Tag Archives: moab

Artifact: Tom Tom’s Volkwagen “Museum” / Moab, UT, 1990

Artifact: Tom Tom’s Volkwagen “Museum” / Moab, UT

My beloved 1974 Volkswagen van broke down in Moab on an ill-fated mission with friends – including a child – in tow. As such, I went in search of a replacement coil (a lil cylinder needed to fire the ignition) and after a few stops, ended up at Tom Tom’s “museum” which is really just a lot of great buses (with a great view) which he can’t decide if they’re for sale or for parting out.

The truth is, I was in a jam, no parts available anywhere, was push-starting the van, needed to get somewhere, was getting late on a Saturday (Sunday in Utah limits options) but he wouldn’t sell me sell me a coil despite having dozens and dozens.

Now in way of confession, after he left, I took one, stuck 10 bucks in the mail slot and left, found my friends (who were rather upset at that point) and drove back north. A miserable trip.

PS I shared the story in a rather pretentious Moab-area topical internet forum and was lambasted for being a thief, warned never to return to Moab (keep in mind this was 1990)  and called a coward for waiting out “statute of limitation” / yup for a $10 at best par / all this despite the people in the group regularly discussing their *renegade anti-establishment* views and clandestine “night work” activities. Such hypocrisy, but hey, goes with the territory. 

Artifact: Edward Abbey / cover of Mother Earth News, 1989

Artifact: Edward Abbey / cover of Mother Earth News, 1989

Note: I *know* I had (or have) this magazine “somewhere” but I’m not sure if this is my image, – if it’s yours, cool, might be – maybe I’ll find the magazine, if so will share the rest of the article, maybe I won’t… Who’s to say? Regardless, this is the best and i share this image all the time when folks ramble on about “not having free time” and “that one show on TV” in the same convo. #hint #shootyourtv

I have a few other Ed Abbey artifacts in my stash including a program from his “Arch-Druid” lecture in Salt Lake City, possible ticket stub from same, and obituary clipped from the newspaper and so on, in the meantime, this cover is such goodness of such a hero (plus handy as i share this all the time when folks complain about “nothing on TV”.

Riff: VW Beetle / busted up, 1986 (+ pizza beast, Earthship, REM and a sketchy boss)

Battered VW Beetle with broken spindle in American Fork, UT, ca 1986

Just before I turned 16 while living in Orem Utah, I purchased an (soon to be infamous) 1974 VW “turtle top” bus ($1475) and, that winter – after failing my driving test driving the bus and driving away from the licensing bureau but passing in the next time (that big bus wasn’t easy to parallel park until you got the hang of it) – drove up to Vancouver in the middle of the winter which included the snowy regions of the Cascades…  On the way back, with no money for a motel and 2 brothers on board, the van caught fire (engine compartment) in snowy Prosser, Washington at 2AM (had extinguisher, slept cold, finally found a mechanic who didn’t do anything and limped home about 700 miles on 2 cylinders, 35Mph… #anotherstory #focus).

Anyhow, this is all to tell you that this led to taking a job with a sketchy man who lived in our townhouse complex who had opened up pizza restaurants, Roberto Prieto (or so he said). He was a dodgy fellow with an underage wife, quickly burnt out his business partner at  “pizza heaven(?)” and bailed and opened a rival “pizza beast” in Provo. So i went to work for him cleaning out this former Chinese restaurant and turning it into an assembly line of high-volume pizza for BYU students,  in exchange for him paying me ($3.35/hr) but also helping rebuild my Volkswagen bus as he was allegedly a great VW mechanic and had an awesome set of tools (somehow all brand-new) in his garage.

He did basically nothing for my van except a lot of talk and no action and assigning me hours in a solvent tank washing parts, and some months later (after the accusations about s3xy times and dodgy substances picked up momentum plus he had purchased fancy Camaros for he and his wife which he couldn’t pay for it seems) he bailed in the middle of the night with all sorts of wreckage left behind.

Bob and I went to his house, hopping into the backyard to see if there was any remnants of the van parts as the engine was “gone”. Nothing useful, however there was an hungry/angry mother dog and her starving pups in the backyard who came running after us requiring a mighty leap to clear the fence.

