Welcome

Welcome to the LGK blog page.  Throughout the year, members or groups of members attend various events or shows, or experience things that are reminders of what the club is all about.

This page is dedicated to recounting those stories.  Hopefully, between the lines, you will read the passion that is there for all things VW, and you will become fully aware of the fact that we are not just club members, we are family.

If nothing else, take time to read a couple of these blogs, they may ignite or rekindle ideals and dreams of your own, and take them from a passing thought to a reality.

Advertisements

36th Annual Vintage Meet and VW Nationals 2017

THE 36th ANNUAL VINTAGE MEET 2017

The sun comes up early in the long days of summer, but not early before my alarm went off on Saturday, July the 15th.  A quick shower and a doubly strong mug of coffee, and it was time to hit the road for another show.  This one took place at Shoreline Community College in the state of Washington. The Vintage Meet is hosted by Cascade Kombis and boasts a great show and a fabulous swap meet.

We breezed through the border, because DSC_0001who in their right minds would be up that early in the morning? Braced by caffeine and the promise of adventure, we hit the I-5 not knowing what to expect. As we rounded a bend in the road near North Lake Samish, we found Mike Ray pulled over at the side of the road.  We stopped to assist, but he had everything under control, so we wished him well and carried on.

We arrived reasonably early and were able to park with ease. Already the parking lot showed promise of what was to come.  Mark Morales was at the entrance to welcome us. Past the gate, the cars were all lined up in their respective sections.  As we strolled through we met Tom and Mel Weston, with Jake Rozell and Taylor Clark not far behind.  DSC_0010We rapidly made our way down to the swap area, and in no time I had spent all my readily available income with items I could use in Dubcessories and a sweet little stovetop oven I purchased from Jennifer Heib (cookies and muffins at the next campout, yessss!!).  But there were more things that caught my eye.  And I needed some funds. It turns out that a couple of other people also needed some cash, and so I was commandeered to chauffeur them to the nearest bank.

A small taste of the show

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when Shane and Don got in the back of my car.  First of all, we did the bank run, but along the way, they spotted a Fred Meyers and a Walgreens. Don’s eagle eye noticed an Estate Sale sign, and the route was planned by my two rather boisterous backseat drivers.  I will, however, give credit where credit is due. Shane is very good at providing directions, although he might have overdone the directives a little bit. Spencer and I followed those two in the stores, DSC_0038having never witnessed the phenomenon firsthand.  I have to say, it is highly entertaining.  A Nerf gun was located for Jake Rozell at Fred Meyers, a dozen donuts were purchased. Walgreens netted a bunch of Funko Pops and some Pringles for my starving son and then we made our way back to the estate sale.

That deserves a paragraph all of its own.  There were several small treasures, and I was literally running, with Spencer in tow, clutching his vintage portable multiband radio find, to get ahead of those two in case there was some treasure.  As it turns out, we each found something, and Shane found a one-eyed kitty for Connie, and I found something for someone else.  Unfortunately, Shane also found a noisemaker. Which he used.  All the way back to the show. And in the show.  I knew I should have activated the rear door child locks.   In all honesty, the amusement that trip gave me was one of the highlights of the day (don’t tell them that though).

I managed to sell a couple of stacking stools, had a nice Mexican lunch and wandered around buying a few more items and a couple of shirts.  Spencer went off with his other Mom to peruse the vehicles in the show and get an ice cream and I relaxed.  Until I heard my name on the PA system.  Twice.  Loudly. Apparently that great place to park where I’d be fine, was not.  I quickly removed my offending vehicle (not even a VW, only the Camry adorned with the VW badge) and slunk back to where we were sitting.

The swap  meet on the oval

Suddenly the thought of going home and missing Jim Brown racing the following day in the Nationals was unthinkable. When Jim and Connie offered up a spare room for Spencer and me, I quickly made some calls and altered some plans.  The purchase of a couple of toothbrushes and we were off at the end of the day for a meal, some rest and to prepare for the upcoming day.  What a wonderful show. We enjoyed it immensely, both the venue and the size of the swap meet were amazing.

That evening, we were delighted to be taken in the Thing by Jim and Connie Brown for a personalized tour around Gig Harbor.  What a quaint and wonderful community. We all thoroughly enjoyed the burgers and fries and onion rings at Gourmet Burgers and were treated to milkshakes if we were able to finish our enormous meals.  I am pleased to say I my salted caramel milkshake was beyond scrumptious.  I fell in love with the town and all that it had to offer, but maybe that also had something to do with our wonderful and gracious host and hostess. Bedtime came early, and I think everyone was exhausted from the excitement of the day.

Gig Harbor, you won my heart

 

THE VW NATIONALS, Sunday, July 16th, 2017

I woke up Sunday morning, not having a clue where I was.  All I knew was that I was comfortable and I did not want to get up.  I got dressed and was up and about before anyone else, and enjoyed the serenity of the morning.  Although it was overcast, there was no threat of rain. What a beautiful view, and what a gorgeous home.

Within the hour, we were on our way to the Pacific Raceways, where there was to be a show, a swap meet and the drags.  We were able to enter the pit area as “crew”, which was nice.  After doing what we could to help set up, we walked the rows of the swap meet.  A lot of the vendors had been at the vintage meet, but there were some new ones as well.

Jim set about getting Jimbo II ready for the day, and before we knew it he was heading to DSC_0262the track to do a run.  While we waited for the drags to begin, an actual rabbit bolted across the track.  The comments were flying about speed, direction, etcetera, and we were disappointed we didn’t get a picture of it. The irony of it was definitely not lost on us. Both Keven and Scott Brown were there and it was really wonderful to watch the family working together. I just stood back and took it all in. It was shaping up to be a promising day. Meanwhile, Spencer was busy trying to race with the rolling creeper seat. Somehow that day, he became “Number four”, a moniker he seems to very much like. Ken Baker and his friend Tom arrived as DSC_0212well to cheer Jim on and check out the races, show and swap.  There were friends and acquaintances everywhere, and it was great to chat with them in between races.  There was a lot of down time due to oil on the track and the like; so we took advantage of it, and checked out the vehicles and the now-fully open swap meet.  DSC_0372There were definitely new items up for grabs and we scoured every area for treasures. My find of the day was a vintage Empi Imp tin toy in the original box, with the surfboard still attached.  I had purchased a Thing as well, but Kevin bought the other one and beat me to giving it to Connie and Jim.

