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Date:         Sat, 15 Aug 2015 19:57:37 -0700
Reply-To:     Bruce Todd <beeceetee@GMAIL.COM>
Sender:       Vanagon Mailing List <>
From:         Bruce Todd <beeceetee@GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Back from Washington / Oregon Coast Trip -
Comments: cc: Loren Busch <>,
          Stuart MacMillan <>,
          Alistair Bell <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

Now that a day has passed since our return and we are safely home in Vancouver BC - I thought I'd let everyone know how our trip down the West Coast went - basically 14 days long and we traveled as far as Florence Oregon to the Oregon Dunes National Park and as east as Mount St Helen's National Park in southern Washington.

We left (Me, Wife, 2 daughters) Vancouver on Aug 1st at 5:30 am and arrived on San Juan Island later that day and spent 3 days camping at our friends at Pear Point. On our travels to Anacortes I realized the horn no longer worked - that is not so bad I thought perhaps a fuse. Had a wonderful time camping on San Juan and then left on Monday afternoon and headed to Oak Harbour where we stayed in a motel for the night to shower and regroup and head out on a fairly long drive the following day to Cape Disappointment.

Left Tuesday morning and headed down the Olympic Peninsula Highway 20 to Port Townsend and then on the 101 East to Ilwaco and Cape Disappointment where we camped for two days. Beautiful beach with pounding surf to fall asleep to. Our daughters loved playing in the tide pools once the tide went out - nice camp ground with some interesting history related to the Lewis & Clark expedition. Saw a couple of dead seagulls on the dunes - never have seen dead gulls on a beach before...wondering what would have befallen these fowls.

Thursday morning we headed south through to Astoria where we spent 3 hours walking around town including eating lunch at a downtown cafe. A little nervous with the van on the big steep long bridge over the Columbia from Washington to Oregon as there was road work and single lane alternating traffic which required a stop and creep approach - expecting to breakdown for some reason. Lots of love taps on the dash when we got going. From Astoria we took the 101 south to Cape Look-out and stayed one night there - great camp spot near the beach and a wonderful sunset that followed some choice craft beers - oh yeah and our first camp fire as Oregon does not have a ban.

Friday morning we got up and going around 10:30 am - our usual time based on waking up, making breakfast and breaking camp - me sweeping mounds of sand out of the van and returning it to nature. We headed to Portland for a 3 day Air B&B weekend and met up with some family there. To get to Portland we took the very scenic Highway 6 from Tillamook where it junctions with Highway 8 and then 26. Beautiful road and beautiful drive in morning sunlight - climbing a bit of a pass and following a river. Leaving Tillamook I was over confident that there would be a gas station along the way - but I was wrong. With 2/5 of a tank a fuel to go about 60 miles and some climbs, I was a little nervous we might run out of gas. Anyway the van sipped fuel and we coasted at times down some of the slopes and arrived at a Shell Station which magically appeared near Banks with about 10 litres to spare.

Our time in Portland was good - a great old home we found to stay in near North Williams and Tillamook St - not much van news as we drove around in a Ford Explorer as the van rested over the weekend. We left Portland on the following Monday and drove back to the coast on Highway 18 to 101 south and ended up staying for two nights at Beachside State Park near Yachats. Lovely beach but some rain on the first night which surprised us a little and of course quite a bit of traffic noise as the park is just off the highway. Spent the following day exploring the Oregon National Dunes Recreation area south of Florence then headed back to Beachside State Park to cook dinner and sample the day's selection of craft brews....(Alistair when will you finish that rear side reflector protector and beer opener?) Showed family members how to remove beer caps using Vanagon door latch. The day turned warm and we dried out towels and other things that didn't make their way under cover the night before - better prepared for the following evening - burnt three bundles of wood before turning in.

