A Perlweiss ’64 VW, exactly like my second car. Running my hands over its familiar curves unleashes a flood of memories: This was my space capsule for exploring new worlds and traveling hither and thither, driven by an urge to slake my thirst for new experiences by covering as much of this country as possible: Meet someone in a strange town, share a bed with them, get a job for a couple of weeks and explore the local countryside, all before the inevitable next time the urge to un-merge boils up. On the road again…
and with maybe $75 or $125 from washing dishes or digging ditches in my pocket–enough to roll for several weeks, but actually more like a month. A ten-dollar fill-up was good for some 320 miles. Buy some brown rice (15¢/lb) and lentils to cook on my Svea white-gas stove. Unfold the little cheap tent or if it was dumping out, curl up in the back seat. Spot a gravel road, and just head down it without knowing where it leads, but always somewhere, like the Jeep-road pass over the Continental Divide. Or to a dead end. No matter; my ever-reliable ’64 VW always got me there.
This is just how mine looked from the back, too, with stuff jammed in to the roof. And also under the seats. Once I finally got a roof rack, I’d throw my bike up there along with a few waterproof bags. One time as I was about to re-enter the U.S. after driving cross-country through Canada, the feds made me pull over, remove everything from my VW, and then spread out the contents on a big table that was not nearly big enough to hold it all, and the overflow eventually covered much of the ground surrounding it. That was fun. In the process, though, I did find the beloved Swiss Army Knife I had given up for lost. So thank you, Immigration and Customs Service! I’ll always be in your debt.
Now if I could just figure out why that beloved knife is not where it’s been for years, in the jar on my desk. It’s probably the only thing I have left from that trip, and I’d hate to lose it now, almost 40 years later. It’s like a memory stick–and I’m not sure if or when I’ll run into a ’64 perlweiss VW again.