The final run of the day ended with Jim breaking out, which was disappointing, but his time was 11.9, which had been his goal:  to make it into the elevens. Watching that run, you could just feel it was “right”.  Jim had steadily improved his times throughout the day, and the final one was the icing on the cake. DSC_0363

The day had come to a close, and as we packed up to go, Ken and Tom decided to drive with us.  There’s safety in numbers and we go by the motto “No man left behind”.  We said our goodbyes and drove out of the pit area, only to meet Kevin, with a big grin on his face and a Schwinn Pixie (albeit in pieces) in his hands.

That pretty well summed up the weekend.  There was something for everyone, and tired as we were, everyone left with a smile on his or her face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volksfest Weekend 2017

 

FRIDAY, JULY 7TH, 2017

The anticipation leading up to Volksfest built rapidly.  Because I know the beauty of Vancouver Island, because I know the beauty of the venue at Cadboro Gyro Park, but mostly because I know the beauty of the people who I would share my time with there. I had booked our campsite months in advance, and had been eagerly counting down the days.

Spencer and I had decided to go over a day early to enjoy an extra night of camping and to have some free time to explore. By Thursday night, Buster was loaded to the gunwales with camping equipment and two recently semi-revamped vintage bikes. Every conceivable remaining space was crammed with Westfalia plaid chairs and picnic baskets to sell.

By Thursday night, Buster was loaded to the gunwales with camping equipment and two recently semi-revamped vintage bikes. Every conceivable remaining space was crammed with Westfalia plaid chairs and picnic baskets to sell.

On Friday morning, we left early, allowing extra time to get to the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen, knowing that we’d be taking Buster on the backroads as he gets a little cranky if he has to go over 50 miles an hour. We just made it on time, and although we were too late to use our reservation, we arrived at precisely the right time to drive right on.

That old feeling of coming home filled my soul as the ferry shuddered into the berth at Swartz Bay.  I eagerly drove down the Pat Bay Highway, ready for adventure.  The last time I had gone to the lower Island was for Volksfest in 2016.  It still seemed strange driving past the McTavish Road overpass and not stopping in to see my Mom, and for a moment my spirits were dampened.  But somehow, I felt as if she and my Dad were along for the adventure, because they are so much a part of me.

By the time we crossed over from the Pat Bay Highway to the Island Highway, I once again felt the exuberance of being “home”.  We pulled into the Goldstream campsite shortly after eleven in the morning, quickly set up the tents, and offloaded all the items we wouldn’t need to be transporting for the next couple of days. The tents were filled with picnic baskets and an odd assortment of chairs and stools. There was just enough room in my vintage pup tent for me to sleep, if I didn’t curl up, move, or breathe too deeply.

First and foremost on the day’s schedule was to bring some flowers to my Mom and sister and daughter. My sister’s birthday was the 9th of July and my Mom’s the 15th so we paid our respects and then went for the traditional dip in the ocean at Esquimalt Lagoon.

Buster at the Beach

I carefully watched for dog droppings, which had ruined a romantic date in my teen years as I ran along the sand in slow motion, stepped in it and it squished up through my toes (no amount of casual shaking my foot in the water, while trying to retain the magic of the moment, would wash it off).  Yup.  Scarred for life from that one. Yet, a dip in the ocean has remained a must.  No matter what time of year.  And it never disappoints.  It is a celebration of life and all that it can be.  It is a reminder to cherish what is real, to let go of what isn’t and to live life to the fullest.Volksfest Esquimalt Lagoon

It is a celebration of life and all that it can be.  It is a reminder to cherish what is real, to let go of what isn’t and to live life to the fullest.

Gorge homeWe had kept the two vintage bikes with us for the day. The plan was to return to the banks of the Gorge Inlet, where I grew up, and recreate the photo of me standing with my brand new Mustang-style bike in 1970, with Spencer and his recently acquired bike, that had only a week prior been completely covered in matte black paint.  The idea came about when we were discussing the similarity of the metalflake vinyl banana seats.  What a thrill it was to bike the entire Waterway route with my son, 47 years later.

Volksfest Kinsmen park japanese garden

Many years later the Japanese gardens were replanted

I told him stories as we went, showing him the spots we would hang out and where the remnants of old stairs were from the last residence on the water side of Gorge Roadand that the plants at the Vantilburg house with the Oriental architectural detail in Langford were from when the original Japanese Gardens at the park were dismantled. (In hindsight, I probably bored the poor kid to no end). It was bittersweet to recall that my mother used to bicycle with me from the Gorge to Langford when she was my age and I was Spencer’s. It was a truly special afternoon, sure to form the fabric of memories in years to come. By the end of the ride, he was convinced I was a bit of a wild teenager, although that wasn’t the exact word he used to describe me.

The Gorge Inlet from under the Tillicum Bridge

Then we decided to go and see if Jim and Connie Brown had arrived from Gig Harbour. We set off for the Hotel Zed and had just parked when they drove in.

They had taken the Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles and apparently it had been a rough journey.  I believe Connie still had a slight green pallor.  They settled in and then we decided to do a bit of sightseeing in their Thing.  With Jim chauffeuring and Connie riding shotgun, we went to Craigdarroch Castle,

Craigdarroch Castle

It’s affordable if you have U.S. funds

to Government House, along Dallas Road and then parked in Chinatown and walked through FanTan Alley to the older areas of the city.

Jim and Connie patiently tolerated my obsession with having my photo taken with statues and Spencer rolled his eyes, because he has to deal with this behaviour all the time.

We delighted in odd store names and odder stores housed in the old brick buildings. And we managed to solve the mystery of the people in white carrying picnic baskets with them: we eventually found them all gathered at Centennial Square for the annual “Diner en Blanc”.  It was quite a bizarre sight.

We topped it off with supper at the Taste of Europe Deli.  After a huge meal, and watching Spencer navigate his unusual “burger”, we drove back to the Hotel Zed, and parted ways for the evening.  Saturday would be busy and we would be up early.  That evening, we bicycled around the campsite, where we found several other people that would be going to Volksfest.  Joel Sanderson and Aaron and Stephanie Cook and their dog Frank were set up already and we came upon Shawn Boyes and his family in the notchback from Chilliwack too, as well and another orange late bay bus that seemed to be there by chance. A little while later Mel and Tom Weston, Taylor Clark and Mike and Shannon Adams drove by (with Jake Rozell enthusiastically waving out of the Blueberry’s sub hatch–man I wish I had a picture of that). We had an absolutely wonderful time with Mike and Shannon, and Mel and Tom had just pulled up to chat as well, when Taylor, who was on his way home because he had to work Saturday, required assistance.  Everyone left, and we tucked in for the night.  It was a good day.

