This is a real story about an ordinary woman and her journey across the USA in a vintage 1971 VW Westfalia Camper Van. Her vintage is 1955; she’s not a young girl anymore!  When she started the trip she hadn’t even met the van or ever driven one! Yet she was on a journey, wanting to find out how she could make a difference in the world.

She hopes this blog will inspire you to follow your mission and give you the courage to let your dreams soar.

” Perhaps you’ve seen that quote that talks about the journey being all important, rather than the destination? Let’s see what happens on this journey and, hopefully, it will be made up of many people and many stories and show the value of collaboration and community. Let’s show that together ‘YesWeCan’ ! “

This is how the story begins:

“A few months ago I was really stuck. I was in London (my hometown), in bed unwell and contemplating my life and the world, wondering how I could make it better. In life sometimes we’d like to try something different, yet we often stay where we are, for fear of the unknown. It was like that for me. I was thinking about the world and my life and how it had not gone to plan. Was there anything meaningful I could do in the time I had left?”

“I am a baby boomer who has seen the world change so much since I was in my teens. The focus on acquiring wealth and making life easier and more comfortable, while not seeming to care enough about the impact that this lifestyle has on the planet and the plants and animals that share it with us, has upset me. I care deeply and can see how much we humans need to change our behavior to save life on our beautiful planet and to conserve it for future generations. I can see that many of us still consume too much and too many of the earth’s diminishing resources – like water and electricity – but what can I do, I asked myself.”

“I knew that I liked writing and I that I loved driving and being on the open road. Then an idea came to me …. What if I could set off on a journey to meet others and collect and share stories? Stories from many different kinds of people to inspire us to follow our dreams and get started, even when we are not sure how things will turn out.”

“I’m not sure how this road trip from Oregon down into California and into Arizona and New Mexico will turn out. Starting in Massachusetts, I’ll be flying into Portland Oregon on 14th December 2009 and then taking an overnight Greyhound Bus to arrive in Medford the next day to collect my EBay purchase – a vintage 1971 VW Westfalia camper van. So far I’ve only seen her in photos.”

“I made the purchase in early October at 3:00Am London time, but then I got sick and worried I’d not be able to make the journey. After weeks of doubt, I realized that if I could put the few first steps in place, I’d be able to overcome my fears and get started.”

First I arranged somewhere nice to stay in the town of Ashland, OR, where I’d be meeting the seller and the campervan. I’d need a few days to see how the VW Westy would run and also get used to driving her before we set off.
Then I arranged for a local VW mechanic look her over and give her a service. It was a relief when he said she looked and ran well, especially because it was only four days before my arrival!
Next I decided to set up a new Facebook Page in the hope of sharing this story and finding other people who’d like to make the road trip with us, whether that would be virtually on the internet, or driving with us part of the way or inviting us to meet on route.
In creating the Facebook Page, there was another very important step which helped get me excited about the trip. It was choosing a name for the 1971 Westy. Naming her ‘The YesWeCan Campervan’ resonated with the same spirit that had endured when the American presidency changed earlier this year … a spirit full of faith and hope, with the courage to face the challenges ahead and with the belief that together we can build a better world. A great metaphor for the journey ahead, don’t you think?
Oh, I forgot to mention that I had registered the van in my home state of Massachusetts, where the plates have the wording ‘The Spirit of America’. A nice touch!”

We hope you can join us on this road trip, to explore the true spirit of America and its people, to raise questions and make comments about how we care for the planet and for each other, and to share your stories, hopes and dreams of making the world a better place for us all.

Thank you!
Carole Brown and The YesWeCan CamperVan x x x


11 Responses

  1. Are you kidding?!? Driving an old non-efficient van across the US as a means of helping the environment? You baby boomers just don’t get it.

    • Thank you for making this point, as I was going to mention that very point under the VW Van page. I posted a question on twitter weeks ago to ask if anyone knew how to convert standard VW engines to biofuel, but had no response. I know that the VW diesel engines can be converted to cooking oil. Can you put out the word to your contacts and find out how I can be a more eco-friendly CamperVan? Thanks.

  2. Hi Carole….What an awesome journey you are on…really one that started back in London. Welcome to the states…and I admire your courage and your sharing of spirit!!! I am cheering you on here in Cincinnati, and we aren’t that far east of you!!!…just a little road trip…smile, hugs, and prayers!!!!

    • Thank you Karla. How far east – maybe we can make it? Especially if the person who previously commented helps me become a more efficient camper van. By the way, I am managing 20mpg so far.

  3. […] Borrowing a mantra from Obama she is on a trip of discovery centered on climate change. The backstory to her journey makes clear the multi-faceted nature of a roadtrip. For Carole it seems to be a way to challenge […]

  4. OMG – thank you for your thoughts and for including us in your blog. To tell you the truth, we’re a bit blown away by the power of social media. We hoped we might get some replies here on our blog and a few words of encouragement but this is in another league!
    First we found cesbound, and made contact with them, then you found them and noticed us. Then you read about both of us and the background to our road trips. Next you put pen to paper (! old phrases live on) and waxed lyrically about both of our roadtrips on your website.
    If we’ve got that bit correct so far, then you have just demonstrated the power that social media is giving to us all. WOW!

    Power to …. be heard, to connect, to collaborate ….
    …. which is another reason we are all out here doing our thing …. because we want to do something meaningful in our lives AND inspire other people to follow their dreams too…

    Here’s to a COLLABORATIVE 2010,
    from Carole and the YesWeCan CamperVan

  5. It’s true, when people dismiss Twitter and Facebook etc. as a way for people to waste time, they’re perhaps missing the potential power it has to connect, organize and inspire people.

    It’s something I’m discovering as well, that if you put your thoughts and media out there using the range of services available, then people will find it and some will engage with it.

    Best of luck for your continued adventure!


  6. Hi Carole, what you are doing is awesome…

    We are all doing different trips so far from our homes, I wish you good luck and really support your cause.

  7. Carole,
    I have had the gift of being with you over the holidays on your journey and I can say, your MPG is not relevant. How about smiles- per gallon? How about the joy of conversation, so lost among those of us who rarely move out of our own solipsistic sphere of influence? How about the resurrection of empathy, a force I believe is necessary if we are to do anything meaningful to preserve this biosphere who is our true mother/sister/brother/friend. You have reminded me of the spirit of adventure, which once motivated me, but that I have lost due to a long struggle with Lyme disease. Thank you for your concern, which is healing, the power of your listening and the intelligence you bring to it and the beauty of your eloquent speech, which is lovely. And Long live the little magic van!!! The Angels are with you.

  8. Congratulations on your journey so far and best wishes for the road ahead!

    Happy trails,


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