Another fun weekend camping near Guerneville, CA

Our third time camping with fellow VW CamperFamily friends at our annual May weekend event at Schoolhouse Canyon Park near Guerneville.
It was as lovely as ever. Will post more pictures soon, especially those taken around the camp fire!


Camping in the Redwoods – Part 1 – getting there

We’ve not been to a campout in Northern California before, so decided to start by taking our leaving mileage – 186, 476.


From Walnut Creek, we’re going over the Benicia bridge, northwest towards Napa, then veering west towards Petaluma, to take 101 north to Guerneville as the route shows here …

Route to Bus City Campout

The planner says 1 hour and 36 minutes – ha! obviously not VW time.

Well, it’s always the journey that’s the adventure, right?  Getting to the destination ….. ho, hum ……

So do you remember those Tillamook buses we wrote about way back? Well, now they have ice cream buses (not only the orange cheese buses) and we found out that they were due to be in Petaluma the very day we are passing through.

So we just had to stop there, of course!! Ready to taste some vanilla? …

SMILE Ice Cream Taste 20140516_144219 - Version 2


… and then say hello to Yum Bus 3 ….


pictured here next to the Tillamook ice cream vendor …

Dexter waits for icecream20140516_144029

Dexter had to say hello as well. He looks pretty handsome next to Yum 3, doesn’t he?

Well, it was hot out, so Dexter and Carole had to head off north …. towards the Bus City Campout near Guerneville …. bye bye ice cream 🙂


……………… more miles …………… more miles ………………..

…………… more miles ………………..

From Petaluma it gets busy on the road so we get off 101, and instead take 116 to Sebastopol.

Petaluma to Guerneville

In California there’s so many different terrains and types of vegetation to photograph, and Carole loves seeing the vines, so we stopped along the way for a quick break ….


 Is that Mt Konocti in the distance – we are looking northeast, so it could be.


And does anyone know this bush? Look at its glorious colour.

It was down a smaller road outside of Sebastopol opposite a vineyard. Simply beautiful.

Dexter w Pink Tree Sebastopol 20140516_173224

Looking at the map again, Carole decides we could take a little detour, from Sebastopol to Guerneville via Bodega Bay, since that’s the village made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “The Birds” …

via Bodega Bay

and on the way, in Bodega, Carole spots a house for sale, so we make a 180 degree turn in order to take a photo of this sweet little abode (looks like a house back east more than a house in California, don’t you think?) …

Dexter at Bodego Church (Hitchcock)

Imagine Carole’s surprise later when she found out that this is THE church that was filmed by Hitchcock !!


The church is actually in the village of Bodega on the way to Bodega Bay. The drive to Bodega Bay was tough, because it got very windy as we headed out to the coast. You’d never know it was still blowing from this serene looking picture of the bay though, would you?


This one shows some sea mist in the air though, with a suggestion of windy weather.


After that it was another windy drive, north up the coast on scary California Highway 1.

Highway 1 to Guerneville, with Russian River

and just after Highway 1 turns inland before it intersects with 116, there was this great view …


… of the Russian River, heading east to Guerneville.

No more photos taken after this: too many hairpin bends, and can’t drive and take pictures on roads like this.

Tomorrow we’ll post photos from our time at the VW campout “Bus City 2014” – or maybe it’ll be a day or two later :).  For now, here’s a satellite photo of Schoolhouse Canyon Campground to the right of a big business. Any ideas what it is?

School house campsite nr Korbel Champagne

To save you looking it up, it’s the Korbel Champagne operation 🙂 Will there be time for a visit and a tasting, we wonder?

Part 2 of this weekend adventure coming next …..

Please click below if you like any parts of our story so far. Thank you. And to support our efforts to spread awareness for MG and other auto-immune diseases, please click here and like our VW’s page on facebook. Thank you.

A glimpse of Buses by the Bridge 2012

For our VW Friends and enthusiasts: a short slide show of Buses by the Bridge XVI, 12-15 January, 2012 and a little glimpse of our view of the weekend.

Please click like below if you like this little slide show. Thanks!

Also please take a look at other videos on our VW4CAUSES youtube channel for more news of our drive for MG Awareness and insights into what the patients say.

Cheers 🙂


TODAY’S NEWS-HERALD video broadcast on

Our ‘MG Awareness Drive’ is one of the VW stories featured…

… in this video by Ben Pierson, filmed on location at the VW event “Buses By The Bridge XVI” at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, last Saturday, 14 January, 2012.

