Arrival Day: Meeting Our Cortez for the First Time

Right now I’m sprawled out in my cool AC-blasting living room, and here’s what I’m doing: I’m looking at our rare 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome’s keys . . . and the gas cap . . . because the keys are stuck inside the gas cap.

This about summarizes the arrival of our new home on wheels . . .

* * * * *

Yesterday at 6:30 in the morning, Andrew and I pulled up to my aunt and uncle’s farm, awaiting the delivery of our Clark Cortez.

Last week, we had scheduled this for the first available date, which we were told would be the 30th or 31st of this month.

“No problem,” we had said because we understood it was being shipped (due to faulty wheel-cylinder brakes) from California to Virginia.  However about five minutes after we hung up, a second call came in.

“Hello?” Andrew answered.  “Really?  Oh, wow! . . . Okay . . . okay . . . No, that sounds brilliant.  Thanks!  Look forward to talking to you soon.”  He sounded gleeful, enthusiastic and bounced into our living room, full of animation.  “Are you ready?” he asked me.  “Because you’re about to get really excited . . . ”

“Oh no,” I told him, rolling my eyes.  He has a habit of doing this for the most undesirable bits of news, such as the latest unseen location of a bump that I have to analyze on him.

“They are picking the Cortez up right now — They said they can take it early so they are getting it as we speak with the estimated delivery this Sunday!”
IMG_4543_20190719192151.jpgThat was Friday morning, which means we were essentially two days away from our Cortez.

I couldn’t believe it — We couldn’t believe it — so we danced in our apartment to celebrate. All aspects of this vehicle continue to fall into place in the most miraculous way.

“We are supposed to get a call from the driver the day before,” Andy told me and that call came exactly as planned but the delivery time had changed ever-so-slightly.

“I’m sorry,” the tow truck driver with an unusual accent apologized over the phone.  “But the earliest I can get there is the next day — Monday — at 2:00 a.m. and that’s too early to get anyone.  I can’t even get my guy to tow if I wanted.”  That last bit we didn’t understand but the overall message of an early 2:00 a.m. delivery we did — and yes, that was too early.  Plus, we could only imagine the haul across America in such a short time.

“No problem,” we said again and planned for the Cortez to be dropped off Monday at 7:00 a.m. at my aunt and uncle’s farm.  Here, they have so graciously said we could keep our motorhome until we repaired the brakes.  This also meant I needed to update them on the change in plans so in a text message, I asked my aunt where she would prefer the Cortez be parked.

“Are you sure that thing will run?” she wrote back.

The word ‘thing’ made me nervous — I didn’t think she adored Andrew’s and my new child as much as we did, but I answered her with “Oh yes!” and “We’ve been told it will run” and “We’ve seen a video of it running” so essentially, don’t worry about that!  Of course it will run . . .

“Call your uncle,” she responded because he had a particular parking place in mind.

“Park it between Chicken Houses Three and Four,” he told me.  “Park it right in the middle but don’t back up so far so I can’t open the gate.”

“Yes, sir!” I told him.  “Thank you so much again!  As your favorite niece, you are my favorite uncle!”

“Huh?!” he shouted, the wind picking up as he, no doubt, was outside at the farm.

“I SAID — ” I was yelling too in an effort to be heard ” — YOU ARE MY FAVORITE UNCLE!”

“No!” he hollered back.  “How do you know you’re my favorite niece?”  It was a valid question: I do have a sister after all.

“Well of course I am!” I responded.  “Just like you’re my favorite uncle!”  Let’s be honest — I only tell the truth, y’all.

“And how many uncles do you have?!” he asked.

“Only you — but if I had more, you would still be my favorite.”

He laughed then and it’s rather hard to get even a chuckle out of people who work on farms.  They are used to manual labor, callouses on their hands, sunburns turned to tans.  They are serious people because their work is serious — It is often their livelihood.

Therefore, when my aunt asked if the Cortez was running . . . and my uncle specified the place to park . . . I knew — yes, ma’am and yes, sir — rules needed to be followed.

So Andrew and I got there early and waited as the time slipped from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00, and I told Andrew, “This is it!  This is the moment we will learn if there really is a Clark Cortez or if this was all a fraud and we are down thousands of dollars.”  This was a huge fear for me.  I’ve never purchased anything off eBay, never-the-less an ancient near-extinct motorhome.

