I Know Bev

Conspicuously missing at Buses by the Bridge this year was our Matron Saint of Vanagons, Bev. After retiring at the age of 62, Bev began traveling and camping in a station wagon. Before long, she discovered Vanagon Westfalia camping and her love affair with these vehicles and the lifestyle they provide began.

Bev

Bev


Bev’s first bus, Blue, took her on many adventures, and provided a freedom that she thrived on. After several years, Blue was getting a bit long in the tooth and needed major repairs. With assistance from friends, she was able to acquire Blue II, which was in great shape and gave her many more opportunities for travel. Bev faced many challenges during her travels, including a number of needed repairs as most Vanagon owners can understand. She even camped in a tent alongside a repair shop on at least one occasion.

More and more people came to know Bev, through both her association with the “Wet Westies – A Pacific Northwest Camping Society” and her travels to the Southwest. At Westy gatherings large and small, the topic of travel and particularly notable travelers would arise. Inevitably Bev’s name would enter the conversation and people would remark “I know Bev” and experiences regarding her would be shared. After several of these exchanges, Lar decided to create and distribute the “I Know Bev” sticker – free to anyone who knew Bev and requested one. Much to her chagrin, an “I Am Bev” sticker was applied to her bus. This was reapplied on more than one occasion as the stickers always managed to disappear.

Typically, during the winter months, Bev would head south through California, Arizona, Nevada and other warmer climes. Southern desert environments were her preference. She made the trip to Buses by the Bridge on many occasions and was considered a regular at that event. The “I Know Bev” contingent was well represented at this years BBB.

Barb

Barb


Richard & Susie

Richard & Susie


John & Bergit

John & Bergit


Karl

Karl


Maggie

Maggie


Loren

Loren


Bob

Bob


After last year’s BBB, Bev made the long drive back to her home in Oregon. Now in her late seventies, Bev came to the realization that, due to health issues, Westy camping and long drives were no longer practical. However, Bev’s presence will always be with so many of us around our campfires for as long as we travel in our Westys. Bev, we love you for the inspiration and motivation you have given to all of us who love these crazy vehicles.

Buses by the Bridge XVII

For those of you unfamiliar with Buses by the Bridge (BBB), it is a VW Bus event held every year in mid-January at Lake Havasu State Park in Arizona. After a couple of nights camping in Craggy Wash, we entered the park in Lake Havasu, next to London Bridge, on Thursday, January 17 and left on Sunday, the 20th. Three days of Buses, Bugs, and Balloons. There were occasional biplanes and ultralights buzzing us as well.

Buses by the Bridge

Buses by the Bridge


Ready & Wating

Ready & Wating


Boys will be Boys

Boys will be Boys


Friends arrived from far and wide to camp together in a corner of the park that we dubbed “Vanagon Gulch”.
Vanagon Gulch

Vanagon Gulch


The last count I heard was 337 buses attending, but I don’t know the final count. Mark took it upon himself to count all the Vanagons and he found at least 74 – or maybe he was just remembering how many he has back in San Diego. We were surrounded by good friends, old and new, in the “gulch” – from California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, and Canada.

The friends who attracted the most attention from passersby were Richard and Susie from Boulder with their “splitty” tent, and accompanying dog-sized version. They slept in the tent but allowed as how their Syncro would remain their first choice of camping vehicle on future trips. Nearly everyone who walked past asked “Is that a tent?”, followed by “Oh My God”, followed by “Unbelievable!”. This was nearly always accompanied by picture-taking. We should have put out a tip jar.

Splitty Tent

Splitty Tent


We parked Roadhaus next to a large picnic table which became the focal point for meals on two separate evenings. It was sort of an unplanned potluck. Just bring what you have and we’ll all share. Evening meals were followed by the obligatory campfire circle where tales both short and tall were told.
Chair Corral

Chair Corral


Campfire

Campfire


A few desert divas met spontaneously one night at Chez Roadhaus for some girl talk. A girl can only take so much Vanagon talk!
Desert Diva's

Desert Diva’s


Speaking of “talk”, Bergit searched high and low for her iPhone one evening without success. She and John took their bus apart in the attempt and concluded it was not to be found there. Surmising that perhaps it had accidentally fallen into the trash, which had been emptied earlier in the day, they settled on a plan. Figuring it was a long shot, John dialed her phone and began walking around the camp. He eventually walked past a large trash barrel which sounded a familiar ring. There, in the bottom of the barrel, was the ringing phone with its flashing lights. Gotta love that girl.
Bergit

Bergit


Some of the nearby camps were apparently not subject to the “Quiet after 10 p.m. rule”, since their loud music and raucous behavior went well past 3 a.m. on Friday night. Sleep would have to wait until the event was over on Sunday.

