To Camp or not to Camp….there’s really no question!

 

I camp…just sayin.

People be like “Yo, do you camp?” and I be like “PFFT!…do I camp?”

Before July 25th, I couldn’t say any of that. Before July 25th…I’d be like “no.” :) Here’s how that changed:

You’d think that a guy that grew up in Alaska (19 years) of all places would have went camping or fishing or hunting while he was there right?  Not this guy. I was busy at the gym or the park. I didn’t miss the great outdoors because I didn’t know them. Ignorance is bliss.

When I went through Havasu City a couple months ago my good friends talked about going to the High Altitude Kampout in Flagstaff, AZ and how much fun it was. I determined then that I was going to go, but I wanted it to be a surprise. I called my buddy Cory and asked if he could help me make this happen. He was super stoked and agreed instantly. He said he’d bring a tent and everything I would need including a hug and  a sippy cup if I wanted.

Tucson to Flagstaff is about 5-6 hours in a bug. I have a tendency to goof off at stops and give in to my attraction to distraction so it takes me longer to get where I’m going.  I see cool stuff…I think. In any case me and my wife Carole loaded up the car and we headed out bright and early Friday morning. The guys in the Chirco shop gave my car the once over so the valves were adjusted, oil change, carb sync, and checked all the vitals. It’s nice to have a shop with expert mechanics on hand. I appreciate all they do to keep my car on the road.

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Woke up to a fire on the mountain.

The drive from Tucson to Phoenix is one of those trips folks who live here make often. You get desensitized to the amazingness. You find yourself sayin things like “Stupid awe inspiring random rock formation.”, “Dumb old historic civil war site.’, “Lame a_s area that the nationally covered haboobs start in.”  So I’ll just skip that part.

When we got to Phoenix is was 93 degrees at 9am! I think their low was 91! It’s a hot place in July that’s all there is to it. Coming out the other side though, you start to climb a little and things get better. None of the hills were challenging for my 1904cc so it was a nice easy cruise.

Coming into Camp Verde we saw some buses on the road finally. Turned out one of them was my good friend Mike Jordan…yeah yeah I know…get it out your system, I’ll wait……anyway he was with a group of Arizona Bus Club buses and we all ended up taking a break at a Camp Verde, AZ gas station. It was cool to chat and make introductions. We were only about 50 miles from Flagstaff so we took off.  The next stretch is beautiful! Nice climbs, trees, cool air, just gorgeous. It seemed to go faster than I wanted, but I was so excited to get there!!

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Me and Michael Jordan discussing underwear…go figure.

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Some AZ Bus Club folks

I pulled into the camp area and saw photographer Eric Arnold. He waved and took a pic and then I saw my buddy Jim Share!!  He’s one hairy mofo these days and he was thrilled to see me. We hugged a good hug and laughed. He’s one of the founding members of The Tucson Bus Mob and we miss him in Tucson bad. We kinda kept hugging which wasn’t odd at all. This is why I was there. Good people.  Jim pointed us to our camp area where all my Havasu friends were. Cory kept my secret so everyone was very very surprised. There was more hugging and some jumping up and down and someone threw some panties….ok it was me, but still it was awesome. The VW legend John Howard was there. Art, Bob, Mona, Launa, Denise, Bustoration Ronnie, Josh, Dave, Joe, and so many more, and that was just our camp (…you like that “our” camp??…yeah…I camp). After all the greetings we set up our tent and settled into the fun.

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My spot at the Flagstaff KOA

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My car, My tent, My Zen

Eric Arnold Photography Bus...I call him Richey.  :)

Eric Arnold Photography Bus…I call him Richey. :)

Folks set up for fun

Folks set up for fun

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Cory’s world famous Screamin’ Eagle Bus

First of all, the Flagstaff KOA was amazing, and Jim and Janyel Share spared no accommodation to all what seemed like 600 of their guests. It was one of the best run shows I have been to. The facilities were very very nice and the people, well what can you say?…outstanding. There were camps everywhere! many folks came up in groups so it was almost regional. I would hang out in the Havasu City camp where I was staying but then get up and go visit “Tucson” often. Many of my Bus Mob buddies were there so it was fun to go and hang out there too. Peoria VW came up with their insane schwag trailer and Keith and his wife Suzanne camped as well. Its always fun hanging out with them. Great dealership btw. Look them up.

Lundes Peoria VW is awesome!!

Lundes Peoria VW is awesome!!

So cool to see so many camping...like me.

So cool to see so many camping…like me.

High Altitude...7000ft, yikes!

High Altitude…7000ft, yikes!

Juergen and I discussing his coolness.

Juergen and I discussing his coolness.

One of 2 things happened here.  :)

One of 2 things happened here. :)

I semi-swiped this GLI and drove around with the owner...loved it!!!

I semi-swiped this GLI and drove around with the owner…loved it!!!

One of the things I enjoyed most was just randomly walking into a camp, introducing myself and joining in conversation. Bus people are some of, if not the best people in this hobby. My cheeks hurt from laughing after a while. The entire scene was as hip as it gets. As the night went on there was additional festivities and VW bonding over a brew or two and yeah…even more laughter.

I camp.

Cory and Art and gold antenna ball gifts.

Cory and Art and gold antenna ball gifts.

THE John Howard...Co-creator of the  Jerome Jamboree and Buses By the Bridge...Legend

THE John Howard…Co-creator of the Jerome Jamboree and Buses By the Bridge…Legend

ahhhhh....camping....I do that.

ahhhhh….camping….I do that.

Nothing says camping like a giant demon dog stealing hearts.  :)

Nothing says camping like a giant demon dog stealing hearts. :)

That is pretty much how it went for two solid days!

Here’s my list of observations.

  • If it were possible for me to get even closer to my Havasu friends…it happened. :)
  • The showers were so nice I wanted to roll in dirt after I was done so I could take another shower.
  • I knew I was really “roughing it” when the pizza guy got there.
  • Crying myself to sleep is a normal camping experience.
  • Solving the worlds problems with people you truly care for is priceless, and
  • Spending a weekend with 600 of your new best friends is about as good as it gets.

So yeah…

I camp.

I can’t wait to do it again.

-lah

Here’s a little vid I made of the event.  Enjoy.

2014 Summer Cruise: Tucson to Tahoe in an Air Cooled VW – Part 3

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saint Augustine

The more I read that quote the more I see into it. Maybe travel means more than the academically accepted definition. I don’t think Augustine was just talking about going from one place to another. I think he may be talking about going places outside your comfort zone and gaining those experiences that add to you as a person. Maybe we’re the World and our “pages” help make us who we are. Hmmmm…maybe I should lay off the cough syrup and Tarantino films and just finish this thing up. :)

OK! OK!!!!…dude, I get it. You have this apnea or somethin and you can’t sleep. So your only recourse is to try to wake up EVERYTHING else?!?! Who does that?! Roosters in Grass Valley do that on the day you’re heading back to Tucson. That’s who.

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I imagine him to look like this.

It was another beautiful NorCal morning and after some coffee, muffins, and morning news conversation I set about packing up for my trip back. Brock had to leave so he gave me a hug. My body disappeared into his 6′ 9″ 240 pound future San Francisco Giant frame. It was like a hugging a coliseum pillar! He turned to walk away, dragging his feet, clearly sad. I said “Hey  man….Orange.” He turned to me and said “Salad.” (sniff…it’s a thing.) I thanked the Griningers for their graciousness, hospitality and friendship. Then I topped my  car off with oil, (plot point!) waved one last wave and headed out.

I was excited because I was going places I had been for the most part. I was travelling alone but really I had zero concerns. I didn’t think I was going to get lost and my car’s only issue so far had been me running out gas. (Note: That running out of gas thing really isn’t uncommon for me. I know, It’s a skill)  I ripped the first chunk off in no time. A lot of people were looking and smiling at the car. It’s soooooo nice up there. I waved at the Miner statue in Auburn, and I waved at the Roseville sign, and I started to wave at the Sacramento sign but then traffic happened. Remembering the fact that I had gotten disoriented more than once on the way up, I tightend my grip and made a steely grimace face to indicate a higher level of determination to not get lost again. Then I pulled off the freeway and asked a guy at the gas station if I was going the right way. He  laughed because I explained that I couldn’t see the mountains in Tucson, and I was lost even though I had only been on one road the whole time!!

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Auburn Miner Statue

I got back on the freeway and continued on to my first stop of the day….Elk Grove VW!!

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Mistie at Elk Grove.

Now for those that don’t know, in addition to whatever it is I do here at Chirco.com, I’m also an automotive illustrator. I’m fortunate enough to get the opportunity to do work for a number of VW dealerships and other VW related entities.

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One of my shirt designs. Great show BTW!

I had pre-arranged a visit to Elk Grove VW which is one of, if not the most established VW dealership in California. They have a rich history and they are also very much into the aircooled community, so I was a little geeked about getting a tour and stuff. I walked in and met with my point of contact. We sat in his office and laughed a bit, looked at some of my pictures, agreed to never, NEVER leg wrestle, and then we started the tour.