{Anyway, somewhere there is possibly still bad man and all the stories about young girls in coca!ne who has long forgotten about me and the pizza beast I suspect but if I come across an artefact from that time, I’ll hook you up – must be a snapshot somewhere.}

In the *interim* of not fixing my bus,  he lent me this battered Volkswagen bug which was exceptionally dangerous as there was no seatbelts, no passenger seat, and in the backseat where the battery was housed, sitting down caused the battery to short so only could have one person sitting behind the driver which made the vehicle very unbalanced.

I would drive this home, with dodgy headlights etc. after working at the pizza restaurant in Provo to American Fork (a vaguely neighbouring town), and two times had near death experiences, no exaggeration.

One time, I drove over a dip under a railway bridge which, turns out, was pure ice – the bald tires spun immediately completely out of control…, I remember seeing the light of oncoming traffic honking as the car spun aimlessly and aggressively in a narrow space wedged in between concrete poles and various stanchions for railroad crossing gates… but *fortunately* landed in a snowbank . Was stuck there, trying to push my way out, no one stopped to help, just honk, but finally I got it going and drove on bewildered (no way to call for help as no phone around), but couldn’t get all the way home as our current home (a story in itself) was top of the steep hill. After a few false starts with ridiculous backwards slides, finally gave up, left the bug, trudged through the snow to the house.

The next time, while driving along the same road, the lil car gave a mighty thud then a hard scrapping squeal and lunged to the right. Felt like much more than a flat tire and turned out the wheel, tire and all had completely come off the spindle, and yes the wheel spindle itself, a thick solid post of steel, had somehow completely, not snapped, but somehow worn right through and come off with wheel tire etc with it.

I fought for control and somehow crash landed on the side of the road… Likely hitchhiked home or walked or something, but this is where that bug lay. Never drove it again. I can take a hint universe.

While I’m riffing, later an eccentric man in Pleasant Grove called Martin took on the task of repairing the mighty Earthship bus, which at this point has been sort of out of commission for a while and was really cramping my style, but let me a 1976 fuel injected VW Bus, not a camper, but it was a runner… I maybe took advantage of his kindness a little bit by driving it to Moab several times and then on a road trip to Omaha, Nebraska to see our REM with a few pals. I did my best to take care of it and wow, it was a nice ride – not all the accessories but just went and didn’t leak oil (shocker).

Finally, the mighty Earthship was up and running and ended up on so many adventures back-and-forth across USA, many Grateful Dead tours, the hostage incident in Taos,  up and back to BC and down Mexico several times, living in it while working at a bike shop in Burnaby, BC and going to university of Utah in SLC, and now lives as a sauna in big Cottonwood Canyon (more to this story on the docket to share).

There were several other significant car incidents besides the bus catching on fire, and the bug causing a few near misses including the terrible Blazer crash on Christmas Eve in Jerome, Idaho but I don’t speak of that terrible incident any further. Pictures exist (and a newspaper article) and they make me shake and nightmare. 

So yeah the photo at the top is the bug with broken spindle. Somewhere there’s a guy named Roberto who owes me and a guy named Martin who i am grateful for and a stretch of highway between Utah and BC laden with calamity for me. All in the past. 

Floating lots of kites…

Floating lots of kites up to the sky to see which one the lightning strikes.

Note: taken in Arches National Park, 1991 with Alpa 35mm camera, film lost in a van for years and then developed by hand.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 31)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 31

Bob and Otto ran up to Uncle Weed shouting, “Wow, you could probably get a ten count against Jimmy Superfly Snuka!”

“Is he as great a wrestler as Gene Kiniski?” Uncle Weed asked, arching an eyebrow but enjoying the boys’ compliment. “Ah, stop it guys,” he shrugged sheepishly.

Then continued brightly, “Hey, go gather up a bunch of survey stakes and three long, skinny branches,” he instructed, then in passing added, “And,… maybe you should let me explain what happened to your parents myself.”

The boys wondered what the big deal about telling their parents, they had fun and weren’t injured or scared, plus they learned a lot about methods of protecting nature.

Then, following the instructions, gathered up armloads of discarded survey stakes before helping Uncle Weed arrange them in a rock-ringed fire-pit.

Then, under a sliver of moon, the three compadres sat around a little fire, eating creamsicles, roasting marshmallows, and talking. Talking about what they had seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, and thought that day.

It was a good night, indeed a good night for just about anything.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 30)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 30

Inside the modified shipping container trailer, he propped the security man’s exhausted body up against the refrigerator and duct-taped him securely to it, snug, but still allowing ample space to breathe.

