Generosity of heart

There are times when I am driving my VW bus that I get a bit frazzled. It might be that the weather’s too hot and I wish these old vintage buses had a fan, or it might be I am trying to turn round in a tight space and I wish I had power steering, or it could be that the battery is behaving badly and I have to do a push start, yet most of the time I have been very lucky and Dexter, aka “The YesWeCan CamperVan“, behaves very well indeed.

Yet on the odd occasion when I have really needed help, a kind VW soul has always turned up, like a knight in shining armour, yes really. You only have to look at the THANKS page to see that’s true.

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My latest encounter with a generous heart, was at the very top of California about a month ago, as I was bringing a “new to me” VW bus down from Oregon. I had been worried that the seat belt was inoperable because it was rusted in and could not be adjusted. Here I was driving hundreds of miles south on Interstate 5, with no seat belt, and as I approached the town on Yreka, the concern resurfaced. It was a significant moment because way back in Dec 2009, Yreka had been my first stop on my first day of taking Dexter home to Massachusetts. So I checked the time and I thought I’d make a brief stop for old time’s sake. Seeing a VW from the highway, I decided to head in that direction in the hope there might be a VW shop and that they might have a spare belt. The young man excitedly told me he had just purchased his first VW, a beetle, but his was just a private garage, and that I should try a VW mechanic further along the same road. When I found David Medeiros, he was working on a Westy. He didn’t have a spare seat belt so he looked at my driver’s seat to see if he could slide it back, which would make the extra room I needed for the belt to fit. Using a hammer and screwdriver he worked for a while but the seat was too was rusted into the runners and impossible to loosen. Try as he might, it would not break free.

David wouldn’t accept any payment for his time. After swapping a few VW stories and looking at the nice bus he was working on, I said cheerio and got on my way.

David’s generosity of spirit made me feel a whole lot better,  and afterwards I found I was much less concerned about having no seatbelt.  I wanted to add his name and address here. If you are ever passing near Yreka, CA, and are in need of an experienced VW mechanic and a good person, give David a call:

David Medeiros,  D & D Auto House,
1488 Fairlane Road, Yreka, CA.
1-530-331-3303

Yreka VW mech David Medeiros

 

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Camping in the Redwoods – Part 2 – enjoying Bus City 2014

Remember that start mileage from Part 1 of this story?

Here’s the arrival reading, showing we drove only 112 miles to Schoolhouse Canyon Campground. A tiny trip for The YesWeCan CamperVan

Why then did it seem longer? Probably all those stops (Petaluma for Tillamook buses, Sebastopol for Citibank, Bodega & Bodega Bay to see where Hitchcock filmed his thriller “The Birds”, the Russian River view and Guerneville, peaking at the women’s festival, Community Church and Radio station, stopping at ATM Bank of America for camping fees, and shopping at Safeway for beer and early morning coffee).

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We knew we were in for a treat in Guerneville, when we met the Safeway store security guard at 5.30am Saturday and she told us if we needed any help at the checkout, we just had to oink the pig. “It’s the best way to get attention from the people filling the shelves”, she said. Okay!!!!  Oink, Oink!!

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Gotta say, this reminded us of the other pig in a store way back in 2009, some 25,000 miles ago, at the very start of our travels in The YesWeCan CamperVan (read that story here – photo caption ‘Pigs do fly in California’).

Anyhow, back to Guerneville ….. after a short drive out of town, past Korbel, we eventually arrive at the Schoolhouse Canyon Campground.  The VW Camper Family’s 6th Annual “Bus City” is in full swing. VW’s camped all over under huge redwood trees. Which spot to choose, we wonder?

And then a friendly wave beckons, and we move into this welcoming space, with two beautiful vanagons and a Toyota Forerunner (just like the one Carole drove in 2000 on her first ever coast to coast drive across America).

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Three very nice women, Ginny, Connie and Barbara, welcome us.

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And then we notice other members of their VW family … these little chihuahuas…..

