[NEW NOTE: When I set out on this trip to collect my vintage VW from the eBay seller in Oregon and drive it back to Massachusetts, I knew only 3 people who I hoped to meet. They were all in California: Adriana whom I’d only spoken to by phone; and Darron and Gill from my MBA class at London Business School, whom I’d not seen for twenty years. I was full of anticipation. That’s why I named my VW ‘The YesWeCan CamperVan‘ and just look at how the trip turned out.]

” A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles ” Tim Cahill

Below are the names of some very special people who made this road trip so unbelievably wonderful: mechanics who treated my VW with oodles of care; strangers who befriended me on the road and gave me a parking space to camp my van, or a bed or a shower; others who told me about their projects, home town or place in the sticks; passersby whose meeting was brief yet brightened my day; and my new VW family whose love for restoring these vintage vehicles and ability to create fun at VW meetings and campouts was like a ray of warm sunshine to light my soul. Words seem small compared to the huge thanks I’d like to send their way.

SPECIAL THANKS AND APPRECIATIONS to the VW mechanics who worked on our Van during our 2010 road trip across 10,000 miles, in order of meeting:

Ken in Medford, OR – initial inspection, compression check, valve adjustment.
Eric in Willits, CA – new radio, spark plugs, cigarette lighter socket (for charging iPod).
Chris in Willits, CA – replaced front headlight, adjusted valves and timing.
Tyrone in Oxnard, CA – adjusted clutch and timing.
Buckwheat in Carpinteria, CA – repaired exhaust leak, adjusted valves, changed oil.
JP in Albuquerque, NM – adjusted timing.
JC in Bakersfield, CA – adjusted valves and timing, replaced oil sensor and various gaskets, adjusted brakes and clutch, replaced fuses and repaired worst of oil leaks

AND NEXT all the wonderful people who inspired and befriended us on this journey shown below …….


Louise and Steve for their love of VW camper vans, the photo of one of their gorgeous model vans that graces my header on this blog, and to Steve for his valuable advice when I was bidding on eBay to buy the van.

* * * * * * *


Przemek Antczak of Antczak Motors in Talent, Oregon, for being the most honest car dealer I have ever met. He sold me this beautiful van on EBay.

Devin, Flipp and Grafton in Portland: who befriended me on the train from Portland Airport into the city and when we could see I was not going to make the midnight bus to Medford, drove me to the Greyhound bus station to be certain that I did. My three angels! They make music, check them out at ….. (info’ awaited). See Devin McNew and Andrew Flip Fajen on my Facebook page

Pamala Joy and her Earth Song House in Ashland, for her peaceful environmentally conscious B&B, and her example of how one individual can create a community of volunteers to help others (the Food Angels).

* * * * * * *

CALIFORNIA – north of San Francisco

Michele in Mt. Shasta, northern California, for her wonderful gifts: driving me to Lake Siskiyou, making me dinner and providing a warm bed for the night after my first day driving the van. Thanks also to her beautiful daughter, Giovanna.

Adriana (an old business coaching client whom I’d only met by phone before), husband Pete and their amazing one year old daughter, Gwennie, with whom I stayed for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, in the middle of a Redwood forest, just north of Ukiah in Redwood Valley. Enormous appreciations go to them all for my stay in a cabin with my own wood stove and writing desk and view of the creek outside. Surrounded by virgin Redwoods, I was in heaven on earth. Yellow bellied newts, dogs and horses made up perfection. Also Adriana’s friend Sandy made my visit very special with her dog and llamas and nature walks showing me the magic of the forest.

Adriana’s parents – Henry and Vergilia for their wonderful conversations and hospitality, especially on New Year’s Eve.

Pete’s Mum, Susan, in Ukiah, California for her Christmas Eve hospitality and her homemade Cioppino (Seafood Stew) family meal (see recipe at the very bottom of this page).

Pammie, a gas station attendant in Ukiah, for her delightful conversation. She chatted to me before I spent my first night in the van since starting the trip, next door at the all night diner and truck stop.