“Well that ought to hold you for the night you silly civil servant,” said Uncle Weed.

“MmmmMMMmmm,” struggled the man. Then, opening the freezer, Uncle Weed selected a variety of creamsicles, fudgesicles and drumsticks. From the cupboard, he borrowed a handful of popcorn kernels and half a bag of marshmallows.

“Listen, my misguided captive,” said Uncle Weed, “I would think twice before I pursued this further. I’d be quite embarrassed if I was you, being defeated by a skinny longhaired,… what did you call me…weirdo hippie? Yeah, think of what your buddies will say when you and your gun were brought down by the likes of me! Ha, I can just see the court-hearing now, even the Judge will get a chuckle I’m sure. They might even put you back on garbage patrol on account of this slacking. I would sure hate to see that happen, for your sake that is. Well, goodnight and cheerio!”

Then Uncle Weed stepped out the door, leaving $3 on the counter for the snacks.

“Oh one more thing,” popping his bearded face back into the fluorescent-lit trailer, your bulldozer might have a hard time starting tomorrow, you might want to consider giving it a good cleaning before firing it up, and probably invest in locking gas tank caps. As old Ed would often say, ‘sand works better than sugar!’”

“MmmmMMMmm,” mumbled the gagged man.

He tipped his hat, walked out and secured the outside door handle with the barrel of the gun.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 29)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 29

The man continued blasting off his blunderbuss, shouting with wheezing lungs, “Gosh dang it, you terrorists! Thieves! Bad guys! Criminals! Justice obstructers! Malcontents! You won’t get away!”

Uncle Weed crept up behind him and leapt into action, quickly tackling him to the ground, grabbing his weapon, and tossing it safely away. They wrestled, kicked, yelled and worked up a furious cloud of dust.

“C’mon Uncle Weed!” Bob and Otto cheered, “Give him a wedgie! Pile drive him!”

“How am I doing guys?” Uncle Weed called back while in the midst of showing off his wrestling moves learned during his time on the community college, junior varsity team, “Should I pile drive him? Or maybe a supplex?”

“Arghh!” the man said, “You won’t get away, let go of me! Don’t hurt me! I’m just following orders from my superiors at the head office,” the man huffed and puffed.

“Hey, don’t worry fella, I mean you no harm,” said Uncle Weed as he hauled his struggling body into the government issue, corrugated-steel trailer.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 28)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 28

“Holy smokes,” said the boys, looking down from their hiding place, “Did he just shoot Uncle Weed?”

“Calm down, no panic needed… Uncle Weed is juuuust fine,” a voice said.

Bob and Otto turned around to see an exhausted Uncle Weed crouched down right behind them. “Shh, stay quiet and don’t move. Be back in a flash.”

Then, he took off again into the night, briskly and quietly galloping into the shadows.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 27)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 27

The man stood in the clearing confused for a moment, muttering “Son of a gun, where did that madman feller go?”

He spit on the ground, kicked some rocks, then seemingly confused, he started blasting his shotgun all over the place and shooting at nothing and everything while screaming, yelling.

“Fools, hippies, radicals! You can’t win! You just won’t win! It’s not in the orders! That’s just the nature of the way things is! This is not in my instruction book! We always win in the end!” he bellowed, his voice shaky and rough.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 26)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 26

“Yikes, what are we going to do, where’s Uncle Weed? He didn’t ditch us did he?” Otto whispered nervously.

“Relax, he’s over there doing something with that big bulldozer,” answered Bob pointing over to a shadowy shape in the dark.

The new voice spoke again, “I can see you so stand up and walk towards me with you hands up or else they’ll be some real problems. Serious problems.”

“Bob, what are we gonna do, I think we’re in trouble.”

“Don’t worry, he’s just trying to psyche us out, he’s bluffing, he doesn’t really know where we are. Uncle Weed won’t let us down, we’re safe here… I think.”

The man spoke softly now, “Ah, I see, there’s the culprit, there on the dirt machine. One of them monkeywrenchers,… toying with the equipment.” He rushed over towards the action, muttering to himself, “Well I ain’t letting this maniac radical get away this time I tell you for dang sure.”

His shotgun made the noises it does before it fires, a loud CLUCK-THLUNK, and with that noise, Uncle Weed disappeared again. Vanished into the darkness.