Last Updated on July 23, 2020

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Soon, your Drifters will be hitting the road again for quite some time. Staying forever true to our style, we cannot say exactly where we will head to first or even how. One strong possibility at this moment centers around my 1999 Volkswagen Eurovan and whether or not it will make it to the Baja States of Mexico. If I decide it is road-ready when we do decide to travel again, Fiona and I will drift cross-country, taking a bit of a lazy route to the San Diego/Tijuana border.

As mentioned, this Volkswagen van is from the year 1999, which means it is not even of this millennium! I do not think Prince had this van in mind when he recorded that seminal album, but the irony is sweet. So what would possess us to undertake such a daring attempt? Well, I have had this van for 14 years and, for all the foibles that any 18-year-old vehicle will present with from time to time, I have confidence in it. Beside, I have done a lot of work myself on this vehicle, so I guess I have some confidence in my ability to keep it rolling as well. By myself over the years I have replaced the starter, the tension pulley and the belt, the mass airflow sensor, the spark plugs, the oil and fuel filters and worn out hoses. I proudly figured out the reason why my cooling fan was not working, and had enough sanity left over to do the repair myself.

Side view of a burgundy Volkswagen Eurovan.

There may be another thing going for the Volkswagen van since we are on the topic of an extended road-trip; it has low mileage for a 1999 vehicle. Going against my fear of sounding like a used car salesman, I will proudly state that this Volkswagen Eurovan has been driven only 8,700 miles per year! Add it up over 18 years and you come up with a figure just north of 155,500 miles, but there it is!

The Details

This is a basic model Volkswagen Eurovan that is kitted out with a bench seat that extends into a bed as well as a nifty little table that pops up. What it lacks in achieving full camper van status  – pop top, burner, sink, toilet –  it easily makes up for with ample room to provide us a solid, comfortable sleeping arrangement. The interior is clean, and we have slept out in it before.

The cruise control seems to have packed in quite a while ago, although I cannot say when. My air conditioning system blows ambient air through the vents, making it unbearable in the Summer months unless you roll down the windows, which seems to suit us just fine. Some clear-coat is peeling off from the roof and from the hood, and a bit of rust pops up in a few spots like a gin blossom on the nose of an old drunk.

Grey interior of a burgundy Volkswagen Eurovan.

Grey interior of a burgundy Volkswagen Eurovan with a sleeping bag spread out.

In the brutal and punishing Maine Winter, I lose the digital display stored on my tripometer whenever I start the engine; the numbers reset back to zero – no big deal. The numbers on the odometer, however, remain a true testament to the Eurovan’s low, low mileage! Those Maine Winters and the insults it hurls are responsible for those gin blossoms, too; road salt does some serious damage to the metal. On extremely cold days I know not to open the sliding side door, for it will not latch shut the way it was designed to; something to do with temperatures that are cold enough to warp and shrink metal. Past experience tells me Mexico will never burden the Volkswagen with these offenses.

Front hood of a burgundy Volkswagen Eurovan.

When my Volkswagen has sat too long – in any season – the front passenger-side tire lets a bit of air escape to the point where it looks nearly flat, so I keep a sweet little air pump handy that I can plug into the cigarette lighter. Once I fill the tire up I can drive on it until it has once again sat for a bit too long, say a week or so. A true mechanic will no doubt find a bunch of things that are wrong with Little Elvis II (The name of my van!), but I remain proud as punch that I can keep LE II on the road.

The Promise

Taking this van into the Baja states of Mexico will see us fulfill a promise we made in 2013 to return to this part of the planet with our own set of wheels. In that year we hitchhiked the length of the Baja Peninsula and certainly wished we had the freedom to see more by taking whatever road we fancied, for this is a stunning corner of the world.

Orange kayak in a garage.

While there in 2013 we were lucky enough to have made a friend who let us borrow his tandem kayak and decided we must return one day with wheels and a kayak. The used kayak we recently bought just for this occasion fits quite nicely on the roof of the van, so why put it off any longer?

Pros and Cons

Fiona and I have discussed travelling with a vehicle before, and indeed we drove this van from Seattle to Portland, Maine, giving this Volkswagen van one cross-country trip under the belt already. This trip will be full of other considerations quite different from our last epic journey, for there will be a need to get rid of the van after our visit into Mexico. It can be sold to someone who sees the potential in LE II, or sold for the scrap potential.

Pros:

  • Transportation and shelter are rolled into one – and roll as one!
  • Road-trip!
  •  We can see so much more.

Cons:

  • Administrative/legal bullshit if there is a wreck or theft.
  • Possible repairs.

