Archive for December, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jason!

Posted on December 30, 2009 by 14 Comments

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Thanks for taking us on this wonderful adventure. We love you.

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The Art of Doing Nothing

Posted on December 29, 2009 by 6 Comments

It’s funny how we thought we’d have all this time in Texas, particularly the Houston area, to finalize bus projects, shop for Christmas, see family and friends. We’ve been here a month and the only thing we finished was the Christmas shopping. The bus list is half done, and we still haven’t had a chance to visit some of our friends.

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Our gift criteria was basically ‘upgrade, disposable, edible or very very small’ presents only. Despite this, and despite getting 2 wrapped gifts containing underwear, Bode declared this The Best Christmas Ever. I agree.

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We (especially I) have been pretty lax about writing. We kept busy with a lot of nothing this last month. Bode has three sets of grandparents in the greater Houston area, so we got to spend lots of time with all of them.

Being around family has been great, and something we always missed living in California. But, we’re starting to get anxious about getting back on the road. The fact that we are so close to Mexico (we could be there tomorrow) makes us question our current plan to drive through the southwest. But, if you’re going to drive around the country you might as well drive all the way around it. Some day we’ll get to the middle.

And so tomorrow we will unload the van, give it a good cleaning, then pack it all back up again with our new things. We’re heading off to Marfa, Texas in a few days to see an old friend.

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Hippie Holidays

Posted on December 24, 2009 by 25 Comments

Best wishes to everyone over the holidays and the new decade to come!

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We tried to take the most obnoxious holiday photo we could imagine… SUCCESS!

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De-Boned

Posted on December 23, 2009 by 2 Comments

We barely made it out of my aunt’s driveway before the next bus mishap.  The engine died and it looked like we lost all electrical power. I killed the ignition really quick an jumped out and ran around back and opened the lid.  I was greeted by a puff of magic smoke.  It was the wire that runs from the coil to the choke on my left carb… all charred up and toasty.

How did it short out?  I unscrewed the three screws that hold on the choke and had a good look inside.  It turns out the heater element for the choke is mounted to a ceramic disc that is fairly free to move around (my left one more than my right one.)  If it moves around a little too much, the pins on the heater coil element can contact another pin mounted to the body. I’m afraid this one has to be blamed on the designers of the carb. I could easily short it out by wiggling the ceramic disc around slightly. It just shouldn’t move.

I broke out some epoxy and put a little on the disc and put it all back together, making sure the disc was positioned so it would dry with the pins as far apart as i could get them (the whole unit still rotates for choke adjustment.)   Then it was back to Parker’s soldering iron for some more roadside electrical repair – I never imagined I would get this much use out of that thing – a new essential tool for the travel kit.

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We decided to drive back to the Houston area to see the folks one more time for the holidays before taking off for good, so we rode the whole way with the fire extinguisher between us at the ready.

Also, the skull had to come off for one particularly good reason. It was starting to rain and the windshield wipers would smack right into the nose of the beast. A minor oversight. I could have tried to re-mount the thing in the rain, but it was easier to just pull it off and keep going. It was never really intended to be permanent – mostly just a prop for a really obnoxious Christmas card – so no biggie.

The reaction it provided was interesting, though.

When then horns went up, folks thought it was really cool.  Add a skull and all of a sudden it becomes sinister. They’re both head parts from a dead animal, so both should be equally repulsive, but people seem to view them very differently. Nobody was all that frightened of us, though…. just laughs and smiles.

The horns will have to come off at some point too – we have no intention of drawing this much attention to ourselves south of the border.  And, I’m starting to empathize with my bovine brethren – horns are a pain when you’re trying to go under low-hanging branches.  Moooooooo.

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Farewell Austin

Posted on December 22, 2009 by 3 Comments

We spent nearly a week in Austin visiting friends and just hanging out. Austin is and always will be the funkiest town in Texas. When we lived here years ago, folks said Austin just wasn’t like it used to be. Now we go back and say it’s not like it used to be. But, it’s still pretty great.

Austin is the original Slacker town. It’s the best place in America to do nothing.

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We hit some of our favorite old haunts, including Hut’s Hamburgers where we once spent every Wednesday for their 2-for-1 specials. After dinner, we invited some friends back to our place… it was parked right outside!

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A few new trends we noticed in Austin:

You’re not cool unless you eat out of an Airstream trailer. They’re everywhere. There are even shopping trailer parks with Airstreams huddled around picnic tables and a fire pit. You can get anything. Crepes, cupcakes, even a pet store.

Skeeball is apparently back with a vengeance. My cousin Rachel is a defending city champ and will go to New York for the nationals.  She’s got a machine in the garage to practice. Who knew?

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Oh yeah, and join a band. Everybody’s in a band. Or five. Come down for SXSW and never leave – it happens. You don’t really have to join a band – just have friends in bands and hang out with them and act like you’re in a band.

Seriously, it really is the best place we know of anywhere in world for live music. Great musicians everywhere. I’ve bumped into Alejandro Escovedo getting coffee. Years ago I was in line at the grocery store behind a very pregnant Shawn Colvin eating cheesy poofs out of the bag while the checker was scanning them. Yeah, that’s us in the front row on the Austin City Limits episode with Son Volt (don’t blink or you’ll miss us.)  We went to a birthdays party last week for a 10 year old and (I think) David Rawlings was there – it’s just that kind of town.

Live music everywhere, killer Tex-Mex, cool fun creative interesting people all over town.  Show up… do nothing… you’ll have a blast. Just don’t move here.

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Just One More Thing…

Posted on December 21, 2009 by 4 Comments

Don’t encourage us.  Really.  This could get out of hand.

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We went to visit my Uncle Bob and Aunt Marilyn in Austin and Bob was on his way out of town to go hunting on some ranch. I mentioned the horns looked pretty lonely and asked him to pick up a cow skull if he saw one out at the ranch.  Bob went into the back yard and returned a few seconds later with the beauty you see here.  I think Marilyn was happy to see it go – it had been decorating the vegetable garden.

Since I had just finished wiring up an inverter a few days before, all this rolling holiday cheer is completely off the grid. We’re not exactly an art car, so we’re not sure how legal all this stuff is, but we haven’t been pulled over yet – and we’ve been noticed.

Unfortunately, the teeth chatter on the glass when we’re driving at speed.  Maybe it’s just cold.

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El Toro Rojo

Posted on December 17, 2009 by 12 Comments

I’m not sure any words are needed for this post:

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Red Beard looks more viking than pirate….

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The best part of these horns; my parents had them in the back of a closet. The worst part, bull horns are a lot harder to get on a bus than you’d expect.

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