SATURDAY, JULY 8TH, 2017

With the coming of dawn, so also did the promise of another beautiful day.  We knew the gang from the LGK VW Club were coming over on the seven a.m. ferry, so we timed our arrival at the Volkswagen dealer on Douglas for around nine. We pulled up on the grass strip between the road and the sidewalk and were joined shortly thereafter by Jim and Connie in the Thing.  Soon, the Mainland group arrived, included Shane and Amanda in the stunning Silver Surfer,

Mykala and Brian in the sleek Black Panther, Jason and Viki in his bug, Johnnie in the ’64, Don and Cindy in the Rabbit, Jerry and Kelly and Elayna Clark in his jaw-dropping bus,  Ken and Nadine, who unbeknownst to us would remedy their lack of  driving a VW once they arrived, and four of the five Frose Bros and families which included the usual array of vehicles, but also Lucas Frose’s bug and the inaugural appearance of Mayra’s gorgeous early bay double cab. Soon after Raul Cruz and his family and a friend arrived from south of the border in their buses. What an amazing group!

Volksfest violation, no just Jake’s bug’s former owner

In no time at all, everyone was enjoying a delicious pancake breakfast put on by the Victoria Volkswagen Club.  These people do an amazing amount of work, and make it look like it’s nothing.  Their easy smiles and pleasant camaraderie makes the whole Volksfest weekend Volksfest Pancakeamong the very favourite of the LGK crew. Tradition called for Johnnie’s special pancake, and the gals did not disappoint, creating a larger-than-life masterpiece.  Johnnie slathered it in butter and drizzled syrup all over it, and happily swallowed all of it.

As the events at the dealership wound down, everyone went their separate ways: someJohnnie arrives to check into their campsites, some to check into their hotels, others just to go and do some sightseeing.  We hopped in Buster and led the Clarks and Johnnie back to Goldstream Provincial Campsite, where they could check in and relax a bit.  Once everyone had their gear unloaded and organized (this didn’t consist of much for Johnnie, although it was amusing watching him blow up his pool chair that would serve as an air mattress), we decided to take a walk down to one of the sets of falls, where there was a pool suitable for swimming.  It was a hot day, and we were up for a refreshing dip in the water.  The swimming hole did not disappoint.  It was fairly busy, everyone having had the same idea, but there was enough room for each of us to have a dip.  I enjoyed every second of that time, particularly wading with Elayna, Jerry and Kelly’s sweet daughter; although I knew we’d have to leave fairly quickly to make it on time for the poker run. Okay, going back up the gazillion (Elayna valiantly tried to count them) or so stairs was maybe not too enjoyable, but still worth the trek, and offered us an excuse to ingest more calories.

I enjoyed every second of that time.

Once again, we got our small convoy of Volkswagens on the road and headed into town for the Poker Run.  There was a little confusion when we got near our destination, but eventually we noticed a group of VW’s in a parking lot and pulled in.  Johnnie had decided to carpool with us as navigating by himself would have been a bit challenging. He made himself comfortable in the back and we picked up our instructions and headed out. We had planned to go as a group, since I was familiar with 7 of the 8 locations, but we lost everybody at the first speed bump.  It was a doozie. So we ventured off on our own. And the real fun began.  My phone was all but dead, and Spencer didn’t have data, so Johnnie offered up his phone when we needed it and our navigator turned out to be Australian Siri.

Johnnie had brought along his Stormtrooper helmet and it was an instant hit with other drivers on the road, and at all the checkpoints.  He was welcomed to photobomb a wedding party that arrived at Cattle Point in a limo and posed for pictures with the group.  Not just for our sakes either, the professional photographer was quite pleased to shoot a couple of pictures of him and the group. (I think the father of the bride or groom was most excited, he couldn’t stop grinning)  It wasn’t long before the people at the checkpoints were asking each other if the Stormtrooper had showed up. My favourite checkpoints were Mt. Tolmie and Clover Point. The smiles that his appearance from the side window of the bus at traffic lights and the poses at checkpoints elicited were contagious.  We had the lousiest cards possible, and the best time ever. The photo ops were endless, and we stopped at places other than the checkpoints just to take advantage of them. During the driving time, we talked about how to step up the game for next year, and occasionally I had to tap on the brakes to bring Johnnie back into line.  I just told Spencer off in my usual “affectionate” manner.

 

The smiles that his appearance from the side window of the bus at traffic lights and the poses at checkpoints elicited were contagious.  We had the lousiest cards possible, and the best time ever.

The most difficult spot to find was the barbeque at the end of the run, but eventually we located it and were once again well-fed, this time hamburgers and smokies, by the smiling folk.  They had live music and there was a lot of companionable chatter.  A fine time was had by all.  Everyone complained about having poor poker hands, but I was pretty sure we were at the bottom of the heap.

From there some of us that didn’t have plans ventured up into the Highlands, where we spent some time talking with the good people from Triple J’s.  Back in the day (oh, I’m old) Munn Road was where one went to go dirt biking. Not anymore.  It still blows me away, seeing the properties and residences up there. It’s always amazing to witness the projects at Triple J’s firsthand. It’s a good thing there were no mosquitoes around, because I was checking out a beautiful Westfalia Splittie in the corner, dressed in a full awning and all the regalia, and I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open the entire time. Unfortunately, we took very few pictures there.

By the time we got back to the campsite, we were pretty well exhausted. There had been so much to see and so much enthusiasm and excitement that we were relieved to just sit and relax.  We had been invited to venture up the road and visit, but decided instead to call it a night, as the yawning had reached a critical point. Although we were taunted via text and Messenger (apparently the young whippersnappers didn’t have it in them to come and talk to me IRL), we held our ground and crawled into our respective hovels for a much-needed rest.

I marveled at how very different people, of very different interests and tastes and ages could become so bonded that they truly felt like family.