The dealership isn’t the largest I’ve been to but they have a very cool showroom and like most modern dealerships the shop was immaculate. The shop guys were bustin my chops about not having AC, which was cool. (pun) I was introduced to a “higher up” and he led me on the rest of the tour. Turns out they own the Audi dealership next door too, so we went in their to see one of only 92 Iron  Man R8s in the USA. All I could think when I saw it was ”damn…that thing is worth like 1 million nickels!!” I was a little embarrassed when I realized I actually said that outloud. I explained to them that I have inner monologue issues so they laughed and we were all good. The visit was top notch. I established contacts within the media group and hopefully down the road I will get an chance to do some work with them. I was very pleased.

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Elk Grove VW Showroom

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Chop Busting Mechanic Friend

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1 Million Nickels!!!

As I pulled out and started to drive away, I noticed a spot of oil where I had been parked.  Hmmm….maybe it was already there I thought to myself. (Queue the impending doom tonal change to the soundtrack.) I called my friend Greg who is a great mechanic in the area to see what he thought. He was a down the road a piece so I decided to keep going and check in with him later if there was an issue. He didn’t think it was a big deal so I felt better. Thanks for that man.

The next stretch was pretty uneventful. My anticipation was building like a 6 year old on Halloween day. I was heading to CB Performance for a visit and tour!!! The traffic wasn’t an issue, highway 99 wasn’t scary anymore. If I could have climed out of my car while flying down the freeway and stood on the hood yelling “I’M THE KING OF THE WOOOOORRRRRLLLLD!!!!” I would have. It was that magical.  It was a hot day and I wanted the dealership to see the Thermador so it was on the car.  I was zipping through Stockon and hit a pretty hard bump as the road was transitioning onto a bridge. I heard a pinging whizzing noise and looked in my rear-view mirror just in time to see what appeared to be the bracing pole for the Thermador  falling non-gracefully to the ground. The Thermador was still on the window, but now it wasn’t as stable so I had to pull over and take it off.  My trip just got hotter, but at least it was saved. I’m not gonna lie….I wasn’t happy. I used some colorful language then hit the road again.

I decided to stop just outside Merced to get a coffee. I ran into Starbucks, came out and saw some people drooling over my car. I talked to the strangers cause that’s what I do, then I checked under the car to see if my oil issue was still and issue an OH YEAH…it was an issue!! Now…You may not know this about me but I have the ability to skip intermediate emotional stages where things like logic and introspection live. That means I can go from calmly talking to strangers to full blown hysteria over a cap full of oil. No middle man. (note: I learned this at that moment.) I was past where Greg was so I called Chirco. Frank answered the phone, our call went like this.

Frank: Thank you for calling Chirco, this is Frank how can I help you?

Me: LOUDSCREAMJIBBERISHJIBBERISHCANCELTHECOTILLIONFAINTSPELL*! !@$#@  MORE!!@*&$!  ”oil” LOUDSCREAMJIBBERISHJIBBERISH!!!”

Frank: I’ll send you to the shop.

The End

So…here’s what happened in case you haven’t figured it out. Earlier while saying goodbyes and chatting with the Griningers’ I absentminded-ly waaaaaaaay overfilled my oil.  You know how oil is. A cap  full spreads and it looks like a gallon on the ground. Bob in the Chirco shop thought that was the case, Greg mentioned it earlier and the point when I could have logically come to that conclusion myself was one of those intermediate emotional steps I raced past on my way to catch the Panic Train. :)  After the oil “non-issue” was solved I got instantly happy again. (see how I do?)

The next stretch was great! Oil temp was fine, car was purring, and I managed to get a turkey pita down my gullet so everybody was happy. I flew through Fresno  (sorry I couldn’t stop James and Pammie) and got off on the Visilia exit. Heading East towards Farmersville I began to notice that I may be in the most aptly named place ever! In my neighborhood it’s gun store, liquor store, gun store, liquor store (D. Chappelle)….in Farmersville it’s tractor, hay bale thingy, tractor, some guy in an Edgar suit, tractor, CB PERFORMANCE!!! wait….wha??? Seriously. Bam! There I was! I got my camera out and pulled into their parking lot all smiles and chocolate happiness and then I saw their door sign….Closed on Monday.

The montage of bitter disappointment in my mind went like this:

Price Is Right Failure Music, colicky baby crying, Sasquatch and a Yeti pointing and laughing at me, John Candy saying “Sorry folks,parks closed, the moose out front shoulda told you.”, and the Ohio Players Love RollerCoaster repeating the “say what?” part over and over.. .I was devastated.

There were a couple of guys painting the outside of the building. I asked if they worked there or if they were just painter guys. They said they were just painter guys so I walked like sad Brock back to my car….then I heard the door jiggling and the sound of frantic key rustling and the door flew open and a lady’s voice shouted “Lemorris!!!! Hey!!! We’re all in here putting stuff away from The Classic. Come on in!!” :) :) :)

Man…CB Performance is so frekkin cool! Great showroom including a doublecab that was a VW trends cover bus back in the day. Tons of plaques and schwag. Memoribilia for
days!!! Dave the CB counter guy was all mic’d up doin his thing. It was awesome to meet him in person. My man Marcus came up to meet me and do the tour. I got to see my designs hanging up on the wall. I got to see their shop areas, their offices, their human head borer, their manifold mountain and I got to meet “The Pat”. That’s right. One of the best aircooled VW engine builders out there. I always thought he was a myth like a Centaur or Grandmas with soft candy, but no….he was real! We all chatted for a while and Pat looked at my car. He came to  the conclusion that I was silly and the car was fine. :) Marcus and I talked about work as I am doing some things with them and then they gave me a crap ton of stickers!! On my way out I said I feel like a beer. It was the end of their day so I got joined for a brew at a local pizza joint. :) We talked shop and ecommerce goofiness and in general had a really great time. Chirco.com carries CB Products so it’s nice to have a professional peer to peer business relationship with them as well as a personal business relationship with them. I can’t say enough good about CB Performance from the standpoint of their products which my car is full of, or their people. Outstanding, best client visit I have ever had, hands down. (Thanks for the beer too.) :)

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CB Performance!!

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Cool Bus

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Borer-er Pretty Cool

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THE Pat!!

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Crap Ton

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:)

After leaving CB I was pretty tired. I went to Bakersfield to stay in a hotel. I was out like a light. I didn’t get a ton of sleep because I was up at 4am and ready to hit the road again. It was going to be significantly hotter than my trip up and I wanted to beat as much heat as possible. Leaving Bakersfield I slid up the hill from the dog poo to the grassy lands of Tehachapi and then realized another issue. I can understand now why Vampires hate sunrise. :) The sunlight coming over the hills was so intense I saw spots…sparkly spots I tell ya. I had to slow way down to make it through. It was pretty but it wasn’t pretty pleasant. By the time I got to Edwards Air Force base things were good again. My carbs were singin to me and my car was cruisin. The temp was still under 100 so I decided to tear off a bigger piece. I went past Barstow and stopped at a little gas station in Newberry Springs. Usually this would be insignificant if not for the fact that it is right on old historic Route 66 and the station was right against a tall rock formation….anybody else seein this? It looked like the rundown version of Radiator Springs from the Pixar movie “Cars”! I saw a couple old trucks, a beat up Chevy sedan and definitely a few local characters. It was a feel cool moment for real. I’m glad I stopped there.

Now I was in full driving mode. Me and my car were like one. Like one big sweaty bag of skin meat in a tin can in the scorching desert. On top of that I was STARVING! I tore off another 120 miles and pulled into Needles, Ca. I got some gas and some water and a 44oz cup of ice. (this would prove to be pivotal) and then I saw a Taco Bell across the street. Score!!! I went to Taco Bell and decided to be real bad…I mean it’s already bad enough but I went for it…why not right? I ordered the horrible for you in every way Chalupa meal! That’s 2 Chalupas and a regular taco aka heaven. The fella doin the fixin took a while, like a long while but finally I got my food. I hopped in my car and thought “That poor little taco…he needs to be free of this mortal coil.” I unwrapped it and bit into it and all I got was a loud crunch, some bits of cheese and some lettuce fell out! I’m like what?!?! No meat? Was the meat not on sale?? I go back into Taco Bell and politely let them know. (Note:I never treat people who are preparing my food badly. I don’t like the taste of spit.) Anyway the guy makes me a new taco and I’m on my way. I totally scarfed the taco in the car…jut because he was Gen2 didn’t mean his fate would be any different. Then I hit the road. About 5 miles later I said “It’s Chalupa-thirty baby!” I unwrapped it and bit into it…..yep….you got it….no meat. :) My co-worker Pat laughed at this tale because he recalls when the same thing happened to me with 2 cheeseburgers from McDonalds one day in the office. He says it’s a sign that the universe wants me to be vegan.         oh, and yeah…I ate the chalupas!! :)

The next 5 and half hours was pretty much the same thing. Hot…blistering, stinking hot. When I stopped I got another bottle of water and a full 44oz cup of ice. I drank the water for the first 30 minutes and then the ice water was melted to perfection so it was very refreshing. By the time I got to Buckeye I had to up my game. I soaked my shirt in the ice cold cooler water and put it
on. It was soooooooo nice. It was like the Thermador was my torso and the wind whipping through the car made me a human swamp cooler. The next town, Gila Bend was 37 miles away. When I got there, my shirt was bone dry. I was mad, but happy because I was an hour or so from home.

