As we’d discussed in Part 1 and Part 2, we’d just driven three $2500 cars from southern California all the way to California’s northern border, and still had two more states to go through and sell the cars before we could declare victory.
Over the following days things gradually got more… interesting. The driver’s side window winder fell off the Alfa so we had to use pliers, much to our surprise the truck was gradually running better, and the Bumblebee was increasingly becoming an albatross.
Speaking of which, you know that starter fix we did in LA? Yeah… when we got to Thor’s Well in Cape Perpetua suddenly that stopped being a fix. Which is to say we tried to move the cars because we were in the wrong place (or thought we were anyway) but the Bumblebee wouldn’t start. This was surprising because up until that point, the fix had been working well.
So hung out and waited for it to cool down. Many, many tourists offered jumper cables, but alas the bumblebee wasn’t starting.
So we went for a walk, which turned out to be epic.
When we got back we tried whacking the starter with a hammer.
It still wouldn’t start.
We tired cursing it, Volkswagen, George, and Bosch.
Still wouldn’t start.
We privately considered leaving the Bumblebee and/ or George.
It still wouldn’t start.
I’d like to say this is when we discovered a secret backup car or we left George and carried on happily without him, but, as previously stated, this isn’t Top Gear. I’d also like to say something more dramatic than “and then it started” happened, but, again, not Top Gear.
It did just suddenly decided to start.
Over the next couple of days this starting problem would become worse and worse, to the point that we would frequently just leave the damn thing running lest we get further behind schedule dealing with its petulance.
By the time we got to Portland it was apparent something had to be done. George found ON THE INTERENTS an old technical service bulletin from Volkswagen detailing a fix for this very problem. Turns out the starter solenoid gets cooked by the exhaust manifold and need the assistance of a relay to do its damn job. A kit was commercially available on Amazon, but wouldn’t be able to get to us for several days. We opted to have it sent to our Washington overnight halt and cross our fingers it could make it that far.
Did I mention we stayed on a boat in Portland? Because we did.
And just like that we were though Oregon! After an indescribably long wait for the Bumblebee to cool down in Astoria, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge into Washington. A truly epic bridge that, apparently, was the last piece of Highway 101 which enabled it to be the unbroken route from California to Washington it is today.
Shortly thereafter we were just west of Seattle and soon to be heading to our finishing point. We took a “beach day” to explore, drink, take some video of the cars, and let George install his starter fix.
We initially wanted to take the ferry to Canada, but it turned out to be both expensive and time consuming. So instead we hit Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National forest. All cars made it up without incident, so we decided to take a crap ton of “victory” photos.
Now the big question: What were we going to do with the cars?!
George, truth be told, had declared on day 1 that “if the car didn’t betray him” he would be shipping it home. Even though it betrayed all of us on multiple occasions, he still was going to keep it. In for a penny, I suppose.
While I had entertained a few interested callers on the Alfa, I didn’t have any solid buyers nor was mentally equipped to deal with donating it to NPR or scrapping it. Honestly, I was so surprised it actually made it to Seattle, it had managed to worm its way into my heart. Despite essentially being a vacation romance, I just couldn’t imagine not regretting selling it, and would probably end up buying another in in a couple of years anyway so… fuck it. I sent mine home.
Taylor was determined. Determined to sell this damn truck. He fielded more calls than the rest of us and had an interested buyer who would buy it for his asking price if Taylor would deliver it. After George and I dropped off our cars at the shipper and were driving back to the overnight halt, Taylor seemed ready to do the deal.
Except he wasn’t.
No, deep down it was killing him to let his little truck go.
So the next day we drove back to the shipper and put one more car on the transport.
That’s right. We went through all that only to fail at the end, and not sell our cars.
And on that bombshell….