“This is it,” he agreed and we gave each other that look — one we’ve done ‘o so many times now — that said, ‘What the hell are we doing?!  I hope this works out!  We’ll have to figure it out as we go!’

That’s when we heard it — The sound of a monster semi . . . and then we see it — our Cortez loaded on the back of a flatbed and turning from the road into the farm!
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“Just pull it up between Chicken Houses Three and Four, please,” I shouted to the driver as he slow-rolled past me, the length of his haul seeming never-ending.
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Soon though, he was parked and ready, jumping from the driver’s seat to the ground and unhooking our beast.
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“So what is this?” he asked us.  He had to have been the same age or younger than both Andrew and me.

“It’s a Clark Cortez,” I told him.  He still looked dumbfounded.  “It’s one of the first front-wheel drive motorhomes in America,” I followed up, hoping that help.  It didn’t.  I think I could have told him it was a UFO and his expression would have been the same.

“It’s made by a fork-lift company,” Andrew said and here the guy smiled, excited.

“Right — That’s awesome.  I got so many people askin’ for pictures of this everywhere I went.”  It was here we learned about our solo-driver: He was born in Turkey but moved to Russia when he was nine then came to America fifteen years ago.  “Yeah, I live in Boston now so I left Massachusetts to get this then drove from California all the way to Virginia to meet you guys, and now I’m headed back up to Boston today.”  His life and story amazed me and so we talked about Russia and Turkey and all the sunsets and sunrises he has seen while working on the road.  Meanwhile, heavy chains fell and clanked under the Cortez while he worked to tug them off the flatbed.  “Oh man, it’s great — Something about classics, you know?  Not mass-produced.  You can fix it up yourself and get it exactly how you want it. It’s great.”
67386704_2471514966205064_9095021277130784768_n copyWe agreed, of course — That was the reason we fell in love with this Cortez, which by the way honestly brought tears to my eyes.  It was the first time in life I was at the exact place I wanted to be — the first time I felt dreams were being lived and that moment — it was perfect.

67114081_477701249708852_7939680924252241920_n copyOur Cortez was also perfect — perfect for what we wanted and all we hoped.  True, the relic had several large spots of rust, the exhaust was hanging by thin wires, the mud flaps had disintegrated, two window panes had large running cracks, and there were dints and dings in places.  But it was perfect and beautiful and better than either Andrew or I could have imagined.

“Would it be stupid of me to ask how he expects to get it down?” Andrew whispered as we climbed onto the flatbed to peer inside the motorhome.  Our tow-man told us to hop up, go inside, look so we did.
67488976_353482612015469_3596632680554299392_n-copy.jpgAs if on cue though, the driver shouted back to us: “Now I just have to wait for my buddy to come and help me unload it — He has another truck.  He knows to meet me here — He’ll be comin’ any time.”  I realized then that this clarified his first phone call.  His flatbed couldn’t move to the ground so this other tow truck would move our Cortez off.

True to his word, a second — and equally gargantuan — tractor trailer was rolling down my aunt and uncle’s rock-drive towards us.

“WOAH!  What is this?!” the driver of that tractor trailer also bounded from his vehicle, mouth-open, gawking at our Cortez.  It was odd experience for me — I’ve never owned a vehicle that garnered attention.  Once we told the man, his next questions were rapid fire: Are we restoring it?  Are we doing it ourselves?  What do we plan to do?

“They’re going to get it just like they want it,” our original driver said and sort of winked at us in the most endearing way — as if he were proud of our vehicle as much as we were.

“And?” I whispered as both drivers now darted around the Cortez and flatbeds, talking about how the battery had been disabled and how they need to use the emergency brake instead.  I was suddenly aware of the larger picture — While we were at Chicken Houses Three and Four, we were flawlessly perpendicular to the entrance of House Four, which meant we were not in the place we promised we would park.  “Should we ask them to move it exactly how my uncle wants it parked?”

“No, no.  We’ll be able to do that — Let’s just let them get it off and we can fire it up to move it ourselves,” Andy told me.