For the next 80 miles to my Tucson freeway exit I thought about all the fun I had. I felt lucky to have had an opportunity to even try something like this. I felt lucky to have such great friends and clients in the VW community. I felt lucky to have gotten a chance to make even more friends in the VW community. I looked down and my oil temp was 215 and it was 109 outside. I smiled…it was pretty damn hot, but both me and my car were still pretty damn cool because of what we did.

:)

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Back at Chirco

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Mistie Back at Home

Whew…ok Augustine….there ya have it. Three more pages in my “World”.  :)

I want to thank Chirco for sponsoring me and building my engine and caring about my car as much as I do, it’s the Chirco way. I also want to thank Chirco for letting me have a job where I get paid to do cool stuff like drive 2000 miles for fun.

More thanks to all my friends who helped me along the way. All you Havasu guys are next level to me now. I will see you again. Cory, Bob, Mona….Thank you Thank you Thank you for everything.

The Griningers, Bruce, Jill, Brock, (Sup D?!), Hapa, Stella, Millie, Bullfrogs, Chickens, Pigs, ramp, pond, and t-shirt shop, Thank you so much for just being. You guys are great great…great friends. Thank you for having me.

Thanks to the SR49 peeps and the NorCalians in general. Your show is off the chain and your local VW community is one the rest of the country is envious of. Thanks for all your help too. Knowing folks had my back made all this possible. (I’m siphoning tears over here.)

Mateo…I’ve never rubbed noses Eskimo style with another man while driving on steep mountain roads, but I sure hope it’s not the last time I get to with you…..You are my friend. I wish we had met sooner too. :)

…and finally thanks to all the people that took the time to read this series. If you have any questions you can shoot me an email at chircovwparts@gmail.com, or my personal email, mail@lemorris.com.  Please visit Chirco.com and buy somethin so I can get a trip next year!

See ya next time.

-lah

 

2014 Summer Cruise: Tucson to Tahoe in an Air Cooled VW – Part 2

The World is a book, and those who do not travel (insert the words “to Tahoe”) read only a page.
Saint Augustine…and me. :)

I think the thing that is most striking about Lake Tahoe is the color. It almost looks like it’s not real. Like it’s a Frazetta painting or something that you could imagine being in the magical land of Xanth but it is in fact frekkin real!! To be sitting on a beach with about 60 other hardcore VW enthusiasts watching paddle boarders glide by and listening to the gentle  waves rolling ashore is pretty amazing. (Pause so that scene can soak in.  Ahhhhhhhhh). Now…let’s talk about how I got here.

First of all the Dubs Around The Lake Cruise has been around for 4 years. The State Route 49 VW group of NorCal organizes and hosts this event. My great friends Jill, Mateo, Sarah, Jefe, Tart, Sandy and more spend countless hours working on this thing. You should stand up and clap…I’ll wait……………………cool thanks.

This is no “baby” cruise. It’s a solid 175-200 mile trip through some of the most beautiful land this country has to offer. You gotta make sure your car  is sound if you want to do this. You know….get your brakes checked, valves adjusted, heads torqued, cables inspected, belt tightened, plugs and wires,  you know…all that. Doesn’t hurt to have good tires, working indicators, gas (more on that later), and some good quality super funky music. Essentials.

Fortunately I had all of those things (‘cept indicators) so my car was ready to get after it. The drive up to Grass Valley, CA from Tucson, AZ was pretty good. No oil leaks, no real issues of note so my comfort level was high. The morning of the cruise started out with a little coffee and some bagels. I sat with Jill’s son Brock and I watched as the 6’7″ base stealing machine put a bagel out of it’s misery in one bite. He didn’t even get the uncomfortable corner of the mouth cheese deposit. Impressive. We laughed a lot. It was a good start.

Next we all caravaned to the KMart meeting place. Now, I have been on this cruise a couple times before but I knew this was going to be next level big  when I got to the KMart. There were already 20 cars there! That’s more than last years total and we knew more were on the way. The gathering is always  fun but this year especially for me. I know many people there now. It was so cool to greet people as friends you haven’t seen in a year and get that hug. You see the excitement on faces and feel the energy that you feel when you  know you’re around something good. The other side of that is meeting the people that are new to you that will be added to the “friends you’ve missed” list the next year, and there was a bunch of them too! :)

There was a brief “drivers meeting” where Orchestrator Jill explained the route and gave everyone the low down, and then we mounted up. Now, I was clearly the most  lucky as my passenger was my friend and target of my bromance, Mateo. His actual name is Matthew Collins and to explain our relationship…know that I spoke to him every Tuesday for a year because of “Agents of Shield” and old “Bugs Bunny” references. At one point on the cruise Mateo turned to me and said “I wish we had met earlier in life. We coulda had more friend time.” That’s a feel good moment right there. :)  :)

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The Kmart was rockin!!

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Lita made it on the GrinsGraphics shirt!

The line of cars stretched out pretty quickly as we made our way to the first stop. The Grass Valley, Nevada City area is so pretty. The trees reach high into the sky and the groves hug the curves as you snake your way over the countryside. Mateo and I spent the first few miles man-hugging because I gave him an original drawing of his car I did a while back. It was cool. He lit up like a lit up Mateo, or glow worm. After about 25 miles we got to the Highway 20 Overlook.

The Highway 20 Overlook is the first stop on the cruise. There’s plenty of parking, there’s restrooms, there’s a chance to check your car’s vitals and oh yeah….there’s the Overlook! It’s a pretty big platform that we seem to be testing the “foundational” integrity of every year. From the platform you can see out over this huge valley. It’s nothing but trees and trees and trees! For someone from the Arizona desert, this is spectacular….I think it is for people who aren’t from the desert too. Insane. We all packed on to the platform for a group shot. There were jokes about needing mustard sauce and saltines but actually there was still a some room, so you should consider joining us next year. It’s an awesome stop.

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Highway 20 Overlook

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Highway 20 Overlook

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My man Chuck!

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The Overlook “Us-ie” Cool Group

The next leg of the cruise was outstanding. I always laugh because if I’m not in Tucson, I’m lost. I have no sense of direction unless I can see the Catalina mountains. On this leg of the Tahoe trip we took 2 turns and I was blissfully lost. Mateo and I had good tunes and we just twisted and turned our way towards a spot called Soda Springs. On the way you go through these areas that feature old structures that look like you could still go in with a bag of gold dust or painted yellow rocks (Bugs Bunny) and buy yourself some carrot juice or a belt of whiskey and then fight with some guy named Bart over cheating at poker. :) There’s a small river (listen to the desert guy talking about small rivers) that runs alongside the road at times. The whole  thing looks untouched by time or technology. I can imagine panhandlers seeing the exact scene….of course they’d be wondering what the he_l 25 weird sounding  horseless carriages were doing there, but still…it’s cool. This year they did not schedule a stop at Soda Springs. The cruise did pick up a couple more vehicles there though so our train grew.

So…here’s what comes next. The historically significant, amazingly awesome, spectacularly spectaculousness of The Donner Pass. For those that don’t know,

Long story short:

To reach California from the East, pioneer emigrants had to get their wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1844 the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party followed the Truckee River into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and became the first overland emigrants to use the pass.

The pass was named after a later group of California-bound emigrants. In early November 1846 the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the east side of the mountains. Of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.

I saw it on the History channel and I think Richard Roundtree (Grass Valley resident) was in it. Naturally everybody makes cannibal jokes cause it’s easy.
Me: Hey Mateo…I think I’m gonna feed you mayo all the way to Donner Pass.
Mateo: Why Le-momo?
Me: So when we get there I can just eat your leg and cut out the middle man.

As you can see…none of the jokes are funny, but they still get made. This part I can tell you in all seriousness. The Donner Pass Overlook is one of the most outrageously beautiful sights I have ever seen. The bridge you cross to approach the overlook curves viciously around a formation and BAM!! There it is. You can see Donner Lake and down towards the Truckee area from up there and it is breath taking. Almost more breath taking was seeing 11 more VWs there!!! That’s right. The super cool VWs from the Reno area made the drive up to join the cruise. Not only did they have sic rides, they turned a decent sized cruise into a “BIG A_S!” cruise.  The overlook and the area across from it were filled with VWs, it was a spectacle. The mandatory group shot got taken and then we mounted up for the next leg.

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Donner Lake

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Reno VWs at the Donner Pass Overlook

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Non-cannibal discussions

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Group shot!!! Wow!