In this 5 minute video, Carole starts talking about vw4causes and MG at 3 minutes, 35 seconds! Yet it’s worth watching every minute! You’ll also get a first look at our new T shirt for Vehicles Working for Causes (vw4causes).

If you’d like to support our drive for MG and vw4causes through another 5,000 miles up to Oregon and then back to the east coast later this Spring, to continue our campaigning for MG Awareness, you can buy a T shirt.

Look out tomorrow for an announcement on pricing and a link to purchase on the web. Thank you and happy viewing 🙂



Ben Pierson of  can be contacted at

‘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

Volkswagen Westfalia Campers

While I am completing my writing about our two week dash across country this year (soon to be posted on this site), here is something to keep you entertained …. from the wonderful free encyclopedia, WIKIPEDIA, called Volkswagen Westfalia Campers

Split Screen VW Camper

Split Screen VW Camper

2000 VW Camper

Volkswagen Westfalia Campers were conversions of Volkswagen Type 2 (better known as Transporter or Micro-Bus) vehicles in the early 1950s through 2003. Volkswagen subcontracted the modifications to Westfalia-werke (most often calledWestfalia) in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Various models and options were available.


Early Volkswagen split-screen windshield Kombi models were built between 1950 and 1967. Volkswagen introduced the bay window in the 1968 model year, replacing the split screen style. Production of Volkswagen camping cars continued well into 2003, and was based on the Volkswagen Kombi or “bus” as it is often referred to. Other coachbuilders, including Dormobile,ASI/Riviera, Danbury Motorcaravans, and VW Sun-Dial, also built camping cars based on the Volkswagen bus.


Between 1951 and August 1958, approximately 1,000 Camper Box conversions were made by Westfalia, the officialVolkswagen Camper conversion coachbuilder. In August 1958, the SO models were introduced. The SO is short for German:Sonderausführung, meaning Special Model.[1]

Westfalia special models included the SO-23; the SO-34, SO-35, SO-33, SO-42, SO-44 and SO-45.

Volkswagen Campers were available from Volkswagen dealers throughout the world. Vehicles were also delivered via the Tourist Delivery Program where a customer would pick up their new van in Germany, drive it in Europe, and transport it home, typically to the USA. Many Volkswagen campers were purchased by USA Servicemen and brought back to the USA in the 1950s and 1960s.[1]

Standard equipment

1970 VW Camper Interior

  • Various Foldout seat arrangements for sleeping
  • Birch plywood interior panels
  • Laminated plywood cabinetry for storage
  • Ice box or cold-box
  • Sink (some models)
  • Water storage and pump
  • Electrical hookups
  • Curtains
  • Screened Jalousie Windows
  • Laminated folding table

Optional equipment

Westfalia split-window camper with options

  • Attached “pop up” tops with canvas/screen sides
  • Awnings and side tents
  • A portable chemical toilet
  • A camping stove
  • Various camping equipment
  • Child sleeping cot in driver cab
  • Storage box which matches interior. Can be placed between front seats by sliding door.
  • Rear swing table
  • Small map table mounted on dash
  • Automatic Transmission (beginning in the 1970s)
  • Air conditioning (dealer installed)

Awnings and side tents

A number of tent and side awning designs were available as extra-cost additions. Collectors often have difficulty determining whether one of these options was specifically available from and for Westfalia models, or were developed and sold by other camper conversion vendors such as ASI/Riviera and Sundial.

SO-22 “Camping Box” Period (1952–58). During this period no tent per se was available from Westfalia, but one could obtain a striped canvas awning that stretched almost the length of the vehicle, and extended about six feet out to the side. The awning frame seems to be similar to that of the SO-23 period “large tent” described below. This earliest of Westfalia “tents” is shown on the cover of the July, 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics[2] and in a 1956 brochure that describes it as “a large, colorful side awning.”[3]

SO-23 “Deluxe” Camper (1958–1965). Two tent options were available during this period. One was similar to the 1952-58 awning, with the addition of removable side curtains, and the other was a small vestibule or “foyer” that only covered the side door area. These had no names other than “large tent” and “small tent,” and the larger one seems to have been available with and without a “bathroom” as described below.

