Archive for the ‘Early Adventures’ Category

No gas No cash No credit

Brrrr! It was cold!! Idaho always feels much colder than other places and this winter was no different.  It was the winter of 78 Thanksgiving with the folks in Idaho was the next adventure.  I was the pastor of a tiny rural church that afforded no pay, but did supply a nice parsonage.  Self-employed, business was a bit slow and money was tight.  We had no credit cards.  Sounds like a great time for a Thanksgiving trip.  We scraped together every cent we had and off we went in wild abandon.  There were 5 of us counting Susie’s brother who was living with us at the time.

The vacation was great and the food was superb and the snow that came along was beautiful.  Then it turned cold…. I mean really cold.  I don’t remember exactly but it was well below zero when we gassed up the VW at the farm pump and headed for home.  A count of all the coin showed that the trip home was going to be real tight.

The heater in an air cooled VW van was nothing to brag about, especially in the winter.  This time, it was so cold that even we in the front seat were freezing.  We had to stop and buy a real heater, so the first store we came to, we bought a 5,000 BTU Coleman catalytic heater, a can of gas and a few candy bars.  Ouch! that hurt, but it warmed us up.  We were now down to less than $2.00 total, but, “No Bother,”  “We can make this trip on one tank…right?”

The cold and the snow took its tole and soon I was driving with one eye on the road and the other on the gas gauge.  I noticed that the gauge was dropping a little faster than it should and I figured that we would be stranded somewhere in Portland if we didn’t do something.  We had to get some gas.

After descending the mountains in Pendleton, the snow cleared.  I slowed down to about 5 MPH and rode on the shoulder.  Carl, Susie and Lynnel watched out the side windows and hollered out every time they spotted a pop can or beer bottle.  Cans in Oregon had a 5 cent deposit and that can add up.  Gas that year was about $0.85 cents per gallon.  We must have idled along for 20 miles or more, sometimes with the side door open so Carl could hop out and snatch the cans.  They seemed to be everywhere.  The cold was gripping.

Brrr, a VW in winter

Brrr, a VW in winter

Rufus, Oregon was a welcome sight.  We found a warm shop, cashed in our bottles and cans and spent every penny for gas in the tank.  Warmed up again, we headed for home and pulled into the driveway, hours later, running one slim notch above fumes.


The Tent

1974! We had just completed a year at Florida Bible College in Hollywood Beach Florida. What a palace. The new campus was amazing. Right on the beach. I received my THb graduate degree and Susie got her 1 year Bible certificate. She was pregnant with Lynnel and sick most of the time.

We wanted to make a trip to Oregon to visit her folks. I would meet them for the 1st time, since they did not come to our wedding. Her mother came but not her Dad or “Mom.” We intended to make this a shoe-string trip since shoe strings was all we had. So we headed over to Wards department store and bought a 10×10 tent. I wanted a smaller one but Susie was planning ahead. We packed up the Volvo and headed out.

The trip lasted about 26 days including our week long stay with Susie’s folks. I was amazed at the north west…. the mountains, the huge trees, the cooler weather.

We hit all the sights that we could since we knew that it would be our last vacation trip alone for a very long time. Most memorable were: Dinosaur National Monument, High Bridge, My first view of Mt Hood,The Tent Oregon Caves, and Redwood Forest.

The tent served us well and we learned how to put it up pretty quickly. It was the type that had the exterior skeleton made of stiff aluminum pipe. You had to stake it all down first and then put up the frame and hang the tent from the frame. We could even put it up in the dark. Our only mishap was when we camped in Needles, CA, the sand at the park was so deep that the stakes would not hold and then tent sort of hung there like a limp rag and bunched up on us during the night….it was HOT in Needles.

On our way home, we were stopped for speeding at a speed trap near a small town in Texas. Funny thing was that I had been driving 80 and 85 all day long but when the officer pulled us over we were only going about 70 in a 65 zone. He made us follow him right to the Judge’s house. The Judge was a woman and she came out to see us in what looked like her Gardening gear….it was late in the day. I asked her if I could plead “Not guilty” and she said sure, if I wanted to stay in Jail for 3 days waiting for a trial. We paid the fine and she demanded CASH. It was like a scene right out of a bad movie. $85.00. We really needed that money for gas since we had no credit cards. Few people used them back then. Because of this, we had to cut our selves short on food the rest of the trip and barely made it home on our last pennies.

Early Start

Our first experience with camping as a married couple began in 1972.  A friend loaned us a tiny camp trailer to use for our honeymoon.  We had two weeks paid leave.  That wasn’t saying much since I was a missionary to the wayward youth of San Antonio and only made $125 per month, plus a small housing allowance and a gas card.  At the time, I had a Volvo 122S and thought it was indestructible.  It had a bumper type hitch that I installed myself mounted on the chrome plated steel bumper and reinforced with a heavy steel backer bar on the backside of the bumper.

Armed with our gas card and the cash that we had received in wedding gifts, we packed the Volvo to the brim, hooked up the trailer and headed North for Carlsbad Caverns.  We took our time and hit several state parks along the way.  Whenever we could, we preferred the privacy of pulling off into the wild rather than camping in a busy state park.  It is cheaper too and we found that appealing.

The trailer was very humble.  I think it was a Scotty but I’m not sure about that now.  It was small, about 14 feet in length.  There was no bathroom so we kept a “Hub Tub” under the bed.  A “Hub Tub” was actually a green, plastic, five gallon, McDonald’s Pickle bucket.  We used to get them fifty at a time from Mc Donald’s for free.  We would remove the labels, clean them up and sell them for $5.00 each as a fund raiser for the San Antonio Youth Hub.  Nobody had anything like them back then and people bought them like crazy.

The trailer had a small three burner propane range with no oven.  There was a tiny sink with running water that fed from a small water tank.  It worked fine as long as you pumped the hand pump.  There was no hot water.

The Volvo 122S had the amazing B1800 engine and a 4 speed manual transmission.  Volvos were simple, sturdy, reliable, cars back then.  They were not fancy luxury cars as they are today.

The trailer had no brakes and this was my first experience with towing of any kind.  The hitch was very plain with no load levelers and no sway bar.  So it is a miracle that we were able to make the trip to Carlsbad and back with no mishaps and no breakdowns.  Obviously, the Lord was watching over us.  It was a great trip and a wonderful two weeks together.  The photo below shows us pretending to be lost.  Actually we were camped in the desert on a dirt road near Carlsbad.

Volvo with Small Scotty

Lost in the wilderness.