Although i belong to an indigenous tribe of the [Ojai] [Ventura] area and Heather being 5th generation [Venice Beach] both of [southern california], Awhảy [Ojai] never really felt comfortable for us. It was a seemingly small step up from our futile efforts of cutting rocks with our newly aquired rock equipment shoehorned into a corner of our courtyard in Culver City. Our small outdoor hodgepodge pop up rock shop out behind an art gallery or a on a side yard where someone would let us use to set up for a month or two and make things for a show, seemed romantic but we always felt unrest. This environment is where creativity thrives but eventually drive takes a dive. We have met so many nomadic rock lovers like us, for sure, but it seems to be that rock shops are for property owners, not for nomads. The west coast is for movers, shakers and big time operators who work to pay rent, unless you are retired or a millionare, there is very little time to cut rocks.
With our eyes on the prize of becoming a legitimate consistant rock shop, the west coast became more and more of a clostraphobic burden. Most of the time, in the beginning, we would pack up our then small shop into storage and go travel to arizona, nevada and utah to talk rocks with inspiring rock shop owners that we had met in quartzsite. After seeing what a thriving rock shop looks like, open spaces, rock oil, deisel trucks and no 'concerned' neighbors. It became harder and harder to return to the great 'stuff' shuffle, cleaning endless oak leaves out of our cabbing machines leaning up against one of our family members houses.
How could we do it? How could we travel and cut rocks? We brain stormed about leaving Awhảy for months and months. Trailers are too expensive and we don't know where we want to go and we don't really want to, be, anywhere.
Next to my chipping area, in our outdoor shop, out behind Larrys pottery studio there was an old produce box truck that i had been staring at for months. This day, for some reason i thought, that looks like a shop on a broken down truck. I bet you could give them anything to take that thing away, too bad it didin't have a motor! I bet that there is a broken down box truck somewhere that is burdening someone and i could probably get a good deal on it, fix it, and stuff a rock shop into the back of it. I figured, a 18ft trailer is about 10-15k used but if it's attached to a giant truck that doesn't run then it is nothing more than a waste of space that someone might even pay you to take..., right?
A few weeks later, scouring craigslist, i found a broken 6.6 Case Newholland 12Valve mechanical diesel Ford moving truck with a 26ft box! Amazing condition, It was glorious! Left for dead in a storage yard in Goleta only an hour away! Just like i had thought, nothing but a giant burden, neglected, racking up storage fees. The owner had givin up on it, he said the engine was blown but i know these motors and that seemed very unlikely, i knew when it turned over and started that it was a deal of a lifetime and me being a mechanical cummins diesel head i knew i could fix it. A whole mobile shop for half the price of a motor.
Its a manual 9 speed and it wouldn't go over 35mph without dying. It blew massive plumes of yellow smoke when it got hot, like Cheech and Chongs Impala. The owner thought it was all connected i knew these were all separate issues. I just had to get it back to Awhảy. With Heather following me in the Dodge 12Valve It took us 6 hours to go an hour down the 101 from [goleta] to Awhảy going 35 mph! 2 miles at a time stalling in full blown traffic with no shoulder on the 101. One of the scariest trips of my life. The only thing this truck needs is TLC, if i treated it good it will treat me good but not before putting me to the test. After all i forced her down one of the most nasty stretches of highway on the first date! After weeks of screwing with the motor, sending parts out to specialty places in the south, searching for parts that arent made anymore and multiple trips to south central LA for hidden used parts houses. A blown turbo which sumped oil into the muffler, (hence the smoke) rebuilt lift pump, new overflow valve, full guages, and the cause for the not going over 35?, drum roll.......... a broken thread on a brass fitting on the fuel tank. Sucking up tiny amounts of air into the fuel lines!
The very next day we spent all day loading our equipment into our very own nomadic shop! Off to arizona where the sky is big, the land is inviting and the people cut rocks. Thanks for reading.
May 21, 2020
Heather and Leo, very interesting story.