Mike T

My "Vision Quest" Across America

Last October, after a year of searching for the perfect old Beetle, I found one in Tacoma, Washington. Living in Ohio, I haven't seen one of the old air-cooled Bugs on the road in many years due to lots of road salt being used during the winter months. I knew if I wanted one rust-free I would need to find one on the west coast, and this one I did! It has, to my knowledge, never seen snow, never been in an accident, has the original paint and original motor, and has the steel sliding sunroof that I desired.

I flew out to Seattle and was picked up at the airport by the Beetle's owner. At his home, I laid eyes on the car after many emails back and forth, and knew all of my research had paid off. It was a bit rougher in a few areas than expected, but also a lot nicer in other areas. As I drove off into the rainy night towards the hotel in Kent, WA, I found the headlights to be very badly out of aim, and only the wiper on the driver's side worked. It ran a little rough, and I knew it would be an interesting adventure to drive the car 2,600 miles. I had no time frame to follow and felt that if the car broke down I would just have it towed to the nearest garage that dealt with vintage VW's, which I researched and mapped out each day of my journey with my laptop. The first day I ran out of gas, not knowing that the gas gauge was permanently stuck at the 3/4 mark. Getting out to check the fuel level, the heavy wind slammed the door shut, locking me out of the car out in the middle of what seemed to be no where. A kindly gentleman and his daughter stopped to give me a lift to the next town so that I could get it towed. This was the beginning of meeting so many kind and helpful strangers along the way.

Over the next eight days a few similar mishaps occurred, affording me the opportunity to meet some of the nicest people along the way. Two visits to VW shops along the way helped me to understand what I had gotten into. I was told I had found a great old Bug that just needed a little tinkering. Staying at roadside hotels, and driving each day during the daylight hours only (since I could not aim the headlights well enough until I arrived home) I averaged 53 miles per hour to ensure that I could get the car home to Ohio without taxing the motor. Each night I journaled about the many adventures of the day, people I met, and beautiful sights through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. I developed quite a following on Facebook each day, sharing notes and photos of my "vision quest", and inviting all to share their memories of the old VW's. Each morning I started with daily meditation and plenty of prayers of gratitude. Seeing the stunning Autumn landscape, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, and later the wind-swept golden fields of the Great Plains, I was in constant awe, and having the time of my life! Spending a day at the Black Hills Pow-Wow in Rapid City, SD was a deeply moving experience, and I met and talked with a number of native fellow artists. The government was shut down during this period, as I had hoped to visit the national parks along the way. The closer I got to Ohio I encountered more and more people at filling stations that marveled at the nearly 50 year-old VW, and they too shared their fond memories of these wonderful old simple icons. I now drive it nearly every day and get a lot of "thumbs-up's", waves and smiles. The little girl next door wanted to know where the iPod plugs in!

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