A needle in a haystack

When I was but a wee lad, my parents loaded my sister and me into the car for a road rally…of sorts.  My memory of the event is a little fuzzy and I have no idea how it compares to a more mainstream version but it was adventurous enough for me at that age to leave an impression.  The basic idea of the event was to complete a specific route in the fastest time while following all the standard rules of the road.  As a twist, the route in question could only be determined after decrypting messages found along the way.  The start of the rally was staggered, after all this was a race against the clock and a staggered start alleviated the need for numerous cars barreling down the road at once. Before starting off, teams received an initial message, cryptically informing everyone in the car where the next clue might be found.  These messages typically contained a riddle, question, or some other vague form of information and, if you were lucky, mileage information.  For example, you might get a clue which commanded “Turn right after exiting the parking lot and proceed 4.5 miles.  Your next clue is in a box behind the shop that never closes.”.  After driving said distance, everyone in the car would bail out and start hunting behind the ten shops that never close for a box, usually a coffee can, containing the next message.  If you were not lucky, your message might simply read “find the place of slumber for the famous man with white hair”.  These message tested your knowledge of the surrounding area, not only in present form but historical as well.  In New Jersey, George Washington is well-known for having bedded down in every nook and cranny (there are even signs marking each place!!) and the quest was now to find the one close-by.  After thirty minutes or so of searching, your team might discover, quite by accident mind you, that the clue did not refer to George Washington, but rather Rip Van Winkle and the next clue could be found in a red coffee can behind the dumpster next to the Sleepy Hollow Motel.  Happily you open the the new message to read “Go west young man and look for the cock-a-doodle-dooing cow”.  Sigh….

Last month, while in North Carolina, I had reason to conjure up memories of that one and only rally in my life when a member of a VW group posted a strange picture on Facebook.  This picture showed a VW bus, or at least the top 3/4, welded to the top of a school bus parked in a near-by NC town.  Not something you see everyday, I decided I would not mind going over and taking a gander myself and possibly finding out why someone would do such a thing.  After inquiring about the location, I received the following reply, “I don’t remember what the name of the road it is on…. there is a 7-11 on the corner. I think it is on the road where the municipal buildings are. I do know that a skate park is on the road.”

The poster seemed fairly sure about the skate park so, since I have little knowledge of the NC skate park scene, I turned to the internet for help.  Unfortunately, searches produced not a single skate park listed in the area.  The 7-11 came next, although I had my doubts as I am used to 7-11s everywhere. As luck would have it, I found only  three and began looking at satellite views to try and find a skate park near one or, at least, along the same road.  Satellites did little to shed light on possible skater hangouts but I did find the police station, firehouse, and town maintenance buildings on the same road as one 7-11.  Even though the government buildings were the weakest bit of information from the poster, I loaded the family into the car and off we went hoping that I found the correct road.  After an hour or so of driving, I found the 7-11, made a left,  and began to look for the governments buildings, skate park, and bus welded to bus creation – the needle for which I searched.  After 50 yards at most, it was not the skate park nor any government building that caught my eye but rather my needle.  I expected to drive for miles trying to piece the puzzle together and, while finding my quarry so quickly saved me time and possible frustration, the ease of the search was kind of a let down.  But no matter, it was time to take pictures!  Oddly enough, I since learned a member of another bus club is doing the exact same thing, only with a late model VW bus.  I still have no idea why…

From what I could see, there is no access hatch between the two buses but there was an awful lot of stuff in both!

I like the matching paint scheme

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