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 …

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.

VW stories from way back when …

After this photo appeared on VW Bus Junkies – Classic VW Bus Owners and Fans … it had received almost 90 likes by the time I saw it today a week or so later …

VW vintage with 60s band

I apologize for not being able to give credit to the photographer of this great picture; source was not shown on VW Bus Junkies facebook page.

John Kleckner commented ……

“My brother used a ’57 and hauled the whole band out to Eastern Long Island in ’65 to open for Mitch Ryder. I used my ’58 to haul a Hammond B3 and 2 Leslie speakers [yes they fit] with other stuff. [’57-8] Both were 36 HP, and made it to many gigs!”

If you have any colourful stories to share from the 60s, please add them in the box below …. thank you!

When two working VWs meet

Two VW women working on different projects, yet both using their vintage 1971 VW buses to tell stories, met at San Jose State University on 23 April 2012.


Copyright by Julia Weber 2012. Thanks for permission to re-post this photograph.

Here you can see Julia Weber’s ‘Mr Orange der Story-Bus’ and Carole Brown’s ‘The YesWeCan CamperVan’ getting close and sharing some thoughts on future possibilities!  Maybe they’re talking about where to drive together …. if the ladies agree that is ..


Midwest responsiveness

I’m trying to work out my itinerary for the trip from Massachusetts to the west coast. So far I’m not even sure about the route, since it depends on which VW clubs I can get most support from for the MG Awareness campaign.

Interestingly the most responsive MG charity in the nation has been the Kansas City, Missouri, based MG Association and the most responsive VW Club, is one called the Mo-Kan VW Club, which stands for Missouri-Kansas.

Also interesting, is that if I were to head from my base in Massachusetts to San Diego, California (for example), Kansas City just happens to be almost exactly half way as you can see here …

Possible route from Cape Cod, MA, to San Diego, CA passing through Kansas City, MO

Now is this just a coincidence or is some higher power operating here?

What do you think?

Possible sponsor for our road trip across America this fall??

What do you think …. Would the bright orange VW buses seen in the fun video below, look good as a logo on the side of The YesWeCan CamperVan?

I think they’d look great and I love cheddar cheese, too! Tillamook is the nearest I can find to my favorite English mature cheddar.

So if you like Tillamook Cheese AND you’d like to support our road trip for MG awareness, make a comment on my VW’s Facebook page about how great their cheese is and about The YesWeCan CamperVan‘s drive to put MG on the map. We would love a sponsor whose business we love!

Example comment 1:
Hi, have you heard about the 1971 VW, @The YesWeCan CamperVan, driving from Cape Cod on the east coast, all the way to Oregon to taste your cheeses? Their road trip is for an important Cause:

Example comment 2:
Just imagine, you could be one of their sponsors … and your bright orange VW bus and cheese bar logos would look sooooo good on the side of their cream and gold 1971 bus!!! 

Facebook fan photo of Tillamook baby VW bus, by Mignonne Gardner

Tillamook's tasty natural products include cheeses and ice creams!

We’re driving across America for ‘MG Awareness’ and we need a sponsor, one just like Tillamook, whose business we admire!

Carole and her 1971 VW bus "The YesWeCan CamperVan', which she bought in Oregon, seen here in Cape Cod

‘Buses by the Bridge XV’

It says number 14 (XIV) on the welcome entrance sign, but it definitely was the 15th (XV) time that Buses by the Bridge has been held in Lake Havasu, Arizona, by the London Bridge Bullis to raise money for local children.

BBB ... a vintage VW campout like no other

BBB ... a place for children and the child in all of us

BBB ... a place to meet friends


VW a distinctive badge of honor

The VW Family

Look at the tabs above the header and van picture and you will see a new page added today called Family. On it I write:

“This page is a later addition because before owning a VW and making this road trip, I would never have known the beauty and wonderment of the VW camper family. I include in the word family all those people with and without VW campers who love these magical vehicles.

And I use the word family because everyone I met shared the same values of simplicity, generosity, humor and respect for each other and our earth …. read all and see more photos here >>

I’m hoping this addition will encourage you to comment  ….. and subscribe to this blog, so you can receive automatic updates by email when I make changes.

