After a gruelingly long year of "online" / homeschooling it finally ended with our son going back to school for a few weeks and available Covid vaccinations. A *sigh* of relief all around. Yay for science!
I had committed to taking on Kodiak's schooling during the "lockdown" as well as his best friend Marcelo's. We created a two student home-school routine including: journaling in cursive, vocabulary tests with hot chocolate and marshmallow prizes, history lessons, making books and reading stories. Of course there was recess which involved clocking many hours on the trampoline. That trampoline gets First Prize for favorite activity. The kids also had 1.5 hours of online school a day and plenty of homework which we stumbled through together.
Much of this was very rewarding, and some of it very difficult. Anyone who has attempted to teach their own kids will know what I mean. At first it was easy and the boys were very willing to learn and go with the flow. After all, the world during the beginning of Covid was quite uncertain, there was a brewing political crisis and there was fear in the air. We sailed through those rough seas, and made it out a bit battered with a few holes in our sails and tattered rigging. But we were still afloat.By Springtime it was getting harder, the pushback from my own child was at maximum, and I was worn out. Luckily the schools re-opened and the boys got to socialize with other kids in person and be in an actual resource-filled classroom with their awesome and super competent teacher Miss Kelly.
We all knew we needed a break in the Summer...but what to do on a tight budget after a practically non-earning year? Since we make most of our income through festivals, it was (and still is) tight for us.
Normally we try to go back to Europe, to visit w/ family and enjoy the art and culture so easily available on the other side of the pond. That ended with some research, as cross Atlantic airline tickets had actually not gone down during Covid...
We decided that maybe road-tripping in the States could be a good option instead.
We found a neighbourhood deal on a beater VW Vanagon, complete with a blown engine and every mouse on the mesa. It had been used as storage for years, and needed some attention. We just did not know how much attention...
This happened in May. The next 7 weeks, Christian worked tenaciously on putting in a new used engine (twice)(the first one died shortly after install, so he got yet another), a new exhaust system (which he made by himself), new wiring harness, new rims and tires, new front axles, new hoses, brakes, fixing the gas tank, new pop-top, lights and it goes on and on. He basically built a Vanagon from scratch. When he wasn't under the damn thing he was buried in online Vanagon forums asking how-to questions and ordering parts with expedited shipping.
Meanwhile I worked hard evicting all evidence of mice on the inside by removing all that I could, including a non-working fridge which had housed the better part of a colony. I thoroughly washed everything on the inside, including curtains, what was left of the upholstery, the seats the covers etc. Unfortunately, I can still sniff out some old mouse, so I think I need to revisit the deep clean later.
We were both working really hard on getting the Vanagon ready for the road, and were delayed three times, all for pretty serious mechanical reasons.
We were still unsure where we were going as many plans had changed due to new Covid restrictions (in Baja) to the cruel reality of the climate crisis manifesting in massive wildfires across the North Western United States as well as a brutal heat wave in Southern California. One thing we agreed on, whatever route, all roads would lead to the ocean.
Then we packed, situated our sweet house-sitter, and it seemed incredulous, but we managed to hit the road!
That was awesome!
We made it two days Northbound in the pretty idyllic setting in Northern Colorado, when.....the Vanagon lost reverse and would only drive 20 mph. This is also known as a blown transmission. Ironically that was the only part that Christian had not worked on, other than new fluids, as it came to us with a supposed working transmission.
So there we were, the three of us, and our new cute monster-of-a-puppy Griselda, a dead Vanagon in a pretty nice camping area by a river.
Christian and I, attempting to out-run inevitable disappointment, tried to find another tranny semi-locally, that he would then heroically put in with the few tools he brought with us in the campground. It was a crazy idea.
As reality slowly settled upon us like a dark raincloud, we realized it was over. Well that was a short trip! The only real highlight after that awakening was the Tesla shuttle Kodiak and I took to the nearest town to get supplies and rent a car for a day. That Tesla was amazing, and I hope Kodiak will make an electric car his first when he can drive. We made the best of that night- and tried not to let our disappointment rule the evening.Luckily we only made it about 280 miles away from home, so we asked Nonnah to come rescue us, which she graciously did. The next day, Christian drove back up with his friend and a trailer to retrieve the dead Vanagon. They drove up and down in one day, a champion rescue.
Once back home, we all felt deflated. We had gambled all our energy and money into this Vanagon so the failure was palpable.
The next day we went on a hike in the ever beautiful Brazos mountains by our home, fields of wildflowers, aspen groves and mushrooms. Nature was healing for our family.
This is where our new puppy, Griselda decided to try eating a mushroom...a few hours later she was experiencing the effects, wobbly and lethargic. Turns out most mushrooms are deadly for dogs to ingest- so we all kicked into high gear, inducing vomiting and administering charcoal tablets, and Griselda spent that Sunday night with and I.V. at the vet. If we are lucky she will have avoided liver damage and possible death.
I think this may be a sign that I need to stay at home forever and work in the shop.
I feel for Kodiak, who was sooooo excited to go fishing in the ocean. I'm not sure what the lesson is yet, but I trust that this unpredictable winding road will have more than a few highlights awaiting.
And that was the long and short of it.
C'est la vie.