You know you have a love affair with your van when you take a road trip and come home with dozens of pictures of it in different places. This post is a little bit silly but here is a snapshot of our road trip encased in Volkswagen love!
I always love, love, love to read posts that share pictures inside traveller’s accommodation. It is with that thought in mind that I share a little peek inside our home on wheels. I didn’t clean up before I took these pictures but we are all friends here right? Besides, it is good to see the chaos that ensues when four people are living in such a tiny space!
We (actually not WE…I take the blame on this one) made the mistake of heading to Joshua Tree National Park on the weekend. I thought I was being smart when we decided to head there on a Thursday as we read the park camping fills up completely on the weekend. My logic was if we headed in on Thursday we could secure a spot and take our time enjoying the park.
When we arrived on Thursday at 2pm we went immediately to find a camping spot. We tried three different campgrounds in the park and found only three empty spots out of at least 200 sites. All the spots we found were less than ideal. They were all made for tenting which meant that we would literally be sleeping in a parking lot like situation and have to walk in 30 feet to use a picnic table. One of them was just OK but our neighbours picnic table would be situated about four feet from the door of our van. We decided to try to hold this spot while Mike looked for something better. The kids and I got out of the van to sit and wait while Mike went for one last effort to find a better spot.
Twenty minutes later Mike came roaring back to where we were holding the mediocre spot and told us to get in quick! He had said hello to some campers and they asked him if he was looking for a spot. He said yes and they said they were just packing up to leave. The spot was pretty much the coolest spot that we had seen in all of our searching. Score! Friendliness pays my friends!
Here is our kick ass camp site:
Camped outside of the tiny town of Wikieup, Arizona, our mission was to explore the local mining area in search of yet more rocks. What we didn’t expect was to find a hot springs all to ourselves!
As with most of the adventures we have had on this American road trip, our knowledge of places stem not from any good research on our part but on the advice and recommendations of others. We were told by some snowbirds about this out-of -the-way hot springs and of course we had to try to find it ourselves.
The hot springs is called Kaiser Hot Springs. We googled it on our phones and found that someone had written about it and gave a GPS location. We were then able to get a topical view of the area on google and then back track the dirt road to the highway in order to find our way in. (I’ll post directions for you intrepid travellers at the bottom of the post).
We were definitely the youngest people around when we camped at the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) at Imperial Damn near Yuma Arizona. This is the place for retirees! Wowza! So, so, so many people from the Northern States and Canada make their way down to Yuma to winter in the glorious warmth of Southern Arizona.
Quartzsite, Arizona is a weird little vortex of retirees camped out in the desert, endless swap meets, and oodles of rocks and fossils for sale. The small town comes alive in the winter as it fills with people searching for a bit of sun and a cheap cost of living. We knew about Quartzsite from my rock hound parents who love to come down and dry camp in the desert and search the markets for things they don’t need.
We camped out in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which is basically a place where you can dry camp in a designated area for free. We were surprised by the number of motorhomes, fifth wheels, and trailers scattered throughout the desert. We were definitely the smallest rig on the block especially when we compared our little van to the monstrous motorhomes with triple slides. Now those are houses on wheels!
As we were leaving Valley Of Fire we stopped to talk to the owners of some other VW Vans. This isn’t unusual for us. When you own a Volkswagen Van you become part of a not-so-secret club of van lovers. We smile, wave, and honk when we drive by each other and we stop to chat it up when we are parked. So it was that we found out about BBB.
Them, “Hey man, are you going to BBB?”
Us, “Um what is BBB?” Thoughts of Bed and Breakfasts and why on earth would we go to one swirling in our heads.
Them, “Awe man, you’re kidding?” Turning to their friends they exclaim, “Hey guys! They don’t know what BBB is!!!”
They explain, “It is Buses By the Bridge, a yearly camp out for VW Vans in Lake Havasu. You HAVE to go!”
And so it was that we found ourselves heading south to Lake Havasu to take part in the Buses By The Bridge campout. Imagine an empty field on the shores of a lake filled with 514 camping singles, couples, and families and everyone is camped out in a Volkswagen Van!
There were all manner of vans at BBB. From gorgeously restored 21 windows (worth about $100,000 US!), to beautiful old split windows, to the newer Vanagons, to Syncros that had us drooling. (If I am speaking gibberish to you it’s OK, just know there were lots of cool vans.)
We spent the weekend drooling over the extraordinary amount of coolness, chatting all things VW with other enthusiasts, and getting some great ideas on storage solutions for our own van.
Hum the tune of “Burning Ring Of Fire” by Johnny Cash. This was the theme song for our family’s trip to The Valley Of Fire State Park in Nevada. We kept the tune and swapped out the words and made up an endless song continually describing our two day exploration of this alien landscape.
Valley of Fire is breathtaking. The park is full of red rock formations of all shapes and sizes. The rock is porous and easy to climb on. The campsite in the park (there are actually two but one was closed for the winter) is absolutely stellar. We camped right beside the red rocks and breakfasted on an outcropping beside our camp.
We hiked both on trail and off, finding the most spectacular vistas. We hunted for petroglyphs and were rewarded with the discoveries of these ancient drawings that transported us into the past. We imagined what it must have been like for the ancient peoples living in this harsh desert environment. We witnessed an incredibly big hawk descend upon a desert hare. The hare got away when the hawk was startled by our noisy presence and the hare ran as fast as can be into the desert brush. We awoke each morning to the glorious rays of the sun accentuating the vibrant colours of the rock formation. We breathed in the energy of this otherworldly place.
And with the click of a button two little hands permanently deleted all of our pictures of our time at Valley of Fire. Ho Hum. We still have the memories.
Here are the only pics we have…taken on our phone.
The Valley of Fire is about an hour drive from North Las Vegas. Entrance to the park is $10 per vehicle. Add another $10 if you would like to camp there. (Do It!!!) The campground has potable water, flush toilets, and hot showers (a glorious find for stinky travellers!) We camped here in the winter and it got quite chilly at night. Bring lots of blankets and enjoy the offseason!