Oh, the Sullivans! We love these people. Jarah is the daughter of Emma and Shawn Sullivan, our friends and podcast syndicators at Happy Productions. In four different visits to Minnesota we came to know them all quite well. I edited season 4 of the podcast in Jarah’s office at the studio. She babysat our pup, Jolene, when we went out for a night on the town. And once, when we got snowed in, Miracle and I usurped her bedroom for the night. But mostly, we just all hung out together. She’s super cool and is carrying on the family legacy in more than one way. So, before we left Minnesota for the last time on our 49-state adventure, we had a chance to sit down with her.
You should check out her band, Dellwood, and definitely listen to her radio show Linnertime, which airs on Happy Productions from 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Join us for the last leg of our 49-state adventure. This season we meet Jarah, the Linnertime DJ at Happy Productions as she makes plans to take her bus on the road. We stop to meet Pat, an author who wrote a memoir told from the point of view of his bus. In Oklahoma, we sat down with Amanda and Matt, two local food advocates who kept Leonardo DiCaprio stocked with fresh healthy foods while he filmed “Killers of the Flower Moon.” In Minnesota we finally caught up to Bonnie, a road warrior whose bus provided her with escape and healing after a divorce. Carson shared the heartbreak of his family’s bus—a story about addiction and anger, recovery and, yeah, even trombones. Then, in the closing week of our 14-month journey, we met up with Miranda and James, the original owners of our bus, Adie. They even brought along Miranda’s dad, Ken, who worked on Adie a lot over the years. And finally—there’s us. Miracle and I sat down (after some urging from our interviewees over the past year) and shared our thoughts on this wild, wonderful time we’ve had producing this series and, as Geoff from season 3 would say, living the dream.
Jesse “VW” Marshall is back for a third episode. We chewed the fat and then Jesse boiled it down into and put it into his Vanagon. He has his own method for making biofuel and walks us through his process.
Some of you know I tried my hand (briefly) at freelance writing once we came off the road. In the turmoil of moving across the US and securing steady employment, I totally forgot to brag about my publication in American West—a very cool magazine I adore run by an editor with a keen eye for all things that-side-of-the-Big Muddy. At any rate, here’s a link to the article about rambling around New Mexico. (And my one gripe is that photos are credited to me, but they are, in fact, mostly Miracle’s work.)
Colin Kellogg of Itinerant Air-cooled fame has logged more miles on the road than most humans. When you live on the road full-time in your VW bus, you sometimes bed down in strange places and make friends (and enemies) out of your nighttime visitors. We knew when we sat down with Colin last year, we would end up making a detour that asked the question, “Colin, how do you sleep at night?”
VW people are by nature obsessive people. Maybe obsessive isn’t the right word. We are driven, passionate, and—well, obsessive, might be the right word. Oftentimes, we have interviews where our VW bus owner reveals they have another passion. Perhaps the best example of this is Birding By Bus. Marc and Eliana are professional birders who had so many stories to tell, we thought it was only right we bring them back for a detour episode that focuses on where their love for birding has taken them. And this detour might hold the record for our farthest fetched episode: they will take us all the way to Attu, the most remote island in the United States. How remote? Well, take a look:
We had outfitted the Beetle—Miracle’s ’74 Sunbug—for the Maine winter. Heater boxes and a new blower (and then a new new blower after the plastic one melted). I shored up the floors with sheet metal screws and plugged any gaps with foam. I even lined the boot with reflectix to keep the draft from leaking through the dash. I drove it from Ohio to Maine comfortably, without incident, in December, logging over 1,200 miles.
But the cruelty of the Maine winter is not the cold, nor the snow. Even the gale-force winds rampaging fresh off the whole of the Atlantic pale in comparison to the corrosiveness of their salt. Whatever sort of salt they use up here, it is chemically altered to eat through any amount of ice and, by the looks of it, pavement as well. Large clumps of salt bond together and can actually auger their path straight to hell. The heat from hell helps melt the snow and the combustion of small vehicles falling into said potholes keeps Satan’s fires roaring at road-melting temperatures. Maine: We partnered with the Devil to keep our roads clear.
Tim from Tok. Is there any other way we could cap off this season than with our Alaskan road savior? We were in sorry shape when we were towed into Tok. And we were complete strangers to Tim, yet he and his wife Maria were welcoming. They shared their time, expertise, food, and wisdom with us while Miracle recuperated from her long-standing injury and the bus was repaired. Before we got back on the road, Tim was gracious enough to share his memories of coming to Alaska and finding his split window bus. He weaves in his philosophy and also outlines the laws of the land here in the far north.
Zach Wallace has just about the coolest fleet of vehicles in all of Alaska—a squad of Vangons, including a Syncro. Luckily for those who travel north to Anchorage, he rents them out. Last Frontier Westys has been in business for only a couple years, but his love for VWs has been around for, well, generations.
You’ve probably heard of Birding By Bus—the personal endeavor by birders Marc and Eliana that turned into a world-traveling business. We had a chance to catch up with these two in Wasilla, Alaska, and hear all about the start of Birding by Bus and how it became an online sensation. And, if you’re anything like me (a real dunce when it comes to our avian friends), you’ll probably learn quite a bit.