P.S.  I wrote about Family values in an earlier post here: Family values – VW style

Many more photos taken by Carole Brown are shown on our FAMILY PAGE

Independence Day

Sitting on the front porch of this Federal house on the intersection of two quiet country roads in upstate New York, I discover it was once a gentleman’s farm. Apparently he grew apples and tended poultry here in the summer, and in winter he went across country to California to farm there. East coast and west coast: two different worlds on this vast continent called the United States.

On this July 4th Independence day, as my north-eastern friends quietly celebrate this important birth day with food cooked on the barbecue and intellectual conversation, I am only half listening to what is being said. My mind is wandering over the Redwood forests and Pacific coastline, through low desert and high desert and into the great plains that I have just ridden across in my faithful VW camper van. My body arrived on the eastern seaboard a day ago yet my emotions and spirit are trailing behind, holding onto wonderful memories that are worthy of savoring for months to come.

I take a quick look at a journal that I had begun way back at the start of this year in northern California, and recount the strong political voice of environmentalists talking of the Redwood forests, sustainable farming and local communities. There is a flavor of the wild west in California that I had not realized before, distinctly different from the apparently more detached air of the northeast.

As my mind continues to wander through fields of corn and pastures of cattle, I remember the warmth and friendliness of the mid west states of Oklahoma and Missouri and the people I met on old route 66, young and old alike attracted there by the values of a bygone era. This “the mother road” of America, the first interstate that connected the heartland with the wild west, is undergoing a resurgence, it seems. As people search for meaning and interconnectedness in a world that has moved at a pace too fast for the human psyche to follow, is there still a common thread that unites this land and its people, I wonder.

How can I possibly begin to describe this great land and what it is to be American? How do I write about ‘the true spirit of America’ that I have been in search of while driving from west to east all these months?

This vast continent is one of states as large as some European countries, each proud of its way of life and often at odds with a government whose center is a long way away in distance and in its thinking. The wild west of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas is about as different as you can get from the cool intellectualism of  New Jersey, New York, and New England. Yet even in this day and age where the optimism of the American dream is eclipsed by the worst recession that most have experienced and daily news of the Gulf oil disaster brings more doom and gloom, there is still an underlying belief that this nation will prevail. Despite all, there still exists the intensity and desire to be ruggedly independent and to create one’s own order.

Does this fiery spirit come from those immigrants who left the confines of Europe to break free and create a new dream or is it in the earth itself, and what is it that keeps it alive?

Perhaps it is the vast open backdrop of this huge and wide continent that keeps the American spirit boundless, alive and free. When the terrain is so vast and its people so varied, it is not possible for the human psyche to do anything but expand beyond the horizon of what the eye can see or the ear can discern.

And as I listen to the voices I have heard and recall the surprise of Californians who thought they had no accent, Texans who smiled when I joked that I sounded just like them and Oakies with their rich, golden tones, I pause to find one word to sum up the spirit of America.

And then I chuckle, for it’s most apt today of all days. The one word is Rebellious!

Rebellious! So very obvious really and I laugh aloud as if I had never thought of it before.

Midday midway ramblings from the heart(lands)

Although I’ve written some posts this month, I’ve copied those over from facebook, because to be honest I’ve been a bit lost for words after writing about the deep significance of the Run for the Wall bike ride last month.

What does seem significant though is that last Sunday, 20 June, the day I finally started the drive from California to my home state of Massachusetts, it was exactly 6 months to the day since I’d first arrived in the ‘golden’ state. At the outset, I would never have imagined that I’d spend five of those months in one state. But then California is huge and so varied.

It’s also notable that this was my second time of leaving the west coast to head east. On the first attempt last month, we’d encountered a heat wave in the desert lands of Arizona and New Mexico, and in the 110 degrees and higher altitude of Albuquerque, the van and I weren’t doing too well. So we turned round and headed back to the relative cool of California’s ‘June gloom’ to get better prepared.

I have to be honest and say that I was also attracted by a last dose of camping with our Volkswagen family of friends and more VW events. I had a fantastic time and amazingly my camper won a prize at the VW Classic in Irvine. At this biggest VW event of the year, we took away a plaque for 3rd place in the Bay window category. What a boost to set us on our way this time round!

Those magic memories have kept us motivated on the road and now we find ourselves a smidgen off being half way to our Massachusetts destination.  This time we are both better prepared and came through AZ and NM in fine fettle, and no doubt the right energy helped us along.

