Classic VW Beetle

The Beginning and Facebook Drama

With all the drama from this car getting stolen, I thought I would let everyone know why I bought a 1974 VW Beetle when I am downsizing and planning on living in a van.

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For those who missed it or aren’t Facebook friends with me, about a week ago I bought a classic VW Bug. The doors didn’t have any keys, but I only paid $3,700 for the car so I didn’t expect anyone to risk going to jail to steal it. It is probably about the cheapest car in my apartment parking lot, so I figured a different car would be targeted first. Wrong. I got home from having lunch with my friend Jerry and it was gone.

I should have realized that the car stood out and may be worth more than I paid for it. The first time I bought gas, I was approached by someone who wanted to talk about it. My apartment manager half-jokingly offered to trade me her ’06 black Beetle for it. I parked in front of Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee. The girl who got me a cream donut and coffee had that glitter in her eye and flirty welcoming smile that could melt any man’s heart. I half expected the bug to wink back at her and for them to leave together. Everyone loves that car.

I put a post on Facebook and asked everyone to share it so that if someone saw it they could call 911 and report it. A good friend, Vicky, posted it to her neighborhood group. Vicky and I both live in the Little Italy district in Omaha and someone in her group saw that it was only a few blocks from my house. Luckily I was able to retrieve car with only minor damage to the ignition lock. It is now securely in a garage awaiting an electronic alarm.

Internal Conflict

Now it is time for me to come clean. My plan for the car is to turn it into a bugeye Baja Bug. Like this one:

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This is where the conflict comes in. I hadn’t expected to buy such a nice Beetle. The car I bought only has only minor surface rust on the pan. The interior is in better shape than my Corvette’s. It has 65,000 miles on the odometer, that I naturally disregarded for a car that old. After closely inspecting the car, there is a good chance that number is accurate. Replacing the engine, transmission, suspension and about half of the bodywork and interior feels… just wrong. When I told my brother, the plan he had an open look of disgust on his face that mirrored my own gut feeling.

If you try hard enough, you can justify any bad behavior to yourself. I just keep telling myself that by “donating” the parts I remove on eBay, that there will be many more complete bugs in the world for it. In fact, by putting more bugs in the world, I’m doing God’s own work. Or is that Hitler’s own work? Uh… This isn’t working.

Baja Bug

The idea to make a Baja Bug came to me in Quartzsite, AZ while there for the big RV show and RTR. Several people I saw there were driving around in Sport UTV’s that were licensed as motorcycles and legal to drive on the roads there. The Sport UTV’s were so small, that people parked them in the strangest places and got away with it.

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The usefulness of crossing an ATV with a golf cart are immediately obvious if you are staying on BLM land near Quartzsite or some other area of the Southwest. You can tear across the desert and get to places that your van or RV can’t get to. You can also set up camp with your rig’s awning and exterior furniture and not have to take it down to go and get water, food, and other supplies in town. The major downside is that you need a motorcycle license for them, which Nic doesn’t have. They also aren’t legal to drive on the streets in most state that we would be visiting. The cons ultimately outweigh the pros, so no go for the Sport UTV.

But hey, no worries. Previous generations had a better solution anyway.

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Update 02/07/18:  I didn’t ever get to finish this project.  It was a situation where I needed to focus on finishing out the van build and stop getting distracted with side projects.  I ended up selling the little Beetle for what I had in it.  I still believe in having a Baja Bug if you are driving around a full size RV, but it really isn’t necessary when you are using a smaller Class B like I have.

I still want a Baja Bug and may still get one, but I will probably buy a finished one.  It doesn’t seem like anyone gets their money back out of the conversion and it is just cheaper to let someone else take that hit.

Flashback: The first leg of the first trip.

Dad and I had had just about enough of trying make this 2014 Ford E-250 into the perfect cross between a stealth camper and a Sportsmobile. My struggles with depression had already delayed this project months beyond where it should have taken. It was already the beginning of November 2015 without having my vision of what the van should be fulfilled.

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My mom has an eloquent way with words. As she would say, “It’s time to shit or get off the pot”. It was time for Nic and I to finally hit the road. We finally just decided to throw the cats what we thought we would need into the Van and get going without much of an itinerary. The only place we really knew we were going was The House on the Rock. After that, it was just the open road.

The House on the Rock was a destination because Nic had been there on a family vacation as a child and had fond memories of the trip. I had never been there and anywhere besides Omaha, NE was good by me at this point.

It is easy to see why the House on the Rock would be awesome to see as a kid. It is pretty awesome to see as an adult. I won’t ruin the experience for you, but the whole thing is basically an eclectic collection put together by a nutty 1970’s free bird. Right up Nic’s alley.

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It doesn’t matter how much the SSRI’s impact my libido. I’m not giving this a try.

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There was only a couple problems with the House on the Rock. It was in Wisconsin, it was November 2015, our little space heater wasn’t working, and no one in my little family has much body hair except me. Nobody was having much fun that first night sleeping in Wisconsin.

