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Adventures in a Vintage VW Camper ?>

Adventures in a Vintage VW Camper

77WestyGlobespotter  is hitting the road and wants you to come along!

My 1977 Vintage VW Westy is ready for adventure and this summer is the kick-off!

This blog will be a visual and written diary of old-fashioned road tripping and adventure as I explore North America, hippie-style.

Be sure to check back for updates, and if you are one of the folks who is embracing the ‘Bus Life’ by traveling or living out of your VW bus, let us know by using the hashtag #globespotterworld on Instagram or Twitter, or by sending us a note at the ‘Contact Us‘ link here.

I would love to feature you here on Globespotter!

– Doug

 

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Fellow Travelers: Kombi Life ?>

Fellow Travelers: Kombi Life

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As I get more involved with ‘Bus Life’ and the freedom of hitting the road in a Vintage VW bus, I am discovering that I am not alone. In fact, there are quite a few people who are doing the same thing – some to a lesser extent, and others more extreme.

In any case, I thought it might be nice to showcase some of the folks who are embracing Bus Life and living on the road, exploring and blogging about it.

The first one I chose to highlight is Ben and Kombi Life. Ben has been on the road for a long time and has had many challenges. We all learn as we experience, and I’m sure Ben can attest to that!

I certainly envy Ben’s friendly and helpful nature – how he never hesitates to give people a ride, or a place to sleep, or to try to lend a hand to those that need it. Kombi Life is all about helping others – both giving and receiving.

I hope to meet up with some of these folks on the road, and share some of our stories and experiences.

In the meantime – check out Ben’s blog here: http://kombilife.com/ and if you are willing to donate to defray some of his expenses – you could win the Kombi!

– Doug

P.S. – Are you living the Bus Life in a Vintage VW bus?

Drop us a line here or post on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #globespotterworld to be featured!

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Grey Water Tank ?>

Grey Water Tank

I decided to install a small grey water tank, to avoid the original design that just let the sink water flow out the bottom of the camper onto the ground (or into a small bucket if you put one under there).

When I used to camp in my 79 Westy back in the mid 1980’s it wasn’t unusual to dump grey water onto the ground, but now it is really frowned upon, and in some parks they won’t even let you camp in the boondocking sites with a VW camper if it does not have a grey water holding tank.

I happened to see a post in the Vanagon section of The Samba Forum with a nice description of making a homemade grey water tank:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4567874

I decided to follow that design, since it seemed simple, unobtrusive and with parts that were easy to find.

I removed all of the old trap/drain/vent pipe and replaced it with a clear hose that went down through the old drain hole (I drilled a hole in the drain cap the diameter of the new hose).
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I used a length of black ABS pipe for the tank, and put the inlet at the top at the front of the tank:

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You can see the clear inlet hose which curves under the tank, creating the trap needed to stop any smells from coming up into the sink, since the original trap was removed.

At the rear of the tank, at the top is a vent nipple. This will have a clear vent hose added that will go up in the right rear fender to vent the tank.

greywatertankrearAt the bottom is the drain pipe, which goes to a male hose connection with a shut off valve. This allows a hose to be attached to drain the tank.

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The tank is attached to the bottom of the bus by strong zip ties which hold it securely:

greywatertank1Here you can see the drain hose curving under the tank, creating the trap.

The tank runs between the cross-members. It is not that big, but enough to store water used for minor weekend stuff.

As you can see, from the side of the bus, it is virtually impossible to see without bending down to look.

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All in all, a fairly quick and easy mod that will be nice to have when camping in natural areas where you don’t want to dump grey water on the ground.

 

 

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It’s the journey, not the destination… ?>

It’s the journey, not the destination…

ontheroadAs I make the drastic transition from urban commuting to ‘Bus Life’, I am faced with the realization that I have become used to the frantic pace of the city, and the expectations of immediate responses which leads to and breeds impatience.

The best vacations I ever had were those that were not planned at all. Being a planner however, I always seem to convince myself that it would be stressful not to plan. I worry about where I am going to stay for the night, or how my reservations and plans will all fail if something goes wrong along the way that delays me.

