An afternoon out in the sun after a wet, wet winter

Beautiful scenery around Clear Lake, and quiet roads make for wonderful VW touring country, though to get here you will probably encounter a few challenging gradients and tight hairpin bends 🙂

As you can see the result is well worth the effort!

 

Dexter and Mt Konocti, Lake County, Northern California, May 2017

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.

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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

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… and then say hello to Yum Bus 3 ….

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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 🙂

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……………… 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 ….

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

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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 !!

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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?

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

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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 …

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… 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 reminder to WRITE

Today I had a trip down memory lane, reading a post I’d written during the two week drive from California to Massachusetts over two years ago.

Reading Day 3 ‘Road to MA’ (Sun 20 June 2010) Bakersfield > Needles, CA and re-living the adventure was wonderful. But it also reminded me that I’d only gotten as far as writing about Day 4 on the Road to MA before the driving had taken over.

I keep thinking that one day I’ll have the time to catch up and complete the stories of those days on the road. I am also reminded of the book of the journey that others have asked me to write. But I’ll never find the time, I know that. I must make the time if I really intend to write a book.

Therefore, may I ask you a question or two?

  • would you really read a book about the cross country road trips mentioned in the posts on this blog?

  • if yes, what kind of a book would you like: a coffee table one with lots of photos or a paperback containing some photos in the centrefold?

Some of the photos originally posted on facebook with the Day 3 story are shown below. I’m hoping you can answer the two questions above and give me some feedback. Also please can you let me know if you like any of these photographs enough to see them in a book?

Thank you …

Day 3 ‘Road to MA’ (Sun 20 June 2010) Bakersfield > Needles, CA

as I leave Bakersfield this sign was way too tempting a poster not to photograph

Just imagine over 3 million square miles!!!!

So out I go, south east of Bakersfield, towards Barstow …

and then up over the hills ….

and into Tehachapi for a quick ice-cream stop …

where I see trains, in the town and outside, where carriages are
stationery and look abandoned …

 Time to get back on the road again and out into the desert …

I continue towards Barstow. After a brief stop to cool down, I carry on
into the desert and many miles later, I find this poor little ‘ghost’ town

and ask at the Desert Market in Daggett, if I’m on
the right road to find the Bagdad Cafe (named after the movie)

All I could see was the little market (store) and no sign of any habitation in any of the other buildings! But I am on the right road and to my surprise the railway line beside me is still operable; here’s a running train!!!

Finally I come to the Bagdad Cafe, just in time as the sun sets 

As I go inside, I can see other famous people have been here before me 🙂

I didn’t know we’d be on Route 66 – what a bonus that is!

Back into The YesWeCan CamperVan, even though it’s pretty dark now ..

and shortly after I leave the Bagdad Cafe, I see another train (yippee).
I follow it east into the desert for as long as I can …
listening to the clackety clack of the wheels (listen here)

… and finally when I look down and see the gas tank on empty, I stop.

For a full account of the day, read the original post at this link to
Day 3 ‘Road to MA’ (Sun 20 June) Bakersfield > Needles, CA

your COMMENTS below … thank you!! 

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A maiden voyage

With the focus on making posters for my bus exhibition for MG Awareness, I completely forgot that it was to be the VW bus maiden voyage in Great Britain.

getting ready for maiden voyage; Paul said the bird poop was lucky, but I wanted to wash the bus for its first trip

Which meant it was also my first time driving it !!!! How could I have overlooked that minor detail? And it was over 100 miles from the Bedford area to Grill-n-Chill at The Hop Farm in Kent …

Carole’s ist time driving the Brazilian bus

On that drive down the M1, M25, M20 and a little country road (of which I do not know the number because every time I slowed for a traffic light or roundabout, the engine cut out!!) I  discovered this VW is nothing like my smooth 1971 VW Westfalia. This Brazilian built split window has a different everything: engine, brakes, gear positions, pedal positions and angle, steering, seats, steering wheel position, noise insulation, windows, mirrors; and it has NO rear view mirror and NO heat.

What does all that mean in practice?????

It means:

  • it loves to go into reverse gear instead of 2nd!!!
  • you have to REALLY step on the brakes because they are drum brakes and neither are they power assisted as in my 71 Westfalia
  • the braking distance is twice as far!
  • the clutch pedal is so steep my arthritic left knee no longer feels the pain because it’s dead!
  • the steering is baggy, baggy, baggy (where did you say the white line was?)
  • the driver’s seat is so low that the steering wheel becomes a boob carrier 🙂
  • the steering wheel is so high it almost hits yer chin!
  • the lack of insulation anywhere in the van, means the engine noise is amplified in the cargo space and is deafeningly loud
  • the lack of ventilation up to the front windscreen means I need to open windows
  • the windows slide so it’s a new manoeuvre instead of turning a handle (just one more thing to learn as I’m driving as fast as I can to get to the show in Kent)
  • the mirrors are small circular things that show almost nothing behind
  • the lack of a rear view mirror is positively dangerous as I have to turn around each time I need to change lanes (but at least I have no blind spots in a 15 window bus)
  • without heat it is so cold to drive in the English weather!!!!

BUT … despite all of the above ….

  • I did make it to the Grill-n-Chill VW Show at The Hop Farm in Kent

meeting my gracious host, Anton; notice the signs in the back of the bus!!!

  • it’s amazing, as with all VWs, there is just something about them that captures your heart !!!!

P.S. This story also published on sister site VW4causes (Vehicles Working for Causes) at http://vw4causes.org/2012/09/25/a-3rd-to-celebrate-driving-a-vw-bus-on-its-maiden-voyage/ … with more photos and chatter on using the 15 window bus to tell an important story

 

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?  🙂

7853 miles

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

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE http://vw4causes.org/mga-route/

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