All incoming seniors at the Chicago Waldorf School work for an entire year on a self-selected senior project. Projects range from orphans to the art of beer, and will be presented in March of 2014. Cole decided he wanted to make over a classic Volkswagen Bug and immerse himself in learning about the culture of cars.
First Challenge: Find a Bug: The first “perfect Beetle” Cole found lived in San Diego, California. Call me a negative mom, but I had to point out that transporting the Bug from San Diego to Chicago might be problematic and add to the price of the “very good deal.” After some teeth gnashing, Cole continue his search a little closer to home.
Second Challenge: Chicago doesn’t offer much of a classic Beetle selection, at least not in Cole’s price range. Chicago winters are a harsh environment for the classic Bugs, with snow and salt leading to unsightly structural rust.
Got it. Or at least I thought I did until Cole found his next perfect Beetle in St Paul, Mn. Before the words “salt” and “snow” were out of my mouth, Cole explained that the Bug had come from California where it had lived most of its 40 years. It was just recently transported to its new home in St. Paul, taking up residence in a little old lady’s heated garage. I couldn’t help but wonder if she has any re-homed Labs running around her yard (sorry, inside dog humor).
Third Challenge: Transporting the Bug back to Chicago: Cole forgot to read the per mile cost on the U-Haul vehicle he planned to rent to transport the Bug back to Chicago… Ouch! Those miles sure do add up. I smiled: Cole’s senior project was going to teach him a lot more than how to rebuild a car. Rebuilding another car might never happen again, but learning to read the small print was a valuable skill for someone who might apply for a credit card or mortgage someday. Cole worked the problem, and the dad of one of his car buddies agreed to trailer the Bug back to Chicago with him. The only caveat was the dad who owned the car trailer wanted Cole to check out the car with me, and have title in hand before he went with him to pick it up.
Road trip? It’s only 399 miles to St. Paul. We can make the trip in a day.
I now understand the $19.99 pitch. If Cole had said 400 miles, I might have balked; but 399 miles seemed doable. So the next morning we took off for St Paul, Mn. We were about 50 miles down the road when I realized that the trip was 400 miles one way—800 miles roundtrip! Good Lord. I had just committed to an 800 mile day trip. What was I thinking?!
As we drove through the Wisconsin Dells passing a go-kart track, Cole reminisced about a road trip from Florida he had taken with his dad. They came home by way of the Smoky Mountains and had passed through a town with a really cool go-kart track along the way; Cole didn’t ask his dad to stop because he didn’t want to make him stand around while he went around the track a few times. Uh? l smiled smugly at the heavens and thought loudly, Ha! I bet you wish you’d stopped at the go-kart track, now! And then I drove on and on… and on…
The good news is we made it to St. Paul, bought the Bug, and started back to Chicago with the title to the Bug and with the back of my van filled with greasy Bug parts.
Culvers—have you had their Butter Burger? Great fast food burger. We ate one for lunch going to St Paul and one for dinner coming home from St. Paul. Driving home, we broke the 400 miles into 100 mile increments, stopping, stretching, and buying a new snack each time. Cole was a great driving companion the entire ride home. We even talked about life after his senior year (college) and agreed to tell everyone the University of Madison was the first college he visited. After all, we waved with enthusiasm as we motored by the campus.
Seven hours later, we pulled into the garage. The next day, I ordered the “been there, done that” t-shirt.
Now for some exciting news: Cole started a “Senior Project Beetle Blog” with only a few mom tweaks. I may be a little biased but I love it! It’s a great way for him to journal his senior project experience, reach out for sponsors, and tap into the experience of those who knew the classic Beetle back in the day when superstore filling stations meant a cheap piece of jewelry and a box of pralines with every purchase. Click over and visit the Beetle Blog, it might bring back some fond memories. Or not.
Did you own a Bug? I had a Honey Bee Datsun—best car ever!
Odd Loves Company!