VW bus with attached small tent

The “Small Tent”

The small tent, available in either red/white or blue/gray stripes, was less popular and thus is less often seen today.[4] It consists of a single piece of heavy canvas, with a strip of vinyl along the bottom acting as a reinforcement and splash guard. It fits over the side-door opening (and has a gap for one leg of the roof rack) as a sort of foyer or vestibule. It’s big enough for two adults to stand inside, but little else, and was probably intended as a means of getting in and out of the camper in cold or wet weather.

The stripes are about four inches wide. The tent itself is about four feet wide by three feet deep, and inside headroom is well over six feet. A long white zipper runs up the middle of the front, while the back is open and contoured to fit the bus. The frame consists of four metal poles which fit into pockets inside the top of the tent and lock together to form a square. Legs on two of the poles fit into brackets which were bolted to the camper’s roof. Two additional poles dogleg into the top frame and have small chain-hooks to hold the doors open. The lower ends of these poles fit into holes in the jack supports. Rubber grommets help protect the paint on the doors and the jack points. The lower edge of the tent is secured to the ground with about a dozen metal stakes. Each stake is about six inches long and is formed from hardened 1/4″ rods with a loop at one end. Two storage bags made of (usually matching) canvas with leather straps are supplied for the tent and poles.

VW bus with attached large tent

The “Large Tent” with optional awning supports

The large tent, probably a revision of the SO-22 awning model, has also been called the “privy tent” because most models seen today have a “bathroom” in the rear side wall. This is a zippered, metre-square room that sticks out toward the back, and is held up by telescoping poles and guy ropes. Open grommets are placed near the top for ventilation.

This tent is most often seen in a yellow/blue-grey stripe, but were also available in red/white, orange/blue, orange/white, and green/white.[4] The tent’s frame mounts to brackets on the roof and bumpers. The front bumper mount is a flat plate of steel bent into an open S or Z shape. Tent poles are steel, either black or grey, around 2 cm in diameter, and there are fourteen sections that must be assembled to create a rectangular, peaked awning with support rods leading to the bumpers. Once the awning has been set up, curtains can be attached to the three outer sides (with Tenax “lift the dot” fasteners) to achieve a weatherproof – though windowless and floorless – portable shelter. Leather straps secure the sidewalls to the support poles, and stakes hold the bottom edges down as with the small tent. An additional set of poles and stakes were available to permit the outer flap to be extended horizontally as a second awning, resulting in a large shaded space on the side of the bus.

VW bus with attached freestanding tent

The “Big Top” Tent

The “Big Top” Tent (1965–1967). This is the largest and most colorful of the Westfalia side tents. It’s different from the earlier awning-based tent in two important ways: the addition of large, screened windows on the side curtains, and a free-standing frame that allows the tent to be left at the campsite while the bus is driven to town for groceries or side trips. The tent has a rear door that can be zipped closed at such times. Both front and rear flaps can be rolled up and held open by cloth ties or (on later models) straps with lift-the-dot fasteners.

This is the final Westfalia tent produced for the splitscreen bus and is arguably the most collectible version. Tents in good condition have been sold for well over $1000US.

VW bus with freestanding baywindow tent

Freestanding Model (1968 and later buses)

Early Baywindow Tent. When Volkswagen transitioned to the baywindow or breadloaf model with large single curved windshield and sliding side door, the Westfalia camper was modified to include an angled poptop. This design provided space for a large child’s cot overhead, and on later models, the poptop was further enlarged to fit a full bed large enough for two adults.

The add-on side tent underwent a complete redesign. The new model (referred to in publicity materials as an Add-a-Roomtent or a Motent) superficially resembles the late splitscreen “Big Top” tent in general shape and colors, but is otherwise quite different. For one, the tent’s frame is now external, with the canvas supported by elastic loops and plastic hooks, somewhat like a shower curtain. Instead of a single opening front panel, there is a zippered screen door in the middle of the front (side away from the bus) with a small awning flap that can be lowered for wind and rain protection. This tent also features a waterproof floor, and the attachment method on the vehicle side results in a securely closable shelter (i.e., no more gap below the bus floor).

Other “Westfalia” Tents. See the references for links to websites containing information about other Westfalia- and VW-supplied tents, as well as tents supplied by other manufacturers, through the Vanagon and Eurovan periods (1980 to present).


M-Codes are used to identify the vehicle factory options. Beginning in 1958, a metal plate was riveted to the back of the right front seat. The plate lists the date of manufacture, and various options that were incorporated into the vehicle.

