A lot of people ask us why we named our VW Westfalia, "Dave". This post will answer that.
Tor's best friend from childhood was a guy named Dave. He was an artist, thinker and explorer who reveled in simple joys—campfires, deep discussions, tracking satellites through the stars.
In 2010, at the age of 37, Dave passed away in New York. Losing him was an unimaginable blow. But over time, the sum of Dave—all the originality and wonder he embodied—became greater than our loss. It instilled in us a desire to see the world, retain a sense of awe and greet each day with gratitude. We now dive into our own adventures with extra zeal because: he goes with us.
DAVE & FRIENDS
Do you have any great photos of Dave? Send us some to add to the gallery.
Perhaps the best way to get to know Dave is by traveling with him. In 2001, he hitchhiked across America (one of his many adventures) and below, are excerpts from his emails home during that journey—stories that tethered his adventurous spirit to those who loved him best ...
My first official day of hitchhiking! I stood on the entrance of I-5 South, holding a sign I had made with a handy-dandy piece of cardboard and a magic marker—just the word "CALIFORNIA" written in big, bold, blue letters. After about 15 minutes, I decided that spot sucked and moved to a better one up the road. After about 10 minutes there, I heard a shout from behind asking if I needed a lift. This was it! My first official hitch!
I was SO excited. I ran across the road and introduced myself. They were a young couple—Alfred and Marika—who had recently moved up from Dallas, Texas and who had come to Portland for a show. They were heading back and could take me as far as Eugene, which is where they lived. They cleared a spot for me in the back, so I threw my bag in and sat on the floor with a huge, kid-like smile.
After being dropped off in Eugene I ended up walking to the other end of town to connect with Highway 101. About an hour later, a car pulled up. A couple of girls—a cute girl named Kristin and her friend, Oohna—told me they were going that way. They were from Eugene and headed to the coast. They dropped me off in a small town called Bandon.
I ended up walking to the other end of town to wait for a ride and by the time I got there it was 7:30 PM and starting to get dark. A couple of hours passed and then, a car pulled up in a cloud of smoke. A guy jumped out and told me to get in—and when I did, I was immediately enveloped in a thick haze. The guy said that his wife, who was laying in the back seat smoking a cigarette, was three months pregnant and still had morning sickness. Her name was Jack (short for Jackie) and he introduced himself as: Nose.
"They cleared a spot for me in the back, so I threw my bag in and sat on the floor with a huge, kid-like smile."
Nose was a maniac driver, hugging the wheel, taking very sharp, erratic turns and getting really close to other cars before passing (and we were going through some very windy roads at 70 miles an hour). The visibility was limited due to heavy fog patches and it being night, and all. I kept a tight grip on the straps of my seatbelt and tried to stay calm. The windows were fogging up, Nose was chain smoking like a fiend, Mama had passed out in the back seat, and when I looked over and noticed his head bobbing, I asked if I could help drive. He tells me he "hasn’t had any sleep in the last couple of days and needed to get to Eureka to pick up some dope". Great.
So, I took over the wheel and immediately felt safer, while Nose and his wife snoozed away. Nose woke up long enough to light another cigarette before either falling back to sleep with it in his mouth or dropping it between his legs.
This gets better.
When we stopped for gas, he got out to wash the windshield and I noticed his tattoos—a swastika flag on a bed of skulls. When I asked about the tats he told me he was a high counsel member of the Aryan organization until he had to serve a year in solitary confinement. And so, for the rest of the trip, I played with my hat, trying to see if I could fit my whole, very non-Aryan body inside the rim. His wife asked if I wanted to stay with them at their house and I replied, “Thanks, but I’ve been really wanting to camp out tonight in front of a fire. Do you know of any cheap campgrounds coming up?"
So, they dropped me off at a place called Clam Beach, about 45 minutes from the town of Eureka.
"It's pretty, fantastic this beach—you see seals surfing, huge waves crashing down, seagulls flying by ..."
... After about a week in San Fran, Corey and I both went down the Highway One coast looking for a campsite. The campgrounds were all full so we continued further south until we found a spot to camp—near a lighthouse between Palo Alto and San Jose. Once we set up, we took firewood, our beers and headed for the beach on the great Pacific Ocean ...