Leaving the Donner overlook you make your way down a couple steep grades and roll beside Donner Lake into the town of Truckee, CA. Here you really get your first hint of the tourism and recreation level of this entire area. People are renting boating stuff, getting food, lined up beside all kinds of shops and whatnot and waving like mad at all the VWs cruising past. So many  thumbs up and peace signs. Lots of pointing and arms being punched. It’s a fun moment on the cruise. Next my sense of direction got obliterated again because there was a couple stop signs and I didn’t know what I was doin, then I saw the Olympic sign for Squaw Valley and I knew where I was. Host site of the Winter Olympics in 1960. Its just another example of the unique things you see on this cruise. My level of excitement increased because I knew what was next…Lake Tahoe!

Now, it’s important that you understand another reason I’m so found of this area. My Dad was a big fan of Westerns and Western TV shows. He would have me sit with him and we’d watch stuff like Bonanza, The Rifleman, Big Valley, Spaghetti Westerns, whatever,  for hours and just laugh. Little Joe getting shot in the butt was a national holiday in our home. I really really wanted a Hop Sing sleeping bag….We bought Alpo and didn’t even have a dog!!  :)  Coming into Tahoe reminds me of my Dad (R.I.P)…

There’s a little river to the left as you come into the Lake Tahoe area that folks tube down. I always look over there because it’s before you see the lake, but it’s your first look at the color of the water. It looks like their tubing down a Bob Ross painting, and yeah they actually are surrounded by “happy trees!”.  As you continue into the area you see cabins and people and little shops but  it’s not really crowded, then you see it on the left. It reminds me of the first glimpse of the Grand Canyon on the South side. You see somethin magnificent just for a second and its gone and you’re like “WTF was that?!?!”  Then you turn a corner and the Lake opens up to you. It’s a big Lake…not Lake Superior big, but remember I come from a place where the biggest Lake in town is so small you can’t even skip a rock on it. I mean after the first kiss on the surface of the water your rock lands on the other side. Kinda sad actually, so to me Lake Tahoe is pretty frekkin massive. You can see the other side but you can tell it’s pretty far away. The temperature was about 77 so yeah….perfect. For the next 45 minutes or so we just cruised around one side of the Lake. Music was good, laughing, pointing, remembering…fun.

Now…last year on the cruise around the lake there was 18 VWs. That’s a pretty decent number for  a 200 mile cruise. We felt pretty good about the vastness of our group until we saw the Shelby Mustang club pass us goin the opposite way. After 10 minutes we knew we needed to step it up to match those guys this year. Turns out they are pretty cool and so this year we had our 38 cars ready to go…then we saw the Shelbys….I think there was 80 of them this year!  LOLOL…they are so awesome! Old, New, stock, modified…just gorgeous. It was killer because they were all waving at us waving at them, like they were as happy to see us as we were to see them! Gotta love a group that loves their cars. Gotta love common ground.

On the way to the next stop you climb this hill and you see what is maybe the signature spot at Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay. It was too crowded for us all to pull over but I have seen it before and if you go on this cruise, this is a must see! This is the spot that best illustrates the rich colors I mentioned earlier. This is a spot that makes you feel insignificant. It’s that awe inspiring.

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Emerald Bay…Yowza!

The next stop for the VWs is Pope Beach. I looked up the history of the beach so I could tell you why it’s named that but it was kinda boring so I’m not gonna mention it. Oops. :) Just know that this is THE STOP! We all parked and grabbed our picinick baskets and found a great spot to just sit and eat and talk. There’s plenty of room and folks set up their respective camps so to speak. The aforementioned sound of the gentle waves rolling onto shore fill the air. The sweet sweet sound of Mateo eating potato salad like a cow wafted like a dump truck on the breeze. Looking around you know it’s a special scene. It’s probably why the cruise waits here for like 2 hours. My buddy Bob napping right by the shorline was a favorite for me this year. You’ll see it at the end of the video below. At this point the cruise actually picked up one more car. We passed a Ghia goin the opposite way and he whipped around and came to join us. Turns out he may play a role in making the event even greater in the future. I’m gonna leave that as a teaser. At this point the official total number of cars went to 39! So…big ups to the SR49 guys. Great job!

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Pope Beach South Lake Tahoe

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Jen modeling the event shirt…with flair!

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Fun chats.

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Awesome lunch!

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Love this bus!

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Just plain cool.

After a great meal at Pope Beach we rolled ourselves back to our cars and continued on. Leaving the beach you go through the area know as South Lake Tahoe. There’s more businesses and a few more people and there’s traffic. For bits you are going light to light so the line of VWs got broken up but for the most part, not bad. Once again you see people waving, pointing and punching, and it is a lot of fun. Mateo talked a lot about Caldwell Banker which I didn’t understand, but I nodded like I did cause he has long eye lashes. (Don’t ask). :)

The cruise continued around the lake and really I’m running out of adjectives to describe it. Once we got to the area named Incline, I got a little more happy. The trees on this side of the lake change in color as well as shape, and there’s a different layout to the landscape. The first time approaching this area I knew exactly what it was. Near Incline is the actual Ponderosa Ranch from the TV show Bonanza. Now if you know me, you know I stopped there 2 years ago and I got to do a tribute pony ride/dance thing for my Dad at the Ponderosa Ranch road sign. The ranch itself is closed these days, but still I got to give a knowing nod and tip of the hat to my Dad. Another very very cool thing that you see on this cruise.

The next leg is unreal. The views of the lake are CRAZY. The color…I mean man….THE COLOR. Wow!! We headed through the more crowded side and left Lake Tahoe behind. The final cruise stop is the Dairy Queen in Truckee. They have Dilly Bars, so life was good. The Reno guys had peeled off and went back their way, but still there were plenty of folks at DQ. It was fun to talk and chill for a minute. Gotta send some more Reno VW love.  You guys repped.  Very cool.

Last but not least there was a massive bbq and party at Jill’s place back in Grass Valley. On the way there I did run out of gas about 10 miles outside Nevada City. Mateo couldn’t believe it, but I have 11 gas cans for a reason. I know I know….it’s a thing. Anyway the rescue effort was phenomenal. Jimmy K stopped in his Ghia first. He sprung into action like Chuck Norris. George Loveday pulled over in his chase truck, he hopped out like Jean Claude, but the man of all mans was Dann. Dann drives a Herbie replica so he pulled over and took charge. It was like a vanilla Mr. T with less hair and feathers. He had some gas in a can, Jimmy K had some fuel hose. George has a cute wife so that was nice, but Dann was incredible. He siphoned the gas through the fuel hose in one suck!!! He didn’t even spit out any gas! He was like the siphon whisperer! His wife did make a joke about him swallowing which made us all laugh heartily. In any case I was back up and running in 6 minutes and got to witness an amazing feat at the same time. Thanks to all you guys for the rescue. Other than that operator error issue, my Chirco built 1904 was flawless.  Another shout out to the mechs in the Chirco shop.  You boys rock.

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Dann can suck. Pun intended. :)

Anyway…I made it to the party and had a beer and recounted the days fun all night long. Best cruise in the country. Period. Now if you want information on this cruise you can visit the cruise event page on Facebook, or you can find them on places like The Samba too. Look them up, get info and bucket list this event.

chirco

Great day….great day

In the “book” that is my World, this event is a page I read over and over again. :)

Here’s the little vid I made of the event.  Watch that kid recover in the beginning…he’s awesome.

OK…that’s part 2 Augustine. Next part will be the trip home with a couple special guests ta boot. Stay tuned

-lah

2014 Summer Cruise: Tucson to Tahoe in an Air Cooled VW – Part 1


“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Saint Augustine

How true is that?!?!

The Second Annual Chirco.com Summer Cruise took me through more “pages” than even the 2000 miles suggested it would.   Looking back, I do kinda feel like that astronaut gal a few  years back that drove all those miles wearing Depends Under Garments and tossing back energy drinks like there was no tomorrow.  :)  I’m not gonna admit or deny the whole under garment part as I believe how a person chooses to travel is their business and perhaps I find the padded rear cushion to be comfortable and somewhat reassuring.

You know, It seems like I read 3 whole “books” on this trip St. Augustine, so…I think I’ll post about it in 3 parts.

The 2014 Summer Cruise was laid out like this:

  • Tucson, Az to Lake Tahoe, CA/ NV and back in my 1958 Type 1 VW.
  • ~970 miles each way with a 200 mile air cooled VW cruise thrown in for good measure.
  • Stop in Lake Havasu City to hang out with some friends.
  • Stop at Elk Grove VW to hang out with some cool dealership cats.
  • Stop at CB Performance, cause that’s just cool period.

Here’s how it went down.  (Queue the ambient background music. Get popcorn.)