“Are you sure?” I asked him again.  Something was telling me our wisest decisions should be made beside these two towers.  “They can do it for us — That’s their job, you know.”

“Nonsense,” Andrew responded as the Cortez was pulled from one semi’s flatbed to another.  “Once we get the battery connected, it’ll fire up and we will move it.”

“Alright,” I said because he is a man and men know about vehicles, and I am a female who does not.  Surely, I could trust him.

“You sure you don’t need us to move it anywhere else?” they both called.  By now, the Cortez was off both trucks and resting on the ground.

“Yeah — No problem.  Just going to connect the battery and move it ourselves,” Andrew said in his nonchalant English accent as I became a whisperer of opposition in his ear.  But what did I know? I told myself.  Andrew’s has had many a’cars and done tons of work on them.  A little connection of a battery didn’t sound bad.

So the guys left.  And we were alone with our Cortez . . . that was parked blocking the entrance to a chicken house, which — by the way — was no longer filled with chickens but instead massive farming equipment that would definitely be needed any moment as the sun continued to rise.

“We need to move this and move this now,” I told Andy, worried about the time.  Farm men and women wake early, which meant my aunt and uncle would be down soon and there was no way I was about to get in trouble before we even had the vehicle for a full minute.

“Right,” Andy said and moved to the driver’s side seat where dipped to the passenger’s footwell.  There, he popped off the shag-carpeted panel protecting the battery.  Now there was a massive hole in the vehicle.  “Done,” he announced after maybe a minute max.  “Now, let’s fire it up!”

Keys in hand, he slipped them into the ignition and turned . . . and nothing happened.

“Right.”  He was now talking to himself and rifling through drawers and panels behind the driver’s seat — pulling manuals and other random items out.  He seemed to be checking a mental list of what our Cortez’s previous owner had told him.  “Randy said we may need to spray some of this — ” and here he produced a can of who-knows-what which he began spraying into another panel-missing hole that lead to who-knows-where.  Key in the ignition again, he turned and pumped the gas pedal before leaning into the hole and spraying some spray.

“What are you doing?!” I asked as a puff of white fumes — strong and petrol-scented — filled the air inside the cab.  My tone of voice made it evident that I thought he had lost his mind.

His tone, however, showed that he believed I had.  “I’m spraying starter fluid directly into the carburetor!”  Duh.  Of course I should have known that the shag-engine-cover in front of the gear knob housed the carburetor.  Duh.

Parts moved as he continued to work but the Cortez was making a God-awful noise — It sounded like a massive beast being slaughtered.

“What’s this?” Andrew asked me and pointed to one of the few knobs on the dash.

I didn’t know if he expected an answer.  “Um” was all that came out before he tossed me these two artifacts called Service and Technical Information Manual, which I assumed was the super retro owner’s manuals.
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_a93UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_a95“So what’s the knob do?” he asked again so I flipped . . . and flipped . . . and flipped through the book and didn’t see anything about any knobs.

“And, what am I searching for?” I questioned, which allowed him to point me in a direction.

“Dashboard,” he said . . . except there was no ‘dashboard’ so I proceeded to read him the entire owner’s manual Table of Contents.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_a96“Okay — Just stop, stop.  It says, ‘Number Four.'”

Thanks, that helped so much.  The first owner’s Manuel was down and I couldn’t find even the word ‘throttle’ so I turned to the second, finding a picture of our dashboard with corresponding numbers for the knobs.

“It says Number Four is the starter!” I told him, proud.  I had found my first answer.

“Then why does it say, ‘Throttle’?” he responded, no hesitation.  My moment of pride had been popped.  I had no idea why the daggon dash said ‘Throttle’ and I was beginning to feel a bit perturbed because I was pretty sure Andrew knew I didn’t know why too.

“That was a great question,” I told him and handed back the owner’s manual, pointing to where Number Four’s illustration and label.  “See?  Number Five says — ”

“Number Five?!  Bloody hell, L!  I said Number Four!”

I found myself laughing over this; Andrew, not so much.

“Right, I think it’s out of gas,” Andrew proclaimed and again I agreed because hell, in my limited experience with vehicles — A gasoline fill was at the top of my ‘How to Get Your Vehicle Started’ checklist.  Plus, we had confirmation in this poor hard-to-see gasoline gauge.
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So Andrew’s next most logical action: Pushing the 8,500 pound Cortez while it sat in neutral.