In the morning we got up, packed the tent and shared our last cigarette before Corey went back to San Fran. Soon, I was standing back on the side of the road, thumbing a ride south. I stood on Highway One for a while—about and hour and a half or so—until a car pulled over and I hopped in. Gian (pronounced "John") was the driver's name and while he'd been living in this country for a long time, he'd never lost his thick Italian accent. He had hitched when he was younger but didn't have the best luck. I think he had told me that it took him 20 or so different rides before he got to from his starting point to the next town!
Anyways, he was heading down to his home in Monterey and said one of his renters had just moved out and if I wanted, I could stay there over night. I thought about it a little and figured—why not? I've never been to the town, it's free room and board and he didn't seem like a freaky guy with ulterior motives, so I took him up on the offer. Gian gave me a quick tour of the town then dropped me off on the main street of Monterey so I could look around on my own. He gave me his cell phone number and said when I was done to just call and he would come pick me up.
"The truck wasn't the newest but it was going my way, so I hopped in."
The next morning, I met one of Gian's roommates—Jim, who had apparently seen me on the freeway earlier, being warned by a local cop not to stand on the freeway but up by the entrance. Jim and I talked for a bit; then he gave me a bag of cookies that his mom had baked along with a bag of dried fruit and told me to be careful on the road.
Gian took me to the next town, Carmel where I got picked up by a painter and his dog, Nu-Nu. They took me about ten miles up the road to a beach that had once been the favorite haunt of photographer, Edward Weston! I sat on one of the rocks there and watched the tide come in as I ate lunch. It was a beautiful place and I could see why Mr. Weston had favored it. The beach was spectacular! Wow, I thought. I am actually sitting on a rock that Edward Weston, himself once sat on. Too cool! It's pretty fantastic, this beach—you see seals surfing, huge waves crashing down, seagulls flying by, and the smell of the sea air was pretty ... uh, pungent actually, but everything else was just great!
I started talking to Andreas, this guy from Austria who was also taking the scenic route down the California coast before having to catch his flight back from San Francisco. I asked if he wouldn't mind snapping off a picture of me with my camera and he didn't mind at all. He offered to take me south a bit further since he was planning on going that way anyway. We stopped every so often and got out of the car to snap off more scenic pics. We kept driving until we came to spot where all the cars were stopped on the road. A helicopter had landed on the middle of the highway to place a net along the rocks so they wouldn't come crashing down on the cars driving by! This was also the spot where Andreas had to turn around and head back up to San Fran to catch his flight and therefore, was where I ended up being stranded until the next car pulled up. And it did. Inside were two girls from Switzerland—Tina and Sinem, who were coming from the Burning Man festival and wanted to check out the coast. Great gals. They took me further south where Highway One and Highway 101 meet. They said that they saw me hitching from a town earlier and wanted to pick me up but I was in a spot where they couldn't pull over.
Since departing from San Fran I've been getting these really short rides to the next town 4 miles down, 7 miles down and so forth. It took 4 rides to get from Seattle to San Francisco and from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it took about ten or so rides. I think it would have been much faster to take I-5, but it wouldn't have been as scenic and it's SO worth it to drive down Highway One!
Along these short trips down the coast, I was dropped off near a truck stop and this was a great chance to try and flag down a big rig driver. After about and hour or so, one pulled over. My first truck ride! It was a white, medium sized truck carrying two cargo loads heading past Los Angeles. The truck wasn't the newest but it was going my way, so I hopped in. The guy was middle-aged and hippyish-looking with long, thinning hair. He told me stories of his hitchhiking days and the differences between the 1970's and present times. The conversation flowed easily as we drove along the bumpy road and after about 4 or 5 hours, he dropped me off at an exit near my friend Molly's house in Los Angeles. I arrived at about 1 AM, pretty exhausted. I rang the door bell and hoped it was the right place. The door opened and Justin, one of Molly's roommates asked if I was Dave; I said yes, I was and he let me in. Before going to bed, I sat on the porch, rolled a cigarette and sipped on a beer ...