Riding Off Into the Sunset

do know this van, and I have muddled through a bunch of things with it that would have caused more rational people to get rid of the friggin’ thing a long time ago!  Also, I should point out that should we choose to drive LE II down to the Baja, then this will be one hell of a send off!

Whatever way I choose to get rid of my van, I think about letting this Volkswagen go out in style, living out its final days in the manner in which it was designed. My opinion is that the van is worthy – in a mechanical sense, and the adventure potential alone is enough to make me check my passenger-side tire for air and hit the road right now as I type these lines!

Burgundy Volkswagen van with an orange kayak on top of it and a bay in the background.

Travelling long-term has certainly instilled in me the wonderful realization that some of these crazy fantasies we carry around in our daydreams deserve a long, second look. Drawing up a list of pros and cons for these crazy dreams may or may not help in the end; maybe they do no justice to your dreams whatsoever, setting you up instead for a fatal bout of analysis paralysis. Perhaps just being aware of something you have always wanted to do is enough to do something about it.


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maroon van with stone ruins in the background.

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46 Comments

  1. Hi Fiona and Jerry,

    Poor old Elvis II – the VWs really do their best to battle on.
    By the way, I’m watching another episode of Rick Stein in Mexico – he’s in Guadalajara, which looks very nice indeed.

    Safe travels,
    D and Susie ?

    • D and Susie,
      Guadalajara is on the list once we make it to mainland Mexico – minus Little Elvis II. There are some foods that Guadalahara is known for that we are hoping to taste IN Guadalajara, such as Birria stew. In 2013 we fell hard for Birria, which you can get throughout Mexico. A pilgrimage is in order to track down the best bowl in Guadalajara. We have already found the best Birria stew in Mexico City.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

      • Hi,

        Stein has a Birria goat stew at a street market in Guadalajara.
        I just discovered the blog on his website – you might find it interesting. It covers each episode and there’s information on what and where he eats.
        He’s moved on to Mexico City now and raves about a little place called Cocina Economica Laurita in the Azcapotzalco market. He eats stewed chicken enchiladas with salsa verde….

        • D,
          I would love to read about his take on birria stew; it is a favorite of ours.
          We have not been to the Azcapotzalco market…yet. We thank you and Rick for the tip. Similar markets in Mexico City are jammed with little lunch counters, so you have given us a project on our next trip there.
          Fancy joining us for some grub? We can show you the best birria in Mexico City. Did you know Mexico City has over 150 museums? Just sayin’.
          Your Drifters,
          Jerry and Fiona

  2. Jerry and Fiona, what a great and informative read! I never knew the Smokies were so Disneyfied or that Graceland was more than just a house. Your adventures are fun and inspiring. Can’t wait to read more. Best of Luck! Dave C from PWM

    • Dave,
      That makes us feel good to know you are finding fun and adventure in our posts. Thanks for reading, following and commenting! Fiona and I hope you are doing well. Please say hello to everyone at PWM for us.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  3. Fi and Jerry,

    The Spanish moss is eerily attractive.
    Was almost expecting a nativity scene at Elvis birthplace ?

    Stay safe,
    D and Susie ?

    • D and Susie,
      Yes, that Spanish moss is quite atmospheric! Having that shotgun shack to ourselves in Tupelo was quite spooky as well – in a good way! We both thank you so much for following and for commenting. Stay tuned!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  4. Fi and Jerry,
    Good to see Graceland again after all these years. The interiors are as minimalist as I remember ?

    Stay safe,
    D and Susie ?

    • D and Susie,
      I hear it used to cost $8.50 to see his house. It is now considerably more, but it is worth it and it is good to know we contributed to the Presley Trust Fund!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  5. Alec and Becca

    We’re really enjoying reading about all your adventures! We hope you are having the best time. Looking forward to reading more and seeing more pictures! Travel safe!

    P.S. Thanks again for the washer and dryer! They are treating us well 🙂

    • Alec and Becca,
      Thanks so much for your support! We hope you continue to read our posts and share them as well. Alec, please tell everyone at PWM I said hello. The washer and dryer could not have found a better home. Say hello to Archie for us and please keep clicking on to our blog!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  6. Hey Fiona, all the best for today and lots of stunning views on Your trip South!

    Martin

    • Hi Martin,
      Thanks a million for the birthday wishes! It is so good to see some views from Germany! We are currently in New Mexico and we have been here for 2 weeks, enjoying great views and wonderful hot springs. We are also enjoying the wonderful tastes of red and green chile, which New mexico is famous for.
      Lovely to hear from you and thanks again!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  7. Kerry & Sean

    Jerry and Fiona,
    It was great getting to meet you while traveling on the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado!