Day 1: Tucson, AZ to Lake Havasu City, AZ ~6hours

I woke up at about 4:30am cause I was silly excited. I brushed my back hair, kissed the fam, and hit the road about 6 am. My Chirco.com built 1904cc engine felt good and strong. Senior Mechanic Bob spent a couple days giving my car Mistie a good checkup. Valves adjusted, brakes checked, clutch cable, throttle cable, heads torqued, carbs synced, oil change, some fender genie rubbing (I didn’t ask), and Bob also made sure I had a box of extra everything just in case.

air cooled vw parts chirco

Chirco.com mechanic Bob, AKA “The Carb Whisperer”

Mistie purred across town. She loves that cooler morning air.  I don’t usually make note of everything that happens but on my way out of town I did come across a fatal accident scene. Peace and love to the motorcycle rider and his family. I was just about to enter the freeway and the scene stayed with me as a reminder that I needed to make sure I was careful and sensible on this trip. If you know me, that second item can be a challenge. :) I did good though.

vw parts at chirco

About to get on I-10 and do this!

Making my way up I-10 was sweet. Oil temp was about 180, perfect! I stopped at a little place named Toltec about 45 miles outside Tucson to get a little breakfast and just check stuff. My super cool friend Jon P. Wood texted me…“DUDE! WHERE ARE YOU?!?!” I told him I was in Toltec. He said he lived a mile and a half away and he wanted a Man-Hug!!!
(VW people are amazing.) I prepared to wait but it was like an episode of Bewitched or somethin! POOF!! Jon was there! We laughed and hugged, hugged and laughed (see video of the drive up below) and then I hit the road…feeling loved. Thanks for that Jon. :)

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Picacho Peak. Furthest West Civil War Battle Site

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Jon P. Wood is the Man!!

I shot up I-10 doing the speed limit about 75 or so and I took the Phoenix bypass route. You avoid the city of Phoenix but you are out in the middle of nowhere for about 80 miles until you get to Buckeye, AZ. There is a mountain that looks like afro-puffs to me but other than that, there’s not much to see.  I ripped this chunk off with no issues. The car was in tip-top shape and it was still under 100 degrees out so I was pretty comfortable. My buddy Ed loaned me his thermador swamp cooler for the trip and I was itchin to use it, but I decided to wait a bit.

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Phoenix bypass route. Yay?

The next stretch was about 90 miles to the town of Quartzite, Az. I don’t know what Quartzite is supposed to be  known for but I think it’s chief export is sweaty back and crotch. By the time I got there, I was ready for the cooler. I bought a bag of ice and just filled the cooler up. I poured some water in the top, gassed up and was out of there. Oh…I did meet a cool family that had a lot of cool stuff to say about my car. The young son was an artist too and he showed me an eagle he drew that he won the school art contest with. His work was pretty good! He better not try to take my job though. I fight dirty. :)

air cooled vw parts at chirco

Stop in Quartzite, Cooler time!

The next piece of road was really beautiful. The cool cool air from the thermador was whipping through my bald locks. The soft subtle sounds of thick funk and hard  pounding sub-woofer driven bass filled my cars’ interior as well as my soul. I mentally started planning the video I was going to make and just cruised. There’s a certain beauty  in the ruggedness of the desert landscape. The variations in the browns and the sharp edges of the rock formations are always fun to look through. Before I knew it, I was rolling into Lake Havasu City, AZ.

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Stop just outside Lake Havasu City. That blue stuff is called “water”.

Now…at first I couldn’t find the London Bridge, but eventually I managed to drive over it and get to a brewery. (Oh yeah….make no mistake. It was noon somewhere. :) ) I called my great  friend Cory, famed owner of The Screamin Eagle Bus, and he said he was on his way! I carried the thermador into the brewery because it’s valuable and I wouldn’t want it to get stolen…plus somewhere around Parker, AZ I think I asked it to marry me. It was easy to just stick my forearm in it and carry it by a crosspiece on the inside. Admittedly it looked a little weird. It reminded me of the leg-gun Rose McGowan had in Planet Terror, or maybe like “Edward Thermador Hands”…anyway…as soon as I walked in a female customer at the bar yelled “OH MY GAWD!!! IS THAT A BOMB!!!” Now everyone in the brewery is staring at me like I’m EF Hutton, anxiously waiting for an answer to her exclamation. I paused and in a very calm voice I said, “Noooo. It’s an old style swamp cooler for a car,  don’t worry. However I do have  to go out there to use the restroom, do you mind watching this thing for me?…I’ll be right back….I promise.” :) I set the thermador down on the floor by her.  I gave the bartender a wink,  and walked away gingerly.  The look on the lady’s face was priceless.   :)

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What bridge?!?!

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Me, Cory and the “OMG is that a bomb?!?!” lady.

It was real nice chillin there for a while. Lake Havasu City is hot but there are a lot of VW people there.  The famous event Buses By The Bridge is held just up from where we sat.  The cutest couple in the world, Bob and his amazing wife Mona joined us. We had a blast! Bob and Mona  would prove to be even more special than I thought as the trip unfolded. Later I got to stay in Corey’s fifth wheel and pretend to drive his boat and see the drawing I did of his bus and go see a funk band and laugh and dance with even more  Havasu friends! It was a special day.

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Mona and Bob. <3

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Cory hatted and reppin with Mistie

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The Cory toon I did.

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How I look when I drive a boat apparently.

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Lake Havasu City Funk Band

 

Day 2: Lake Havasu City, AZ to Grass Valley, CA ~a bajillion hours :) (14 hours)

The next morning I was up at 5. The night before Bob and Mona decided they would spend their 39th anniversary on the Tahoe Cruise, so they brought over their Dodge truck w/camper shell and said they would follow me all the way up! There is a big difference in traveling alone on the freeway in an old VW, and having more cars with you. If you have more than 1 VW, you’re something to look at, traffic slows to see how awesome your candy-cane colored hotness is.  When you’re the only air cooled VW on the freeway, you’re just the “slow guy”.

I am eternally grateful to Bob and Mona for that act. I did have people along the way on standby, but knowing they would be with me all the way up made me feel so much better.
<3 You guys.

vw parts Chirco

Early morning in Havasu City, Ready to roll.

We hit the road and immediately I start humming “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed. I was totally like the Bandit and Bob didn’t know it until I told him 18,000 times that they were like The Snowman! I think my enthusiasm for Smokey and the Bandit gave Bob some concern, but he’s a smart man so he just let me “play through.” :)

Our first stop was Needles, CA for some breakfast. We had eggs, my phone broke, I cried, then we set out across the Mojave Desert. My oil temp was a little  higher, up to 190 but the car was very smooth. I drive with the top open, windows down but even over the groovy Slapbak tunes and my Smokey and the Bandit humming I could hear  the engine running like a red and white road rocket…or Zola Budd….I can’t decide. It was 2 hours to Barstow, CA  but still too early for the cooler. The Mojave looks like a place things go to die. There are long long stretches of nothing but rock and hot. It occurred to me that this is probably the place all the lost socks end up.  I had time to reflect, it was good.

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I think that’s a sock!! Mojave Desert.

We stopped at Barstow to gas up and though it was only 10am…it was flippin hot!! Once again, cooler to the rescue! I checked my oil levels and cleaned my windshield  and I talked to random strangers because I do that. I think me and this one guy are BFFs now. I’m not sure but I know we love each other.  :)  Anyway…

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Barstow. That puddle is my BFFs tears.

The next piece was another 2 hour drive to Bakersfield, CA. This was actually pretty fun. You get to drive past Edwards Air Force Base which I call the home of plausible deniability because there’s no reason that base should be there unless they got aliens and wild haired doctors walking around with overly eager NASA rejected fighter pilots and Jeff Goldblum. Just sayin.

The other cool part of this piece was the Tehachapi (Tuh- hatch-uh-pee) Pass. All of a sudden you go from this desolate place of lost socks to this big hills with grass and trains snaking in and out of storybook tunnels built through the mountains place! It was tremendous! Some of the grades were pretty steep but I have a freeway flyer tranny and my engine is pretty tourquey so I was able to pull the hills easily. Bob and Mona commented that following me was a lot different than following VW buses like they are used to. I was able to maintain speed and just cruise.    Chirco built. :)

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Tehachpi pass looks like this…my phone broke. :(

Coming out of the pass you slope down into Bakersfield, CA. Now Bakersfield is kinda industrial. It was a little like sliding down a beautiful grassy hill on your tummy  and landing in dog poo. :) I’m just kidding. I know there’s much more to Bakersfield than what I saw. It was busy though and the harsh reality that I was on a freeway  smacked me right in the face. Hands at 10 and 2!  Signal, change lanes!  Watch your mirros! Watch your spacing! Is that my throw out bearing?! (mama) It was kinda like that. We had thought to stop there but instead we pushed past, made a quick gas stop then we stopped in Delano, Ca for a bite to eat.

By now me and the Snowman had it goin on. When I needed to pass someone, Bob would move over and block traffic so I could get in. I was still humming at this point  and all was good. We stopped in Merced, CA to gas up and really the drive was perfect. Bob and Mona split off around Stockton, CA to go and see our friend Don. I was in a  driving zone at the time so I looked up and realized they were no longer behind me. It was all good though. They had helped instill confidence.  No fears.

Heading through Elk Grove, CA just outside Sacramento, CA I saw the VW dealership I was going to visit from the freeway so I exited, got lost, got re-lost then found them.  I had a quick visit with the sales manager and we scheduled the big visit for the following week. Great guy btw…his name is Sammy…we hugged.  :)

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Sammy! Elk Grove VW. Super cool cats!

