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    Posted January 7, 2013 by
    raleigh, North Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    VW camper van memories

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    A New Journey Back in Time

    Two years ago, on the 8th anniversary of the completion of our Appalachian Trail thru-hike, we dug out the camping gear, packed the car and headed up to Greenbelt Maryland in search of fulfilling a different dream. It was time to start on a new journey that didn't require walking (at least at first!), but one that required learning something new. We were in search of an old VW Bus!

    We pulled up to the house where the bus we found on the Samba had lived for the last 17 years. No one was home but fortunately the bus was unlocked so we peaked in, looked it over and then sat anxiously waiting for the owner to arrive. When he arrived we introduced ourselves and from that moment on we knew this was meant to be! It just so happens that the previous owner purchased this bus 17 years ago when his daughter, Maia, was 2 years old. And here we are, with our 3-year-old daughter Maya, ready to give the bus a new home. It was meant to be.

    While we spent the next 5 hours looking over the bus, learning about the engine and it’s special add-ons, big Maia, now much older, and little Maya played on the trampoline and cooked veggie burgers on the grill. After changing the oil, adjusting the valves, and taking her on a test drive we sat down for a great dinner. The previous owners were great and we were so happy to be receiving this bus from such a great family!

    After saying our goodbyes we were ready to set off on our maiden voyage back to Raleigh. We had previously made arrangements to spend the night at Pocahontas State Park just outside of Richmond, VA. The park was around 2.5 hours from Greenbelt but with the bus we knew it would take a little over 3 hours. As we pulled away and entered the freeway Tia, following in our car, came over the Walkie-Talkies and gave me a little bit of bad news. "Um, Brad, you don't have any brake lights!" It was about to get worse. It was getting dark and we were headed straight for downtown DC and right through an anti-Tea Party Rally. Traffic was bad, as is the case all the time in DC, but we managed to make it through unscathed.

    As we were going through Richmond we happened upon the only toll road in town. I had no idea there was a toll and didn’t have any money on me to pay it. I was driving a new car with a clutch that took a bit of getting used to, a license plate that was 6 months expired and no brake lights. With Tia to my right, in the correct lane, I preceded to enter the lane labeled “Exact Change Only”. Thankfully there was a police officer sitting in the lane next to me going through some paper work. I rolled down my window and shouted over to him “I am following my wife, didn’t know about the toll and I don’t have any money”. The officer just sat there laughing at me. I couldn’t understand why he was laughing at me. I knew about all of the peace signs and waves that you get from driving a VW Bus, but why is a police officer blatantly laughing at me. He told me to pull over into the parking lot and just walk back and pay the attendant. I did as instructed and when walking to the attendant I finally realized why he was laughing! I had taken my retainer out that contained my front four teeth and put it in my pocket. I can only imagine what was going through the officer’s mind when I pulled up with no teeth and complaining about not having any money! I must have made his night!

    We made it just in time to get a spot at the campground before the gates closed. We popped the top, and a few beers, and then headed to bed. The next morning we set off on the final leg of the trip back to Raleigh. Sure enough, as soon as we arrived in Raleigh the brake lights started working again. Regardless of how well the lights were working, we decided to attempt our first mechanical operation by bleeding the brakes and replacing the brake light switch. First problem fixed!

    This bus has only had two prior owners. The first owner was an aeronautics mechanic and the previous owner was a NASA engineer. Needless to say, this bus has been well taken care of and we feel very privileged to be a part of its history!
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