Each morning we were greeted with the sights and sounds of hot-air balloons as there was a balloon fiesta going on in Havasu. Several of the balloons were launched from the parking area and arrangements had been made to inflate one on the field in the middle of the buses. It remained tethered so people could take a short ride up and back down, but the rides were cut short after windy conditions caused cancellation.

Buses & Balloons

Buses & Balloons


Buses & Balloons

Buses & Balloons


Saturday night was the raffle drawing and, once again, Loren came away a winner with a pair of fog lights and a T-shirt. He wins something every year – no use for us to buy tickets! Sunday morning dawned warm and sunny like every other day at BBB and we all packed up and said our reluctant good byes – until next year.

Peace Out

Peace Out

Want to see 100 more photos from BBB … Click Here

An interesting “Hippie-ized” local TV Station Video about this years BBB … Click Here

On to Havasu

We left the cold and windy camp site at Empire Landing and drove back to Havasu City, where the forecast predicts 60-degree temps for the rest of the week. Warm weather here we come! Along the way we met up with a few desert dwellers, the wild burros that frequent this area and are often found along the road.

Burro Crossing

Burro Crossing

Wild Burros

Wild Burros


And an unidentified species of desert dweller…
Desert Wildlife

Desert Wildlife


We crossed over Parker Dam on the Colorado River…
Parker Dam

Parker Dam


and Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of Lake Havasu.
http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=22551
Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge

Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge


After attending to a few necessary errands in town (Lar can’t pass up an In-N-Out Burger), we made camp at Craggy Wash for the night, along with Bob Elliot, Karl Mullendore, and Loren Busch. Craggy Wash is a BLM area just north of Lake Havasu where you can camp for free in the canyon.
Craggy Wash

Craggy Wash


It is a kind of staging area for Bus folks prior to the start of Buses by the Bridge on Thursday. Since it is free, it has no facilities – that’s right, no toilets, showers, or other amenities that a paid campground provides.

Some things we forgot to mention:

In Death Valley, we came across a really cool alternative to Vanagon camping.

Alternative Camper

Alternative Camper


Between Death Valley and Havasu, we came upon a couple of other interesting sites: The Amargosa Opera House at Death Valley Junction,

http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com

Amargosa Opera House

Amargosa Opera House


We also discovered evidence of yet another desert dweller, one who is both endangered and elusive.

http://www.defenders.org/desert-tortoise/basic-facts

Desert Tortoise Crossing

Desert Tortoise Crossing


A full report on Buses by the Bridge is forthcoming. Stay tuned.

Heat-Seeking Bus Dwellers

The idea when we embarked upon this journey was to find warmer climes in which to enjoy some outdoor activities–hiking, camping, outdoor cooking, or just lounging in the desert sun like lizards on warm red sandstone. This may take some time. Patience, grasshopper (or lizard wannabe).

On the trip west we stopped at a couple of frigid RV parks in the Texas Panhandle and in New Mexico. No problem since we were headed to the popular and warm winter destination of Death Valley. We detoured to Laughlin, NV, for football and a laundry stop. Cold and windy. The stop at Tecopa Hot Springs was only warmed by the dip in the springs. Even here it was painful getting in and out of the baths due to the cold and the springs being NOT “clothing optional” but “no clothing allowed”(more on this topic later).

Finally to DV where Bernie and Loren were also camped. Cold first night. Cool but tolerable next day. One good warmish day to tantalize us was followed by a sudden cold front, ushered in by a blowing sandstorm reminiscent of the Arabian desert.

We high-tailed it out of DV, spending the night in a casino parking lot in Pahrump.

Gold Town Casino

Gold Town Casino


Cold and windy (this phrase needs its own theme music in the vein of “Jaws”). The next morning we grabbed some McD wifi before heading to Bullhead City and Davis Camp where the people who take your money assured us there were hot showers. After testing two shower buildings we concluded that there were two temps available: “numbingly cold” and “I’d rather be water-boarded cold”. Cold and windy. Complaints were made to little sympathy.
Camp Davis

Camp Davis


Finally, yesterday, we made it down to Lake Havasu City to lunch at In-N-Out Burger and do laundry.
In-N-Out

In-N-Out


Then we head south to a BLM campground called Empire Landing on the Colorado River where Loren was camped. After a check of the weather.com website, it appears there are no warm spots in the southern desert. Tucson expects record cold tonight and Lordsburg, NM, was 7 degrees this morning.
Empire Landing

Empire Landing


Lest you think we are not having a good time, fret not. Life is good, we are enjoying bus life, and we are looking forward to joining many friends on Thursday at Buses by the Bridge in Lake Havasu where the temps are forecast to be in the mid 60’s. This evening’s sunset gave promise to more good things to come.
Empire Landing Sunset

Empire Landing Sunset

Peace

Titus Canyon

We’ve been unable to post while in Death Valley, but have had a fantastic few days visiting some interesting places. We will be posting a link to many of our photos, but will just post a few here. Our first day out of the campground we drove the length of Artist’s Drive – every mile held something new in the way of colorful landforms.