    Sean and I will keep up with your travels, and wish you well. Maybe we will meet up again in your journey. Travel safely.

    • Kerry and Sean.
      Meeting other people from Pennsylvania is always good. It makes you wonder how small this world really is. Even so, you both feel the need to see as much of it as possible. Keep traveling; we may cross paths again. We hope you make it to Ireland soon.
      We both thank you for looking into our blog, and please keep following us!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  8. Donna J Scott

    Amazing photos; I felt like I was there. Looking forward to seeing more posts and photos.
    I posted this site on Facebook. Continue being safe.

    • We thank you for posting this on Facebook and for knowing we are so happy doing what seems natural to us at this point. Your support over the years has meant so much to us both!
      Please continue reading about our adventures and please keep posting on Facebook!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  9. Just saw you in Cayon City, CO. Great to read of your travels. We have been crossing paths and passing thru same places since Monday this week.

    My trip goes north. Enjoy where ever you travels now take you.

    • Ransy,
      We met someone with a VW in Canyon City. Is this you? We met a guy named Mark who parked his VW bus next to ours and we chatted. If this is not you, please give us some more info and perhaps we can swap travel stories. Where are you heading? We are on our way to Baja Mexico.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  10. I gave your card to the woman who said “I could never do that!”. She is the same person who I introduced to sudoku “x” number of years ago. I wonder what our next conversation will be. Press on. DAD

    • We certainly hope that will inspire her, in some way. Let us know if she decides to do it one day; we have a bunch of pointers to share with her.
      Thanks for your support, Dad. And thanks again for handing out our cards!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  11. Your first post really struck a chord with me. About 25 years ago, Vic & I took a summer off and toured the south & southwest. It seems that up to this point you have traveled the exact same route. We visited everyone of the places you mention. Past memories along with the account of your trip resulted in an exhilarating read. Thank for the memories.

    Your old appt is now up for rent. Len had carpenters work on front & back steps plus things inside. They were there at least a week. Keeping my fingers crossed that he is selective in new tenants.

    Happy Wheels. Bill & lily

    • Bill,
      Fiona and I are very happy to hear that you enjoyed this post and that it brought back some memories of your trip with Vicki. I did not mention the bar-b-q we gorged on while in Memphis, or the Cajun food in Louisiana, which will be in another post. Also we will keep you posted on the green chile once we hit New Mexico. Knowing you, I bet you happily ate your way through that cross-country trip. Keep reading, and thanks for the up-date on 195.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  12. Julie Alexander

    Looks like y’all are having a great time! Thanks for sharing your adventures! I really enjoyed reading this! Miss you ?

    • Julie,
      Fiona and I both thank you for getting into our adventure. We are currently in Texas, and we even contemplated a visit to Austin, which would have rounded out the Nashville music scene quite well. It is good to know we have a friend like you in Austin should we ever make it there. Take care, y’all!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  13. Be safe and enjoy every second. We love you both!

    • Jody,
      We both promise to be safe; already we have felt the kindness that awaits travelers on the road…just on the first day! It is a wonderful community out here. Your Mom and Jim were so sweet to us, showing us the wonderful community we have back home as well. Give our love to Kim and Nicholas.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  14. Wishing you a safe and glorious adventure…. I will truly enjoy it vicariously.
    Another Donna ( sister of Janet )

    • Donna,
      Janet and Tom really inspired us to visit Graceland, and she could not have been more right with her take on it. She seemed to enjoy her visit, and so did we. Thank you so much for following us; we hope to keep you updated (and entertained) with our travels.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  15. Couple of Drifters,
    Enjoying your pictures with great enthusiasm. You two Drifters have prolific writing skills.
    Looking forward to more posts. Please enjoy this amazing adventure and most importantly be safe.

    • We promise to be safe; we are both old buzzards at this game by now, as you know. Keep tuning in, and please keep spreading that facebook love that boosts us! The Drifters owe so much to you.
      With the utmost love,
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  16. Debbie Cratsley (jan's sister-in-law)

    what an awesome adventure! Can’t wait for more to come 🙂

    • Debbie,
      There will be more to come, we promise! Please keep following us as we continue to be inspired by the wonderful world that is out there waiting to be explored.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  17. Hey Jerry –

    I wonder if I remember Little Elvis I? In my mind it was the year 2000 and the van was white, it took us across the Cascades between Packwood and Seattle. We had only just met, but you were good enough to pick me up on the recommendation of another of your friends (Eilidh!). We agreed that Ozzy had something of a voice and that seemed to settle our getting on… (I also remember another journey in Fiona’s Skittle where you pointed out that I had just claimed yoghurt was sentient, but I cant for the life of me remember why)

    I hope Little Elvis II makes it across the border. It couldn’t be taking two friendlier, kinder and finer people on the adventure of a lifetime. I’ll be thinking of you often and wishing you the best of luck and enjoyment, Love to you both from England!