I crawled into my sleeping bag, surrounded by chairs and stools and Johnnie softly sawing logs from across the campsite and sleepily wondered how I was going to get this all back into the bus in a reasonable amount of time.  I set my alarm a half hour earlier than I originally had, just in case.  Good at Jenga, I was not. That wasn’t the only thing I thought of though.  I marveled at how very different people, of very different interests and tastes and ages could become so bonded that they truly felt like family. In all honesty, I know many of these people would have my back if I needed assistance.  And I felt with all my heart a profound love for them, which was equally reciprocated. I was silently thankful for each of them, contributing to the puzzle to form a whole magnificent masterpiece. I felt truly amazed and blessed and I was carried away in my dreams.

SUNDAY, JULY 9TH, 2017

Johnnie tries to amuse himself while I pack everything back into the bus

Finally, the day of Volksfest arrived.  Johnnie was packed up and ready to go in no time at all, and he sat and watched in obvious amusement as we dismantled the tents and spread the array of goods I had brought to sell at the show everywhere.  It looked as if someone had spewed plaid vomit around the campsite.  However, I was determined to fit it all back in the bus from whence it came, and succeeded.Volksfest Stormtrooper The result was a tangled mess of aluminum and metal legs and wheels and fabric and wicker resembling a large rat’s nest. We were off. A quick stop at Tim Horton’s for caffeine and sustenance and we were back on the road.

It didn’t take long to arrive at Gyro Park, and we helped to fold shirts, mainly because Taylor Clark can’t fold anything bigger than a medium. Once we had done what we could to help, I drove Buster to the LGK row (yes we have our own section—gotta love the VVWC) and started to set up.  As the vehicles started rolling in, it became very difficult to keep at the task at hand, because this show brings in a huge range of Volkswagens.  And then it got even more difficult, because old friends were arriving.  Not only is it a show, it is a family reunion.  Happy hugs and long conversations would be the order of the day.

I had to temporarily abandon the event to go and retrieve my phone, which I had inadvertently left in the bathroom at the campsite.  Unfortunately, it was dead, so I couldn’t call my number.  Darren Coughtry was kind enough to take an hour out of his day to chauffeur me out to Goldstream to see if it was still there. Imagine my surprise when the voice of Australian Siri responded to a request Darren had made (apparently she’s popular in these parts). I was relieved that a lady and her daughter had been kind enough to bring my phone to the gatehouse. As bad as I felt, a couple of good things came out of that turn of events.  Firstly, I got the chance to have a great chat with Darren, who is one of my favourite people. Secondly, I was amazed and my heart was warmed by the concern shown so many people.  Upon my return, my jubilation was theirs as well.  And that’s a perfect example of what I mean when I say this is family.

Shortly after we returned, I was given a basket to “Dubcessorize” by Ken and Nadine who had gotten it from Mike and Shannon. Then Shane appeared with two stools that I had nixed buying at the swap earlier because they were way too expensive. Apparently he has some good bargaining skills. Again, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of my friends. It was a good thing too, because Darren Coughtry, Jerry Tirone and a few others pretty well cleaned me out of stock.

DSC_0459It was so great to see the shortened single cab pull in,DSC_0669 to see Rob and Rheagh (great to see the double cab out and about), Russ, Don, and Jerry Tirone and his bus. Of course there was the Dormobile with the single wheel trailer which I absolutely love. Overall, there was a good contingent of mid-Island Volks there.  My absolute favourite had to be the bug with the “more than just patina” look, the hemp rope wrapped around the shell and pan holding it together, with the hole in the driver’s floor big enough to make it a Flintstone car. It came on a trailer, but actually drove off the trailer and to its spot in the show.  Many stunned faces watched at this spectacle.  DSC_0453Later on, by chance when Johnnie made a video of it, he was serenaded with “I come from the Land Down Under” blasting from the working radio—it made me think of an Australian Herbie trying to tell you something Johnnie. It even looked like Herbie, as Russ drove it, bouncing across the field in it to put it back on the trailer.

 

As I wandered around the venue, I heard a voice calling my name.  It was in the air, everywhere, surrounding me.  I thought maybe it was God talking to me, but it Volksfest Shane MCturned out it was just Shane on the P.A. system, calling for help with the junior valveDSC_0468 cover races. The kids had a great time. There was a selection of cars to choose from and everyone had an opportunity to try their hand at racing, with Shane doing his particular brand of MC’ing.

Volksfest best stacked bikeAs we bicycled through the crowds, people were running back and forth, eager to provide the requested items and win random prizes.  Dipsticks, laptops, ferry receipts, you name it.  The more unusual the item, the funnier it was to see people running to the booth to try and win. The LGK crew was called to action to judge the vehicles and were kept busy with a well set up set of parameters provided by the VVWC.

Then came the adult valve cover races.  I always claim to be non-competitive but something about these races gets my blood pumping.  I knew I would have a tough time beating Spencer and one of the ones provided for use was pretty fast too.  Then there was the Jetta valve cover car from last year.  Fortunately, Don Gifford decided he was happy to remain champion of last year’s race.  The competition was stiff.  Rob Reid helped me get a piece of tubing out that was stuck in the wheel well and I was ready to rumble. I won my first race, but three of the four wheels of my racer broke.  I had spares, but no glue.  I decided it was an impossibility and that it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but my amazing pit guy, Jim, wouldn’t let me quit.  We figured out how to get the old axles off, and switched over to the “off-road” rubber axles and wheels.  And I went on to the win!  Victory tasted sweet, as I drank my cold brew from the prize mug.

Later in the afternoon, I heard my name being called again.  Connie, Mykala and I were all “volunteered” to take part in the watermelon eating contest.  Connie was allowed to use her hands. Mykala and I weren’t. It was messy, it was very messy.  As thirsty as I was, I was too busy laughing at some of the commentary to eat much. At the end, I dove in and really got into it, or rather it got into me: in my hair, in my nose, in my eyes. As big a mouth as I have, it relates to talking, not eating and I knew from the get-go I had no chance to win. At the outset, I really didn’t want to do it, but it turned out to be a huge amount of fun.

Mykala takes first in her class

Prizes for vehicles were handed out and Mykala’s Black Panther won the best in her class.  It was really nice to see. One of my treasured moments was seeing the comment on Buster’s placard. “You’ll always be my number 1”. There were so many great vehicles in all the classes that were represented.