Listen, dear readers, I know — believe me, I know how absurd this sounds; you don’t have to tell me.  At this point in time, Andrew was a man not to be rifled with, and when he said “Let’s push it,” I was actually thinking: ‘Let’s’ stands for ‘let us’ and even in my damnedest give-all strength, I could not fathom how two people of essentially the same height and size would be able to push our 8,500 pound steel-machine.  But know what, Andrew?  Sure, let’s push it.

I started for the back of the vehicle only to be told — with a pointed finger (and quite polite manner, actually) — to steer.  “I’m going to push it,” he said and I decided to refrain from plural versus singular subjects.  “You need to steer,” he continued.  “Are you ready?”

“Yep,” I told him.

“No you’re not!  You aren’t even holding the wheel!”

Enter my thoughts again: One, I’m pretty sure Andy thinks he is going to be able to push this thing so fast that I actually need to concentrate on steering.  He is clearly delirious and has reached full insanity.  Two, Be nice.  Support him.  Maybe it can happen?  They say in moments of panic, people develop Herculean-Strength.  I looked to Andrew for confirmation but — no offense to my Brit — he seemed to be withering in the heat and therefore appeared the opposite of Hercules.

“You’re not even steering!”  He yelled next to me again, quite flabbergast with my actions, which was even more flabbergasting to me due to the fact that the Cortez had yet to even budge.  However, I was practicing patience and so I wrapped my fingers around the wheel of our mammoth-weighted motorhome, feeling quite absurd but wanting to show Andrew I was supportive.  Meanwhile, he began to shove his entire weight — every possible ounce of his existence — next to me in the driver’s side door frame.

He puffed and he moaned and he huffed as he forcefully shoved against the Cortez.  “Because this is what I want to do on a Monday morning in this heat!” he hollered while pushing on and on.  Then I heard, “Me shoe’s come off!” followed “Damn it!” which was also followed by “Nope” and that’s when he stopped.  Overall, the Cortez had taken a whopping and momentous five-feet roll.

I thought it was clear to see the verdict: My max-165 pound boyfriend versus our max-9,000 pound monster — even you, who was not there, can guess who won . . . but no, Andrew was not to be outdone.  He had something mighty to prove to our new Cortez!  He would be the man that would prevail!

“Let’s both push,” he said and here, once more, I helped.  By now, I won’t lie, it was more to prove that we had tried all of his ideas without success . . . which meant that all along I was right — The tow truck drivers should have been asked from the beginning to park the vehicle.  Of course, I wasn’t going to say this to him now, but the more I helped him with his numerous ways, the more I knew that he knew that.

Taking his position in the driver’s side door frame, he moved to the back of the Cortez and on the count of three we pushed . . . and pushed . . . and pushed . . . until I think both of us had coronaries . . . and our beast moved an incredible feat of (wait for it) maybe half a foot.

“Andrew?  This isn’t working.”  It was an important time: It was time for an intervention.  “We said it may be out of gasoline so I’m going to run to the gas station right down the road to buy a canister and fill it.”  I didn’t wait for his answer but did throw this over my shoulder: “You can stay here and keep working.”  I wasn’t sure what ‘working’ entailed but I figured he would find something meaningful to do — even if it was just sitting in his AC-running car because, let’s be honest, Andrew was a sweaty mess by now.  I could see through his shirt he was that sweaty.

“That battery needs a jump — I’ll be right back.  Just going to run up and get jumper cables from me car.”  This is what he was calling to me as I left.

“Hi,” I said to the older woman behind the counter.

“Hi, suga,” she told me.

“Do you have any gas canisters that I can buy to fill with gas.”  I don’t know why I felt the need to explain the purpose of a gas canister to the woman, except that after what I saw and heard Andrew do to our Cortez — I was eager for explicit directions before actions were taken.

“Sure, honey, follow me.  We gotta few here — ” but ‘here’ turned out to be ‘not-here’ as the woman frantically raced around the shop.  “We just had them in!” she shouted darting from the back of the station to the front again.  “Had tons too — but sorry, suga, looks like we don’t anymore.”