Today, we’ve stopped at midday (and almost mid-way) in MacDonald’s to cool down and pray for rain here in Oklahoma, in a town called Clinton. A family I met yesterday (also in MacD’s) in Tucumcari, New Mexico, were praising OK state as being friendly, sensible and a nice place to raise a family. They moved here from California a few years ago. OK (Oklahoma) is right here in the middle of this vast continent, 1500 miles from the ocean; can you imagine that? No blue sea over the horizon.

I wonder what perspective that gives its people?

I’ve long been fascinated by the relationship between human behavior and location/terrain/population density. Californians around LA behave differently to those up north in the same state. They drive aggressively and have no respect for others drivers, especially those in slow old vans! On numerous occasions in my four month stay, Californians told me how crowded they now feel. Aggressive driving is one outward sign of their stress, they say. Coming from a country that is also crowded and where stress levels are high, one day I decided to compare the population density in CA with that of the UK. I found that my own UK has three times the number of people per square mile compared with California. Can we draw any conclusions from this data, I ask?

Talking of countries and behavior, I note that the G20 has just finished in Toronto, yet I do not know much about what transpired. I have been driving all week and trying to find out news by tuning into the radio across country but the only program worth listening to is NPR (independent national public radio) and unfortunately NPR stations are often impossible to find on the dial. Here in MacDonald’s there is Fox News on the flat screen TV, a station that is very popular with some, but sadly there is no point in trying to get true news information from this source, for it is as biased as they come; just ask my New England friends!

I mention all this, because I wonder when one lives in the middle of a nation as large as America, insulated by 1500 miles in each direction, what does the average person think about the rest of the world and how does the average Joe perceive other countries, customs and cultures?

My 1971 VW Westfalia pop-top camper has now carried me over 7500 miles on a journey of experiences. I’ve met many other ordinary folk, including the zany family of VW enthusiasts, who have shared their stories and differing viewpoints and opinions with me. I have had my eyes opened and my mind expanded through listening to others’ experiences of life. And without exception I can say that I have met a huge amount of warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit in the miles traveled so far. And for those who have expressed concern about a woman traveling alone, I can honestly say that I have not once felt afraid. I’ve only lost a heartbeat when camping overnight in the wilderness and the silence has been broken by the night call of a wild animal. Isn’t that amazing?

They made it

[With a special dedication to my Dad ***]

Since I left the ‘Run for the Wall’ ride from LA to DC *, I have been thinking about the riders each day and praying for their safety. And whenever I could find a wi-fi connection, I’d follow virtually by reading the blog of one of the riders and road guides – Retired Sergeant Major Doug Lyvere.

Each day Doug wrote a piece about the day – about the riding, the road conditions, and the supporters who came out to cheer on the riders and pay their respects for those who served. He also wrote about his emotions as memories were brought back by specific events, such as the laying of wreaths at local Veteran memorials.

You can follow his route (the southern one of the two) and his day by day accounts at his blog

On day 11, he wrote about the group as they gathered in Arlington and the quietness that descended as they visited the Wall this past Saturday May 29th. It’s a particularly moving piece, so take out your tissues or handkerchief ahead of time, and read his writings at

What’s also remarkable about Doug’s blog is that a man named Bob Prater wrote up Doug’s relayed messages each day and put them on the internet, because he could not ride this year. Not remarkable really though, is it? It’s one more example in the line of hundreds, of the comradeship that shines through when you meet these guys, and of the bond that kept them going in times of war and keeps them going still today.

Please don’t go before reading Bob Prater’s piece at the end, A final message from your webmaster

Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly if you read Doug’s day by day accounts, I had to leave the Run for the Wall after day two. The heat and pace across Arizona and southern New Mexico were too much for my old 1971 VW engine.  After the gruelling ride of just two days I can see that major planning is required to make sure you have a vehicle up to the job. It would be worth every bit of the planning. To thank those that served is an honor  ….. and to commemorate those who were prisoners of war or missing in action is hugely important.

Hopefully next year I’ll join the 23rd RFTW and who knows, it might be on a bike (motorbike).

*** As I write this, it’s Memorial Day here in America and for the first time I would like to express my thanks to my late father, Frederick Lane (born Giannandrea), for his service in WWII and for my freedom today.
Thanks Dad.

If you’d like to thank someone special, please add your comments below.