By now it was Wednesday morning and time to begin our trip back to the north. Said goodbye to family and left Beachside at around 11 am and headed toward Portland on the twisty narrow Highway 34 from Waldport to Corvalis and then through to Albany where we finally and got on the I-5 through Portland and Vancouver Washington - around 1 pm we hit some pretty heavy traffic and slow going in hot weather - kept the revs up when I could - 2 to 2.5 K rpm to circulate the coolant - fan cycling and constant peeks in the rear view for the dreaded coolant clouds. No problems so more pats on the dash as we made it through on the I-5 and got to Castle Rock around 4:30 pm where we headed east on Highway 504 and stayed at Seaquest State Park for the night - very hot evening but a nice private and large camp site. Put the screen on the back hatch and got some circulation going during the evening. The following morning we went to the Mount St Helen's info centre / museum before heading further east about 30 miles to the Coldwater Lake Vistor Centre and look-out to check out the active volcano - wow what a large mountain and something to see. Quite the elevation climb as well however the van ran very well as we climbed over 1300 metres to the look-out. More pats and words of gratitude.

By this time it was early afternoon and we needed to find another place to stay with our hope to be home on Friday afternoon (yesterday). I really wanted to avoid driving through Seattle and so we planned to drive back on Highway 504 to 503 and go through Toledo (another great little highway) - where we got back onto the I-5 (my goodness you have to speed along to keep up with traffic - rpms hitting 4 K steady.) Anyway we headed back toward Olympia and then headed westward and took Highway 3 to Bremerton where we stayed at a motel and ate some great Mexican food at Juanitos - took on the fried jalapenos (25 cents / jalapeno) with tacos and cerveza. Later that evening we got scrubbed up and looking forward to a fairly early departure to head to Vancouver BC the following day.

On the road Friday morning by 8:30 am and caught the 9:45 am ferry at Kingston - which was late due to a ferry break-down (geez not just vanagons) we arrived at Edmonds around 11 am. Basically it was then a fast run home - arriving at the border around 12:30 pm - with a 1/2 hour wait. Anyway up to this point the van had been running extremely well other than the horn. And this is where things get I approached the Canadian customs agent I stalled the van - the van restarted and I made my way through however I thought that was kind of odd. We then traveled about 1/2 a mile to a signal light where I had an advance left turn - again the van stalled but restarted pretty much right away but required a lot of throttle to get going. The next 20 miles home where not a problem until I drove off the Oak Street Bridge and got onto Marine Drive - where I could tell when I dropped the revs below 3 K the motor would not respond and would begin to stall. I got off Marine Drive quickly as it is a very busy road and headed east on a side street - where we got about another mile before we completely stalled out and could not get going. Engine would crank but no start. So there you have it we broke down 1.5 miles from home....imagine that! Some relief and some disappointment and some Hail Mary's as of all the places we could of broke down - this was very benign. Tow truck arrived 20 minutes later and got us home for under $100. The wife and I spent the next two hours unpacking and getting ourselves reacquainted with home life.

This morning with all the gear out of the way I opened the engine hatch and had a quick look. Everything look pretty normal - no loose wires or unfastened vacuum hoses. Fuel pump was working and so I checked on my van's Achilles heal - the relatively new Bosch coil - replaced less than a year ago and with about 5,500 kms on it. Checked resistance in Bentley and tested and then had wife crank van over while I checked spark - nada. A quick trip to Lordco and replaced the coil with another 00061 Bosch coil and she fired back up right away purring like a cat that has just been fed.

I will most likely start another thread about coils because I have gone through 4 coils since 2012 when I decided to replace the old black Bosch coil that may have been the original. Ironically I only replaced the old coil because I thought it was a preventative thing to do - it didn't actually fail and I have had to use it as a spare from time to time however I do not have it anymore to swap back in. So I plan to write to Bosch but I wonder what could be creating this scenario - a bad batch of coils or poor workmanship or is there an electrical load or heat issue burning these things up?

Anyway that is the end of this long long report and I commend anyone who has read this from top to bottom - you have a lot more patience than I do. *Thanks to Loren Busch and Stuart MacMillan* as well as others who sent me their camping suggestions back in May when I was planning the trip with my wife. We saw a number of vanagons along the way from both sides of the border with lots of waves and much to my wife's amusement I had many conversations through our travels with people about our van and about the magic and wonder that make people want to stop and open up and converse about their experiences or just ask questions about these compact camping machines. Some wonderful side roads traveled - get off that damn I-5 and explore those windy highways that are well maintained by the DOT and that have great grades and corners that befit the ideal vanagon speed.

It was pretty close to a perfect trip.


86 Syncro Westy

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