|Many of you who’ve been on the forum for quite sometime may remember posts by me years ago that included a certain 1972 Volkswagen “hippie bus” that was often a player mentioned in my trials, hijinks, and escapades. This one had ton’s O’ personality, having had all sorts of stickers applied during it’s lifetime, and far-out murals painted on the interior ceiling. If this van could talk, It likely would’nt be able to remember all the “trips” it took, anyhow.
Stickers from Hendrix, the dead, and even Phish were all over the interior panels. What a wild trip this thing had before it came to Sophia and I five years ago….I sold it yesterday.I’ve always been a bit of a vintage volkswagen person, I’ve owned several. I’m very mechanically inclined, and there’s never a shortage of work to be done on a vintage air-cooled volkswagen. So vw’s and me always “clicked”. Well, that and the fact that I never, ever, drive a “normal” car if I can help it. The more a vehicle is a cultural icon, the more I like it.
No, not a grateful dead fan, not a “hippie”, nor am I a pothead. None of the above. The reason a VW bus was always on my “big list O’ vehicles to own before I die” was simply it’s ……… cultural significance. The dream of the open road, the dream many have of “crossing the country in a vw bus” and so on. I just always wanted one.
I do have to admit, they are completely their own kind of vehicle….. unique in their handling, their “feel” when driving. (in a VW bus, you sit ahead of the front wheels, with that big bay window, you can look down at the road just inches ahead of your feet)
They aren’t fast, they don’t handle great, by any stretch of the imagination at all. The lack of speed or power, and the amazing view of the road ahead of you, the scenery around you, literally force you to take your time, and while you are taking your time, admire the scenery and things going on around you as you travel. It’s almost a zen kinda experience, a wonder you experience. You’ve been forced to slow down, and you realize, slowing down is not bad at all. It can be awesome for the spirit.
So, anyhow, this rusty old camper holds many fond memories for me. Camping on a lakefront site, with a kayak beached at the campsite, with a view that would make a great postcard from the rear hatch when you wake up.
Camping at another site where the other campers all stepped out of their big-bucks rvs to literally stare at the smoking, primer gray heap backing in to a neighboring site, with their jaws literally hanging down.
Kinda a “Oh shit, Martha, hippies! Lock everything up! Look on their faces.
Sophia sleeping in the little forward hammock/ cot, still so tiny she needed a binky to go to sleep, and turning a flashlight off and on, then giggling at the glow in the dark stars some long ago deadhead, hippie, or whatever had painted / stuck to the ceiling over her cot.
And me snapping a picture of her first ever S’More the next day.
One time while “boondocking” or “dry camping” way out in the woods along a very primitive logging road, (free! no fees and no neighbors!) we all heard a pack of coyotes let out a mournful howl, 5 or 6 of em’, in unison. At about 30 to 50 yards away. A friend of mine who was out with us camping literally turned about as white as I have ever seen a person turn. Sophia, on the other hand, thought that it was “the coolest thing ever!”
And boy, could you pack that thing good for a camping trip. All you needed for a week, including a tandem Kayak and two bikes, cooler, food, fishing equipment, .22 rifle, and so on. Even a portable DVD player for rainy times.
Several trips to the local drive-in over the last few years, where we could pack our own drinks and food, back the bus into the parking spot backwards, throw open the back hatch, fold down the bed, and watch the movie laying on our stomachs, heads propped up on pillows, like laying in the living room watching tv or something.
So many little great memories.
I bought a low mileage Mazda Miata in the spring of 2009. (another car on my gotta own at least one someday list….) And I love that car as well. But funny thing – you never need to work on it. And since that car came onboard, we never drove the bus anymore. It just sat in the yard, always needing work, as they always do when they are 38 years old. When faced with rebuilding the carb on the bus, or, hopping in the Miata, dropping the top, and just driving, I’ve since always chosen the Miata.
This spring I decided it was time to shit or get off the pot. Either fix the bus, or sell it. One or the other. As a camper, it is off the road all winter, and the insurance reflects that – only about $160 a year to insure. But the old cars, they go to pot quick when they sit around. Brake lines, rust, varnish in the carburetor (remember them things?)……… Let em’ sit outside just a few years and the only thing they have in their future is a scrap yard.
This old girl was like a part of my family. She deserved to be out on the road, camping, doing, going. Not just rusting away unused, uncared for.
So when talking with a co-worker recently of my hard decision, he mentioned that his brother had “always wanted a bus………” things started moving along. A price was set, the guy came to look at it, and was obviously very enamored with the old machine. Wanted to do the odds and ends work, and go camping with it. And he’s very mechanically inclined, to boot.
It was almost like I was an adoption service screening a prospective parent. They seem like a perfect match.
Which brings me to yesterday. After transferring the title, and putting the temp tag on the back, we jumpstarted the old thing and warmed it up, with it’s Oh so distinctive flat air cooled four cylinder tempo putting away as it warmed up, then pulled it back onto the pavement in the alleyway behind my house to check tire pressures and what not. I snapped some pictures before it drove off, and Sophia gave the spare tire on the front (also distinctive of the bay window style buses) a big hug. And they drove it off, to it’s new home just a few miles away. As it drove away, with it’s so familiar and distinctive barrage of sounds and smells (really hot motor oil, gasoline…….) I realized that it felt good to let it go. We, Sophia, I, and this old van had gone down different paths, and for once, this wasn’t a sad thing, but just an event, a fork in the road for us all. I’d learned to take the good memories, and move on along my new path, without any sadness pulling me back. I truly feel no sadness at all.
All is well, and as it should be. Life changes as time flows on. We can kick, fight, scream, be in denial of it all, or, we can accept change and move on down our new path with our focus on what is ahead, and what we want that to be, without letting “letting go” be such a difficult thing. It’s not good or bad. It just “Is”.