Podcast: The End

That’s a wrap, folks.

Two years ago we bought some podcasting equipment and consulted our friend Alan (who has long-produced podcasts for the local NPR affiliate) on how to edit audio. We drove around our hometown, collecting stories from friends and family who had owned VW buses. They referred us to other people. I taught myself Hindenburg and called Alan when I ran into trouble. Miracle and I hit the road on two shakedown trips—one to the Finger Lakes and a second one to Michigan, where we really started to gather up some stories from complete strangers. 

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One Last Detour: Revisiting the Happy Trucker Show

Way back in the summer of 2021, one month before embarking on the trip of a lifetime in our 1979 VW Bus, we called into the flagship show of Happy Productions—a Wednesday night program called The Happy Trucker Show hosted by Shawn Sullivan. We had no idea really what lay ahead of us—no idea our planned 26,000 mile road trip would total over 40,000 miles and include two catastrophic breakdowns. We had no idea how much our plans would need to change based on roads, whims, and weather. We had no idea we would become residents of the Happy Productions studio in the dead of a Minnesota winter. And we had no idea how much the Sullivan family would matter to us, how much we would love them and trust them and just plain enjoy talking to them. 

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Detour #10: What’s in a name?

Adie, the namesake of our bus.

Well, folks, I screwed something up with the web catalog on this episode (for those of you who stream in order, you probably noticed this had the same audio as a previous episode). It’s fixed now, which is great because we love this episode. 

One of our first interviewees, William, submitted a question to us worthy of its own detour episode. (Or, rather, he had a series of questions involving the naming of VW buses.) We combed back through past interviews so we could adequately answer William’s question. 

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Podcast: Miranda and James (with Ken)

In November of 2018, I placed a bid on a VW bus in Clear Lake, Iowa, owned by James and Miranda Eilders. I had never owned a VW before and I figured it would be a neat car to own, to take out on the weekends, and tool around town. I did not have the slightest clue how much my life would change.

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Detour # 9: The Finer Things in Life

Before we interviewed Carson (S9, E5) about his bus story, we had a little side conversation about coffee, about Swiss cheese and watches—about the finer things in life. If you’re a coffee snob, aficionado, or you just love good coffee (I’m all three), you’ll want to give this one a listen.

Great coffee can be had from friends at Blue Bus Coffee Roasters and from the Happy Productions coffee club.

Podcast: Amanda & Matt

Amanda and Matt Hakola have owned a few buses before finally finding their current bus and landing in Oklahoma. Their bus is also the mothership for their business Ragtag Resilience—an approach to stabilizing food systems by doing a lot of little things that add up to change. (They farm their .15 acres and grow lots of amazing foods to feed their family and sell at market.) Their business caught the eye of Leonardo DiCaprio’s personal chef during the filming of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” while shooting on location in Oklahoma, which led to Amanda and Matt catering the film’s wrap party. 

If you’re gong through the northeast corner of Oklahoma, their hometown of Bartlesville is well worth checking out. In addition to being the historical backdrop of the story behind Killers of the Flower Moon, the town has Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper, and right near the Tall Grass Prairie. Amanda and Matt have an AirBnB which also boasts one of their market gardens on the grounds.

The bus, my taxes, and writing as a career choice

Taylor Herrick—accountant, tax lawyer, and all-around nice guy—was the first non-family-member person to believe in my writing career. I hadn’t published or bought a VW bus; I hadn’t even completed my undergrad when I started going to him to file my tax return. I was nineteen and working two or three jobs and going to school and what I knew was that when I filed my tax return with Taylor, I got back more money than when I used Big Name Company the year before. Taylor asked questions I didn’t know were relevant and we started to write things off. Somewhere in our conversations I said I was thinking of making a career out of creative writing. 

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Podcast: Pat

Pat reached out to us in our final weeks on the road. The temperatures soared and we were looking for any respite we could find from the heat. Pat invited us out to camp at his place near the last stand of tall grass prairie in Kansas. But the real reason I wanted to go out and interview Pat: his writing. Pat has been working on a novel narrated by a VW bus—an imagined memoir of his VW bus. I have to say, the writing knocked me sideways. We interviewed him, had him read to us a little, and then he turned the tables on us (you’ll hear more of that in our series finale).