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with a VW bus all of their own, which they happily share with a couple of bigger dogs, too …

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The next door neighbour, Thom, is from the same area as us. His recently acquired canoe made his bay window look quite the adventure wagon 🙂

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Thom’s wife, Amy, created a banner for “Bus City 2014” which she asked us all to sign …. I think many forgot!

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Carole left me to chill out and rest in the shade of the redwood trees ….

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while she went over to the picnic table ….

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to see if she could help with breakfast preparation.

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She brought strong cheddar cheese, a great addition to eggs.

 

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Had not quite imagined frozen eggs though.
Dang, those vanagon fridges must be powerful!
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Nothing beats VW camping gals! After a little thaw, the scramble is looking pretty good and the end result is yummy!

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After this proteinaceous breakfast and warm company, Carole toddled off to look for the creator of this event (now in it’s 6th year). She’d met Big Blue online in 2010 and couldn’t wait to meet him in person.

“Big Blue” was easy to spot

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What a great plate !!!

Also love that riviera pop top ….

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Quite a few more pop-tops around in the Redwoods ….

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and other ways to keep cool inside one’s VW camper …..

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Our favourite one, though, is the dormobile roof from GB (sorry for the bias). Look at that little vent – isn’t it sweet?

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Lots of bay window buses and vanagons, here, yet only two split windows – a little different to the events in southern california where splitties often prevail.

This split window has a hippy paint job ….

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and this green and white one ….

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had been newly painted the owner told us.

Well, after all that bus spotting and photo taking, it’s off  to the river for a dip …

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A welcome space to enjoy the redwoods, birds, butterflies, and river … and time to play

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a welcome chance to cool down

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and enjoy one’s VW family the old fashioned way 🙂

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After that adventure, tea back at camp … (happy sigh….)

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… more time to visit ….

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and play

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and swap tips on better ways to camp.

A battery operated fan – great for a bay window with no fan of its own 🙂

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a mini portable grill/BBQ

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and ingenious methods for attaching awnings to VWs; it’s all in the spirit of the wonderful VW family 🙂

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Time also for Carole to hand out our VW4Causes sticker ….

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One here on the Toyota. Thank you Connie 🙂 (don’t you just love that reflection of our campervan in your rear window too!)

Then Barbara with the lovely vanagon …

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let us put one of our stickers on her colourful rear window (thank you :)) ..

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… just before she got packed up and ready to go (you see, the doggie house has gone)

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Going around to say bye bye is never easy  – campouts always seem too too short …

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All gone!

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Nothing left to do now except move The YesWeCan CamperVan to a shady spot ….

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get out the tea tray ….

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put on the kettle …..

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make some tea and think about England 🙂 🙂 (just joking)

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Here’s to Bus City number 7 !!!!!!!

To get more info on this event, simply join VW Camper Family by clicking the link on this website. Go back to top of this article, scroll down left column, look for VW blogs header and you’ll find VW Camper Family listed there.

If you enjoyed reading this story, please would you help us with our cause by helping us reach 2000 page likes on facebook. We’re up to 1,796 at the present time. Just click here and once on our VW’s page, click like or join. THANKS 🙂 

 

Taking a tour?

We’ve not been touring much in the last 9 months, with Carole and The YesWeCan CamperVan both needing an overhaul!!!!

Yet we’re always talking to people about MG Awareness whenever we get the chance.

A couple of weeks ago we took our first trip out since last August.

Dexter in Clearlake March 2014

Arriving in Clearlake, northern California, it was already a hot day for mid March!

Dexter at 90F in March

the temperature gauge inside the campervan (put there by the first owner before Carole) showing a cool 90 degrees!

Stopping to get a cool drink at McDonalds, we were asked about our MG signs by a group of bikers who were out touring for the day.

Clearlake bikers

It was reassuring to get their interest and they said that if we organize an event to get attention for autoimmune diseases, there’d be plenty of bikers to ride along and add their support!. Grrrreat!