After that, the day started to wind down. People began packing up to catch ferries back to the mainland or to begin the long trek home up Island. The day had started out slightly overcast, but had ended up hot and sunny.  A number of glowing red sunburns attested to that fact. Several of us had reserved for the six o’clock ferry and watched as the people packed up to go their separate ways.  We

Shane donates his prize for auction. Jerry buys it. The Children’s Wish foundation is the winner

loaded up everything and relaxed for a while.  I was delighted to see Gabe, my little Coast Guard buddy and his Mom and Dad and chat for a while. I was most thrilled that I had made enough money from selling my Dubcessories items to pay for my ferry fares and donate the remaining $260 to my special little friend Logan, whose family needs to focus on his health and finding a cure for his illness. Shane donated the first place prize custom painted fridge he won and it was auctioned off to Jerry Tirone for $250 to go to the Children’s Wish Foundation.  There was also a nice amount raised from the poker run in honour of Peter Beltgens.

As we travelled on the ferry, there was time for one last group selfie, and a last photo op for the Stormtrooper.  Driving down the road into the sunset, I reflected on the weekend.  I was tired, but wouldn’t have missed a moment of it. I watched the members of the VVWC work tirelessly, particularly Mel Weston who never stopped. You should all be very proud of the amazing event you successfully orchestrated and pulled off.  It was fabulous.

The sun sank lower in the sky and my spirits soared.  Because Volkswagens aren’t just a vehicle, they are a lifestyle.  People from all walks of life come together, sharing a passion and find common ground.  I mused to myself that it would be wonderful if the world could be like that: If we could celebrate the commonalities and accept the differences, if we could be there to help anyone in need and to step up to the plate without being asked. It is possible. I witnessed it firsthand this weekend. ❤DSC_0777

People from all walks of life come together, sharing a passion and find common ground. It is possible. I witnessed it firsthand this weekend.

Many thanks to all the people who made this possible, particularly Spencer Gilbert and Jake Rozell for their amazing photography.  If you’d like to see more photographs of the event, I encourage you to go to the Victoria Volkswagen Club Facebook page or website, or the Luft Gekuhlt Kreuzers Facebook page.  

Thank you most of all to the people who made this possible.  Please feel free to join us at our events in the future.

                                                                           -Sara Gilbert

Jimbo II’s Debut and High-Tech Volks Return (32nd Annual Woodburn Bug Run)

It was Friday, June 3rd.  The day had finally arrived.  Well, for rest of us it was ‘finally’. For Jim Brown and Ken Baker, they likely wished for a little more time to tweak their respective cars. Alas, there had to be a time for a test run, and the 32nd Annual Woodburn, Oregon Bug Run was the perfect venue. Ken Baker’s last run had been at Bugorama in June of 2016. He had worked on his ‘High-Tech Volks’ bug throughout the winter. Jim Brown purchased his drag Ghia last year and customized it over the winter, preparing it for drag racing.

There was a good contingent of Luft Gekuhlt Kreuzer family heading down to the show, including Shane Constantinescu and his daughter Mykala, Ken Baker and Nadine, Jim and Connie Brown and their son Kevin, Art Frose and his son Lucas, Rob Frose and myself, Sara Gilbert, and son Spencer. All in all, the club was well represented. Other people involved in, or friends of, the LGK VW Car Club that would be there included Thomas and June Turner, Raul Cruz (who won first place at Dubs in the Barn with his beautiful Early Bay, Tom and Judy Wood, Marc and Robin Buehler, and Nancy Phillips and her husband, and Tom Brown.

The morning dawned bright and clear, and  those that were coming from British Columbia, Canada, headed out on the road early as they were looking at a six hour drive, excluding the usual traffic woes.

lgk-woodburn-connie.jpg

Ready to Cruise

A meetup was scheduled at the Maytown rest area just south of Olympia. We were surprised to find that we were the first to arrive, and I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow we had missed everyone. Then we learned that Connie Brown’s plans had gone awry and she wouldn’t be able to bring the Thing down due to a failed fuel pump.  Jim and Connie had regrouped and repacked everything into one vehicle and were on their way.  Ken and Nadine were on their way as well. While we waited, we were treated to a convoy of vintage VW’s pulling into the rest area.

While we waited, we were treated to a convoy of vintage VW’s pulling into the rest area.

Shortly thereafter, Ken and Nadine arrived. Jim and Connie notified us that they would be arriving soon, so we wandered about looking for free coffee that didn’t exist and contemplating the lone shoe left in one of the spaces. The Browns arrived and we chatted for a few moments while we celebrated National Donut Day.

The celebration of National Donut Day and the contemplation of the Lone Shoe

Woodburn Shopping

The ‘alternate’ route contained a few more stops along the way than the route most of us were taking

Jim and Connie let us know that Shane and Mykala were taking an ‘alternate route’ so it was time to get the convoy rolling. We set out full of anticipation and exuberance and ready to face the many miles ahead of us. We stopped once and after some maneuvering, Ken managed to get his truck and trailer positioned for refuelling at the service station. Meanwhile, I parked in front of the air/water service center and the nice young attendant came out and started the air compressor for me. Apparently, there was a huge trailer blocking his way and he couldn’t do it remotely.  He apologized profusely, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was just parking there. So I faked it. I think he felt pretty pleased with himself. Little did I know, I was a mere grasshopper at the art of emphasizing my emotions. I was about to witness true skill and mastery.

We headed out onto the I-5 again. Somewhere just south of Kalama, across a particularly bumpy and rutted bridge, the convoy quickly pulled over. Fortunately, just at that spot the shoulder widened. Bringing up the rear as support vehicle, our view was basically a barn door. We wondered what had changed, but then we saw. It wasn’t what had changed, it was what needed changing. What met our eyes was a thoroughly shredded trailer tire on Jim’s rig. Ken and Nadine had seen what they initially thought were bits of retread flying up from under the Browns’ trailer. It turned out it was not something they had run over, but actually their tire disintegrating. The wheel was removed, and the damage done to the wheel well by the blowout was repaired using sheer ingenuity and a variety of implements. The temperature was around 34 degrees Celsius. It was hot and noisy. Fortunately, it was a double-axled rig, Nadine had been able to call Connie to tell them to pull over and there was a tire shop nearby. Lawn chairs were set up, and Connie, Spencer and I set off in the ‘chase vehicle’ to get the tire replaced. Good thing there was a place to change into a superhero costume at the phone booth in Kalama.

