02
Mar 2015
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Blog, North America

DISCUSSION 20 Comments

Keeping Nacho Alive

intro

Lately we’ve been almost altogether absent from all forms of online activity; Facebook left unattended, blog without update. I imagine the world has pretty much forgotten that we exist. So what’s the deal? Retraction from society? Playing the hermit? Having so much fun that there’s no time to stop and post a selfie to Instagram? Impossible! We don’t even have Instagram! Truth is the tell-worthy tales are piling up but I’m systematically suppressing them in order to stay focused; we hope to release our next book at the Overland Expo, and so every spare moment that I’m not working or eating or sleeping or giving Sheena a back rub, I’ve been writing new content for our book. Eye on the prize!
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01
May 2014
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Asia, Blog, Europe

DISCUSSION 12 Comments

Cappadocia: Chutes and Ladders

Sleet had been falling on and off all morning. In the village the men huddled around a tea shop next to a barren mountain in the gray, bleak Turkish countryside. Inside—that is, inside of the mountain—I was precariously wedged midway up a 30 foot vertical shaft that connected two levels of a vast, hidden underground city. I paused in the darkness and looked down into the abyss, a lone useless rope dangling between my legs and disappearing into the black space below. The space above me was illuminated by a flashlight held by a mustachioed man in a leather jacket, a Turkish Burt Reynolds. The chute was no more than 24 inches square, having little pockets dug into its walls to serve as toe and finger holds, carved into the solid rock by villagers seeking protection from invading Hittite tribes some 3,600 years ago. I tried to imagine how I might utilize the rope should I lose my grip on the walls, seeing as how both hands and feet were busy keeping myself wedged in the shaft, but every mental scenario ended with me lying in a crumpled heap, the dangling rope faintly tickling my lifeless body.
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04
Jan 2014
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Asia, Blog

DISCUSSION 7 Comments

Nacho’s Ark

By the time we reached Pondicherry, we figured we had our system down. We’d drive into town and ask at the police station where it would be safe to camp. With all of the recent high profile rape cases here in India, this was no place to mess around. I’m squeamish, after all, and my worst nightmares revolve around me dropping soap in prison showers.
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New Book from Drive Nacho Drive!

We are very excited to announce the release of our book, Drive Nacho Drive: A Journey from the American Dream to the End of the World! If you’d like to read it, click below to buy it on Amazon.com, and then help us spread the word by sharing our news with your friends.

Click here to buy Kindle E-BOOK ($3.99)

Click here to buy PAPERBACK ($15.15)

Need more buying options?

We’ll soon be releasing the book in more e-reader formats, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

  • Have an iPad? Buy the e-book above and download this app on your iPad.
  • Have an iPhone or iPod Touch? Buy the e-book above and download this app on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

 

From the back cover

On an afternoon just like many before it, Brad Van Orden sat at his desk. When a coworker meandered past his window, Brad succumbed to an impulse and blurted out the most outlandish thing he could think of—”Hey Steve, let’s drive your hippie bus to Tierra del Fuego.” This prompted Steve’s halfhearted response: “I don’t think so.”

But this got Brad thinking. What if we just dropped everything and left? Isn’t there more to life than this? He messaged his wife with a question: “Want to do this?”, to which she immediately responded: “Yes!” They clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

Drive Nacho Drive tells the hilarious and sometimes harrowing story of what happens when Brad and Sheena trade in the American Dream for a year on the roads of Central and South America aboard “Nacho”, their quirky and somewhat temperamental Volkswagen van.

As a result of questionable decision-making skills and intermittent bad luck, Brad and Sheena repeatedly find themselves in over their heads. Whether negotiating cliff-hanging roads in rebel territory, getting caught illegally smuggling a transmission in a suitcase over international lines, mounting a stealth mission to steal Nacho back from a deranged Colombian auto dismantler, or clinging to the side of a vegetable truck while descending a 16,000 foot Andean pass, there seems to be no limit to the predicaments that these two can get themselves into.

With Drive Nacho Drive, the Van Ordens deliver a thoughtful, hilarious, and mouthwatering depiction of adventure and misadventure on the Pan-American highway—one that will leave you shaking your head and holding your sides, while asking yourself,isn’t there more to life than this?

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28
Jun 2013
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Asia, Blog

DISCUSSION 14 Comments

Born Again Nacho

About a year ago in Colombia, our transmission failed. We had been driving up a dirt road in the middle of the faraway mountains when Nacho voided his bowels, we were towed to a tiny mountain village where a deranged mechanic had his way with our poor Nacho, but then we lurked in and stole Nacho away and deposited him on a farm, cracking my side view mirror in the process, you may recall. You may also recall that we found no favorable, much less legal, options for getting our transmission working, so we flew home, bought a used transmission, cleaned it up so it looked new, packed it into a suitcase and checked it onto a plane, where upon our arrival we were detained by the evil Colombian customs office for three days before being released upon the payment of a hefty tax. After porting the transmission to the farm in the back of a Subaru I spent two weeks fixing Nacho, which involved installing the new transmission without aid of a jack. Twice. You may recall.

And, as you may recall, after all of that pain and suffering and hardship and money, our new transmission leaked. My lips formed into the shape of a sad rainbow, my eyes pinched shut, drool seeped from the corner of my mouth, and I fell to my knees while feebly punching the air before crumpling into the fetal position and sobbing like a pants-wetting kindergartener. The leak persisted for the next ten months through South America, across the Pacific to Malaysia, and into Thailand.

