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    Posted January 4, 2013 by
    South Bend, Indiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    VW camper van memories

    Joe's Van - The Gift of a Lifetime

    Our kids were 11 and 9 in the spring of 2002 when the big announcement came after dinner at Grandma’s house: “We have decided to give you the VW Westfalia!” The kids were right on board with the idea and voiced their approval. My wife and I looked at each other with a “well…?” I realized immediately I knew absolutely nothing about the care and feeding of this kind of vehicle and might not be capable of providing it with the upkeep and use it demanded. My Mother-in-law had been a very capable guardian of this family heirloom since her father’s passing in 1992. He was a very creative artist, potter and retired engineer who had been drawn to the many uses of the VW Bus in 1987 and bought it brand new. Granpda Joe and his wife Mary hit the road in their later years and used the bus as it was built to be used. The bus had been hyper-maintained it’s whole life, had all service records, was fully stocked for camping and…we turned it down! This called for a move on my mother-in-law’s part: “I’ll just set it up in the driveway and you can sleep in it tonight with the kids”.

    This one night sleep over was all it took for the kids to convince us we just had to have the bus! We finally said yes – the kids were happy! We drove it home and starting looking for an opportunity to go on a camping adventure with our fully provisioned bus. We found a one page Internet website advertising the “Inaugural Campout for Buses by the Beach” (www.busesbythebeach.org) at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, Michigan. We decided to check it out and found some amazing VW buses and people there. Almost 11 years later, those people and others have become like family to us and we have had the privilege to help raise money for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. (http://www.phoenix-society.org) We have travelled to many fine sunsets and sunrises in the bus, connecting and reconnecting with friends old and new – and with each other. The bus has changed us and our expectations about what it means to be successful in life. The world looks quite different rolling down the road in the slow lane to your next adventure. So, we were blessed to be given a great gift by our family that has strengthened family ties and our faith in humanity.
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