Today was the day. Our plan was to pick up Lucky from rehab at GoWesty, drop off the rental car, and spend a final night in Oceano before heading towards Mexico.
We paced anxiously at GoWesty’s reception area, waiting for the shop manager to deliver Lucky to us. Having been separated for two weeks, we could hardly wait to see her.
In the reception area, we met Emily from Where’s My Office Now. She and her partner, Cory, had checked in their Westy “Boscha” for a new engine after two years of traveling and working out of their van throughout the USA.
We were all eager to get our Westies back and resume normal “van life”. As we waited, we exchanged travel tips, Westy stories, and strategies for documenting our journeys online. As we talked about the merits of Instagram and Facebook, we saw Lucky gliding into the parking lot.
She looked radiant. Her red coat was glimmering in the sunshine and her engine was purring happily. Clearly, the brand new transmission and fuel injection system did wonders because she sounded 25 years younger. But hey, if we spent the same amount of money on us as we did on Lucky, we would seem 25 years younger, too.
As Gregor did the walkaround with Ted, the friendly project manager at GoWesty, Emily and Cory shared their hit list of places to see and stay in Central America (thanks again, guys!). About an hour later, they bade us bon voyage and we headed south to our hotel in Oceano.
We were so happy to be back in the van and very excited to resume our journey towards Mexico. Gregor was especially excited because we were one step closer to eating fresh fish tacos in Baja. He’s been talking about having Baja fish tacos and beer for the last 8 months. Every day for 8 months Gregor has been pining for “Baja fish tacos and cerveza”. It was “fish tacos” this and “cerveza” that for 8 months. He couldn’t say the word “Baja” without mentioning “fish tacos and cerveza”. For 8 months.
I whispered to Lucky to please get us to Baja soon so that my husband could have his fish tacos.
But Lucky was having none of that.
About 15 minutes out of Los Osos, Gregor noticed that Lucky was idling high and bouncing between 1200 to 1800 RPM. Every time we stopped at a light she started to whine. We thought she would settle down on the 45-minute drive back to Oceano, but the whining didn’t stop. It figures that she would behave perfectly at GoWesty and then put up a fuss once she was back with us.
As we pulled into the hotel parking lot, I asked Gregor tentatively: “Do you think she’ll be ok?”
My husband pursed his lips, looked at me from the driver seat and said: “We have to go back to GoWesty tomorrow.” Fish tacos would have to wait just a little longer.
The next morning we packed up the van and drove back north to Los Osos.
I was so frustrated with Lucky that I couldn’t bear to wait at the GoWesty reception area again. Instead of accompanying Gregor to the shop, I asked him to drop me off at a nearby Starbucks so that I could comfort myself with a nice strong cup of coffee. Two lattes and two chocolate croissants later, Gregor returned with a smile on his face. “She’s good to go,” he said. Full of caffeine and sugar, I vibrated out of the coffee shop and into the passenger seat. We headed back south towards Oceano.
Our first order of business was to test the new Positrack transmission on a sand beach, to make sure that we could get in and out of the beach campsites that we expected to encounter throughout Mexico. We decided to perform our test at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, where you can drive your vehicle onto the sand for a state fee ($5 a day). Surrounded by 4×4 trucks and ATVs, we paid the five bucks and cruised down the beach.
Lucky ran beautifully. It was like she was meant to be on the beach. No whining, no stalls in the sand – just the happy purring of the engine. And when Lucky is happy, we’re happy.
That evening, we camped in our Westy for the first time since we left Calgary. We made it to Emma Wood State Beach just before the sunset and parked Lucky right along the rocks where the waves were crashing.
Gregor tapped me on the shoulder and passed me a bottle of Pacifico.
“To van life,” he said, lifting his bottle.
“To van life,” I smiled.