We pulled into the Les Schwab parking lot and carried the rim with the shredded tire in like it was a wounded animal. A long lineup of tired looking people stood ahead of us. Connie, with doleful eyes and a most sorrowful voice, shared the story of her woes in amazing and heartrending detail and told of how a group of Canadians had stopped to come to Jim’s and her aid. I practically teared up hearing the tale. The man helping us said there was more than an hour’s wait, but he’d try to slip it in between jobs–which he did. I took crib notes. Good thing they had popcorn there. It was like being at a show.

When we returned, the fix was pretty quick. As soon as Ken got Jim’s nuts out of his pocket, the tire was installed and we were back on the road. Everyone had fared reasonably well, aside from the blistering heat and noise/wind of the freeway traffic flying by. Ken had even managed to get a little shuteye and Nadine looked far more comfortable in shorts.

dsc_0149-e1496716679581.jpg

Destination in sight

The last leg of the journey took a while; by that time traffic was stop and go…more stop than go. We opted to skirt around Portland and took the 205. When we finally pulled into Woodburn it was five-thirty and plans to stop and check in at the hotel were quickly tossed aside. Minutes later, we were at the drag strip.

It wasn’t long before the trailers were unloaded and the cars were out. The pop-up shelters were set up and while final adjustments were being made to both cars, the womenfolk organized the tables and set up a tables and chairs. Connie had graciously brought along some sandwich rolls, fruit and snacks.

Tech time

With some sustenance consumed, all of us regained our energy. The anticipation was as thick as sausage gravy served on biscuits, and the boys were ready to take the cars to tech to check that everything was in order with the cars and the safety gear .

Getting through tech, the cars were brought back. The decision was made after the Outlaw Street Racing ended to do some practice runs to get the feel of things and see what might need work before the next day’s drags. The track was being kept open until eight-thirty and it was a beautiful evening. Volkswagens of every type were driving in for the camping and the swap opened up for purchasing that evening.  It was bliss. As evening approached, the bugs came out in full force.

As evening approached, the bugs came out in full force.

After a couple of runs, Ken discovered that his clutch was slipping, which was giving him some problems, and Jim felt that he wasn’t hooking up because his tire pressure was too high. They spent a little time making the adjustments required to remedy the issues, and then it was time to button things up and get some sleep before the big day. I wandered around asking questions about why people had their driver’s doors open as they drove up to race and what a wet box was and why one needed a diaper (I was going to need a different kind of diaper if I kept walking past drag cars as they were backfiring). As the sun was setting over the Woodburn Drag Strip, there was a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that threaded its way through the group, along with the feeling of the camaraderie of being with ‘family’.

The sun setting at the end of a long, but successful day

Saturday, June 4th, the day of the actual 32nd Annual Woodburn Bug Run, dawned cool and overcast. Typical for the area, we hoped that it would burn off later in the morning. The group gathered for a quick coffee and snack at the local Starbucks and then headed out to the track. Everyone was on hand, excited. Our spirits weren’t dampened, though the light drizzle did nothing to help the physical dampness.

The light drizzle didn’t dampen our enthusiasm

There was a steady stream of vehicles arriving, and that in itself was enough to hold our interest.

 

Again, Connie, laid out some food, including something called ‘breakfast cookies’, which looked suspiciously like regular oatmeal cookies. I decided calling them porridge cookies might make them more breakfast-y. It didn’t matter, Rob Frose saw cookies and was overjoyed. After chatting for a bit, we were eager to take in the swap. There would be no racing for a while. There were lots of interesting items to see, some bargains to be had and every trip through the swap area revealed new items. Also on hand were a delightful assortment of vintage bikes. One of our group bought one, which was then borrowed temporarily by yours truly, to see if I could still ride a Mustang-style bike 43 years later. Apparently, you don’t ever forget; the old adage is true.

As expected by most, the weather cleared, the drizzle ceased and it dried up. It wasn’t blistering hot, which was nice, but it was good enough to race. Ladies and gentlemen we had a green light.

It was so great watching the smile on Nadine’s face as Ken excitedly got ready to do a qualifying run. Connie’s expression was equally enthusiastic. As for Ken and Jim, you can well imagine the adrenaline running through their systems. It was a rush just watching them.

For me, there were two outstanding moments: one was watching Kevin Brown on the quad, towing his Dad, Jim, and Jimbo II back to the pits. I could feel his enthusiasm. It, and tears from driving so fast with no eye protection, were all over his face. Now that was a look of sheer exhilaration.

Father and son teamwork, where a picture says a thousand words

The other was watching Lucas Frose as he stood over Jimbo II’s engine bay. This talented young man built the roll cage, the diaper and did some work on the floor and the wheelie bars and mounted them, did the racing seat install and the seat belt mounts. I watched from a distance as Lucas and his Dad, Art, hovered around the back area of the car, inspecting everything.  I could only imagine what an enormous sense of accomplishment and pride Lucas, and in turn his father, must have felt at the role he played in customizing and readying Jimbo II for racing. Unfortunately, that image is only burned into my memory and no photographic record was captured. But it is deeply etched there.

Lucas watching as adjustments are made on Ken’s High-Tech Volks Bug

LGK Woodburn Pulled Pork

Pulled pork. Mmmmmm

Lunch rolled around, and out came a couple a pans full of pulled pork, made by Jim. The aroma was tantalizing, but nothing on the actual taste! What a fantastic spread Jim and Connie put on for us.  We all had our fill, and then some. Lucky us. I had no idea we were going to be treated to this on top of sharing in the thrill of the racing.

Another tour of the swap, some pictures of cars (well, almost 700 were taken by Spencer Gilbert) and some more racing filled the rest of the day.

Jimbo II makes its debut

High-Tech Volks on the track

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but in a good way. There had been so much excitement, and so much adrenalin.

Then it was time to relax. We said goodbye to Art, Lucas and Rob Frose, who were all heading back to Canada that evening. We packed everything up and went to the hotel for a brief period of relaxation. Then it was off to the Outlet Mall for an hour of speed shopping (during which time, in my attempts to park, Ken taught Spencer and I new British phraseology relating to jam), and over to a local restaurant for a meal. As we joined tables and talked about the day, there was a definite celebratory feeling.