Getting out of that mindset is going to be a huge challenge, but one that I know I need to do.

My trip last weekend was a good example. I planned where I was going, I reserved the campsite, and as soon as I was on the road, my focus seemed to be on my destination.

I didn’t enjoy the drive as much as I might have if my focus was not on getting there. I would have stopped more and explored.

What if I didn’t really have a destination? How would that change things?

I am planning another trip in June – in about 3 weeks actually – to Vermont and New Hampshire. I think I am going to bite the bullet and just hit the road. I won’t put a destination in the GPS, and I’ll try to stick to the Blue Highways as much as possible, stopping along the way when I see something interesting because I won’t have any pressure to get somewhere on time.

I want this trip to be more of an adventure that unfolds as I go – living in the present and not thinking about where I need to be, or when I need to be there.

I’d like to document my adventures in a more personal and hopefully interesting way – more short videos of me exploring and stopping to meet people and find cool things along the way.

I also struggle with letting go of technology. I would rather use old fashioned maps than GPS, although I figure it wouldn’t hurt to bring the GPS along just in case. (See what I mean!)

Did you know that maps are really not that easy to buy anymore? I was dumbfounded when I asked at a large Gas Station if they had maps on my last trip, and they said no.

If the GPS system ever goes down (and you know it will one day), you better hope you still have your trusty maps handy.

I am learning as I go, and growing as I learn. In a way it feels like going back in time, and that’s not a bad thing from my perspective.

I hope you follow along, and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. You can leave them below.

– Doug

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Stony Brook State Park ?>

Stony Brook State Park

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This weekend, I took the Westy for the first camping trip to Stony Brook State Park, in Dansville, NY, south east of Buffalo.

I wanted to go somewhere that was not too far for the first outing, but somewhere that I could run highway, hills and find a nice spot to camp, and a place that I had not been to before.

Because it was the long weekend in Canada (Victoria Day), I decided to cross the border into the U.S. as the campgrounds in Canada can be a little crazy on the May 24 weekend!

Stony Brook State Park is on the edge of the beautiful Finger Lakes, and has some of the incredible geological formations that are common to the area, similar to the gorge at Watkins Glen or at Letchworth State Park close by.

SpeedoI left about 20 minutes behind schedule, and headed for the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie – my current favorite border crossing. The bus cruised nicely on the highway – no problem keeping up with traffic, and the new Hankook tires keeping the ride smooth.

Arriving at the border around 3pm, the lineups at all the Customs booths were long – looked like about an hour wait. Lucky for me I have my NEXUS card, so I breezed by all the cars in the left NEXUS Only lane which was completely empty.

2o seconds later, I was on my way. NEXUS is well worth it.

I took I-90 west towards Erie, then headed on some Blue Highways across the beautiful upstate New York countryside – rolling hills, farmland and fresh (sometimes bovine) air.

Highway 20A through Warsaw has some pretty good grades, both up and down, so it was a good test for the bus which managed fine.

I saw a sign for Fresh Brown Farm Eggs so stopped to pick up something for breakfasts. There was a young Mennonite woman tending to her garden, but she did not come over to the farmhouse when I pulled in the driveway. There was a sign saying ‘Customers Please Use Front Door’, and a young goat tied up with a long rope that reached easily to the front path.

StonyBrook1

I said “Hi” to the goat and patted its head – it was really only looking for company or maybe thought I had food. On the front porch was a small bar fridge with a jar of money on top, along with a sign saying $2 a dozen for the eggs. I took a dozen and left my $2 in the jar, and headed back on the road.

The State Park is pretty nice, albeit that the campsites are fairly close to one another and not really private. I had a nice spot right on the river, which I looked over before heading in to town to buy some firewood.

It did not take long top set up camp. Thankfully I had done a dry run of setting up the E-Z Awning at home, so it was a breeze!

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You will note my spare gas can on the roof rack, in case I ran out as the gas gauge is a little wonky:

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All set up, with my Coffee, Tea and incense burner!