I’m not going to lie — The time was now around 8:00 a.m. and I was a bit panicked knowing we still hadn’t moved the vehicle from in front of the chicken house.  I dashed back to tell Andrew the bad news . . . and that’s when I found my uncle’s pick-up truck pulled up next to our Cortez.

Act calm, I told myself as I got out of the car.  We totally have this under control.  “Good morning!” I called to my uncle, hoping to carry a ray of sunshine towards him to defuse the situation.  “You got your hair cut!  It looks nice!” which it did but hey, a bit of flattery never hurt a situation.

And his greeting back?  “Got yourself a hippie mobile.”

Nice welcome and that’s where we were: Directly in front of my uncle’s chicken house with him now at the farm, watching Andrew and Andy rushed back and forth — from his Golf R to the Cortez.  By now, there was no coverin’ this beast and there was no secret to our horribly-planned parking job.

“Yeah, we did,” I told my uncle, realizing now was not the time to talk about how wonderful the Cortez looked.  “We think it needs a jump,” I tried to explain Andrew’s frantic movements with the jumper cables spreading the distance.  “That or it’s out of gas.”  Andy had stopped suddenly then — directly in front of the gas cap where he appeared to be fiddling with something for several minutes.

“Hope not,” my uncle said.  “He can’t even get the damn gas cap off.”  Confused, I walked towards Andy . . . and sure enough, he couldn’t get the gas cap off . . . but not off the vehicle — Oh no no.  He had taken the cap off of the Cortez’s side and now he couldn’t get the cap off of the key.

“What . . . ” I treaded lightly.  “Uh . . . ”  A new topic was needed: “They don’t have any gas canisters . . . ”  Then I hesitated again.  “And, what happened?”

“I can’t get the bloody — know what?  It’s knackered.  We’ll order a new one” and he threw the cap-and-key my way.
IMG_4556_20190722092157What I wanted to say was I think our Cortez wanted to be left alone but I knew that wouldn’t work so I stood by, watching as my uncle drove his big truck away and listening to him holler out the window, “Don’t ever buy a vehicle that ain’t runnin’!”

Andy missed that part — thank goodness because now was not the time.  What was the time though was jumping the Cortez: Our ancient one’s battery was hooked up to his Golf’s, ready.

We waited, bated breath, before turning the key in the ignition again, pumping the gas pedal again, spraying starter fluid again . . . and nothing.  Well, except for the god-awful sound of the starter motor spinning and grinding — it never turned over, it never turned on.

“Right.  I’m going to tow it,” Andrew announced his next plan-of-action, which detailed racing to the garage to bring back rope to wrap around the Golf’s tow hook and the Cortez’s tow hook to, finally, move the Cortez.

“Ready?” Andy yelled to me — He was in the driver’s seat of his car; I, the Cortez.

“Ready!” I called.

“Hand brake off?” he yelled back.

“Yes!” I said and the rope tightened as his Golf moved forward, slowly put surely tugging the Cortez.  In a matter of minutes, we had succeeded in moving it from directly in front of the chicken house to in the middle of the rocky road used to get into the farm.  And that’s when my aunt appeared, making me at the time slowly come to the realization that we were in as much trouble as possible due to the fact that no cover-up was done . . . we were in the middle of the drive . . . and my uncle already saw our motorhome unmoved in front of the chicken house.

“ANDY!” she yelled, putting her vehicle’s window down to yell out the window at him as she drove.  “ANDY!”

At the time, I was watching this event slowly unfold — me, still sitting in the Cortez and Andy with his back turned to my aunt, who was racing up.  “And!” I shouted to warn him, “she’s calling you!”  He needed to understand she was not a woman to ignore.  Urgency was key here.

“ANDY!” she hollered, getting out of the car now.

“Good morning!” I heard him say as I also got out too and walked in their direction.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

“Towing the vehicle — ” he started.

” — Because they left it in the front of the chicken house,” I finished up.  I didn’t think it was the right time to explain to her that they didn’t actually abandon it there but that one Brit instead chose to have it placed there.

“No no!” She hollered.  “WHAT ARE YOU DOING — Towing with your pip-squeak car?!  You’re on a farm!  We have tow trucks and lifts — any vehicle to tow it.  So what are you doing?!”