Then last weekend at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek, CA, a young man came over to look at the signs on our VW and asked “What does MG Mean?” … and then talked about his mother who has another, even lesser known, auto-immune disease, called Inclusion body myositis. There are far too many of these AI diseases nowadays, affecting 50 million people in America alone!!!

We hope that in 2014 others will join us in our drive to spread the word across the miles to help those with autoimmune diseases. They sure need all the support they can get. See VW4Causes for more information. THANKS!

 

Joining the Sacramento VW community for Ranch Run 2013

What a time we had in Sacramento the first weekend of May – VWs, nice people, having fun and doing good. There’s no better combination.

Ranch Run poster

For more information see the Ranch Run website … http://www.theranchrun.com/

Ranch Run 2013 website

The Ranch Run website describing the VW community’s support for the 2013 event in aid of local charity ‘Ride to Walk’

 

It was a hot day! I managed to find my old hat buried inside my VW and our T shirt from last year’s cross country drive for MG Awareness and VW4Causes …..

Doing my bit as one of several VW drivers in "The Ranch Run 2013" for Sacramento charity "Ride to Walk"

Doing my bit as one of several VW drivers in “The Ranch Run 2013″ for Sacramento charity ”   Ride to Walk”

 

What kind of events and charities have you and your VW club supported?

Let us know by commenting below and inspiring us with your stories. Thanks.

Goodness

Want to believe in the goodness of people in this world?

Then take a look at this post 

Amy, one of our supporters who has MG, wearing a VW4CAUSES T shirt

You can be part of the goodness too … by:

  • sharing our sister site, or

  • liking this post (if you can’t see the buttons for liking or sharing, click the header name of this post “Goodness” and then they’ll appear at the end)

  • signing up to receive updates on this website by email (top right column) so you always know when there’s a chance to interact, should you have a couple of minutes to do so.

Thank you 🙂

I am so thankful

I was just thinking back to a few days before the end of my drive in California. Shown here is my trusty 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara. The night before taking this photograph, I’d stayed with VW friend, Judith, whom I’d met two years before in March 2010 on my first VW road trip.

The YesWeCan CamperVan in Carpinteria, California, towards the end of phase 2 of the MG Awareness drive; start date 20 October 2011 from Provincetown, MA, end date 15 May 2012 in Corona, CA, total distance 7853 miles

On that first trip I soon realized that my VW was my new friend who would introduce me to many more new friends. I also realized that my precious VW gave me the opportunity to start conversations with strangers, and the question quickly became what was it that I wanted to start a conversation about? Was there something important that I could talk about and that would be of interest or benefit to others, I wondered.

At the end of 2010, one year after the start of that first road trip, I was sure I’d found the topic, and another year on as I set off on my second cross country drive, I was pleased I’d chosen MG (Myasthenia Gravis). It would be the focus of my communications on auto-immune diseases and neuro-muscular ones in particular.

Seven months and over 7,500 miles later, at the end of my day in Carpinteria pictured above, I’d felt very fortunate that my VW had transported me safely on another momentous journey. On this trip, unlike the first, we’d had three major repairs before finally a new engine was built and fitted in Los Angeles. However every single time, help was on hand. It was miraculous how I was supported and helped along the way.

In the first instance, when the clutch started slipping and it was apparent it needed replacing, the Full Moon Bus Club’s South Carolina Coastal Group offered to fit a new clutch at their Thanksgivin’ Misgivin’ weekend campout just north of Charleston. Not only did they work on this repair all weekend for free, but Wolfsburg West stepped up and sent a new clutch free of charge and by overnight courier all the way from California to the VW campout’s organiser before we even arrived.

Two weeks later in Alabaster, Alabama, the accelerator cable broke in the middle of a busy traffic intersection as I was driving behind Staci (an MG patient who had been my wonderful host and helper) to accompany her in a Christmas Parade. On that occasion, Bill and Carol from Sylacauga had answered the distress message sent out on the VW network by my ‘support man’ Ken (back in Massachusetts) and they then drove one hour from home to meet me and fix my VW (after which they insisted I have my motor checked and hosted me for a few days while it was).