LGK woodburn dinner

As we joined tables and talked about the day, there was a definite celebratory feeling

Ken Baker had a clutch that was slipping Friday night. He took off the Bowden tube and got into the 13’s and broke the 100mph barrier. Unfortunately something broke, so that was the end of racing for the day. However all in all, High-Tech Volks had a good run, and there was a definite look of satisfaction at the results. Hopefully you’ll be back up and running soon, Ken. We look forward to cheering you on!

Jim Brown had spend a lot of time up to and including the Woodburn Show working on Jimbo II. It was his first time on a drag strip in 37 years. He had the full support of the LGK family and there is an obvious kinship and love between members. His main consideration in the building of the drag car was to fave fun. “Going fast is nice,” in his words, “but if you’re not having fun and enjoying it with family and friends, then why do it?” He felt the weekend had been a success, and fun. The car ran well and they came away with great memories and a lot of positive comments from people at the track who liked the Ghia, the clean look and the the name. No surprise there, Jim, it’s a fine looking car, with a pretty amazing story to go with it. Jim’s best run was in the low 13’s at 98 mph. He took it very easy and let off after shifting in to 4th, not driving it to the line. He felt the car had a lot more in it and that he needed to get more seat time.

On Sunday morning, everyone left at different times. Some left early to avoid traffic and get home as soon as possible, others lingered behind with no need to rush home. Thus the ‘LGK convoy’ home consisted of Ken and Nadine, and Spencer and myself. We travelled along at a reasonable pace, stopping briefly to fuel up and stretch our legs. There was, however, one last thing to do. We plugged “Dutch Bros. Coffee” in our GPS Navigation Unit and found one that looked like it would be easily accessible from the freeway and a good location to stop.  This tradition began when the Motorhome Six went to the Classic and applied a sticker to the Dutch Bros. building in Sutherlin.  We felt that it should be customary on road trips.  Now there are only 258 locations to go. I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Luft Gekuhlt Kreuzers left their mark, not only physically but in the memories of many people during the weekend. As for the actual members, I think the bond just grows stronger and the mark is indelible. I know that bond is permanently tattooed on my heart.LGK Woodburn Mark

Now there are only 258 locations to go.

 

*Luft Gekuhlt Kreuzers is a Vancouver, Canada based VW club focusing on our love for the VW scene. Our mission is to create a fun, family oriented environment.  Please check out our Facebook page and join us at our annual LGK BBQ (see the event section for details).

THE 25th ANNUAL GREAT CANADIAN VOLKSWAGEN SHOW WEEKEND AND AVR BARBEQUE

 

There wasn’t a lot of activity on the club’s Facebook Page in the week leading up to the GCVWS.  When there was, it was usually short and sweet.  Everyone was busy preparing their vehicles and getting things ready for the AVR Barbeque at the Shane and Amanda Constantinescu’s property. There had been some fun leading up to the weekend with a scavenger hunt for the 2016 stickers.  Todd Gill was a going concern, and I managed to snag one locally (driving like a madwoman up to the wreckers near Cultus Lake to get it, only to have my son steal it for his bus) and then a second one with Suzy Mussche and Cindy Strickler messaging me as I drove all around a six block radius in Langley.  The first guy that saw me at the correct location wondered what I was doing, and when I said I was looking for stickers, directed me to a sign shop.  Finally, with only a minimal amount of embarrassment, the second one was located.  I think it might have been entertaining for the guys in the shop.

I was eagerly anticipating getting the thirteen raffle baskets out of my garage, as I no LGK1longer had any space on the benches or seats.  Fortunately, I managed to whip off a set of curtains for Buster, since we were going to camp at the PBI ranch to save us that early morning drive into Vancouver from Chilliwack. Other than that, there were a few last minute surprises to prepare and the final pickup of donations and it was time for the fun to begin.

Friday afternoon, the anticipation was high as we set off in the bus to the Mission Raceway. It was hot–no, it was sweltering.  Gates opened at four and we all made our way in. DSC_0088 It’s great fun to watch the racers, and equally fun to wander around the pits to see all the amazing vehicles that come out for this annual event. It was great to see everyone and some of the highlights included watching Eric Jelier race his daily driver for the first time; seeing Grant Hooper run his Baja; DSC_0055watching father and son, Greg and Braun Gunson running side by side down the track…well, for a little while; and seeing some new faces and meeting some new and old friends and catching up on the goings-on in our lives.

 

 

 

Then there were the amusing moments…

    Lightening the load                                                                                    Striking a pose

At the end of the day, as the sun set and the heat subsided, there were many contented faces.  The weekend had only just begun.

I was up early the next morning, time was short and the day was going to be long.  A quick LGK2run out to get last minute items and then it was time to load the bus.  This included camping gear, a cooler, some surprise birthday gifts, 2 hot wheels drag race tracks, Hot Wheels cars, lawn chairs and various photography equipment.  Plus us.  Oh, and in an organized fashion, in a manner that didn’t allow for movement or damage of the raffle baskets. And then we were on our way.

We arrived at the Strickler residence a little after our scheduled time, due to traffic and Buster’s speed limitations (even for a VW bus it’s slow).  The mini-convoy was waiting. Greg Gunson, Don Gifford, Cindy, Corey, Jenna and Haleigh Strickler were all eagerly waiting our arrival. We set off immediately for the Ranch.  The highway was slowed to a near standstill, so we wound our way around backroads and were soon beginning to set up for the arrival of guests later in the afternoon. It was unbelievably hot out, but people were smiling and there was a definite feeling of anticipation in the air (along with a feeling of heavy sweating).

Then when everything was set up and the work was winding down it was time for a group photo and some fun and hijinx.DSC_0247

chalkThere are no pictures of the food or the people eating the great chicken, veggie burgers, fantastic salads, amazing corn or fabulous desserts. And it was very, very quiet during that time.  Just the sounds of finger licking and the sounds of delight over the tasty meal. The kids enjoyed drawing with chalk and the kids enjoyed the Hot Wheels drag track (the kids of all ages).

kids hot wheels

I didn’t win any of the Hot Wheels drag trophies. Kevin Timleck (who owns my Azur Cabrio’s twin won and Connie Brown won a trophy as well. But I achieved what I had set out to do and beat Shane in the Hot Wheels Drag Race between us (the competitiveness of that man, yeesh!) and was highly delighted to do so after carefully considering and choosing which of the three vehicles I had brought to run (without testing beforehand, but with doing careful research). Did I mention I BEAT Shane (just like I did with the Valve Cover racer at Volksfest)?  So I gave myself a plastic trophy and medal and enjoyed the moment.  Unfortunately Shane lost the T-shirt I had given him a day earlier.  I even had my Sharpie ready to  write “Sara is superior to Shane” on it. I think I’ll custom make a more detailed one for him to don at the next club meeting.