” . . . Towing it,” he said as if that wasn’t clear.

“I know that,” she huffed.  “But you’re going to mess up your car — We have vehicles here that will do this.  Don’t use your car.  You hear?  Do not use it.” That last sentence should have an end mark after each word because every one felt so final.

“Yes, ma’am,” I told her and jabbed Andrew’s ribs with my elbow.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said and here we told my aunt a brief synopsis of what had happened.

“Follow me,” she said.  “There’s a gas canister in the garage” and so we did as we’re told.

Let it be known here, as if my aunt weren’t already an angel letting us keep this Cortez on their land, she is also an angel for helping us.  “Here’s a canister, now fill it with gasoline.  And if you need help towing that thing, just tell your uncle.”

In the end, that’s exactly what we did.  We drove again to the gas station, filled the canister and returned, only to learn the hose that was supposed to be connected to the filler neck was actually not connected so Andrew was splashed with gasoline.  New approach at hand, I had to hold the hose straight while Andrew emptied the gasoline into the tank.

By now, Andrew — smelling of gasoline and sweat had to head to work but we still needed to move the Cortez, which meant time was not on our side.

“I’m going to call my uncle,” I said as I dialed his number.

“Yeah,” he answered.  I was half under the belief that he was not happy to talk to me; the other half, aware that he remains a man of few words like his father/my grandfather.

“Hi, there!  Are you still at the farm?”  I tried to sound happy; we needed some happiness after our hilarious one hell-of-a day.

“Yeah,” he said again, flat tone.

“Well, could I ask a favor?  We were havin’ a bit of trouble towing this Cortez to the exact spot it needed to be in and didn’t know if you could help tow us?”

There was silence on the phone.

“Aunt Beverley said you could.”  I thought this was important to follow-up.  Let’s face it: We all know the weight a married woman carries.

My uncle still didn’t respond.

“Where are ya?” I asked worried either our signal had dropped or — even worse — he was angry at us for admitting towing defeat.

“Down by the fence.”

Guys, they own an over forty-acre farm.  There are a lot of fences.

“Oh,” I said and tried my best guess at which one of the millions it was.  “The one by the pond?” I asked.

“No!” he said.  What a ludicrous idea I had!

“Okay, is it the one by the barns?”  I felt we were playing a guessing game . . . and also knew that he did not, in fact, want to play a guessing game.

“No!” he told me once more, his tone of absurdity growing.  I figured I was down to shouting “Marco!” at this point when he suddenly said, “I’m by the chicken houses.”

Of course.  The place we had been the whole time.  The place we had just left.

“Right, we are coming to find you,” I said.

“Bring the rope,” he told me before hanging up.

Off Andrew and I darted back down to the chicken houses and, I swear, if we did not walk the perimeter of every gosh darn fence in sight then I am never to be believed again.  Still, no uncle to be seen.

“Should I call him back?” I asked Andy just as the sound of a motor was heard heading our way.  Surely this was my uncle.  Surely he had come to save us with some powerful tractor or tow truck or pick-up.  Surely he had a . . . green golf cart.

Folks, I kid you not, my uncle arrived in a golf cart — and there’s a picture below to prove it.  I don’t think I said hi to him as he motored up to us and as I handed him the rope — or as he took the rope from my hands because I stood gawking at his mode of transportation.  I was honestly speechless.  I wanted to look at Andrew to see what he thought after Andy’s car had been called a ‘pip-squeak car’ but I knew if I saw And’s facial expression I would lose myself in a fit of laughter.

My uncle though did not find anything amusing and proceeded to ignore both Andrew’s and my mystified-selves.  He was like a well-oiled, quick machine — swooping one end of the rope through our Cortez’s back tow hook then putting the other end through his golf cart’s.

“Is it in neutral at least?” my uncle asked not so politely.

“Yes,” I said but in truth I wasn’t sure — I just didn’t want to disappoint him that we called for a tow and didn’t even have the sucker in neutral yet.

