June 13, 2012

Tepid Coffee in Arcata

“Well,  I’m looking at the schedule right now, and uhh we’re booked pretty solid for the next two weeks.”

“Fuck me…” I cursed under my breath in a momentary bout of frustration that had been building since the syncro first broke down a week and a half earlier.

“What’d you say?”

“Oh nothing,” I paused for a second, before leaping into the explanation of my situation with hopes of dislodging this stonebricker, “I’m stranded here;  I was on my way to Portland and my van broke down on Saturday night.  Is there anyway you guys can check her out if someone cancels or something?  It’s VW Vanagon Syncro,  she’s parked right out front.”

“Ohh thats yours?  We figured she was towed here. I can’t promise anything, but swing by and leave your keys.”

“Thanks man,  I really appreciated it.”

“No problem.  Can’t promise anything though.”

“I totally understand.  I’ll be by this morning.”

Taping the red button on the screen of my iPhone, I leaned back on a old couch and sighed.  Northern California’s May showers dripped down the single pained window of Dan’s apartment.  Staring out the window, my initial frustration subsided as I evaluated my situation.

Taking advantage of the empty apartment, Dan was back in New England for a few months, I spoke out loud to myself. “Hopefully they will get to it in the next few days,  and I will be out of here by the end of the week.  It cant be anything major,  I had the fuel pump replaced in LA.”  Rationalize this out loud put me at ease.  Grabbing the last clean shirt from my backpack, I pulled it on, kicked on my worn out Vans and headed to the door.  Time to kill.

 I quickly fell into a cycle.  Waking early, I would skate (or walk depending on precipitation) to a coffee shop. As I waited for my large black coffee cut with honey to cool down, I people watched.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the economy in Humboldt county comes from growing pot. Guessing which members of the Arcata community earned their bread from the illicit trade provided constant amusement.  The early 30s guy with dreadlocks down to his ass, a Bob Marley shirt, and a brand new Dodge pick up the size of football field?  Looks like a landscaper to me.  I took another sip of tepid coffee.

After satisfying my appetite for caffeine and observing enough of the flora growing fauna, I’d wonder around the town’s small neighborhoods passing the time until my morning tire kicking session at the Mechanic.   Lunch was simple,  Lengua taco’s from a truck parked in the middle of town followed by a trip to the skatepark.  After taking a few spills and exchanging a few words with the locals at the park, I’d push off in search of an undiscovered street.

Crisscrossing familiar streets fanned the flames of my cabin fever.  10 months of constant movement at the turn of a key made the time spent with no mobility in Arcata drag on.  I felt like a fifteen year old trapped in the dog days of summer with no drivers license or friends to cause trouble with.  Luckily I had nowhere to be.

 I checked my watch, 3:47.  The sun wouldn’t set for another five hours. Time for some more tepid coffee.

Here are some more links,

LA to Arcata (Facebook).


  • June 13 , 2012

    sooo… i’ve been enjoying your travels and photos, mostly what got me into it was the fact that you’re driving a vw… i’m guessing you already know of this site but if you don’t and do most of the work yourself on your syncro – thesamba.com is a great forum of vw heads. my mansy has a 65 split window that he built a new engine for last winter (in our living room) and that site was a lot of help plus a great community. with your last post i even thought about reading him your problem cos he’s pretty good at diagnosing (he’s been working on vw’s since before he had his driver’s license). just wanted to put that out there. good luck with the syncro and your travels!

    – d

  • June 14 , 2012

    I found my baby on the samba. She’s up and running now. How do you like the split window? I love those things. Im going to get a t2 some day. just a transporter. they look awesome for cruising around town.


  • June 21 , 2012

    foster –

    the split window is pretty great. i really wasn’t into vw’s, especially older ones until my bf got it. originally a panel van and we hope to outfit the interior this summer with a camp set up. right now it’s actually not running, gotta pull out the transmission – something about the nose cone. when it is up my bf drives it everywhere tho – was his daily driver/work truck. the only bad thing is it’s lowered a little and driving in the city (we live in washington dc) can suck with potholes. also some don’t like the lack of ac but with the windows open it’s been fine. his dream is a single cab. my dream is a squareback! glad to her your lady is running again!