- Posted December 28, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
VW camper van memories
Cross Country VW Odyssey!
My name is Jason Kauffman I'm 40 years old and I have been a VW enthusiast all of my life. My mother bought a brand new Volkswagen Beetle in 1973 and that's when it all started! I grew up in the back seat of that car. When I turned 16 I was given the keys to the old Beetle for my own and from there on out I was hooked! I have since then always owned and driven old VW's. I have owned my own Volkswagen repair business for 13 years. Buying, selling and restoring old VW's is what I do best. It's the passion and love for VW campers that I just cant get enough of!
This particular story I'm about to tell you began some 20 years ago! I had always talked about wanting to travel around the country in an old VW camper, seeing all the wonderful state and national parks along the way, all while camping and living in my bus. Well, life moves fast sometimes and so that chapter in my life closed and became a failed endeavor! Life happened and I never got to go on my voyage!
Last year, low and behold the opportunity arose again and there I was 20 years later planing my trip around the United States! In may 2011 I finally did it at the ripe age of 39! I packed up my daily driver (1966 VW bus) and hit the highway!
This story is not just about a VW Camper memory!
Its about the road trip of a life time!
"My VW dream that finally happened"
I left from my home town of Waynesboro, Pa. on Memorial day, 2011 at 3:00 am. I was riding solo in my 1966 Volkswagen camper, just me and my music. But Co- traveling along beside me were two of my closest friends in their old VW Campers! My friend Mike Norris of Baltimore, Md. drove a 1967 VW bus that had been off the road for twenty years before he readied it for his journey. My life long friend and VW advocate Dustan Thompson of Waynesboro, Pa. driving his 1967 Westfalia camper and of course myself.
We started our way across the country with only a small glitch in Mike's brakes. It was a quick fix and we were back on the road heading west. We spent a few leisurely nights camping in Wal-Mart parking lots as we headed towards the Great Rocky Mountains. From that point on our travels across the mid-west were some of the most memorable of the whole entire trip!
We rolled into Durango, Colorado to meet up with our old friends Chris and Tammy Blakely that had moved out west a few years back. We arrived only to find that their neighbor Jeff was a huge VW head and had many cool old VW's on his property! We got the grand tour and chatted for many hours about old Volkswagen's. After a long drive that day we decided to spend the night and leave the next morning. As I laid down in my van to go to sleep I could hear the howling of wolves in the distance. I finished the last swig of my beer, called my love back home to say good night and thought to my self "life is good"
The next day we traveled west into southern Utah. We met up with an old childhood friend of ours (Kyle Mock) who had driven his 1959 Westfalia Camper down from Bozeman, Montana to meet up with us in Utah to complete the long awaited trip! I remember how great it was to see my old friend that had talked about this trip with me twenty years earlier and at last here we were, grown men living our childhood dream, driving through the Canyon Lands in Southern Utah!. I was so amazed at the beauty of the canyons and the magic that had come together from four friends and four old Volkswagen. It was long over due and so amazing to see it unfolding right in front of my eyes. Best of all, through the split windshield of my beloved Double D (that's my buses name) We stayed a few nights in Goblin Valley state park (also in Utah). If you have never been there, you must at some point in your life experience Goblin Valley (hopefully in a VW camper)! It's like being on another planet with so much to see, its almost a bit over whelming!
As we arrived in southern California via "The Mother Road" old Route 66 we began to enter back into life as we knew it! Big cities, lots of people, and the hustle and bustle of the west coast! But yet here we were still in our VW time capsules doing 55 mph, talking on CB's and still having the time of our lives!
We traveled to Mike's cabin in Yucca Valley near Joshua Tree and spent a few days enjoying some well deserved R&R!
After a few days rest we headed to the Black Star camp out where there were about 100 Split buses camping in one area for 3 days. Then it was on to the biggest VW bus show on the west coast called the O.C.T.O. There were as many as 400 pre-67 VW vans in the parking lot of Angel Stadium for the show! I thought to my self "WOW!! can this trip get any better" After the shows we reluctantly parted ways with Mike as he left his bus at his cabin and hopped a flight home to get back to work!
We left the peace and quiet of Mikes great desert cabin and traveled north on RT 1 all the way up the coast of California. Over the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Fransisco and traveling on to the Redwoods National forest to camp for a few days among the tallest trees in the world! By that time we are more than 4500 miles into our trip and rolling along with out a care in the world!
We made our way into southern Oregon and pushed on to Crater Lake where we were greeted with 20 feet of snow pack left from the harsh winter they had. I have pictures of my old girl beside a wall of snow that is 7' taller than she is! It sure was a sight to see!
From Crater Lake we descended down the mountain only for Dustan to encounter engine failure to the worst degree! It was done. He had dropped an exhaust valve and could not go any further!
This wasn't our first rodeo! We're true VW heads! Diehard 365er's all the way! we saw this coming many miles back the road. Dustan had prepared for the worst and had a spare VW engine (purchased at the show in Cali) stashed under his bed waiting for the inevitable! So we found a nice flat parking lot in southern Oregon and called it home for a few hours. Yeah, you read it correctly, A few hours! We swapped the engines in no time at all and were back on the road trouble free.
After we breathed new life into Dustan's old friend we pushed on, heading east into Idaho and eventually making our way up north again into "The Last Great Place On Earth" Montana! We stayed a few days with Kyle and his family in Bozeman. We then said our goodbys until the next time and pushed on!
Only Dustan and myself left in the caravan, we headed south into Wyoming. We were driving in a cold rain and snow when all of the sudden my van shut off. I pulled over and pondered the situation briefly, I changed
my distributor because of a loose wire and all was good. It was then down to Yellowstone Park to see Old Faithful blow its top a few times.
After Yellowstone it was east across South Dakota to Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore! Somewhere along Rt. 90 we were stopped for gas and got interviewed by The South Dakota Times about our journey around the country! The reporter had noticed our old VW's and had ask if we really were from Pennsylvania? We said yeah, we're on our way home! where did you go he ask? we told him of about our adventures and he ask if he could publish our story in the paper. Once again I thought to my self "Life is Good"
Our trip was winding down! The comforts of home were calling and we were a bit road weary. I was thinking of my family and what the future holds for me when I return. As I was driving along on the last leg of my journey I thought about the great memories that we had created in the thirty couple days we had been on the road. The laughter, the scenery, the adventure, and more than anything, the camaraderie between friends and the old VW's that had taken us there! So we pushed through and pulled 500 miles a day (that's crazy driving mind you in an old VW) until we got home safe and sound!
I have many, But this is my favorite VW Camper memory!
Sincerely, Jason Kauffman