The final leg was pretty cool. I have been to the area before so I was semi-familiar but for some reason it was waaaaaaaaay better in my car! The temp had dropped to about  77 degrees outside and my car was still perfect. I got on Highway 80 in Sacramento and drove a few miles then all of a sudden the road signs started saying I was on I-5  and all these other numbers and hieroglyphics and stuff! I felt like Pee-wee looking at all the curvy direction signs so I pulled off the freeway and went into a restaurant to ask directions. Turns out I wasn’t lost at all, just needed to stay the course. :)

Here’s the directions the guy gave me:
“Whatcha wanna do is leave here and Turn Left.  Go that way 1 block, then turn Left.  Go 1 more block, then Turn Left. Then Get back on the freeway.”
…I felt a little stupid, but I was still grateful. :)

After one more getting lost looking for gas episode and getting directions to my friend Jill’s place in Grass Valley, CA with literally only 1% juice left on my phone, I made it!
Jill’s 17 year old son Brock was waiting for me at the door. He’s like 6’5″ and he’s this big baseball crushing musclely thing so it was cute to see him jumping up and down like a 12 year old Bieber fan all clapping and shouting my name….we hugged too…twice. :) It felt good to make it up there.

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Mistie at the Grass Valley Fairgrounds

The car stats? My gas mileage was lower than last year, it got better as the day went on and I ended up about 22mpg. The oil temp never got above 190 at any point on the trip up. The thermador was incredible!! No weird noises, no broken cables, no randomly falling off door handles or bumpers. It was perfect. I need to thank the Chirco mechanics Bob and Joe for making sure Mistie was ready. There’s a lot of kidding around that goes on here at Chirco, but when it’s time to get work done, these guys really step up. I felt proud for them. Great job fellas.

So…here’s the video I made of my trip up and back. I filmed bits and pieces and just strung them together real quick. This is just the driving part.

In the next blog post I’ll tell you about the actual Dubs Around The Lake: Lap 4 cruise. Imagine 39 air cooled VWs on a 200 mile cruise, over Donner Pass and around amazing Lake Tahoe! It is the best air cooled cruise in the U.S. IMO. You can find out more info about it here.

So, there ya go St. Augustine… 1 book down, 2 to go.  Thanks for following and supporting.

Stay tuned for part 2.

-LAH

 

 

The 66 Baja Transmorphification of Coolness: Part 1

The service department at Chirco sees a ton of projects go through it every year. It’s not uncommon for the shop guys to do 2 or 3 engine builds, 19 “make my car pass emissions”, 7 tune-ups, 6 or 7 carb rebuilds, 20 or so fix my broken cables and still put time into the resto projects we have every week!

I’m not trying to brag, but are shop guys can fly….like literally fly….and their knowledge of air cooled VWs is right up there near the tippy top.

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Kevins 66 Type 1…Before

That being the case it’s not suprising that Kevin brought his 66 type 1 here to have it transformed into a cool 66 Baja! Ken said the car got hit, or hit something and the front end was damaged so he thought it would be cool to turn his street car, all lowered and what-not, into a Baja. Kevins’ son Collin was hangin out with him. I asked if it would be Collins’ car and before he could answer, Kevin said “….ummmmm no.” :) We’ll see.

The car has been here for a few days so I went to take a few pics.

7 Piece Baja Kit by Chirco.com

7 Piece Baja Kit by Chirco.com

Bob and Joe Butler are the mechs assigned to this build. Chirco had the 7 piece baja kit in stock so they went ahead and removed the fenders, hood and pretty much everything except the doors and install the new kit.

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Nice shot of Kevins car…AFTER

Careful attention was paid to the fit and the cut. The 7 piece kit does come with a little extra room on the pieces so measuring and trimming is important. Naturally the Chirco Super Soldier Shop Freaks are meticulous. The cut to line up the fenders was absolutely perfect! I suppose a person could do this kind of thing all on their own, but it helps to have an extra set of eyes, not to mention, hands, legs, spleens and elbows.

1641cc Air Cooled VW Engine built by Chirco.com

1641cc Air Cooled VW Engine built by Chirco.com

The engine was built by Bob in like 2 days I think. It’s a 1641cc with a single Weber Progressive carb. It’s pretty much the Chirco 1641 engine rebuild kit, with a few special touches. The exhaust system is a Single Quiet System.

Bob thinks it’ll be a pretty sweet power-plant for this car.

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A Hose on your Throttle Tube is a good thing.

Joe Butler, “Junior Mint Mechanic” and all around cool guy pointed out a little somethin to me. He said they use a little piece of hose with a slit in it to help hold the throttle tube in place. It stops it from rattling around and from ending up in places you wouldn’t want it to end up. :)

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Rear Baja Baby Buggy Bumper :)

We also had the Bumpers in house. The guys sent it out for paint so it has a nice clean look. The front bumper got the same treatment. You can also see the other parts of the 7 piece baja kit. Now if you’re thinking you don’t want or need all 7 pieces, you can order them individually. Note: The fenders are sold in pairs though.

interior parts for vw at chirco.com

Great job on the interior by Kevin’s Wife.

The interior wasn’t actually done by us. Kevin’s wife did it. I don’t know if she used one of our interior kits or what. I do know that it’s a very very nice job and worth showing you. I was told she went on YouTube and found headliner videos and everything she needed. Really a nice job….impressive.

That’s gonna be it for part 1. I’m told a tire and wheel choice has been made and the raised spindles should go on soon and then we’ll have a roller!

It’s pretty bada_s to get a chance to see builds like this happening every week around here. We’ll go get some more shots and get part 2 up here as soon as we can.

Thanks for reading.

-TC

From Brink to Built…a Chirco Air Cooled Save-storation

This is one of those we wish we would have kinda things.  We wish we would have taken pics a few weeks ago.  We wish we would have shot video of seat construction.  We wish we would have taken a few pics before it left and made a quick blog post about what happe….oh…wait….we can do that one.  :)

So…when this car came in to the shop a little bit ago, it was just a shell.  I believe the wife wanted to finish the car for her late husband,  It wasn’t a full paint and body resto, just a build an engine, interior, lights, make it run kinda thing.  Senior Mechanic John did the majority of the work and though his giant thumbs prevent him from tying proper knots sometimes, he really did a great job.  Fast, clean, professional and affordable..The Chirco way.  We call it a Save-storation…from brink to built.

1964 Type 1 at Chirco

1964 Type 1 at Chirco

Really a clean little car.  Body was pretty straight.  Fortunately we had every part needed for this air cooled VW in house at Chirco.

aircooled vw at chirco

The lenses, bumpers, badges, rubber, and running boards were all put on in our service department.

nicely done vw dash

Nicely done dash

Senior mechanic John did a fabulous job on the interior.  He wired up all the gauges, and put all the trim in.  The bamboo package tray is always a nice touch too.

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Chirco put together the seats

John used one of our TMI kits for the seats and he installed the seats as well.  We id have a local friend do the headliner.  Came out pretty sweet.

chirco built air cooled engine

Chirco built 1600cc air cooled engine

The 1600cc engine wasn’t built from one of our engine kits, it was actually built from the case up.  The engine purred when John fired it up, and the car drove beautifully.

Sometimes it’s nice to just build a driver, get another one on the road.  It may not win best in show, but this car will be on the road for some time to come.

Shout out to John…great job man!!

 

-TC

 

Vege-Mighty Baja Visits Chirco.com

Naturally, Chirco.com ships air cooled VW Parts Internationally.  It’s not uncommon for us to get orders from 5 out of 7 continents a week.   There was this one time a Penguin from the North Pole tried to order an Air cooled  VW Engine re-Build Kit, but our amazing shipper, Hoyt knew that there were no Penguins on the North Pole.

In any case we got a great surprise this past week.  We had a customer come in and he brought his 68 Baja with him.  That in and of itself is not a unusual, but what was unusual was the fact that he shipped his car to the US from Austrailia so he could take the vacation of a lifetime!

Marc Callwell's 68 Baja Bug

Marc Calwell’s 68 Baja Bug

Cool 68 Baja from Austrailia

Cool 68 Baja from Austrailia

A Chirco.com customer since the build began..5 years!

A Chirco.com customer since the build began..5 years!

 

This guy’s name is Marc Calwell and I gotta tell you, he was an absolute blast.  It was so cool for us here to see a customer from outside the US and to get to see his car in person.   Speaking of his car…it was pretty sic.  It’s a 68 Baja with a turbo charged 1915cc engine in it.  Marc explained to us that he bought the car with the intention of putting a 64 Baja body on the frame, but the 64 kinda fell apart after he lifted it off its body so he went with the 68.  As you can see the engine compartment is largely covered.  We were told that was a law so people and “roos” don’t get their fingers caught up in engines.  It may be a pain if you break down and you gotta get back there and roll up your sleeves to fix something, but we can see the safety points.  Marc was running Ethanol but switched to pump gas for his trip across America.  The fact that the car is right-hand drive was a big hit here in the Chirco Parking Lot too.  I forget the name of the rims, but I know I never seen them before and it was pretty cool lookin on his car.