"It's pretty unbelievable how easy and fast hitchhiking has been thus far ... the people that have picked me up have been extremely nice."
I awoke to Molly's roommates, Justin and Sara turning on the television to show the bombing in New York City. Waking up from a dead sleep to see this seemed unreal. You normally see this sort of thing happening in other countries but to see it happening in your own country feels surreal, fictional. It took me a few minutes to really register what was happening. We all sat, watching in shock and disbelief when Molly walked in and joined us in front of the TV. As I was watching, I was hoping that my friends in New York weren't one of the many casualties of this catastrophe ...
I spent a couple of days in Los Angeles hanging out with Molly, getting to know her better and having a really great time sitting on the beaches and talking, going to bars and meeting new people. At one of the bars I ran into a couple of classmates, Aria and Ben from my art school back in Minneapolis! It made America seem like a small country.
I left Molly and Aria in Los Angeles and headed towards Los Vegas to meet friends from Seattle. I got a ride from a second truck driver named Wayne, who was on his way to drop off cargo at a mall in Las Vegas. We talked the whole time about the truck driving industry and what goes on—on the road. I found out some interesting stuff about the truck driving business! About staying awake during long drives, drug dealers and road prostitutes who only target truck drivers, codes used on the radio and other interesting information. Towards the end of the drive, as we got closer to Vegas we were both struggling to keep awake since we had stopped at a Jack In the Box earlier. Apparently, you don't want to eat too much at night, just for such reasons! We got to Vegas around midnight-thirty and found a sign for a campground. He dropped me off, but when I went to the office to check in they told me the site was for RV’s only and that the place that takes tent campers was all the way on the other side of Vegas. I ended up spending $53 for a room at 3 AM at a place called Boulder Casino Station. Exhausted and tired from traveling, I slept hard.
It's pretty unbelievable how easy and fast hitchhiking has been thus far. I've been able to hit my marks early and the people that have picked me up have been extremely nice. I've been pretty much whizzing thru getting from town to town but I think I should start taking side routes to see more of the sights ...
"I searched for a good spot to set up my tent where I could have a clear view of the stars, which were amazing!"
I got in pretty late last night to a campsite in Flagstaff, Arizona. I searched for a good spot to set up my tent where I could have a clear view of the stars, which were amazing! Once set up, I ran across the road to a gas station and bought myself some food and a pack of Ramen. After eating Ramen your whole life, you really miss it when you haven't had it in a few days. I bought a coffee mug, broke the ramen in half so it would fit and poured hot water on top of the dried noodles. I also bought a bottle of Tabasco sauce (which you really shouldn't leave home without) and used it to spice up the soup. After the meaI, I went to sleep in my tent and woke up the next morning to the sounds of a barking dog. The campsite had showers so I took full advantage of that and afterwards, went walking-about to see a little of Flagstaff.
I found a mall that said they were having blood draws and tried to give blood but since they had so many volunteers, they were only taking names to put on a waiting list for the next month. Too many people trying to give blood and not enough people to take it! Can't seem to buy a flag anywhere either. All sold out.
I started walking back to the campground and got caught in the first downpour of my trip, which lasted for the remainder of the afternoon and into early evening, around 7 or so. With the rain came a bit of hail! I started talking to a guy named Pete who was traveling cross country on his Honda Shadow motorcycle following old Route 66. I guess if you own a motorcycle in this country you have to ride: 1. Route 66 or 2. Sturgis. Pete will have done both.
"Think I'm going to try to hike down to the bottom of the [Grand] canyon tomorrow ... it's going to be a tough hike but I feel the need to do this."
Back at the campsite I started talking to a young Air Force couple, Bree and Brian, who arrived last night. They had begun their trip in Alabama and were heading for Seattle. After talking for a bit they offered me a ride to the Grand Canyon. Since I had some time to kill and I had never seen the Grand Canyon, I took them up on their offer. Once we found a site in Grand Canyon National Park, we set up camp and headed to a scenic viewpoint to marvel at the sheer vastness of the canyons. I took many pictures of Brian and Bree with their two dogs, Jewels and Mia (named after the Pulp Fiction characters) with the canyons as the background. I think I'm going to try to hike down to the bottom of the canyon tomorrow if I can get my name put on the list. It's going to be a tough hike but I feel the need to do this. Brian thinks I’m crazy. The three of us sat and chatted that night and drank some beers; I showed off some card tricks and we stared up at the stars looking for satellites. Brian spotted his first satellite ever, traveling along the Milky Way ...