Alison for befriending me at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits and hosting me in her lovely home … and her husband Eric who gave the gave the van a tune up (he’s mentioned at the top of this page, too) and who also cooked some marvellous meals with son Emerson. Without them I would not have had the chance to experience the wonderful spirit of the community in the small town of Willits. Oh, I nearly forgot … this wonderful family of three invited me back for my birthday, offered the use of their address for my birthday cards and made me a very special birthday meal. For my 55th, I did receive more than the 55 cards I was hoping for and a whole lot more besides. Thanks seems a very small word sometimes.

Alison also introduced me to Steve who so skillfully facilitated the Redwood Futures Meeting at Mendocino College in January which I had the honor of attending. I’d also like to give thanks to all the people whose names I cannot remember for giving their time to such a great cause. Northern Californians are inspirational in the ways they are taking care of the environment, natural resources and their communities. They made one of the greatest impressions on me.

Hannah and Will in Ukiah (on my second visit to the town) who gave me a lovely overnight stay in the guest room in their new home. Hannah was working at the Mendocino Environmental Center and has a weekly show on the radio. More about her work in People and Projects.

Peter and Heidi in Willits (on my second visit to the town) who invited me to stay while I was contemplating settling in the area. Peter is a wonderful buyer’s agent and has been in real estate for years. He loves restoring old buildings and I appreciated the time he spent with me and the tour he gave me of a beautiful big house in Willits that he has been restoring for years.

* * * * * * *

CALIFORNIA – San Francisco area

Darron from my MBA class and his wife, Gill, also an London Business School alum, who made my visit to them in Moraga, California, an absolute delight. They took me to their ski cabin in the mountains and showed me some of the highlights of their area including a local vineyard and the science museum in San Francisco. The amazing photo of the Mammatus cloud was possible because when Darron was driving us back from the ski resort to Moraga across the flat central valley, he spotted the rare cloud formation and even knew it’s name. Thanks also to Guy (16), Aeron (15) and Richard (13) who were gracious in accepting me into their den and who helped me eat my ice cream birthday cake.

Rani and Seri, friends of Darron and Gill, who invited me to their home to meet their family and tell me about his travels and being a host for travelers with SERVAS

Susan, founder of Captain Vineyards, whom I met first when she was guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Moraga Garden Club, and then again when she showed me around her Moraga vineyard.

* * * * * * *

CALIFORNIA – south of San Francisco

Edward, the manager at the Inn at Avila Beach, for his wonderful hospitality and warm greeting. I’ve never stayed at such a friendly hotel where all the staff are happy to help and want guests to enjoy their stay so much.

Kathy and Joe at Morro Bay for the photo in front of the ROCK.

Lily in Santa Barbara, for befriending me at a popular fast food restaurant and showing me around SB and the waterfront and taking me to a surf competition at Rincon beach. She also took me to Carpinteria where a whole new adventure began.

Laurie in Carpinteria for letting me park the Van in her yard and then for inviting me into her home where I stayed for ages! She was also very generous in letting me use her wi-fi to do my updates on this blog and on Facebook.

Judith from Santa Barbara, who met me on Facebook and came to Carpinteria to meet up for lunch and share stories about her restoration project – a vintage VW van given to her by her grandfather.

Jeanne and Ed (Laurie’s parents) in Buena Park with whom we stayed for a week of R&R. Jean took me to my first live baseball game, to see the Angels play the New York Yankees at the Angels stadium in Anaheim!

Quillen who met me at various VW events, gave me hours of advice on caring for my van and camping tips, and whose Father came out when the van blew a spark plug in Westlake Village to put it back! Also thanks to Quillen for being my ‘contact’ person on the road when I finally left California on June 20th to drive back to Massachusetts by July 5th. She checked my progress each day to make sure I was safe.

Olive and John in the Los Angeles suburbs for their ‘Britishness’ even though they’ve lived in LA for many many years, and to Olive for her superb orienteering knowledge and camping/driving tips. They also have a 1971 Bay window van and one day I hope to tour with them.

