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    Posted January 3, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    VW camper van memories

    The Great Adventure

    I was in graduate school in Los Angeles and had a standing job offer with an international accounting firm. For most of my life to that time i pretty much worked and studied - started as a paperboy at 10 - Lynn and I were ready for a Great Adventure. I approached the firm and asked if they were alright with me showing up in September -no problem! We were on our way! In December of 1970 we bought our first VW camper - a 1969 Wesphalia. We spent most of the spring semester planning our trip which would take us from Los Angeles to Vancouver Island and then accross Canada to Nova Scotia and back to Los Angeles. I contacted all of the Provinces travel offices and Lynn and I had stacks of materials and maps to go over - it was really exciting.

    The day in early June finally arrived and we took off heading north. Our first stop was at a roadside rest stop near Fresno - the big rigs never turned off their diesels and Lynn was almost in tears - a whole summer of this?! Fortunatley we spent the next night at a campground north of Sacramento and had a wonderful time and never looked back. There are too many events to list here so I'll only mention a few.

    One of our great experiences was a side trip to Wells Grey Natonal Park in Alberta. The "road" was dirt and mud and I was in first gear for what seemed like hours. When we got to the "campgound" there was one other couple there and we were greeted by a gentleman named Shorty Blair. Shorty was the quintisenntial Canadian ourdoorsman. He lived there year around and made a living as a hunting and fishing guide. He warned us about numerous black bears who apparently had a tough winter and had taken to ripping back doors off of RV's. Was he ever right! Late one afternoon Lynn was walking to the outhouse and a humoungus black head popped up from behind a bush - she made a prompt retreat. Another highlight of the Wells Grey experience was a day of guided fishing with Shorty in his boat on a spectacular, azure lake in the Canadian Rockies - Lynn was worn out catching trophy trout.

    When we left and headed east to Calgary I came to the sobering conclusion that I had blown out our valves getting to Wells Grey. If any of you have been to central Canada you know there are miles and miles of miles. We limped along at about 30 mph all the way to Montreal where I finally found a VW dealer that repaired the camper. We had a wonderful time touring Montreal for four days and then were back on the road to Nova Scotia. Montreal was also the only time we stayed in a hotel during the entire Great Adventure.

    Another memorable experience was when we were traveling along the coast of Prince Edwards Island and found what appeared to be the most idyllic dispersed camp spot you could imagine - sand doons, grasses and a near by lighthouse. We had just finised putting our tent up when a dark, black cloud came towards us - we had never seen so many mosquios in our lives. We dove in the tent and looked at each other in disblief and then made a rapid run to the camper, threw the tent in and made a hasty exit.

    The next fond memory I'll put down here occurred on August 5th - my birthday - and we were camped just outside of Bangor, Maine and there was a full moon. We had never seen anything quite like it - it was huge, beautiful and you felt like you could almost touch it.

    The last item I will leave you with was not necessarily pleasant but was a good reminder of the times we lived in back then. We were working our way back home and decided to visit some lifelong friends who were at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor at the time. We were crossing the boarder from Windsor, Canada to Detroit and were going through customs when I was asked by the good officer to pull over and get out of the camper. By then - even though I'm an accountant - I began to have the aroma and countenace of a top shelf hippie/revolutionary. Two customs agents completely dismanteled our bus over a 3-4 hour period - Lynn had smoke coming our of her ears.

    We arrived back in Long Beach about 2 1/2 months and over 10,000 miles after we started. It really was the trip of a lifetime. One last comment - we brought back a special gift from Canada - we found out in Ann Arbor that Lynn was pregnant. Our daughter, who is now 40 just finished her PhD at the University of Arizona - what a life.

    We now own our third Westphalia, a 1991 with a rebuilt engine. I will be retiring soon and Lynn found her trip diary from 1971 - who knows - perhaps a Great Adventure Part II.

    Wayne Fox
    Flagstaff, Arizona
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