Day 1: Phoenix, AZ to Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Left Phoenix later than planned, thus had to take I-
Day 2: Joshua Tree National Park to San Simeon State Park
As is the tasty ritual, we left Joshua Tree in time to make it to Bob's Big Boy in Calimesa for brunch. Following a delicious burger, we stopped in at Arco for fuel. Oops… plastic money not accepted. Damn! Forgot about Arco pulling that stupid move. Thus, drove across the street to Shell. Regardless of the station, gas is ungodly expensive in California!
Due to Highway 1 being in constant state of repair, and for a change of scenery and to avoid the dreadful drive through L.A., we opted for the inland route. The drive was going splendidly until the transition to I-
Pushing onward, we made the long journey all the way to San Simeon via Highway 46 through Paso Robles and wine country. It was dark by the time we crested Black Mountain and getting quite late when we pulled into Cambria for a fuel fill-
Day 3: San Simeon State Park to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and headed north on Highway 1. We stopped to briefly watch elephant seals and not long afterward, a Porsche 911 suddenly appeared in the rearview mirror. At first opportunity, said Porsche zoomed past, taking half a dozen more gorgeous Porsches with it. Not much farther up the road, we pulled off to let even more Porsches go by, this time 356's along with a white Westy. The thing about Highway 1, it's a fun drive in a fast car provided there's no slow traffic. We caught up with those Porsches and Westy miles later. We eventually ended up behind the Westy, which turned off at Big Sur Station. Just up the highway was our destination, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Luckily, we had a reservation because the place was packed. Our spot was near the entrance station along the creek; while setting up, the white Westy drove by. After lunch, I put on my hiking shoes and set out for the waterfall. During my walk, I spotted a few more Vanagons (sorry, no photos).
Once at the creek, it was pretty obvious the park sustained major damage during the storms that blew through over the last year: bridges washed out, trees down, camp sites buried.
Day 4: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Laguna Seca Raceway
Cruised up to Safeway in Monterey to stock up on last-
Arriving at the track, we found out Rennsport is much more strict on tickets. Only two tickets were purchased, but the nice gentleman at the gate said, "Is that your mom?" (Yes; she's disabled and won't be going to the paddock".) "Okay, go on in." Awesome! But then we arrived at the traffic director. Our gray camping pass hanging from the mirror as instructed, she told us to go right when we needed to go left. I began trying to explain to the girl that gray means up on the hill above turn 11, but she insisted we go right. Great. That meant driving all the way over to the main entrance. But because of the traffic volume, we couldn't hang a U-
Anyway, Rennsport did not disappoint… Porsches, Porsches, and more Porsches… everywhere! It was Porsche heaven!
Seen enough Porsches yet? All of the above is not even half the photos I took! The last one (at lower right) is the racer 918 out for a video/photoshoot around Laguna Seca's perimeter roads, which proceeded to stall on the hill. It sat there for a good 5-
Day 8: Laguna Seca to San Simeon… wait, make that Fresno
At this point, I need to backtrack in the story by a few weeks. Mom and Dad have been looking to get some sort of camping vehicle of their own. They looked at small motorhomes and truck bed campers, but nothing seemed to really catch their fancy. Motorhomes were eventually ruled out: Too big and too expensive. That left truck campers. But they're equally as expensive, plus storage was a slight issue. That really left one option: a Westy. Thus, Mom began a search, including setting up a classifieds alert on The Samba. An ad popped up for a white automatic 1990, but it was in Durango. Well, it's not that far of a drive, so we piled into my GTI and sped off to Colorado for a couple of nights. The trip, aside from the beautiful views, was an utter waste of time; the van was completely misrepresented and the seller would not budge on the price, which was too high.
Following the GPS to Fresno, we were treated to a rather off-
Arriving at Millerton in the dark, the campground was eerily quiet and no one was around. We parked in a spot overlooking the lake and conveniently across from the bathrooms, which were unlocked (phew!). We had a late dinner, kind of talked about the van, and went to bed, being woken early in the morning by rain.
Day 9: Millerton Lake/Fresno to Bakersfield, CA
Breakfast eaten, Blue dried off, and a park service guy arrived. Amazingly, he was there emptying trash cans, locking the bathrooms, and, eventually, the gates. Yes, we timed that one well! Not only was that the last night of the campground's season until Spring, we stayed for free! Meanwhile, still no serious conversation about the gray van. Dad drove Old Blue back to Fresno to compare how it drives to the gray one. By the time we reached Fresno, it was decided to make an offer a bit less than asking price, given the van's flaws. No sooner did we exit the freeway when the phone rang. It was the seller. Long story cut short, she accepted the offer and we met at the BofA that happened to be in the same shopping center we pulled into for the money/title exchange. After goodbyes and well wishes, the adventure began. There at the bank, we started going through the van to see what stuff had been included: Tools, manuals, cookware, spare fluids… basically everything needed except bedding! Across the street was In-
Leak source found and temporarily repaired (busted bleeder ring connection), and a couple of bolts tightened, we were finally eastward bound. Given the time, we opted to stay at a county campground near Bakersfield along the Kern River. En route, couldn't help but notice Dad's arm hanging out the window the entire way. Problem #3: Floppy mirror syndrome!
After popping the tops, a more thorough investigation into the van was conducted, which revealed even more stuff! And problem #4: Nothing electrical in the kitchen worked (turned out to be a completely dead nearly 10-
Day 10: Bakersfield, CA to Boulder City, NV
Come morning, Dad repaired the floppy mirrors so that they were good and tight. After some cleaning and reorganizing, we were off to Denny's… which delayed us big time because the cooks were agonizingly slow. We flew over the mountain and made a pit-
Aside from wind, a tingly right leg, nearly $5 a gallon for gas in Jean, NV, and the GPS sending us the wrong direction in Henderson, it was a rather uneventful drive to Boulder City where we camped for the (stormy) night and met up with my uncle.
Day 11: Boulder City, NV to Phoenix, AZ
After breakfast with Uncle at his favorite cafe in Boulder City, we were off to Meadview to drop off the gray van and continue on to home.
For those interested in Old Gray's, as it's now called, update: Bra and hatch rack removed, paint buffed (original color was Dove Blue; a previous owner had it painted a metallic gray), 16" wheels and BFG tires installed, lift springs installed, new axles installed (upon replacement, CV bolts discovered way loose; van was lucky to make it all the way to Arizona), headlight adjusters replaced, grilles painted, headlights cleaned, new auxiliary battery installed, solar system, hookup boxes and portable fridge installed, carpet and upholstery cleaned, new stove face-
Total miles: 1,717
Avg. MPG: 16.1
|Solar & Fridge|
|Hitch & Accessories|
|Bringing Old Blue Home|
|South Arizona 2010|
|Park City 2010|
|Syncrofest I 2011|
|Palm Springs 2011|
|BBB XVI 2012|
|Woods Canyon 2012|
|BBB XVII 2013|
|Blue Ridge 2013|
|Santa Fe 2013|
|BBB XVIII 2014|
|Lee's Ferry 2014|
|BBB XIX 2015|
|Lake Mohave 2015|
|BBB XX 2016|
|Lee's Ferry 2016|
|BBB XXI 2017|
|BBB XXII 2018|
|Electrical & Mechanical Projects|
|Sliding Door Screen|