In mid May, I flew to Spokane, WA to pick up our 1986 Vanagon (Bullwinkle) and our 1973 Bay Window Bus (Half Throttle). It took us three years to restore our VW camper vans with multiple trips out to Oregon, Montana and Idaho required to help move vehicles and facilitate next steps along the way. Even after spending so much time and money on the restoration work (new engines, transmissions, brakes, etc.), both vehicles still needed to be road tested to troubleshoot any missed issues. Most VW Campervan rental companies put their vehicles through some kind of “in-house” stress tests and we thought a 3,200 drive miles from Idaho to Maine would be one of the more epic versions of in-house road testing. Before we got too far along, we stopped in Stevensville, Montana to visit Jeffrey at the Wise Westy.
Without boring you with too many details, suffice it to say that the trip went well. Bullwinkle did exceptionally well, but after a crazy hailstorm in Bozeman and a few hours of rocking and rattling on the freeway, we had some troubles with the fuel system. Thankfully, we found a mechanic (Fred) in Belgrade, Montana at Small Car Clinic who happened to have a spare ECU (computer) that we were able to use in place of our malfunctioning unit. Off we went.
Along the way, we were particularly smitten with Western Montana and the panhandle of Idaho. Below is a photo from Western Montana–a beautiful morning scene as we rounded a corner.
Thankfully, my friend Earl joined me on this trip. Earl is a retired Navy Master Sergeant who over a lifetime, acquired his CDL license (trucking license). Oh, and he was also a diesel mechanic at some point. Along the way, we were often stopped by passerbys who wanted to take pictures with the campervans. Below a group of teenage girls took a photo of Earl and I after they took their own pics.
After we left Iowa, we drove for 3 more days along 80, then highway 90, then highway 7 through Troy, New York to Burlington, VT. One day, we drove 18 hours with only a few stops. And yes, the vehicles did wonderfully.
In all, we drove more than 3,200 miles over 7 days. While it was definitely an intense trip, we were thankful everything went well and that we were able road test each vehicle under these intense conditions.