“Yes,” I heard Andrew follow-up right when I began to sweat in anxiety.  *Whew*

And so, with the slightest punch to the gas pedal, that little golf cart bulleted forward — not pausing one second — as it towed our daggon 8,500-pound monster, making it seem more an inflatable motorhome.  Within seconds — less than seconds really — our beast was towed easily and perfectly between Chicken Houses Three and Four.  Cue those angels singing.IMG_4555_20190722091943
“Thank you so so much!” I told my uncle, unable to hide my exhilaration at crossing the Cortez’s last day-hurdle and my sheer astonishment at the tow.  I was undoubtedly proven wrong and I am able to admit this, no problem.  That little golf cart — It’s mighty.  Hell, I wouldn’t even call it a ‘golf cart’ anymore — I’d call it a damn-near rugged beast.

“This is what you need,” he told me, pointing to Damn-Near Rugged Beast.  “This is what you need — this and a trailer!”  It was clear my enthusiasm was missed for the Cortez but I was so full of gratitude that I didn’t feel the need to discuss how I felt sure people would frown upon us racing down Route Sixty-Six — on the way to the west coast — with Damn-Near Rugged Beast towing a trailer.  All that mattered in that moment was that my uncle had saved us.

“Maybe,” I told him, aiming to be agreeable but he was already back inside Damn-Near Rugged Beast with foot pressed down on the gas.

“Don’t ever pay for a vehicle that won’t start!” he yelled our way before speeding off — just as suddenly as he had appeared.

“I have to go to work,” Andrew called behind me.

“No first inspection then — even a quick two-minute one?” I asked, near begging.

“No, L.  I have to go” and I understood this so I said my goodbyes to him.  Our Cortez was perfectly placed now; our time before he had work had been well-used up.

Five minutes later though, here he was still popping panels on the Cortez’s exterior, oohing and aahing at his findings.

“And?  I thought you said you were going?  Listen, if you’re going to stay to inspect the vehicle, I want to document it.”  My plan had the opposite effect on him though, and off he stormed, announcing he needed to go to work — as if I was the one making him open those panels in the first place.  “Hey Andy!” I called as his Golf rolled past on the rocky drive.

“Yea?” he yelled, window down.

“This is the start to our adventure!” I bellowed, loud as my voice would let me, throwing my arms open wide in front of the Cortez.  I wanted to hug the vehicle, to dance in front of it, to celebrate how inspiring this moment felt but Andrew had to leave and so I watched him go, chuckling and smiling a teeth-showing-smile as he pulled away.

When he left, I treated myself to a quick tour around and inside our sweet, rare motorhome.  Camera out, I breathed in its faint fifty-four-year-old musk and I ran my hands over its old and original seats.  Then I slid my hands up and down the wheel before imaging our road of dreams ahead!  Here we were and here we were going!
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This Cortez vehicle identification plate shows that our beast was the 683rd in production!

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By the time I was done analyzing its rust spots, its disintegrating mudflaps, its cracked windows, its fallen table, more — I knew all simply created our motorhome’s charm, its character.  So at 9:45 in the morning with temperatures reaching ninety-five degrees already, I got into my car and returned home.

Now I can tell you the story of our of first Cortez meeting, and I can also wrap up this story the same way it began: Right now I’m sprawled out in my cool AC-blasting living room, and here’s what I’m doing: I’m looking at our rare 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome’s keys . . . and the gas cap . . . because the keys are stuck inside the gas cap.

This is the start to our story.  This is the start to our adventure, the start of our life!  And damn — I feel a shivering chill-bump sensation gripping me right now.  For us, we are just getting started!

* * * * *

As you can guess, there’s a long haul ahead in our road to renovations but we are stubborn and optimistic and up for a challenge!  If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve posted a video on our Soul of a Seeker YouTube channel and we’d love it if you subscribed!  Also, you can also follow our Soul of a Seeker Instagram account and track our progress there through pictures.

7 thoughts

  1. Hey Bezzy ! I finally got round to reading this and as usual it had me in stitches !!! I wish I could have been there, a “Fly” on the Cortez to see Andrew’s reaction.. Ahh, so many memories ! lol Good Luck !! XX

    1. Thanks for reading, medad! Hope you will be able to be that fly on the wall (or the worker bee with us) very soon! Miss you xoxo

  2. Can’t wait to see you guys restore this! No missing this thing driving the back roads of Virginia. I’ll wave when I see you.. Enjoy your adventures to come!

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