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Summer has been what Summer is meant to be: wild, crazy, busy, with blissful slumps of absolute laziness in between. Which is another way of saying “Whoops, I haven’t blogged in a bit!”
Thankfully it hasn’t been terribly miserable heat wise around here. Despite the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, our area of Southwestern Virginia can be easily become horribly hot and HUMID. Muggy, muggy, muggy. Not my cup of tea. Since it hasn’t been that though, I’ve actually been driving Stella around a lot recently.
I was out and about the other day, having just dropped off the kids, when I had a perfect moment of Zen. Of course, that usually happens when you find yourself suddenly kid-free, but there I was. Driving around in Stella, windows down, gorgeous day with a perfect breeze blowing in, no music on – just the sound of her engine to soothe all my worries away.
What is it about Volkswagen engines that just make them sound so wonderful? I’ve never been a car girl. Quite the opposite ~ don’t believe me, ask mechanics, they’ll vouch for me. But it is those German engines, those VW engines that just make me smile. Make me happy that there isn’t any music on and it is just me and the road ahead. —– ZEN.
But sometimes I like music and this is where Stella has left me lacking. She has a radio and a cd player, but we tend to be more MP3 kinda people (having most of your cd collection stolen out of your car will do that to ya!). We’re left with local radio stations, which really just aren’t “me.” There is one the kids like, one I’ll tolerate, and a couple others I’ll flip through .. but all in all, well, it has been a “meh” situation.
Tonight we were driving her around and Justin happened to look in the glove box. He found a cord, kinda like you would use for headphones, with that auxiliary cord. You know the ones with the 1/8th” male end. He realized it looked like it ran to the stereo.
After plugging the cord into the smartphone, turning on the radio, fiddling with both it and Pandora, we realized our hopes had been raised for nothing. No sound. Then I came to a stop sign, resigning myself to silence, when we realized there WAS sound coming out of the rear speakers!! Volume levels were quickly adjusted and *POW* music!
Not just any music either! This was what came on – Character Zero by Phish.
I whooped and hollered and cheered and sung along .. loudly. The 9 1/2 year old wasn’t terribly thrilled with this but, DAMN WAS I!!!! Instant happiness! YES!!
So, I’ll leave you with these parting lyrics which seem to fit it all so perfectly:
I was taught a month ago
to bide my time and take it slow
then I learned just yesterday
to rush and never waste the day
While camping up at Natural Bus we noticed that a fellow VW owner had a gnome sitting proudly atop their Vanagon.
We expressed our admiration to the owner (Adam I think his name was. They were from Lynchburg) and he told us that the gnome had been with them since day one.
Being a completely original kinda gal (please note that was said with sarcasm) I of course said “Oh, I love that, we need a totem for Stella!”
So … meet Baba:
There are several things at play here. One, the heart shaped keychain holder that comes from Hart Motors here in Salem. My very beloved grandfather always, always, had this for his keys. The Harts are cousins of ours, and I love the keychain not only for its practicality (it really is one of the best keychains for ease of use), but because of familial love. It has been Stella’s keychain since day 1.
Now, the Matroyshka doll. I’ve always admired the folk tradition and style from Russia and that area. My step-mother happens to be from the Ukraine and this doll was a gift from my step-sister Alina who still lives there.
A lot of people mistakenly call matroyshka dolls “Babushka Dolls.” Babushka is Russian for “grandmother.” Ironically enough we called my grandmother Baba.
So, there you go. Baba, our little matroyshka doll and totem.
Yesterday we took Stella out for her weekly drive. We parked her for a bit while we grabbed a bit of dinner, and when we came back out we noticed another VW Vanagon parked on the street nearby.
You can see Stella in the background of this photo. “Mystery VW” was a lovely Westy, obviously in frequent use and well-camped. There were so many neat doo-dads on this Vanagon that I quickly took a few photos.
Anyone that rocks Bacchus is a friend of mine!
Among the stickers on the awning (An awning! Swoon!!) we spotted this one for Natural Bus. Stella wants this sticker.
Do you know this Westy?
I can’t tell you how many years I longed for a VW. I would see one for sale in the paper, test drive it, and go home in tears knowing I couldn’t have it.
When we got Stella it was a purchase that we questioned from time to time. My soul said yes, but that logical brain of mine would often question it all. I learned a long time ago to trust my soul.
This quote from Thoreau has long been a favorite of mine. I thought it only appropriate to share it along with this photo.