    • Allan,
      I remember everything you have mentioned, even telling you about an old episode of “In search of…” that backed your claim that live cultures experienced emotions! How can i forget meeting you?!
      Thank you so much for your support, and for being such a good friend, even though time and miles have seperated us. It means quite a bit knowing you still remember meeting in Washington state. That white van was Little Elvis.
      Wish Eilidh a belated birthday and give James a big hug from myself and Fiona. Again, I do thank you for your wonderful comment. Take care, Allan!
      Your Drifters, and your friends,
      Jerry and Fiona

  18. I just spoke to my VW mechanic and he agrees with me that you should email”” VW of America”” and see if they would sponsor LEII. You know your Elvis inside and out and maybe it could be a fun PR for VW using a 1999 on the road. They could be part of the blog and show that you can count on VW and their longevity of their vehicle. Nostalgia! You know. I mean Fiona you can sell ice cream to the Eskimos..It is worth the try, only a few words on a computer.
    I will follow you and miss you at the same time! TAKE CARE!

    • Ginette,
      That is not a bad idea… Sadly, I think VW would gasp in horror if they saw how much my van has aged in appearance! As you say, the fact that a 1999 Eurovan is still strong enough (we hope!) to make one last epic journey is the stuff of legends, and Volkswagen should be proud of Little Elvis II – because I am. If Volkswagen is interested, they know how and where to find me!
      Thank you so very much for your sweet comment, and letting your mechanic in on our adventure! Fiona and I wish you all the best; we both will certainly miss the community that exists at PWM. We consider ourselves very lucky to have spent 3 years there alongside some truly wonderful people.
      Take care, Ginette
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  19. Jennifer McConnell

    Jer Bear,
    When we spoke today, and I asked you how the van was doing I had no idea there was an homage post about it here on the blog! So nice to read, and I hope for the best for the trip!

    • Jen,
      I really do have confidence in this van, and we cannot think of a better way to let Little Elvis II belt out a swan song. I hope to feature a few more posts about our road trip, so please keep following our blog. Thanks so much for wishing us well on this epic road trip, and beyond!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  20. Kristen Bergeron

    We have been gone from Portland ME for 5 years now (!) but when I see a van like yours on the streets here I still think, oh, Jerry! Have even waved at a couple of folks before I catch myself and realize where I am. Happy trails however they happen. Miss you both so much!
    Kristen

    • Kristen,
      It is so good to hear from you, and so good to know you associate me with any Volkswagen van you see! As I am learning, you are not the only one to do so; refer to the humbling comment from Bill on this post. I can once recall driving down Congress Street here in Portland, Maine on a fine Winter day. I spot a shock of red hair and know it is Marley, and she spots a burgundy Volkswagen van and knows it is me. We both wave and smile and then go about our day, feeling as if we both belong in this little corner of the world somehow, and totally digging the fact we are KNOWN here as well. We both felt a wonderful sense of community in that fleeting moment. What a great thing!
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  21. What better way to give the van perhaps its last hurrah by taking it across the country and into a different one with its faithful people aboard! Besides, if there are any two people that know how to navigate the world without a vehicle it is you two and in the meantime you can enjoy a decent night’s sleep. My hat is off to you on your travels!

    • Barbara,
      This van will certainly sign-off in a blaze of glory! It is so nice to read your comment and know we have your support. The vehicle has been a good one, even though there have been some repairs done on it here and there. What is so sweet about this whole story is that we are now, more than ever, seeing the full potential in this old van and it is time to give our full potential, as well. Again, thank you so very much for following along with us.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  22. I have spent many years sitting on my porch watching the VW drive up the street, slow down a little, & then back into a driveway as if nobody was looking where they were going. To this day I ask myself. How the hell does he do it? I will miss the VW and the backing up and most importantly the Drifters. Bill

    • Bill,
      We are so touched by this comment, and we cannot thank you enough. For as much as we are looking forward to this adventure, we will be very sad as we drive away, for Portland is an amazing place to be and you are a fantastic neighbor. Each time we head out for our walk we look to see if you are on the porch or outside with Lilly. Please keep us up to date with news from the neighborhood while we are gone. Bill, you will be missed as well.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

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