We got up at about 5:30 AM to catch the sunrise which broke across the canyons at about 6:17 AM. Afterwards, we went back and Bree and Brian cooked pancakes for breakfast while I headed to the back country hiking office to get a camping pass for the canyon. I started the hike down to the base at about 12:30 in the afternoon which, wasn't the brightest idea (since that is the hottest part of the day), but I got down to the bottom in four hours.
The scenery was magnificent all the way down and the temperature was well into the 100's by the mid-afternoon. They say it's 20 degrees warmer at the base of the canyon, if not more! By the time I reached the campsite I was pretty spent. Feeling my legs tighten and knowing I would really be feeling it by the morning, I set up the tent which smelled awful from waterproofing earlier that day (and I think I caught a cheap high from the fumes too. Ha! Bonus!)
After setting up my stuff, I went for a swim in the creek near the campsite. The water really felt great and it was the perfect way to end the day after a long hike. After swimming like a salmon in the creek, I ate dinner: packaged tuna, cheese, crackers and water. Lots of water. I also ran into a father and daughter team from Canada, Kim and Marcelle, and we ended up drinking beers later that night. That was the best bonus of all—cold beers at the base of the Grand Canyon!
"I found a pond along the path where I could stand submerged in water up to my neck. I took off all my clothes and swam."
Woke up today at about 9:30 AM, sore as hell and moved my tent to a site near the Bright Angel Creek. I packed a day pack and hiked along Kaibab trail and then followed the Phantom Creek trail which ended up being a six hour hike.
As I followed along the Phantom creek path, I think the sun got to my brain or something because I suddenly decided I was going to be a rock climber. (The dumbest thing I could have done that day!) I started going up the face of the boulder (this went practically straight up) and about midway it became quite difficult because every grip was like putting my hands on a hot oven. After I came to my senses, I climbed down and continued back up the creek path as far as I could go. I found a pond along the path where I could stand submerged in water up to my neck. I took off all my clothes and swam. Pretty cool!
So, I survived the Grand Canyon but it was close. I woke up at 2:30 AM (still sore from the first day), packed my tent and gear, and started my journey up the canyon at about 4:30 AM. It was pretty dark still and my flashlight started going out. I had to backtrack a couple times and ended up taking the wrong trail (stupid flashlight!) and it had no water stops, leaving me with about 1.5 liters of water which, I ran out of before reaching the 1/4 way point! Luckily, someone came along, told me I was on the wrong trail, gave me a bottle of water to keep me going and wished me luck. I ended up on a pretty challenging route that took me NINE hours to get to the top. From the waist down: I hurt.
"Liz dropped me off at a gas station in Albuquerque and we parted with a hug, wishing each other good luck on our journeys ..."
Well, I made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico in two rides. One from Dan, who got me out of the Grand Canyon National Park to Highway 40 and a second one from Flagstaff to New Mexico from a woman named Liz. Now, Liz was a bit, um ... troubled.
She got up this morning in her hometown of Havasu, Arizona, left her husband a note and jumped into her car (which she called "Hell Bitch") and headed for Denver, Colorado for a quick fix of meth amphetamines. She's been clean for the last 13 months but had been using habitually for 23 years (since she was 17). She was a bit frazzled and said that if she didn't do this her other option was killing herself.
It was an interesting 347 miles to New Mexico.
Liz dropped me off at a gas station in Albuquerque and we parted with a hug, wishing each other good luck on our journeys. She continued north on Highway 25 and I waited for my brother to pick me up from Belen, 30 miles away. I would spend the next six days in Belen, New Mexico, hanging out with my brother Scott, his wife Royce Anne and my new nephew, Joshua whom I was meeting for the first time.
Well, guys—that's it for now. I'll be heading to Colorado and then, Kansas in the morning. Miss you all and hope all things are well.
Peace, love and harmony,