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I woke up in the middle of the night and made a decision. I looked at what was straight south of us on the map, got behind the steering wheel and, started driving while everyone else slept. We were on our way to Graceland.

Burnout

For those who don’t know, I lost my mind in the summer of 2015. As I told a friend who asked if this came suddenly, “No, this was a long time coming.” I had been trying to fight off anxiety and depression using alcohol and willpower for quite a while, but that only works for so long. At the time, I didn’t know that I had limits to the amount of stress that I could handle and I piled it on recklessly. In the end, I burned out and had a mental breakdown that left me unable and unwilling to work in my profession as a Software Architect.

A contributing factor may have been my age, at the time 43 in years. Was it a midlife crisis?  Couldn’t be right?  After all I didn’t have difficult children, crippling debt, or a loveless marriage. I already had a motorcycle, a red corvette, and a hot younger woman. I should have been safe. Regardless, I still wanted to run away and live a life of solitude as many men do at this age.  In the end I chalked my breakdown to hereditary major depressive disorder.  There is something of a history of this on my maternal side of the family, so the theory is plausible.  Don’t worry, I’m medicated now and doing fine.

More and more I’m coming to realize that many of those who wander aren’t necessarily looking for something, but trying to avoid the world and all that comes with it. At the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous one woman stood at a group meeting and said that she no longer needed anxiety medication since hitting the road. Several heads started nodding in agreement at this comment.  I know when Nic and I travelled it helped me tremendously.

I heard another long woman traveler speak about nature deficit disorder, where not being in nature enough can cause personal distress.  I think there is something to this. We watch the movie Blackfish and and are horrified at how we keep orcas in constrained captivity. Then we go and sit at the same desk in front of a computer most of our waking hours, stuck in our own Westworld loops. All this completely without sense of irony.

My brother reads a favorite blog, Bowman Odessey, where the author is clearly struggling with this very subject. Or maybe I’m coloring it with my own experiences.  You decide.  Regardless it is well written and worth killing a couple minutes here and there. Check it out.

Site Kickoff

Hi.  My name is Maurice C. Parker and I am the sole founder, President, and head janitor of Vincode.  Vincode is the new trade name for Vineyard Enterprise Software, Inc.  Welcome to my company rebranding and rebooting.

I started Vineyard as a company for me to develop that did staff augmentation for Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies.  Since that time, my career has had many twists and turns.  In short, I never did grow the company into a staff augmentation company and used it over the years for mostly tax purposes.  The new plan is to use it is a vehicle to release mobile apps and do freelance consulting.

Back in the 90’s the name Vineyard Enterprise Software, Inc was pretty good.  There were lots of three word company names that got shortened to their acronyms.  Domain names weren’t a primary concern when naming your company back then either.  If so, I wouldn’t have spent the last 20 years typing (or spelling over the phone) a 30 character email address, maurice@vineyardenterprise.com.  The old name doesn’t represent what I do now or the industry that I work in.  Vincode is shorter, more contemporary, and my new email address is only 13 characters now, mo@vincode.io.

In the interests of self-promotion, I will be writing regular articles for this site.  I have over 20 years of industry experience as a consultant and many of those experiences are very unique.  I think sharing them will help enlighten others out there that don’t have the same number of battle scars that I do.  I will be cross-posting them to both Medium and Linkedin, so if you already like those platforms, you can find them there as well.  The topics will be about Software Architecture, SDLC, Project Management, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Ops/DevOps and other IT disciplines.  More importantly, I will write about the interactions between these disciplines and how that can impact overall project productivity.

I hope you’ll stick around.

Blog Kickoff

I’m at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous or RTR for short.  For those not familiar with the term rubber tramp, a rubber tramp is basically a hobo on wheels.  The wheels can be anything from the largest RV or bus to a motorcycle.  All types of person are rubber tramps from all different socio-economic classes.  On one side of me is a retired circuit board designer from Intel.  Across from me are hippies selling barley and beet juice shots.

I’m here because my wife Nicole and I are in the process of becoming full-time vandwellers, a subclass of rubber tramp I guess.  I came down here to learn more about the lifestyle from the people who live it all the time.

In the photo above is my rig, the white cargo van.  I’ll put up detailed posts about the different modifications made to it to make it into a stealth camper van.  Stay tuned.  Behind my white van you can see a blue-black van owned by Youtube blogger Dave2d.  Check out Dave’s channel and others if you are curious about the lifestyle.

While, I am fairly new vandwelling, I do have some experience.  Nicole, the cats, and I lived out of the van for 2-3 months total last year to see if living this way suited us.  It did and now we are working toward becoming full-timers ourselves.

This process for us is well underway.  In this blog I will document how over the next year or so we prepare for finally going full-time.  I will also do flashbacks to fill you in on the journey thus far.