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Of course the first time I sat down to relax on my vintage 1970’s chair, I leaned back and heard a snap and the back fell backwards! The plastic on the arm was brittle and broke.IMG_1642

Naturally, I had only brought one chair, but I did have my tool kit, so a little McGyvering later with a zip tie, and the chair was stronger than ever.

Vintage stuff is cool, but it is old, so you sometimes have to accept that things will break.

Because it is a 77 Westy, I tried to go vintage for most things – Coleman Stove, Oil Lamp, Coffee Maker etc.

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The exception was my music, which was courtesy of my iPod and a Bluetooth Sony Speaker Cube. Even that could be a vintage illusion though, when the speaker was hidden behind my vintage clock radio and playing vintage 70’s KMET from Los Angeles!

Dinner that night was canned Shepherd’s Pie. Yes, it tasted about as bland as it sounds. But it was fast and easy and nourishment at least.

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The campsite was dry – ie: no electric or water hookup, but there was a tap nearby, and I had brought my fresh water. I also was set up so I could use the Coleman inside if needed, to brew coffee at night.

That was handy, although I usually cook outside.

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I settled in after a nice campfire – sleeping on the bottom bunk. The bus was at a slight angle, so I ended up turning around with my head to the back of the bus, but I found the bottom bed not completely flat, so not as comfortable as I would have liked. It was also short for my 6’1″, so my feet ending up dangling.

Thankfully I had bought and brought my Mr. Heater Buddy, which I ran for about 10 minutes prior to bed to warm up the bus, as it was pretty cool at night.

I made sure to open a window while I ran it, and checked the CO detector, but it runs pretty clean. I shut it off and crawled into my sleeping bag. I woke up a couple of times in the night – mostly because of the cold and the bed.

I ran the heater again to warm things up – it is really awesome!

I’m working on my social skills – I’m not really the type to strike up conversations with strangers, but travelling alone is an opportunity to both relax and find peace and quiet, yet also to listen to the interesting stories of people you meet on the road.

Luckily for me, owning a Vintage VW bus attracts folks to say hi, and relate their own stories of their encounters and experiences with an old VW bus, which everyone seems to have.

Case in point was Pedro, an introverted, long haired fellow who was camping on his own with his Toyota Corolla, a small tent and his skateboard.

He came over to talk, and it was obviously a bit out of his comfort zone too, so we had that in common. Turns out he was Portuguese, and living near Buffalo, NY, but was dreaming of living the ‘Bus Life’ – buying a VW bus like mine, and traveling around America.

Of course I encouraged him to do it, and I hope he does. Pedro – if you are out there and reading this – let me know when you get that bus!

Sunday night brought a group of young girls to the site next to mine – seven young seniors to be exact. I was expecting that evening to be a long and loud one, having two daughters of my own who together can make a lot of noise with typical girl laughing and giggling.

I was surprised that I did not hear a peep from them all night, and impressed with their teamwork and camaraderie as they dismantled camp the next morning.

It was refreshing to see a group of young girls having a great time camping without being stuck on their cell phones or being crazy. They had been rafting at Letchworth State Park in the afternoon, so were pretty tired when they finally set up camp, one of the girls told me.

I wanted to take photos of Pedro, and also the girls with the Bus for my blog, but my introverted social personality held me back. I’m still working on being more outgoing, and trying to capture those moments that are really one of the most interesting parts of being on the road.

Next trip in about 3 weeks to points east – likely Vermont and New Hampshire.  See you on the road…

– Doug

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BlazeCut Fire Suppression ?>

BlazeCut Fire Suppression

If you are at all familiar with vintage VW buses, you know that they sometimes have the tendency to catch on fire.

I have taken the precautions of installing new fuel lines, hoses etc, but still wanted some peace of mind, so ordered and installed the BlazeCut Fire Suppression system today.

It’s pretty easy and cool – just a tube that is zip-tied to the top of the engine compartment, and it activates in a fire by melting the tube and releasing the fire suppression stuff.

Got it just in time for my first camping trip this weekend!

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Anyone wanting to buy one – you can get them here: http://jogrusa.com/products/blazecut-fire-suppression-system

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