You may also recall that in Argentina Nacho was burglarized by a bad man with a crowbar, and many important things were stolen. He also broke Sheena’s treasured walking stick, recently collected from the shores of Lago Tromen, a lake which will only live on in our minds because the bad man also stole the camera that contained all of the pictures of Lago Tromen. I would be reminded of the bad man every day thereafter, especially the really hot days, because it has been impossible to replace my broken window with the correct window glass, rendering it impossible to roll down my window. This has been especially unappreciated since arriving in southeast Asia, because we don’t have an air conditioner and not being able to roll down my window in the stifling heat and humidity has caused my brain to begin to disintegrate from jungle rot.

When we arrived in Bangkok I declared to Sheena, “All right, I’m putting my foot down!” Sheena knows me well as a maker of frivolous demands and declarations, so she paid no immediate attention. However, my seriousness was hard to ignore when she found herself sitting in the waiting room of a garage in a Bangkok suburb surrounded by water cooled Volkswagen vans, including Nacho. Our VW Club friends in Kuala Lumpur had put us in touch with new VW Club friends in Bangkok, who had put us in touch with the best garage in the country for water cooled Volkswagen vans. Now Sheena knew I was serious. Our Thai friend Gak, who had accompanied us to the garage, also knew I was serious. My foot was down, and it would stay down until I had a non-leaky transmission, a window capable of one dimensional translation, and a usable side view mirror.

Given my deep mistrust of local mechanics, my immediate feeling when turning Nacho over to the hands of others was one of deep nervousness and stomach discomfort. The mechanics were an intrepid team of young Thai men, and they displayed their worthiness by immediately locating a new window and side mirror, and successfully replacing them. Next, Nacho was placed on a lift and made airborne. The intrepid Thai mechanics dispersed and quickly returned with, get this, all of the correct tools. I know, right? They had a triple square bit for my beloved CV bolts, circlip pliers, and even the big cylindrical tool used to remove the drive axle flanges, or whatever they’re called. They deftly removed my axle, noting that both of my CV boots were ripped, which they later replaced, and then removed my drive flange, or whatever it’s called, only to find that the main sealing o-ring was cut in half. And seeing as how the leak began on day one, I surmised that it was cut in half when I bought it, which made me quite angry indeed. But they had the right o-ring on hand to replace it, so my anger was forgotten, and I left for the evening to let the guys finish up.

It was about time. After only sixteen months on the road, we had finally managed to find a shop that used the right tools and knew what the hell they were doing. I also asked them to replace one of Nacho’s upper control arm bushings, which had disintegrated in Ecuador, and had been clanking around ever since. Driving away from the shop was like being born again.

With Nacho in tip top shape, and I use that term loosely, we were free to sit around in Bangkok traffic, meet with our new friends for lunch, sit in Bangkok traffic, hang out with our new friends over long and delicious dinners, sit in Bangkok traffic, and drive to the King Rama V monument to meet all the rest of the water cooled VW vans in Bangkok for an epic photograph depicting all of the vans in a row. Before and after the photo-op we gave tours to the curious of Nacho’s water purification system, hot water generation, interior remodel, and I gave a barely legal demonstration of Nacho’s onboard shower.

 

On one of our very last days in Bangkok I found myself sitting in Bangkok traffic. It was another marathon jam, and I hadn’t moved more than a few feet in the last 45 minutes, when who should I see but a traffic cop approaching on foot. The cop approached my window, which I had proudly rolled down, and I attempted small talk before realizing that he spoke no English. After some polite smiles and hand waving, he began to insist that I had made some kind of traffic violation. He seemed to be saying that I had run a red light.

“But I’ve been sitting here for 45 minutes,” I said, which didn’t matter since he spoke no English.

“Kai jai tai doo mai wai kai!” he insisted.

He pointed to a picture of a driver’s license, so I reached for the ash tray where I keep one of my many “extra” drivers licenses, but to my shock and horror it was missing. I made a mental note to reprimand Sheena for moving my unlawful decoy license, and I regretfully pulled my real international driving permit out from under the dash mat. He placed it in his ticket book and pointed to his clipboard, which contained several lines of cryptic Thai script. He read it to me, slowly and loudly.

“RAI MAI JAI…KWAI MOO GAI…” he went on for an eternity, and finally pointed to where it said “1,000”. I deduced that he was going to write me a ticket for 1,000 Baht, or around $35.

“But sir,” I said, uselessly, “I haven’t done anything wrong. I literally haven’t moved in 45 minutes!” It went back and forth like this for at least fifteen or twenty minutes, and at every opportunity I attempted to convince him to give me my license. Finally, through much frustration, charades, and incomprehensible jibber jabber, I convinced him to trade my license for a 1,000 Baht bill, which I was pretty sure he promised to hold onto while I followed him to the police station. He walked to his motorcycle and made a tunnel through the traffic, through which I followed him.

Several minutes later, after a number of close calls and nearly losing him in traffic, he stopped at a main intersection and got off his bike to stop traffic so that I could pull out. As I pulled into traffic, he signaled that he’d catch up. It should have come as no surprise that I never saw him or my 1,000 Baht ever again.

It is true that I was duped by a Bangkok motorcycle cop, and in doing so I have shamed my family and lost my reputation for being a stone cold cop tricker. But at the end of the day Nacho’s transmission doesn’t leak, I can see out of my side mirror, I can hang my arm out the window, and our front suspension probably won’t fall off. In the grand scheme of things we’d won. And besides, I had a really long and really delicious dinner with our new friends to attend to.

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