VW Vans and muddy paws…

On Saturdays and Sundays I like nothing more than sitting in my pajamas and watching “Bitchin Rides” on television. Of all the motorhead shows my husband watches, this one is my favorite. I think it’s because they actually like each other and don’t throw in all the made- for- tv drama of infighting and such. Plus I like the name “Kindigit Designs” and Kev Dog seems nice.

Anyway, we were watching “Bitchin Rides” and enjoying a second cup of coffee when they started fixing up an old VW van. It had two cabs, and was just so cool and in a half second I was transported to Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina. I then took a mental drift to Death Valley. Cars can do that to you.

My parents had some interesting vehicles. None held a candle to the 1970-ish Volkswagen Camper Van. I think it was a 1970 because I looked up pictures and as soon as I saw that glorious brown plaid I knew. Some things just stick in your mind—you can’t unsee them. That brown vinyl on the seats and the plaid curtains..well let’s just say it defined my fashion sense and not in a good way.

Not our original van, but same color and year I think

When you entered the van via the sliding door, you saw the icebox/water supply to your right. The water was always warm, especially in Death Valley. My mom was rather fascinated with Death Valley and made us stop halfway through so she could grab some tumbleweeds. I don’t know if this was legal but they took up a lot of room and fell apart so she tossed them back out after a bit anyway. We drank the warm water while she wandered around trying to catch the tumbleweeds. At least we didn’t dehydrate.

Also not our original but check out the plaid…

The back couch of the van folded into a bed. We kids would lay in the bed and look out the back pretending that the cars behind us were after us. We had to duck down and hide or they would get us. But we didn’t sleep there, no that was the adult bed. The kids had other arrangements.

There are times when fate smiles on us, and I was blessed to be the oldest child. I got the pop up top. Oh my, I would sleep there every night. It was amazing and I’m not being sarcastic. The sides of the pop up were mesh, like a screen. I could look out and see everything in the moonlight. Once we stopped the van on the beach of the Everglades and slept. It was legal then I guess, I didn’t care. I got to sleep next to the ocean and not get bitten by the little gnats, the “no-see-ums” as my dad said.

My sister, well she wasn’t quite as lucky. There was this hammock that went across the driver and passenger seat. And the steering wheel, dashboard, and was just about long enough for her. Just about. It wasn’t particularly comfortable, but at least it was wide enough, just a little short and unpadded and the steering wheel didn’t help. My brother on the other hand…well there was a pad that went next to the little chair thing when the table flipped down. It was padded but narrow and too short. Nothing at all like my luxurious fresh air mecca of a pop-up. Meanwhile our parents slept in bliss on the vinyl covered brown mattress.

We kids loved that van! But we didn’t have to drive it. We were on the Blue Ridge Parkway and my mom was driving. The Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t Pike’s Peak but to the VW it must have seemed like they were. My mom had her foot to the floor to go about 25 miles/hour up the switchback. We could see the line of cars behind us…on and on and on. At least she was driving and not me. I was too young to drive but once my dad let me drive down our street. I got so frustrated I left the VW in the street and walked home.

This actually is our original van; we were fishing by the side of the road. The van may have broken down…sorry about the quality but it was a Brownie camera.

If I could get a retro car, that’s what I would get. Although… I always wanted a Jeep until I drove one. It was a purple/pink open Wrangler and it was so rough I thought I’d have a broken tailbone on the test drive. Plus it was cold. Now heat-wise the VW was fine in the front, but the back end where the kids were tended to be a little nippy at times. Our parents’ solution was to get a space heater. Unfortunately we took our new puppy on one of our trips and he peed on my sister. No problem (for me anyway) but my mom had her change her pants and put the pants over the heater to dry. No, they didn’t start a fire but the smell lasted for days. Potent stuff.

the back of our van

Speaking of puppies, Chester has been enjoying the Cleveland thaw. We have had 50 degree weather this weekend but it’s not real. It’s the Braxton-Hicks stage of Cleveland weather. We’ll go back to cold again for awhile until false spring labor begins again. Then the warm days will get closer together until we have a rare snow on Mother’s Day, then it will be done. I guess Mother’s Day is the birth. Sorry, folks, for being graphic but it’s true.

Chester’s way of enjoying the thaw is to run around in the mud. He sees a squirrel or senses there may be one there and runs at full speed toward the back fence. I can hear the whap, whap of his feet as he flies through the puddles. Ugh. He does that so he can get some doggie crack/aka a Milk Bone biscuit since he was our protector from the squirrels. We have a Paw Plunger that looks like a car wash for his feet, and we do use that and a bunch of towels. We are a little tired of it though. Finally last night John said “how about we forgo going out and just give you a biscuit?” Chester was OK with that. He spent some time in the house sleeping instead.

The birds are back, and we saw a spot of snow where they had all walked. I thought it looked cool so took a picture. I also took a picture of the birds; they are the black dots in the tree. Chester doesn’t care about birds at all. It’s all about the squirrels, bout the squirrels and bunnies…Have a good week!

all the blobs are birds

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A classic overthinker trying to age gracefully while living with a big, too smart for his own good shelter pup who must have his daily walk.

6 thoughts on “VW Vans and muddy paws…”

  1. Your post took me back to our road trips when I was a child. I have not experienced the pants on the heater. Mine was the tossing of the cookies in a literal bag of cookies. I have never looked at gingersnaps the same way.
    Ah the mud season… it is a work out wiping 8 paws. Do you like the puppy plunger? We are straight towel users.


  2. That was the coolest family car!!!! I loved the VW van and had some serious envy. Now the VW vans are coming back in vogue. We had to stop to get tumbleweed in the Black Hills. We were really lucky!!–lots of great trips as kids!! I wish I could have done as well with my own kid.
    Totally sympathize with the muddy paws!! I also have 8 to deal with! Sassy is obsessed with squirrels also!! She will stand at the slider barking at any squirrel that comes within sight. The squirrels know exactly how far her leash extends and they will sit there taunting her mercilessly.
    Really enjoyed seeing the old pictures!! Have never seen pics of your family escapades.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great story. At 18 I spent the summer working for some family friends who had a VW camper like that. As a reward for the summer’s work they lent me the camper for a 3 day weekend and fully stocked it so I could head off to the beach by myself. To this day there are stories of that weekend I can’t repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

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