Archive for September, 2010

The Drive Home

I strategically scheduled my return trip to Ellesnburg right before Thanksgiving such that I could pick up the van, drive it out to the site, scoop Natalie at we could camp the coast back to San Diego. It was a grand plan and I put her to the test right away. I drove straight from Richard’s place to an ATV rental spot just south of Tacoma. I got a trailer with four quads and checked out the towing capabilities. Two snowy mountain passes later I rolled into the Quality Inn and was sure I had made the right choice. I couldn’t even feel the quads. The 460 big block was a beast alright.


Natalie had still not seen the van in person. It was a bit of blind faith on her behalf to agree to spend four months of her life in vehicle, sight unseen. After I dropped off the ATVs I headed to Seatac… I could see her laughing from the beginning of the terminal. Apparently the van is so big she could see it coming from the other side of the airport loop. The giant smiley face daylighter covers make it even more comical.

We stayed with our good friends Dana and Mike in West Seattle for a couple days, outfitting the van for our 2000 miles back home. We bought sheets and food and all the camping gear that we didn’t have at home and would eventually need anyhow. All the time, Seattle was doing its thing… which, led to van discovery #1 – leaks.

After a few extra nights in Seattle, we had some temporary leak stops and we headed off to Silver Falls State Park in Oregon for our first night in the van. Silver Falls is a beautiful place and being there in the fall is pretty amazing with the falls all running at full steam from the rainy season.

Unfortunately, we’d figure out van discovery #2 – closely related to leaky roofs is mold. Moldy side paneling, moldy mattress, moldy carpet, if it was absorbent – moldy. Usually Natalie is the allergic one, something she seems to have inherited from her mom, not this time. I was the lucky winner. The mold would attack my sinuses like the allies at Normandy. Full on Blitzkrieg. While that makes for some pretty awesome misery for the sufferer, I am notorious for being a miserable bastard when I’m sick and stuffed sinuses equal some intense snoring; fierce, lawn mower vs. ban saw type snoring. Natalie was not stoked. Not at all. I could see all of our plans for traveling in the van sailing away down a river of leaky, moldy, awfulness.

Camping in the Rain

The rest of the trip was more of the same. We had fun, stopping in Oregon Caves National MonumentValley of the Rogue, Humbolt Redwoods State Park, and Napa for some wine tasting with Glenn and Marilyn. We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with Martha and Michael Kessler in San Francisco. We bought a new foam mattress in Oakland thinking that would help the mold situation but it was inescapable. Something had to be done.


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I am both lucky and unlucky enough to travel pretty frequently for work. Those of you that travel for work know what I mean. In the past year I’ve been to Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Park City, Denver, Dallas, Toronto, New Orleans, D.C., and Istanbul Turkey as my work destination or a jumping off point for a more remote wind turbine site.

Shiloh III

One of the big perks is getting to see friends and family in the far flung corners of the U.S.. Right around the time of the AutoTrader posting I was scheduled to visit a wind turbine project in Kittitas County Washington, the garden spot of Ellensburg, home to the Central Washington Wildcats. Ellensburg sits about equidistant from Seattle and Portland. I try to get to Seattle as much as possible to visit my good friend Brad Barnett. You couldn’t design a better friend than Brad, he’s amongst the nicest people I’ve ever met and I’ve had the distinct privilege of knowing him my entire life. So I flew out a few days early, crashed with Bradley and drove over to Fremont on Lake Union to see this beast for myself.

When I called about the listing I was pretty sure I was going to get along with the van’s owner. Having spent some significant time in Dana Point where he acquired the van, he had regaled me with stories of driving the van to La Fonda (Northern Baja), parking on bluff and flying his ultralite over the surf. Odds were pretty good, I’d been one of those surfers in the water watching him between sets. Seemed like a pretty kindred spirit. What’s even better is that he seemed to have a vested interest in who the new owner was going to be. He mentioned several times that he was excited about the prospect of the van moving back to Southern California. He said the rack hadn’t seen a surf board in years.

When Brad and I pulled into the wharf we didn’t quite know what to expect. Richard Seaborn has built himself a pretty impressive compound along Lake Union. Richard runs, what appears to be, a pretty successful dock and bulkhead building business. He has turned one of the docks out buildings into a killer second floor loft with offices below. His residence is decked out with treasures and memorabilia of guy who lived life and loved it. We spent around 40 minutes talking about his impressive late seventies stereo components, the really good collector stuff. Probably in his early to mid fifties, Richard has turned his traveling attention to an equally impressive Harley. The rest of the compound (those parts not devoted to his business) housed a collection of toys, parts, vehicles, that would make any gear-head jealous. Yes… Richard was our people.

Richard had the van strategically parked in the middle of his parking lot so that we’d witness all her glory as our first impression. It worked. I was ready to buy her right when we pulled into the lot despite the best rain and gloom Seattle could muster. He barely even had to give us tour. We took her for a short test drive, I called Natalie and agreed on a price. Only problem was that I had a return plane ticket out of Portland. No worries, Richard had plenty of space and would hang on to her until I could return.

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