The information included the date of manufacture, the option codes, the export destination, model number and paint finish (typically a durable finish referred to as Nitro-Lacquer), the paint color codes and the VIN or serial number.

M-Code plate

This plate is located behind the front right rear seat on Volkswagen Buses through 1976. In 1977, the location was moved to sit atop the air duct on the left side, just above the fuse panel.[5]

DD M Y DD=Day of Month M=Month (1-12) and Y Was the year between 1958 and 1964 (removed in 1965 and placed in first digit of serial number)



Model-Codes Paint-Type




AA=21 for panel van or 23 for Kombi
B=Model Year after 1965


Many factory and aftermarket options exist for these campers. Owners of Camping Vans and many Volkswagen clubs manage websites detailing these vehicles and their accessories.

The Volkswagen camper has become something of an icon in British and American culture, as a symbol of hippy and surf culture that grew in the mid-to-late 1960s. The bus has appeared in numerous television series and films, including Back to the Future (where a sunroof bus, not a camper, was driven by terrorists), Little Miss Sunshine (again not a camper, but a bus with classic VW bus symptoms) and a sketch performed by British comedy duo Hale and Pace (where they impersonated two stereotypical 1960s hippies with a Volkswagen camper emblazoned with “flower power”).[6]

See also


  1. a b Website located at viewed 14 July 2006
  2. ^ Popular Mechanics, July 1955
  3. ^ Schuler (1985), The Origin and Evolution of the VW Beetle, ISBN 0915038455
  4. a b Website located at viewed 8 November 2009
  5. ^ Website located at viewed 14 July 2006
  6. ^ YouTube – Jed a Dave

External links

  • [1]: A website in French and English serving the members and non members of the Club International Camping Car Westfalia, the CICCW
  • A website in Wiki format to display individual air-cooled Volkswagen Buses, Beetles and Karmann-Ghia’s
  • 1976 Westfalia restoration (fr): Example of a restored 1976 Westfalia
  • Online community for VW Bus owners and enthusiasts. Forums, Classifieds, pictures, technical information.
  • [2] SO model numbers reference site
  • Split Screen Van Club a club for Volkswagen bus owners and enthusiasts
  • Westfalia Owners Web Site. An online community for Westfalia owners and enthusiasts.

Page Update: TRAVEL TIPS (Nov 2010)

I have just completed an update to the ‘Travel Tips’ Page. To find it click on the tab above and you’ll be taken to a page with information about how we traveled across the USA, and round California for five months, with minimal costs for overnight camping.

I list a few camp sites and many other places we stayed overnight after asking permission. PLEASE ADD YOUR TIPS TO OUR PAGE through the Comments box, which you’ll find at the bottom of every page and every post (this is a post; pages are the ones with tabs along the top). THANK YOU.

You’ll see there is only one hotel listed. We stayed there to recover and relax after a particularly eventful drive* in a terrible storm, where we were perched precipitously on Route 1 south of Monterey, between mud slides on the left and raging seas on the right. It was a nerve racking drive because there is nowhere to turn around on that stretch of 1 south, when you are in a storm and visibility is poor [perhaps I’ll add tips like this to the Travel Tips page later in another update; what do you think?]

* Read about this scary adventure last February, on our earlier post Memories are made of this

Fall Finon Fest 2010

Carole (who I met through a group called vwcamperfamily) asked me to contribute a post from my own blog ( about what is becoming an annual tradition for the vwcamperfamily – the Fall Finon Fest! Joe, one of our own who is a founding father sort of guy, first started the camp out three years ago. Only a few buses showed up then. Now in its third year, we had a whole group of great people to share good times with! If you find yourself in the gold country of California in September, come on by and join the fun!
Its already the third year that the Fall Finnon Fest has been going on! And its kind of exciting to know that we’ve been to every single one, since the beginning when we first moved to California! I don’t really have much to say about the camp out, except the usual. It was fun and we can’t wait until the next one! We love seeing new VW busers at these events. Here are some pictures to enjoy:

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Brian’s bus and his bike that he attached an engine to! Really epic!

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Carl’s adventure wagon with the hatch popped open. Will he end up selling it or not?

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Somebody drove up Saturday evening in this Ghia. Not sure who it was, but I got this close up of the front lights.

