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The story of our 2016 rescue - A 1955 panelvan pull out of the wood !
One Sunday last september, I put an ad on a french classifieds website. A few hours later a guy called me to say he was interested by the item. He said he lives in Grenoble, a city nearby where I was supposed to go during the afternoon to pick up something, so I said we could meet there so he doesn’t have to make the trip to my home.
I’ve been at the appointment place on time. I waited 10 minutes…20 minutes… 30 minutes but the guy didn’t come. Unhappy, I decided to leave. The guy called me a few minutes after and said he didn’t come because he didn’t receive my confirmation email with the address !He said he will come the next day at my home to pick up the furniture he wanted to buy.
So the day after, he came early in the afternoon. I met a very nice guy. We talked for a while and when he saw my busses wreck front of my barn he began to talk about them. I said I found the 1950 in a forest the year before and immediately he asked :
« You found it nearby ? Because I know of one similar bus here in Chartreuse »
« Really ? The same model ? »
« Yes, same model with 2 windshields like this one. But it’s in bad shape.»
Interesting !! We kept talking about different things and while he was loading the furniture into his car, I picked up a map to ask him if he could show me the area the bus was supposed to be.
He showed a valley end in chartreuse, only 12km from my home. He said he saw it 15 years ago while picking mushroom and the bus seemed to be there since decades already. I learned later that it was actually abandonned since at least 40 years and that a strange guy used to live in it, up there in the mountain !
So the day after I’ve been there for a long walk in the mountain and after a few hours I finally found it. I was afraid that I could find nothing, or another brand’s van while it happens very often. But no, it was a VW !
I arrived from the back of the bus so I immediately recognized the small rear hatch. Well, I didn’t found a barndoor this time but at least it was a pre-1963 bus
I kept walking and then saw the round taillight. Now it smells very good. Then the semaphores, and then the front Wolsburg ribbed bumper. It was a 1955 !
That scene I had front of my eyes was very much like a Swedish scene, but no, I was only 12km from home. Incredible. I immediately thought that if I would have met that guy in Grenoble like expected, he would have not came to my home, would have not seen my busses and I won’t be there now, front of a rare 55 bus. That missed appointment 2 days before seemed at first very annoying and I now realise every negative event can bring something great in the end.
Once back home I did some research to find the landowner and the day after I was at the owner’s place to buy the bus ! He said some lumbermans will be there the next day to cut the trees around though ! So I had to be quick before the bus end under a tree or surounded by logs.
I’ve had so many lucky events in the past day to allow me to save that bus right in time before it get crushed … that I begin to think it might be destiny and there is maybe a bus god that brought me there to save that bus in extremis ?! =)
I took some time during the next days to go back there with 4 wheels so I can pull the bus out of the 2 big trees around it.
On Friday evening everything was ready with a big tow bar installed on the bus, ready to be towed during the week end by a tractor.
But during the night, I couldn’t sleep and remembered about that plane that was crashed in Alaska and that a team repaired on site, in the mountains, with lots of snow, to leave the place from the air ! I’ve been fascinating by that story, so I thought I should do the same with the bus in the forest.
In the morning, I was sure I had to do this so I cancelled the tractor rescue.
I’ve been back there to pick up the original wheels from the bus and have some off road tires installed on them. I called few friends to know if they wanted to be part of the adventure and of course they would ! So they took a few days off and came here in the Alps to give a hand.
I also called the lumbermans to know if they could delay their work in the area, so we had a few more days to make the rescue happen.
My friends arrived a few days after at 3am after a 800km road trip, so after a very short night it was time to go up there in the mountain. Unfortunately it was raining the days before so it was very wet and it took us a whole day to bring the cars up there and then to move the stuff by hands up to the bus.
We brought a generator and sound to have a nice evening around a BBQ and some fresh beer and Mojitos. Actually bringing all that stuff up there was the most difficult part of the rescue.
But it was worth it that’s for sure. Imagine 5 friends drinking mojitos around a big fire in the forest, at a 1300m heigh, with good music, good vibes, and a 55 bus front of them they must repair for the day after ! That’s incredible memories. I didn’t regret having cancelled the easy tractor rescue.
We’ve had some troubles during the work on the bus, but nothing we couldn’t sort of, so the day after the bus was running as expected. It was crazy for all of us to drive it in the forest or see it from the outside evolving in the mountain.
That rescue was a success as the bus is now safely home ! It will stay as is for a little while, till I finish some other projects.
See you soon on AirMapp !
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