Right-Hand Drive...mate.  :)

Right-Hand Drive…mate. :)

68 baja wheel

Don’t remember this wheel name, but I like it!

Engine cage 68 Baja Bug

Engine cage 68 Baja Bug

Nice interior 68 Baja Bug

Nice interior 68 Baja Bug

Marc was in town for a day so we all went to lunch.  He hadn’t had any Mexican food so Tucson had to represent before he got to New Mexico.  We had a great lunch with many laughs.  Air cooled VW people are the best….IN THE WORLD!  The common bond we share through the vehicle was evident.  It was great to share stories and chips and salsa!

Marc took off and continued on his way.  His trip will take many months to complete, and he gave us permission to post updates and follow along as he does what many of us wish we could do.  It was an absolute honor to meet a long time customer from a distant land, and it was awesome making a new friend.

Joe Chirco with Marc in the Chirco Parking Lot

Joe Chirco with Marc Calwell in the Chirco Parking Lot

Chirco wishes Marc the best.  Thank you for making us a small part of your amazing journey.  You have our number if you need anything.

-TC

p.s.  Here’s a windy video we made of Marc and his Baja in the Chirco Parking Lot.  Enjoy!!

German Toyz Visits Chirco

Arizona is fortunate to have so many active aircooled VW clubs in our state. The great climate and great people combine to make great VW enthusiasts.

german toyz at chirco

Jon P. Wood was first to arrive…because he drove like Jon P Andretti.

One of our states most active and happening clubs is named German Toyz. Now, I will admit…I have a few amazing friends within this group so while I may appear to be non-bias…..I’m not (Sup Jon?!! Sup Kris and Sonja?!!) see?

german toyz and chirco.com

Doug and Faith have a pretty clean car. First meeting. Fun Folk!

german toyz at chirco

Local Legend “John Clevenger Insurance” greets Michelle. He knows when to hold’em and when to fold’em….just sayin. :)

Anyway the German Toyz Club had about 8 members drive down to Tucson to attend a benefit show for a little girl that is suffering the effects of leukemia. (There’s some of that god people I was talkin bout earlier.) The show was fun and I got a chance t go and just hang out with them. After the show they all rolled a few miles up the road to pay Chirco a personal visit.

Fortunately Chirco is open till 4pm on Saturdays and there was a break in our normal super busy Saturday aircooled vw parts selling action.

German toyz and chirco.com

Gah!!! :) This is our new Facebook cover pic. Awesome!

german toyz and chirco.com

There was much talking and shopping.

german toyz and chirco.com

3 cool cats right there

We had a great time giving the club a tour of the whole place while teasing Joe Chirco about a few things, and also spending some time in the shop. It occurred to me that we are actually pretty lucky to have things like this happen on a regular basis. Our doors are always open to everybody, and especially open to cool groups like German Toyz.

german toyz and chirco.com

Great visit from some great people.

Thank you guys for coming and down and letting Chirco be a part of your air-cooled weekend.

Yay!

-TC

Highschoolers Build a Barret-Jackson Karmann Ghia

According to one my high school teachers, if being distracted was paid in gold…I’d be Midas.  :)

I only say that because it really is amazing to think that the students of the AC3 class at Cienega High School in Vail, AZ,  spent nearly 6 years putting together one of the nicest Ghias we have seen around these VW parts in a while.

One of our local enthusiasts is named Mike Keck.  He’s kinda like a Swiss Army Knife of  badassery.  Great guy, coach, friend, and teacher.  He started the AC3 program at the school.  The idea was that the students would put together a VW every year.  I’m talkin body off, if need be, and highly detailed vehicles.  The initial projects were able to maintain that pace, but times change, and so do school district time requirements…so the AC3 Ghia project became a true test of will, and perseverance.  These kids brought their “A” game though, and the result is this beautiful 1968 Karmann Ghia that made it’s debut at Chirco on January 11, 2014.

karmann ghia at chirco.com

karmann ghia at chirco.com

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VW Baja Bug One Piece Front-End Chirco.com Nose Job

Naturally my first thought when I saw the Baja in the Chirco service center and the one piece Baja front-end was “Doddy-o-doe No Nose Job!”.

While the reference may escape some, the opportunity to snap a few quick pics and talk about what was going to take place was quite present.

one piece baja nose kit from chirco

 

Now…the one piece VW Baja Front End we carry sells for about $365. It is an oversized item so there is a handling fee applied. The one piece front end is one of those off road vw parts that can really make a difference in how your Baja looks…“tough”, “aggressive”, “slick”, “machismo”, and “unicorn” are words that come to mind. If you combine it with the Baja Bug double tube front bumper we carry, you will get looks and double looks everywhere you take your Baja.

The piece itself is well constructed fiberglass, but the installation does require a little finesse.  Having some skill with a sawzall, jigsaw, a sander, and at least 4 – 10 fingers is helpful…oh..and as always proper safety equipment along with a buddy or 2 is a good thing.  :)

one piece baja nose kit from chirco

one piece baja nose kit from chirco

The piece is made larger than what you need as we all know how over the years our air cooled VWs may not have perfect body lines as they have lived…I mean really lived.  The fitment of the one piece front end requires you to mark and measure and cut it down to fit properly.  I’m told if you just take your time and measure twice, cut once, you can do it.  To be honest the 7 piece kit may be easier to fit, but the look you are after is a matter of opinion really.  Chirco.com also carries a huge number of  Baja accessories and other items to help enhance your car and take your cool to the next level.

If you have detailed questions about how to do this, give our shop guys a call, 1-800-955-9795, they are always willing to give advice.  They aren’t big on hugs, but they really are very knowledgeable and they will point you in the right direction for sure.

-TC

 

 

one piece baja nose kit from chirco

 

one piece baja nose kit from chirco

 

 

The VW Dune Buggy is a Part of Everyday Life at Chirco.com

Kids shows of the 70s hooked me on Buggys.  Speed Buggy, Wonder Bug, The Banana Split Show etc… Now I literally get to see and hang out with Dune Buggies every day!

Chirco.com seems to have a constant stream of aircooled Sand Rails as well as Buggies and  Baja Bugs rolling through here.  We thought it would be cool to start sharing a little more about what we work on all the time.

vw dune buggy pic by chirco

Now…this 2 seat Sand Rail is up first because it is actually owned by Joe Chirco.  It is for sale and you can get it for a song.  (Call 800-955-9795  speak to Joe.)

vw dune buggy pic by chirco

 This Sand Rail is powered by a 2180cc Aircooled VW engine.  It’s a bit larger than the engine kits we have listed on our site, but if you wanted us to build you one of these, we could easy peasy.

vw dune buggy pic by chirco

This rail has Dual 44 carbs, 90 amp alternator,  Bugpak valve covers, 5 lug disc brake kit
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Bruce Meyers…yes “THE” Bruce Meyers visits Chirco.com

Earlier this fall Chirco.com was privileged to be the first stop on the Manx Clubs Sea to Sea Safari.

chirco .com manx parts aircooled vw parts

Legendary car builder, entrepreneur, inventor, international man of mystery and father of the Dune Buggy, Bruce Meyers led the Manx Club on a cross country cruise.

Now…all of us at Chirco know the Bruce Meyers story and we are all aware of his legacy so being chosen as the first stop on the cruise was a very very big honor for us.  Bruce and friends left Southern California in the morning and it wasn’t too long before they encountered some trouble.  Bruce’s transmission went out so they got a little behind schedule.  No worries though…The guys at Chirco hung around and then sent a welcoming party of cars down to the freeway to usher all the buggies in.  What they encountered was extremely cool.  It’s not often that you see 16 super sweet Manxs’ rollin down the freeway.

The Manx crew got to Chirco and had some pizza and stuff while the guys in the shop looked over Bruce’s car.

chirco .com manx parts aircooled vw parts

Unfortunately there wasn’t anything that could be done for it, but that did not stop Bruce and friends from having a great time with the Chirco staff and all the aircooled locals that came down to meet Bruce.  I gotta tell you, Bruce is as kind as it gets.  He posed for pictures with everybody that wanted one.  He spoke to everybody that was there and really made us feel special.

chirco .com manx parts aircooled vw parts

chirco .com manx parts aircooled vw parts

The next day the entire entourage headed out on their way to stop number 2 in Roswell, NM.  It really was a fun visit for us.

Here’s a little video of the Meyers manx Club leaving Chirco.com

All we can say is wow!…and Thank You Bruce!  It was great.

-TC

Bugtoberfest 18 Cruise Video

 

 

Bugtoberfest 18!! October 19-20, 2013.

It’s official!

vw parts from chirco.com

Registration is open!  http://bugtoberfest18.eventzilla.net/

 

Come on down to Tucson and spend a weekend playing VW with us. This year activities include:

Oct. 19 – Scenic VW Cruise 11:30am
This year we will cruise through picturesque Vail, AZ.  The 25 mile trek will show you some of the most beautiful and rugged areas in the sonoran desert.  There are very few lights and it is a road well paved so it should be super super fun.  The cruise will end at Purple Heart Park in Rita Ranch where the BBQ will begin.

