We’ve had the Bustache for almost a year, and in that time we’ve driven him as far south as San Diego, as east as Joshua Tree and as north as Malibu. So, we’ve stayed pretty much within a 90-mile radius of our Orange County home.
It was time for a bigger challenge, and my family’s annual Yosemite trip was just what we needed. Yosemite is 422 miles and, more importantly, over a 5000 foot elevation gain from where we live. We knew this would be the adventure we were looking for.
Steve spent the week prior to our departure preparing Bustache as much as he could. He took him to get a tune-up at the mechanic, installed front speakers (Bustache came with back speakers that have to been turned all the way up for the sound to travel to the front of our un-aero-dynamic bus), fixed the back gate (it opens now!) , and re-worked the antenna wires so we now have a radio. We dusted, vacuumed, and organized. By Friday morning we were ready for a real road-trip!
I would be lying if I said we didn’t second guess our “moxy” (as my Dad put it) and discuss taking my 2009 Honda Fit instead. We knew we’d make it in the Fit. We knew the Fit would not result in our 5 day vacation being spent at a mechanic in Nowhere, CA. We knew the Fit would just be easier. But, the romance of cruising in Bustache past Yosemite Falls and parking under Half Dome’s shadow finally won us over. We were going to make this dream come true. Or, at least, sacrifice our vacation trying.
Our plan was to make it as far as we could Friday night, pull-over when we got tired and finish the drive Saturday morning. We were going to let Bustache dictate our speed, distance and ambition (as if we had any other choice).
We got started at about 1pm, and we both knew the biggest test for Bustache was a mere 98 miles away – The Grapevine. The Grapevine is a fast, steep corridor connecting Southern California with the Central Valley. You gain and loose 4000 feet in elevation through the course 60 miles. Most cars zip through it at 70 mph. If we could make it past the Grapevine, we could make it to Yosemite.
I’m not sure if we’re pessimists or faithless people. Or maybe we’ve been disappointed by something in our past that forced us to build this landmark up as a trip-ruining, bus killing behemoth… Regardless, it made no difference as Bustache made it up and over the Tejon Pass without the slightest of problems. We certainly didn’t zoom, but we puttered along at 30 mph (perhaps angering a couple of unfortunate travelers who got stuck behind us). We never lost power or footing. 90 minutes later we were staring down the straight and mind-numbing stretch of I-99.
This set the tone for the rest of our trip. We were hopeful. Hopeful that we might actually make it. Hopeful that we made the right decision. Hopeful that Bustache would not let us down and our dream would come true.
Bustache arrived in Yosemite at 1 am. Yeah, it took us 12 hours to get there, and we were tired, but never exhausted. We sure appreciated pulling up to our campsite and curling up in bed 5 minutes later without having to put up a tent in the dark! And when we woke up the next morning, we were refreshed and ready to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite.
After 5 days in the Valley with a VW, we can now confidently say, the Fit ain’t got nothing on the Bus. With another 12 hour dive back to Orange County (in the rain!) we were home without a single hitch.
I guess, as they say, getting started is the hardest part. And when you know you’ll meet a hurdle right out of the gate, like, say, the Grapevine, it’s hard to imagine making it any further. But if you’re patient, persistent and don’t mind being called a slow-poke by passer-byes, you might just make it through. And then the rest of the ride doesn’t seem so daunting.
Has the Bustache made Steve and I sudden optimists? As any VW bus owner will tell you, that would be foolish. But I think I can say he has made us “hope-ists” who are much more willing just to try.