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Not sure who’s bus this is, but I’ve seen it before. I appreciate the tarp awning!

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Peter’s red bus and Brett’s big blue.

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
John’s Dormmobile. Very unique – it was imported from the U.K., I think.

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
The hang out spot was by Shelby and Blake’s Westy vanagon.

Fall Finnon Fest 2010
Saving the best for last! Our bus with Romy cooking breakfast and brewing some coffee on Sunday morning.

Whats Up With LA Taking All of the Water?


In our recent jaunts to the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, be it to go to the desert, the mountains, or visit the hot springs, we’ve encountered many signs of land and water being “owned” by the LADWP. Like signs saying, “No Overnight Camping Allowed – LADWP land.” After a while, we wondered who LADWP was. Then we figured out that its actually the city of Los Angeles and LADWP stands for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So why the hell do they own so much land so far away from the city of LA?

It’s because they need to own the land so they could have the right to suck all of it dry! And it’s very apparent when you drive down HWY 395 and look at all of the “lakes” like Mono Lake or Owen’s Lake. In the case of Mono Lake, the LADWP started diverting water out of the river that fed it in the early 1900s and the water level dropped like a rock. Conservation efforts in the 1970s and 1980s stopped them taking as much water as they liked, and now the lake is actually rising again, but it’s still below its natural level. What’s amazing is that Mono Lake is roughly on the same line of longitude as San Francisco, but LA is taking its waters. In the case of Owen’s Lake, it’s even worse. LA completely sucked it dry. It turned from a salt lake like Mono to a salt playa in the 1920s, and now it whips up alkali dust every time there is a wind storm. The people who lived around it complained so much from the dust ‘pollution’ that LA agreed to wet the soil a bit to prevent dust storms. In fact, one of our professors at Berkeley was part of the scientific study which showed how the wind patterns in the Owen’s Valley made the dust storms so bad. She studies how the wind (air) flows over mountains and in mountain valleys. She said that the dry lake bed which was once Owen’s Lake was the largest point source of dust in the western hemisphere! Could you believe that!? After the study was published, that’s when LA decided to start wetting the soil. However, when we drove by Owen’s Lake a couple weeks ago, during a crazy wind storm, we could see the dust storm for miles away!

Owen's Lake Alkali Dust Storm
An alkali dust storm on Owen’s Lake

The wind was really ripping across the Owen’s Valley and picking up a lot of salts and other minerals and dust that cover the now dry lake bed. The cloud formations show just how windy the valley was. The low clouds over the Sierras to the left are caused by condensation of moist air over the mountains. The air is moving very fast downwards into the valley where it dries up, and picks up a lot of dust. In fact, the winds can get so strong that they knock over semi trucks driving on Hwy 395! Then the wind flows back up over the White Mountains to the right, forming this huge front of clouds that runs parallel to the valley. These are the crazy winds that pick up all of the dust and create a hazard when it is windy.

Not only that, but you can’t even camp in the Owen’s Valley because LA owns it to take water from the Owen’s River. Many natural hot springs pop up in that valley and the run off drains into the river, which is tapped by LA. Therefore, LA doesn’t want any new hot tubs built which would interfere with their water supply (even though they wouldn’t at all), nor campers who would just like to enjoy the pleasant scenery.

Tuesday night – moon in the forest

When we arrived in Mendocino yesterday afternoon, it was misty and not great for photography. Carole said it looked like Cornwall so why take pictures anyway! We think she was a bit worried about the drive ahead. After strolling around town and a nearby beauty spot  – where grassland trails met the rugged coast and we could see the lighthouse beam in the distance – we drove north to Fort Bragg for dinner. Choosing this route meant we could head back to Ukiah on route 20 east, which we hoped would be an easier drive. As we began to go up and down and round and round equally challenging bends, we began to feel weary. On seeing the road sign ’18 miles of S bends’ we decided enough was enough for one day and focussed on finding a place to turn off the road. It was so dark amongst the big evergreens that we only just spotted a short break in the trees. Then as we peered inside it opened up a big area for day camping. Perfect and safe off the road. Carole checked all our doors were locked, closed the curtains, opened up the bed and fell into her warm cosy sleeping bag. Bothel stayed on look out duty and I basked in the light of the moon and enjoyed being surrounded by gigantic redwoods and pines. “Nite, Nite”, from the ‘YesWeCan CamperVan’.

Nite Nite

Click here for the video version!