Cost is FREE

Oct. 19 – Joe’s World Famous pre-show BBQ 3pm – 6pm AT Purple Heart Park
The BBQ will be held at Purple Heart Park in Rita Ranch.  It is on the SouthEast side of Tucson and is a great location for the BBQ.  There is plenty of parking on the West side in the lot and down the street.  The park is smaller, but the weenies are big!  More fun and games this year and lots of cool people.

Cost is FREE

Oct. 18 – 20 – The Red Barn Roundup 
All you Type 2 folk can camp on the property next door to Chirco. There’s room for all of you. Last year’s events included live music, raffles, prizes and an extreme amount of fun. The Tucson Bus Mob helps run this get together and they always do it right. The Red Barn Roundup has become a “must-do” event for many campers. Join us.

Cost is FREE.
Oct. 20 – The 18th Annual Chirco.com Bugtoberfest at Chirco 8am – 2pm
The show as always promises to be one of the most fun times you can have with your air-cooled car in Arizona. People’s choice awards, club awards, engine blow, awesome raffle prizes (no junk), Big Rattlesnake Alley Swap Meet, Music, entertainment in the form of you aircooled clowns, big in-store savings, t-shirts, posters, and a few surprises await those who attend.

Cost to enter the show is FREE, Swapmeet space is FREE, Cost to attend is FREE 

This show does benefit the Foodbank of Tucson. A donation of non-perishable food items is appreciated. Our record is 1680 pounds of food collected at the show. Help us get a “Ton of Food” for people who really do need it.

 

Registration is open!  http://bugtoberfest18.eventzilla.net/

chirco vw parts

Chirco.com DIY: Easy Peasy Molding and Cheezy.

Our little series of things the non-mechanic can do to improve the look of his or her aircooled vehicle continues.

In this installment we’re going to do a pretty easy, non expensive upgrade that really does make a difference.  Many of us have trim/molding on our cars that has seen the wrong side of shopping carts, or the door edges of the cars that park too close to our precious babies.  In some ways that is the purpose of the molding, but much like Bluto….after getting hit in the nose more times than it would like, your molding is probably ready for a change, so….let’s do this.

aircooled vw parts

This is a shot of my molding changing kit.  The seven piece molding kit is one of the 2 types we carry for an early bug.  Note the procedure for later model bugs is different.  We will get into that as we go along.  I also ordered the clips and rubber boots from my friendly Chirco counter rep Ruben.  As usual he was fast and friendly and really didn’t mind my 37 questions for such a simple thing….he’s a cool cat.  I picked up the rubber bondo scrapers from a local auto parts store.  Joe Chirco told me to get them as they make a part of the removal really easy and a lot more gentle on your car.  The Vaseline is also a tip, this time from senior mechanic John “Been 3 years and still won’t give me a man-hug” Bol.  We will cover it’s application shortly.

aircooled vw parts

Here’s a good look at why I need to change my  molding.  This particular dent came during a heroic rescue of a doe eyed puppy from a well on Edmond’s property “Wild Wind” in Pine Valley. …don’t ask…I do that….rescue puppies I mean.  :)   Actually it’s probably one of many grocery store proximity violations that just happen over the course of time.

aircooled vw parts

Step 1…gotta take the  molding off the car.  The  molding is just snapped into place with these little clips and you could get a screwdriver and pry them off.  That would however probably scratch your paint and even if your car doesn’t have a decent finish, why do that?  How would you feel if someone pried your glasses off with a screwdriver?!…I know right?.  Joe suggested I get a bondo scraper for this.
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Chirco Builds a 1904cc Aircooled VW Engine….Then drives to Cali with it!

 

aircooled vw parts chirco.com

So…it turns out that in addition to whatever it is I do here at Chirco.com, I’m also an ok car artist.  I was able to land an art for parts deal and my client sent me some of the parts I needed to turn my 1776cc into a 1904cc engine.  That’s all fine and dandy when that kinda thing happens to an artist that is also a engine builder, but that is not the case with me.  I am not a mechanic…I do not posses that skillset.  I am not mechanically inclined.  I am not capable of building an engine. I can draw the snot out of one though…go figure.    So…I had parts, but little clue as to what to do with them.

That being the case I walked into Joe Chirco’s office, closed the door and proceeded to beg like there was no tomorrow.  Actually it was Joe who thought it would be cool to put together an engine and then drive it to California and back.  That’s about 1000 miles round trip across 2 deserts.  The VW Classic presented a great “reason” so  Joe said “go for it!!”

aircooled vw parts chirco.com

This shot was taken right after my car got into the shop and on the lift.  When Bob opened the decklid it was nothing like the case with the golden glow in Pulp Fiction.  It sounded more like Tales from the Crypt and I think a bat flew out.

Read more »

hbb_feat

Chirco.com DIY: Changing out your fender beading without crying…too much.

Today were gonna take a look at a fairly simple change that can make a big difference in how your air-cooled VW looks. Many of us have cars that were painted with the fenders on. This is not bad at all. I had mine painted almost 10 years ago and I love it. It’s just since we are showing DIY type stuff that you don’t have to be a mechanic or mechanical savant to do, changing out the painted fender beading and putting black beading in seems very me capable.

20130731-162442.jpg
 

Here you can see the red beading were going to replace.
Read more »

Bugtoberfest 18!! Oct. 19-20 2013 at Chirco.com!!

It’s official!

vw parts from chirco.com

Registration is open!  http://bugtoberfest18.eventzilla.net/

 

Come on down to Tucson and spend a weekend playing VW with us. This year activities include:

Oct. 19 – Scenic VW Cruise 11:30am
This year we will cruise through picturesque Vail, AZ.  The 25 mile trek will show you some of the most beautiful and rugged areas in the sonoran desert.  There are very few lights and it is a road well paved so it should be super super fun.  The cruise will end at Purple Heart Park in Rita Ranch where the BBQ will begin.

Cost is FREE

Oct. 19 – Joe’s World Famous pre-show BBQ 3pm – 6pm AT Purple Heart Park
The BBQ will be held at Purple Heart Park in Rita Ranch.  It is on the SouthEast side of Tucson and is a great location for the BBQ.  There is plenty of parking on the West side in the lot and down the street.  The park is smaller, but the weenies are big!  More fun and games this year and lots of cool people.

Cost is FREE

Oct. 18 – 20 – The Red Barn Roundup 
All you Type 2 folk can camp on the property next door to Chirco. There’s room for all of you. Last year’s events included live music, raffles, prizes and an extreme amount of fun. The Tucson Bus Mob helps run this get together and they always do it right. The Red Barn Roundup has become a “must-do” event for many campers. Join us.

Cost is FREE.
Oct. 20 – The 18th Annual Chirco.com Bugtoberfest at Chirco 8am – 2pm
The show as always promises to be one of the most fun times you can have with your air-cooled car in Arizona. People’s choice awards, club awards, engine blow, awesome raffle prizes (no junk), Big Rattlesnake Alley Swap Meet, Music, entertainment in the form of you aircooled clowns, big in-store savings, t-shirts, posters, and a few surprises await those who attend.

Cost to enter the show is FREE, Swapmeet space is FREE, Cost to attend is FREE 

This show does benefit the Foodbank of Tucson. A donation of non-perishable food items is appreciated. Our record is 1680 pounds of food collected at the show. Help us get a “Ton of Food” for people who really do need it.

 

Registration is open!  http://bugtoberfest18.eventzilla.net/

Adding Luggage to your Aircooled VW Deck Lid Rack…Chirco.com Style

20130612-064202.jpg

Having a piece of luggage strapped to your roof rack or in this case your deck lid rack on your Aircooled VW is nothing new. It’s a classic look that has been around for decades and there are countless ways to do it. We thought it would be cool to show you how we did it.

We knew we wanted a strapped look, but lets face it, getting custom straps and buckles made to fit can be pretty pricey. We decided we would do this on a budget of about $30.

20130612-064957.jpg
The first thing we did was hit up a local antique sale for a piece of luggage. We knew the dimensions were roughly 28″ x 14″ x 7″. That’s a nice size that won’t cover your back window and still fit the deck lid nicely. We found a piece for $10! The guy did try to get us to buy the full set of luggage he had, but since it was like 106 degrees out, he was easy to negotiate with.

20130612-065124.jpg
We wanted a clean look so we thought we’d take advantage of the deck lid bars.

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Chirco.com 2013 VW Classic Tour – A Visit to Rancho

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20130608-205135.jpg

As I pulled up in front of Rancho, I remembered that I have had my freeway flyer for a couple few years and I love it….matter of fact most of the VW folk I know run Rancho trannys.

Mike met me at the counter and acted as my tour guide.

20130608-210145.jpg

I saw more tranny cores than I could count. It was pretty cool to see the assembly stations and get a look at the entire process.

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