Artist's Drive

Artist’s Drive


The next day was spent mostly in Titus Canyon, a place that has been upended, bent, folded, and turned inside out.  Even the geologists have trouble interpreting the older parts of the canyon.  The oldest rocks are 1.7 billion years old, but anything older than 500 million years is undecipherable.  What an amazing display of geologic forces.  The road is one-way and is 27 miles of rough gravel that we traversed at an average of 10 mph.  At the least, a high clearance vehicle with good low gear is required.  Roadhaus handled it easily, occasionally requiring her granny gear.  Mags didn’t enjoy the Red Pass section of the road–the section where you hang off the side of the mountain.
Road up to Red Pass

Road up to Red Pass


We did thoroughly enjoy the fantastic scenery in the canyon with its myriad of colors and landforms. 
Geologic Forces at work

Geologic Forces at work

Entering the Narrows

Entering the Narrows

Roadhaus in the Narrows

Roadhaus in the Narrows


Lar attached a video camera to the dash and after some editing we will post parts of it.  Buckle your seat belts.

Each of us has been here before – Lar several times, including a trip in 2005 for Syncro Safari, and Mags a couple of times, including in 1991 for a photography trip.   On her 1991 trip, Mags had her picture taken in the narrows section of Titus Canyon, against a wall with mosaic-like patterns of stone.  We found the same spot and attempted to re-create the photo from 1991.  We will have to see how it compares to the original black-and-white.

Maggie redux

Maggie redux


After exiting the canyon, we drove to Stovepipe Wells where our friend Barb is waitressing at the restaurant.  After buying a shower, we met Barb, Loren, and Bernie at the Badwater Saloon for a drink and a visit.  By 7 o’clock, the yawns were making the rounds of the table and folks shuffled off to their buses for the night.

Yesterday we arose early in order to get to Zabriskie Point at sunrise.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point


We then moved camp to Stovepipe Wells and cooked a tasty chicken satay stir-fry with rice. Bernie and Loren brought firewood and we had a toasty campfire before bed.

Early this morning a sandstorm blew in, with 30-40 mph winds, and we abandoned Stovepipe Wells to go back to Furnace Creek for showers.

Sandstorm at Stovepipe Wells Campground

Sandstorm at Stovepipe Wells Campground


Looks like we are in for some cold over the next week – even further south. Fire up the Propex Heater!

 

 

 

 

Pahrump? Harrumph

1/6/13

Made our way from Laughlin to Tecopa Hot Springs yesterday.  Do not stop at the Mad  Greek Cafe on I-15 even though it is featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Way over-hyped and the food wasn’t any good, except maybe for the strawberry shake which is the only part we finished to the last drop.

Got to the hot springs in the afternoon where we met up with Bernie who is down for the winter from B.C.  Bernie took us to dinner at the “Bistro” run by a New York chef who left Las Vegas for this little desert oasis, population 150. You would never imagine such great food in such a tiny place. Bernie and I had eggplant curry over couscous and Larry had pasta.After a nice soak in the hot springs, we left Tecopa this morning and made a stop in Pahrump for groceries.

The stop in Pahrump would have been uneventful were it not for Bernie’s incredible capacity for little-known and intriguing facts. It seems that Heidi Fleiss (yes, that one) owns the “Dirty Laundry” in Pahrump. We made a quick stop and, double entendre aside, it appears the place is aptly named.  Bernie says she also took over the care and feeding of a large collection of exotic birds when their owner died.  Her other proposed venture, involving hiring a few young studs to rent out to wealthy widows, was reportedly shot down by the city council.  Girls just wanna have fun.

We’re going to hang with Bernie some more when we get to Death Valley.  There is so much more to be learned.

Mad Greek

18373197

 

Bernie

Image

 

Tecopa Hot Springs

2010nov21-sun-dsc_0900-tecopa-hotsprings

 

The Madam’s Laundry

Dirty Laundry

Game Day Detour

OK, it’s game day – Cotton Bowl – OU vs. “Johnny Football” and Texas A&M.  We were thus forced to veer off course and tuck in at Laughlin, NV, where there are multiple opportunities to watch the game, and even bet on it if we want.  Boomer Sooner!  The Kansas Crew headed to Texas where they can experience the game live.  They have missed no chance to remind us that they will be there, and we won’t!

After this detour, we will be anxious to get to Death Valley where we can settle in, pop the top on the bus, and set up camp.  We are planning to meet up with other bus friends there, do some hiking, and take some photographs.  Most importantly, however, is the plan to rest, relax, and refresh.

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