Skookum has been sold.
After a month of halfhearted efforts trying to sell the POS remotely - we were in Hawaii, Skookum was in Vancouver, B.C. at my brother's house - we finally decided that we were going to have to buckle down and use our free week between Hawaii and Nepal to focus on selling the van. Initially we had discussed just parking it in Vancouver and dealing with it when we got back, and spending the week in Oregon, skiing at Mt. Hood where Abby's brother Zak works as a lifty. A strongly worded email from my brother outlining the potential effects of a wet winter on poor little Skookum's already fragile state convinced us to get off our metaphorical asses and sell the damn thing. So we knocked off a couple thousand dollars from the posted craigslist price and really announced our intentions to the market. It worked. We got lots of interest from Vancouver all the way down to Portland, and we were hoping that someone would buy it before we arrived in Hood River. If not, we'd park it there and deal with it when we got back. We set up some meeting times and locations, and left Vancouver late Friday night, eager and optimistic that we'd be on foot and snowboarding by Sunday.
It was not to be. Bellingham was 0 for 2. Everett was a swing and a miss. The Northgate Mall was tepid, at best. Ballard was a bit warmer. By the time we arrived in downtown Seattle, it had been a long day of test drives, and we were starting to settle in for the long haul. Perhaps this was going to take longer than hoped. And then we met Alan and his girlfirend Sue. They were excited. Really excited. And eager. They took it for a cruise around downtown and loved it immediately. I went over the problems in thorough detail, waiting for the inevitable sag in demeanour, first noticeable in the eyes and moving rapidly down to the edges of the mouth. I'd been gauging it all day, and discovered that it usually took about a minute and a half for the upside down frown to right itself. But not this time. They were still really excited. They owned a van already, a '63, so were undeterred by the Saga of Skookum. After a brief discussion, the deal was sealed. They'd take it! We'd take the van to Hood River for the weekend, they'd get their money together, and then we'd fly off into the sunset, literally. We shook on it, and agreed to meet up in three days.
Our smiles were irrepressible as we rumbled our way south. We stopped in SeaTac to grab some food and a few odds and ends for the next couple of days. It was late and we weren't going to make it to Portland, but we wanted to get about halfway before spending a final night camped out in Skookum, saying goodbye. After dinner, we hopped back into the van, and headed back to the highway. I immediately noticed that something was not right. I couldn't find the low gears, and as soon as I let go of the shifter, it flopped over awkwardly to it's side, limp and sad looking. We couldn't believe it.
We limped into the next parking lot, which turned out to be that of Total Liquor. How convenient. We drowned our sorrows as we rued our luck. Truly, Skookum was getting the last laugh. On the plus side, we were getting our wish of spending the night camping out. The next morning dawned frigid and deserted. It was Sunday. No garages in the world are open on Sunday. Instead of getting the van fixed, we had a mall day. We took care of some last minute errands, we saw two movies for the price of one, and we had a fancy dinner at the food court. It was memorable. A second night at Total Liquor followed (still convenient), and Monday was spent at the garage, repairing a broken bushing on the shifter assembly. By the time Skookum was back in action (for less than $200, I might add), it was 5 pm on Monday afternoon and we were exhausted from our inactivity. We were scheduled to meet Alan and Sue the next morning in Seattle, so our weekend of snowboarding at Mt. Hood had turned into a weekend in the mall parking lot, 20 km from our starting point.
The meet on Tuesday went well. We were very upfront about all the problems we'd had with the POS, and made it very clear what they were getting themselves into. Alan and Sue were still very excited, even when we told them about our weekend. We exchanged keys for money, and as they drove away, our hearts were in our mouths. We were waiting for a clunk, or a crash, and half expected the whole van to coast to a stop, sigh slowly and collapse into a heap in front of us. But no, they just...drove away. It was glorious. They drove off happy as larks, and we flew off into the sunset. How much more poetic can a vehicle transaction be?
We're still a little apprehensive about the deal. We want them to like it and have a positive experience. We don't want them to have the problems that we had. Overall, we loved our big POS, even if it was of the unrequited variety. We have no regrets over the way our foray into the world of VW van ownership turned out, but I think next time we'll be buying a Toyota.