Eric Chumley, a member of the Full Moon Bus Club, posted this on the group’s Facebook page the other day. It made me smile and all kinds of happy, so I thought I’d share it with you today. Enjoy!
While camping at Natural Bus we finally got to cook in Stella.
Before we left I had made up a nice Italian Pasta Salad to take with us but the boyos requested spaghetti for dinner. We figured “why not?” We were able to get everything up and running easily enough and Tristan (pictured on the left) and Shannon (pictured on the right) enjoyed breaking in the table in between the two front seats.
For breakfast the next day I made Egg Muffin sandwiches. We had enough ingredients that I delightfully got to cook up some extra sandwiches to share with our friends. The eggs came from our own chickens back home, but one thing we learned was that we definitely need a camping egg holder. The cardboard ones do not do well in the cooler! A Styrofoam one would’ve been better, but a camping one would probably be best.
Also, when packing, I had put a small pan in Stella specifically for eggs.
Looks good right? Well … nine times out of ten it actually looked like this:
Turns out the pan I brought was just a bit too small to properly fit on the burner without tilting to one side or another. Lesson #2 – Make sure your pots & pans are the right size before you leave home!
All in all though cooking in Stella was a good experience. Yes, it did get a little hot in there, but it was already getting hot and humid outside.
Clean-up was pretty easy too. We filled an old 2 liter bottle with water and a squirt of eco-friendly dish soap. Moisten a cloth with the soapy water, wash the dishes, rinse with some fresh water and we were good to go. We were even able to use the soapy rag to easily clean up the stove after cooking! Note though, you definitely want to use some eco-friendly soap here as you’re cleaning out in nature – do no harm!
If you have a VW camper, do you cook in your kitchen area? If not, why not? If so, what do you think of it?? Tips, lessons learned, and so on? We’d love to hear them!
This was our first year camping at Natural Bus. Stella made it there almost problem free.
With that in mind and in the spirit of VW love & humor I thought I’d share this “You Know You’re a VW Bus Owner When..” page. Check it out, how many apply to you?
You Know You’re a VW Bus Owner When …. when the drive to anywhere you go is the most adventurous part of the trip.
I wonder how often Aesop travelled with kids in tow..
Tomorrow we leave for Natural Bus, an annual event held at the Jellystone Park in Natural Bridge, VA. The event is put on by the Full Moon Bus Club which means there will be a ton of VWs there. They also raffle off a bus every year. It is a pretty cool time.
We’ve been twice before for day visits, but this will be the first time we take Stella and go camping. Oh and this will also be the first time camping in Stella with the boyos. To say they’re a little excited is an understatement.
Travelling and camping has changed a lot since I first started. Not that I’m old, just that when I was younger and camping on my own without my parents, overnight camping required the following: ability to start a fire, a tent and sleeping bag or blanket, pillow, cooler with booze and maybe water, and a bag of chips to munch on.
Now though, it is a much more drawn out affair. The kids’ clothes, plus an extra change of clothes for them just in case. Bags to hold the just in cases’ mess. The kids’ toys, blankets, pillows, lanterns. The toys for the beach area at the campground.
For Justin and I it is still fairly simple. Blankets, which stay in Stella, pillows, change of clothes. We will bring along a foam mattress pad since having kids has ruined my ability to sleep on anything not padded without my hips protesting in the morning.
Booze is still a requirement (if you question this then, darlin’, I question if you’ve ever been around kids for an extended amount of time .. just sayin’), but now so is copious amounts of water. Chips are usually still brought, but so are prepared meals and enough food to prepare more meals than we’ll likely eat.
For this particular trip that means: prepared Italian Pasta Salad, spaghetti for the boyos, sliced veggies, some ranch dip. Eggs, cheese, and English Muffins for breakfast. Prepared sandwiches (meat & cheese variety) and stuff for peanut butter sandwiches. Why can’t I pre-make the peanut butter sandwiches? I don’t know, it is just one of those crazy ass rules.
Since camping here means a lake and a pool (and more actually!), we’ll be bringing bathing suits, towels, sunblock, and toys. I already mentioned the toys didn’t I? It should tell you how damn important the toys are that they are worthy of a second mention.
We’re actually really looking forward to the trip. You know, the grand ole overnight camping trip that took several days of planning. But that is camping with kids. We’re even getting to travel up with some friends who also have kids and we’re planning on camping beside them. CAMPING BUDDIES!!! SQUEEEE!!!
Wish us luck.