of water and stick to the cliff salamander style...got free of the chute just before the skies opened with thunder and deluge.

There's some real pretty country there in AZ. Seen Oak Creek Canyon around Sedona?
71 bus, 74 westy

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Post by IFBwax » Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:53 pm

Birdibus wrote:Have you read Desert Solitude by Edward Abbey? It gave me a respect for the desert, though I doubt you were in a dangerous situation... depends on how much water comes down that wash. Abbey got himself in a real pickle jumping down waterfall chutes above the grand canyon until he got stuck just before a storm. He had to wet himself in a pool of water and stick to the cliff salamander style...got free of the chute just before the skies opened with thunder and deluge.

There's some real pretty country there in AZ. Seen Oak Creek Canyon around Sedona?
That was a great book. Read it in college. Wasn't that Arches Nat'l Park? It's been a while. Love your stories as always Colin.
The best navigators aren't sure where they're going until they get there. And then they're still not sure.

Frank Bama

http://www.partypickle.blogspot.com

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Post by Elwood » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:38 am

Oh Colin what a trip! I was going to ask you about side roads to take to avoid the 10 to Phoenix but good thing I didnt. Yicks glad you had your wits about you to build a cobblestone road :cyclopsani: Great picts and bet the moon looked real purty and felt better.

El feels good so far and I will let you know when I go. Must take care of front house here before I leave. Dennis wants to buy property and that would be swell for my future. The 71 he wants me to sell is a good one, more later. Stay safe and happy :alien:
'69 weekender ~ Elwood

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Post by Birdibus » Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:35 am

Hi Barb! Good to hear from you. I was hoping to hear about your itinerant visit. How is the splitty coming along?

Abbey's story of the waterfall chutes took place in Havasupai land, but was in the same book as the Arches stories. He couldn't go down any farther, couldn't go back up, and flash flooding was expected in the afternoon. That's why they say not to hike canyon country during monsoon. Several european toursists died a few years ago in such an event.
71 bus, 74 westy

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Post by glasseye » Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:36 am

Me, too, chiming in. Colin, you'd love "Desert Solitude" He has a very spiritual outlook and is an environmentalist original. Holistic, yah, that's it he's holistic. :cherry:
"This war will pay for itself."
Paul Wolfowitz, speaking of Iraq.

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Post by dtrumbo » Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:38 am

Amskeptic wrote:Then it started to rain.
That's damn funny! I can't wait for your book, you're story-telling skills are amazing. It is so fun to enjoy your adventures across this wonderful country of ours. Please continue to keep us entertained with your fabulous tales!
- Dick

1970 Transporter. 2015cc, dual Weber IDF 40's
1978 Riviera Camper. Bone stock GE 2.0L F.I.
1979 Super Beetle convertible.

... as it turns out, it was the coil!

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Post by Sylvester » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:08 am

If I may ask, who in the world do you have an appointment with that takes you into desert sands? Heh, neat, and glad it isn't me. That does remind me of driving in the desert outside of Dubia, we got stuck too.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue, I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace. Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod, The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

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