Ryan and Tiffany at the OEBC meeting on May 2nd at Featherly Park, who encouraged me to enter the SLOW Drag Race (2nd place!!!) amid shouts of joy! The weekend was truly memorable for me and ‘California fun’ at its very best. HAPPY TIMES!

Sherri from the Inland Valley VW Club whom I met at the Wolfsburg West event in Corona, for her friendly face and listening ear. Many thanks also for her Club’s donation to my gas (petrol) fund.

Carla at Wolfsburg West for her generosity of spirit and grace. She sponsored quite a few miles of my trip.

The ‘A’ family in CoronaApril and Abel, with their family Abel Jr, Anthony, Alishia and Alec, plus Abel Jr’s wife, Becky, and baby Mckenzie. I so appreciated their wonderfully warm family atmosphere and loving care.

Also in Corona, at the public library, I met Ecaterina with whom I enjoyed conversations about being a European in America.

Thanks to all the special people in my VW FAMILY at the VTO campout at Prado Regional Park, Chino, June 10-13:
Johnny and Kristine, Nancy, Louis, Ken, Quillen, Greg, Stanley, Eric, Pearl … and many more …

At the OCTO SHOW I bought some model VWs from Sue Steed who runs a wonderful business selling all kinds of VW model cars, vans and other collectibles.

Doug and Janel were also at VTO. I first met them at the May OEBC meeting, where Doug kindly agreed to film me and my Van in the drag race. Doug is the most organized VW camper I have ever met and a great cook. After the campout at Prado, the OCTO SHOW and the VW CLASSIC, I travelled to their home in Bakersfield to see them again before heading home to Massachusetts.

Jean Claude and Venus I also met at Prado. I had a lovely time staying with them in Bakersfield while JC worked on getting the van ready for the 3500 mile trip from CA to MA. Thanks also for the unique meal at the Basque restaurant in town – a most welcome Bakersfield surprise.

* * * * * * *

this section still in progress


Williams: met a lovely family admiring the CamperVan on Main street and struck up a conversation about their younger days and fun family times in their VW. Thanks to Ted, his son, Zack,  and parents, Allan and Mary for uplifting my spirits.

Meteor Crater RV Park Gas station: Thanks to Elizabeth for being the first person to buy one of my hand-made photo cards from this trip. She chose one of the YesWeCan CamperVan.

Holbrook: Thanks to the staff at McDonald’s for keeping safe my wallet and mobile phone that I left there and noticed only hours later.  Thanks to …. who drove me back to Holbrook to collect my wallet.  On our return trip through Holbrook, we met another VINTAGE VW VAN with drivers Grace and Rigney, and friends and fellow travelers Chris, Chelsea and Tommy. Took photos of both vans and everyone and posted on Facebook.


Alamogordo: Doug from Catch the Bus, who came out to check my van when it sounded “chug, chug, chug, gasp …chug”

Albuquerque: Henry who befriended me outside a Lowe’s and cooked dinner for me in his outdoor clay oven and entertained me with wonderful conversation. JC who not only adjusted the timing on my camper van, but also invited me to his home to shower and rest out of the heat before continuing my journey. And two ladies ….. …… whom I met when volunteering at the church for the annual festival …

Los Lunas: Barry and Brenda whom I met at an Arizona rest area on I-40 heading toward Albuquerque. They generously invited me to their home for an overnight stay a few hundred miles east of where we met. The thought of a comfy bed and shower kept me going and the miles zipped by. After I arrived I discovered that they were on their way back from a trip themselves and Brenda had not been home for weeks. Most people would have let that stand in the way of inviting a guest. I was amazed by their kindness and generosity.

Tucumcari: in the MacDonalds, I met local ranchers, Myrle and Jim and their son Jeff

Myrle & Jim at McDonalds in Tucumcari, New Mexico

and a family on their way home to Oklahoma, who told me that it was one of the best places in America to raise a family. I was thrilled when Mom, Crystal, later wrote to me on Facebook to ask if we arrived back safely. Another wonderful friend from this road trip!

Tucumcari: at the town pool ….