Two and a half weeks after that, as I was driving one early morning in a remote part of Texas, the fan belt shredded!!!! No sooner had I stopped on the side of the highway, we were joined by the nicest state trooper I’ve ever met. It was a very cold morning and I already had a sore throat and temperature, so he had me keep warm in his car, offered me his phone to call Hagerty for my breakdown service (my mobile had no signal) and stayed with me until my VW was on the tow truck an hour later.

It occurred to me at times such as those mentioned above that my VW bus is a perfect metaphor for a person with a chronic disease like MG. For example, all of us classic VW owners know (and mostly have come to accept) that our vehicles do not move as fast as high performance models, that they lose their balance around sharp bends, and that they often fight to get up hills. We also know that on a good day or when there’s far less resistance, the engine can run much stronger and livelier … and that during those times we can let out a loud sigh of relief or maybe we smile gently to ourselves, knowing that our faith has been restored and the struggle to keep going was definitely worth it.

We also know that during those ups, we might go a little crazy and do too many miles, and that, while it’s good while it lasts, chances are we’ll be pretty tired and plain old worn out later on.

As time goes by, we also learn that life in the slow lane can have its merits, like being far more appreciative of the good times and the fleeting moments of running free without bounds. Most of all we learn that living in the present moment is all there is, and with that, comes a joy all of its own.

So driving an old VW with it’s foibles and surprises, can really be a pretty good metaphor for what it’s like to have a chronic disease and to be steering one’s body through all the challenges that get thrown up along the way.  And the thing is, VWs just keep going and going if they are looked after and treated gently. Also one good example seen out and about on the road can be an inspiration to another, and waves and toots indicate that we share a common language.

For me, my VW has also been the friend who helped me find the very best of friends: those with whom I have a special understanding and with whom I can laugh and cry; those who have similar values and who give without expecting anything in return; and those who realize that trust and loyalty are the most precious of gems.

Boy oh boy … when I look at my old VW campervan, I really do have a great deal to be thankful for, don’t I?  🙂

Keeping us on the road

Carole and The YesWeCan CamperVan wish to thank these guys, especially for the time they donated, their hard work and their skill in repairing the VW’s 1971 engine to keep us on target for our cross country drive for MG Awareness.

Ronnie Pugh’s Bug Haus in Richmond, Virginia

 
Ronnie Pugh, owner of the Bug Haus, Richmond, VA, is seen here checking the oil leak and clutch. He also replaced the gear shift rod coupling. Ronnie worked beyond normal business hours on Friday 11th November so we could make it to the MGFA Carolinas Chapter Annual Meeting in Durham, NC, on time the next morning.

Full Moon Bus Club at their Thanksgiving Campout in Awendaw, South Carolina

Here you can see the ‘Full Moon Bus Club (FMBC)’ guys replacing the clutch; a tough job which took hours and hours of their time when they should have been relaxing at their South Carolina Coastal group’s Thanksgiving campout at Awendaw, during the weekend of 18-20 November 2011. The 1971 engine had not been taken out in many a year, and neither had the rear bumper been taken off. A few rusty bolts proved no match for these hardy southerners and their determination to help our cause!

Wolfsburg West


A special thanks to owner Carla Moore who sent us vital parts free of charge and also went to the added expense of sending them overnight all the way from their warehouse in California to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to make sure one of the FMBC members could bring them to the weekend meeting.
Check out their catalogue at http://wolfsburgwest.com even if you are not a VW owner, to see a fascinating array of parts and gain a glimpse of what keeps these wonderful classic vehicles humming along! 🙂

FOR THE LATEST UPDATE ON OUR ROUTE WEST

go to http://vw4causes.org/mga-route/ for an updated itinerary and to view a new route map at the bottom of the page (just before the comment section begins).