Thursday, December 1, 2011
That's Zyncro Young Man
So, after spending a couple post Turkey Run days out of town for a small project, this olelongrooffan returned to my home in the Birthplace of Speed around mid-afternoon. I had eaten a sturdy breakfast prior to leaving but had spent the lunch hour, on a rare trip on a portion of the Eisenhower Highway System here in central Florida, without bothering to stop at any of the multiple corporate roadside eateries along the way. Upon the culmination of that road trip and knowing I had almost no food left in the frig at my condo, also realizing how much I can spend shopping an my local Publix when I am hungry, (hummus anyone?) I did something relatively unheard of in my world; I hit up the Golden Arches for a quick, cheap and tasteless sammich and fries prior to doing the whole grocery thing.
Well, I have say this about that, the experience around the acquisition of that McChicken sammich was unlike any other.
As I desolately awaited, in that ubiquitous drive thru lane, for my sustainable, abate cheap, mundane sammich and fries (this olelongrooffan seldom does not have a couple Diet Cokes just a reach away) to be prepared, I innocently looked over to the parking area just a driving lane away.
While there may be a couple vehicles in the next image that may be of some interest to those Counting Along With Me, the above infrequently seen decal was, well, seen on the front of a parked motor vehicle, and it immediately drew my attention. Yeah Counters, it was a Volkswagen Syncro. Rarely seen however there is one round these here parts but it is a bone stock version and, trust me based on experience, "Not For Sale."
Anyway, I saw this treasure and the couple sitting in the front were demonstrating their ability to Celebrate Life as was evidenced by her reading the text as seen on her laptop and his giggling all time.
Well, this olelongrooffan knew at that moment the then hot, quasi chicken sammich was going to get cold while I checked these folks out. And it did.
I circled around those clueless Seabreeze High School kids hanging at Mickey D's after school let out and I parked adacent to that palm tree possessing parking median next to my Holy Grail, that Syncro.
As I approached this laughing, obviously enjoying life couple, Rainier lowered the driver's side window to accept my presence.
I introduced myself and them to By The Numbers and commented I am a contributor to all things Hoon, and he introduced himself and, cordially, allowed his partner, Bridgitte, to introduce herself. She graciously spelled it out for me. She then mentioned she was on a local to the Sunshine State blog looking for a great place to stay the night. As she, the 60 something retired secretary for an "American firm" in "the middle of Germany," had decided on a location to retire for this evening, she was prepared to let her partner, a 71 year old retired owner of a German AutoDriving Instruction company, get them safely to their destination down near Cape Canaveral.
Of course, this olelongrooffan had a couple million questions for them and they were gracious enough to let us all know what they were up to.
"Longroof, we're retired. Can you think of anything better to do than tour the world?"
"After touring the rest of the US and western Canada, we are headed to the West Coast of your States then through South America to either Australia or the south of Africa, It really depends on the next ship leaving the port."
It turns out that Rainier, at a young and enthusiatic 71 years of age, has done a previous "Around The World" trip with his, now 30 something and offspring expecting, son joining in for various segments of that trip.
"It was three years ago," he commented, with some translation from Bridgitte, "that we finished that year long trip. That one was also in an older Syncro through Africa and the Middle East, but not as much fun. I didn't know then what I know now," he shared with me, along with a wink of the eye as he, and his longtime traveling partner, Bridgitte squabbled over the something trivial that is still beyond this language impaired olelongrooffan.
But they are still laughing and she mentioned they had often been approached for photographs but noone had ever asked about their adventures.
"Of course, touring the world in a 1989, somewhat relatively obscure, (c'mon, a Syncro?) machine has to be problematic? Is it not?," I asked.
"This time the only problems," Rainier related, "on this 20,000 km trip thus far, we have had have been with the fuel filler tube leaking and the 'gearbox B-needle' problems. However we have met a couple guys, one here in Maryland and another in Canada who have been instrumental in getting those problems resolved." Rainier did comment on how polite everyone has been thus far about their adventures and the limited number of obstacles encountered. Note here that Bridgette offered a whole damned bunch of translation for this conversation to have taken place.
As we all may imagine, the conversation evolved toward the "when, where, and why" questions my journalist father, TheGentlemanFarmer, always want to know.
Bridgitte and Rainier left "the middle of Germany" five months ago and caught a ship to Nova Scotia. On to Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, (or vice versa)then down "into the States" via Minnesota. They spend no set period of time in each locale, it all depends on the weather, the local yokels (yeah that is this olelongrooffan's term) and Bridgitte and Rainier's own state of mind.
One of the many endearing aspects we spoke of during this conversation in the parking lot of that corporate American icon, thus far ignored by our visiting brethren Hoons (other than the free wifi), was the fact they are choosing to stay off the Eisenhower Highway System so as to see the real life sights that our country has to offer.
As a fellow follower of the whole "stay off the beaten path" philosophy, I asked about the overnite experiences they have had.
Although this olelongrooffan does not immediately recognize the most comfortable language Bridgitte and Rainier possess, I identified with Bridgitte when she put her hands in the air at the command,
when they encountered a constable up in Canada. But it was immediately noted that "they were very polite."
Bridgitte added she thought those officers may have been surprised to see a "couple of such advanced age" enjoying a free overnight spot in their mode of transportation.
Rainier immediately popped in with the comment that the power to that laptop, as well as the frig and lighting, is supplied by the solar panel he installed in the fixed top a buddy of his and he had constructed just above the contoured map of the world on the driver's side of their Syncro. Their heater is powered via propane.
He took me around some more of the modifications including "raising the body" (a lift kit), an "open sleep tent" (that diamond plated folding tent at the rear of that fixed top, and a bypass for the carldan shaft. Rainer even looked that term up in his quick reference book of translations. This conversation occurred when I asked about gas mileage and "do you ever take it off road?" I tried several times to comprehend what the name was but I finally got that it was the forward driveshaft on that highly desirable Vanagon. Yeah, this guy and a buddy engineered a way to disengage the front driveshaft to increase the fuel mileage of this old four wheel drive Bus! And yes, Rainier pulled the old rubber encased VW knob on the dash and mentioned how it is engaged for off road use.
Our conversation then evolved into the inevitable "Why in the hell a Syncro?"
Of course, the bulk of this conversation was with Rainier as the primary spokesman, so it was not a "Syncro" but a "Zyncro". It took me a moment to catch on but then this olelongrooffan figured it out.
"My first car was a Volkswagen Type II with 15" tires."
"My second one was a Volkswagon Type II with 16" tires."
"Why wouldn't I want my best traveling experience to be around the world with a wonderful partner in a Zyncro?"
After we discussed the means of powering this beast, an intercooled, ssupercharged, fuel injected 2.0 liter motor sourced from a Golf, and the idiosyncratic rules concerned the length of time one can stay here in the States on a government issued visa, we took our leave from each other.
As I was returning to my Comanche, I felt truly happy for this couple and wanted to offer them something for their journey to remind them of our visit. I passed by the rear end of my old truck and noticed the "DB" magnet that has adorned every automobile I have owned since I moved here. I pulled that magnet off, returned to Rainier and Bridgitte and offered my small token of appreciation for their time. Rainier immediately jumped out of that Zyncro and shook my hand. "Thank you very much young man," were his final words to me.
I again returned to my "beater" truck and moved on down the road to my next adventure all the while wish Rainier and Bridgitte all the best on theirs.