Driving along I-40 watching lightning in the distance, I was thinking of stopping when I saw another vintage VW at a rest stop and managed to quickly pull off the road. I then introduced myself to Mike and his blue 71 westfalia. It turned out he’s from San Clemente, CA. Later I saw him on the highway around the outskirts of Tulsa. [NOTE: I received a friend invitation on  27 December 2010 from Mike on the VW Camper Family site – 6 months after we met – great!]

Of course, I’d met several people from Oklahoma earlier this trip in New Mexico: the family at an I-40 rest stop just east of Albuquerque; and Crystal with her family at the McD’s in Tucumcari.


Springfield: 28 JUNE 2010 Act of kindness, big time …. as I was parked outside an office pouring cold water over my head to cool down at midday, a man came out to ask if I was okay and offered me iced water and an air conditioned room in which to sit. His name – Danny Correll – and his business is called First Impressions Printing and Design. I posted a thank you on the Van’s facebook Page in appreciation.

Cuba: two men outside the grocery store – one selling peaches and the other hand-made knives … hope to find the note with their names later. One gave me one of his knives and the other some peaches, which when I later shared them with Laura and Elliott turned out to be mighty delicious. THANKS!

Kirkwood: Special mention to Laura and Elliott whom I met at a rest area west of Cuba, MO. They invited me to stay over. I made it to their home late afternoon the next day and had a lovely visit. I enjoyed a rest day and we all went to the Botanic Gardens in St Louis for a music night and picnic on the lawn. Elliott is a joyful 7 year old and insisted of giving the Van a wash and hose down. The Van was very grateful and so was I. Great pictures on Facebook.


I’d hoped to meet a VW guy , called Howie, who had befriended us on Facebook but as we arrived in Cleveland he was leaving for a weekend campout in New York state. Maybe next time!


Friendship: at the Rotary Club sponsored coffee and donuts at a rest stop on route 85, outside of this town with the unusual name, I met two women hosts who entertained me with their stories for a couple of hours. I had miles to go but could not tear myself away from their laughter and wonderful tales.

Ravena: I visited an old friend from MA at his new home here in NY, south and west of Albany. I camped in the garden and swam in the pool to cool down in the humid heat of NY state. The next day, July 4th, I watched fireworks with Morris, Ronnie and friends and celebrated Independence Day.


Millbury: arrived at the home of my dear friend, Amy, whose been taking care of my chattels and collecting my mail all this time. A very special thanks goes to Amy for being such a good friend.

* * * * * * *

From the first time I tasted this dish on Christmas Eve 2009, here’s a traditional Italian recipe I found for the Cioppino (seafood stew). I recommend you try it.

Recipe courtesy of Colavita ( is copied here:

Cioppino (Seafood Stew) Recipe:
Origin: Italian
Serves 6 – 8

2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 (35 – ounce) can plum tomatoes, crushed
1 (6 – ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine
1 small lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 cup chopped parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 pounds boned fish filets, halibut, grouper or other firm white fish
3 1/2 pounds lobster tails, cut up
1 pound shrimp, cleaned and shelled
2 dozen black mussels, scrubbed, beard removed
1 dozen small clams, scrubbed
Salt, optional

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or kettle; saute the onion, green pepper and garlic, about 10 minutes; add tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon, 1/2 cup parsley, oregano,  basil and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Add fish, lobster and shrimp, simmer 5 minutes; add mussels and clams, simmer 10 minutes more, or until the mussels and clams open.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve in soup bowls, sprinkle with additional parsley. Serves 6 – 8.

Serving Suggestion:
Serve this robust fish stew with some garlic bread and a flavorful red wine.

Per Serving:
619 Calories (31.6% from fat); 20g Fat (3g Sat, 11g Mono, 3g Poly); 78g Protein, 20g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 323mg Cholesterol; 1089mg Sodium.
Food Exchanges: 10 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable, 2 1/2 Fat.

3 Responses

  1. What I loved about Massachusetts (Essex) was the lobster rolls. I loved those. I hope you’ve been able to try them.

    Yours aye,


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