Throughout the evening draws were made for the baskets.  Rob Frose really looked like he wanted that spa basket for himself when he accepted on behalf of the winner who wasn’t there.

I was thankful to have my spot all made up and ready to fall into at the end of the evening. I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  But one of my favourite moments was about to occur.

I recalled from last year that there was a small celebration at the end of the evening for Shane’s approaching birthday, so I double-checked with Amanda to get the date and asked if it would be okay to put together a little something.  That way, those of us who wouldn’t be around for his birthday could still wish him all the best and show him how much we appreciate him.

I rallied a few of the girls in a group chat and we decided on a cake, and when I visited DSC_0447Mykala for Floral Tuesday, I asked if maybe she could sing something, because I know how much that means–I think it means more than any gift ever could.  I made up a T-shirt because I always give Shane a hard time about him being “Kinda a Big Deal” and I made up a prototype birdhouse to match the vintage trailer he pulls behind the Silver Surfer. Just a little something to show we cared.  It was hard to drag him away from tasks at hand, but eventually he came over to where we were all congregated.

Surrounded by some of the LGK family, Mykala started to sing.  Well, I don’t think there was a dry eye there.  It was so intensely emotional and filled with love that it was completely overwhelming.  I would have given up the whole weekend if I had to, just to experience that moment with her singing to her Dad and Shane and Amanda standing there with so much pride and love listening to her. It was just them and her. We were given a glimpse of a beautiful bond.Mykala singing  I wanted so much to say thank you to Mykala, because that couldn’t have been easy. She is a songbird in my eyes and has a special place in my heart. What a beautiful way to end a wonderful day. We all went our separate ways, but we were all linked.  As Shane will tell you and we all concur, we are family.  We renewed old bonds, caught up on each other’s lives, and welcomed new members of the family with open arms.

As the night ended after a pleasant time around the campfire (propane) and everybody made their way to their respective homes, motels, hotels, motorhomes, trailers, buses and a pup tent, something scuttled over the fence. But other than that, memories of the day that just was and the day that was yet to be, were the only activity on into morning.

Sunday dawned bright and clear, although the temperatures were supposed to be cooler later in the day.  Promised cloud cover was not present, but spirits were high as the many of the club members gathered for the cruise into the Great Canadian VW show. I downed a double shot of Monster caffeine something-or-other and felt the effects as I bounced around the yard waiting to go. Soon we were off.  Soon we fell behind.  Spencer had quipped on our mini convoy the day prior, that we should rename Buster “Caboose” because it’s always behind and it’s butt ugly. We both say that lovingly, because honestly, Buster is a treasure to us both.  He just needs a dab of makeup.  Okay, maybe some pancake makeup.

cruise

Photo credit: Brian Mendiola

The lineup to get into the actual event location was long and slow.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too warm yet. It was so great to get in and get parked.  We tucked some things away, set up the poptop and took off for the swap meet area.  It took a little while to get there, since we were immediately distracted by both cars and people. There were a few items I needed that I picked up and some that I didn’t that I also picked up.  In my glory, we set off back to the bus to offload the goods, threading our way through the vehicles. I was pretty sure Spencer felt like he was herding a butterfly, or maybe more aptly, a wayward chicken or better yet, a squirrel strung out on a double dose of caffeinated Monster something-or-other. Poor kid.

The day carried on and there were so many amazing cars to see and people to talk to, it was pretty busy.  But there was also time for “chillin” (especially in the afternoon when the cloud cover finally made an appearance) under the LGK tent. And then came the trophies.

Trevor Myorski -First in Class, Late Model Custom;  Johnnie Balfour – Second in Class, Type 2 Custom ’68-’79; Matt Ryan – First in Class, Type 3;  Jim Brown – Second in Class ’58-’67; Greg Gunson – Third Place, Stock Motor Challenge.  Not Shown: Timothy Cardon – First in the MK4/A4 Jetta Class; Kevin Timeleck, First in Class, Cabriolet; Mike Ray -unknown.

At the end of the journey home, after a pitstop in Aldergrove at the A&W, where we were inundated with posts about the day on our phones, Spencer remarked “Imagine if I had a different Mom, one that wasn’t into VW’s like you, and that didn’t do the things that you do?” And I think that was the nicest compliment he could give me. I wiped whatever it was away from my eye and we got in the bus and drove home.

Did I mention I beat Shane?

Note: Unless otherwise noted, photo credits go to Spencer Gilbert.  This blog does not show all the amazing vehicles that LGK and other clubs had in for judging or just in the show and shine.  This is just an overview from my (Sara’s) perspective of an amazing weekend.  I love my LGK family so much.  You guys rock!

Spencer sunset drags

 

 

Volksfest 2016

For those of you who don’t know us, my son, Spencer, bought his 1969 Westfalia Camper when he was 9 years old with his own savings from gifts and money he had banked as a child. The plan was to have it restored to a decent state by the time he turned 16. I suddenly found myself on a steep learning curve and have since developed a wild passion for all things VW. On his 14th birthday in 2015, I insured “Buster”  for three months. He went to a Toy Run in Surrey/Langley in November, to Dubs in the Barn in the spring, and this was his debut on Vancouver Island.  This is our story of the trip. – Sara Gilbert

I had been home since Sunday, July 3rd from a ten day road trip through five states and driving over 4,000 to pick up a Meyers Manx dunebuggy and do some sightseeing with my 14 year old son.  I was pretty tired, but knew I had to get Spencer’s 1969 Westy home from the autobody shop where the nose and roof had been painted so we could put a replacement fibreglass poptop on.  I had four days to sand, prep, refinish and install it and no time to install the replacement canvas. Oh well, doing things bass ackwards as usual and definitely the hard way. The bumpers were supposed to be repaired, sandblasted and powdercoated, but there was no time, so I grabbed a can of spray paint and prettied them up a little.

Somehow by Thursday night it was together, but not without some choice vocabulary and some major sweating and panicking.  I loaded as much as I could that evening, knowing we’d be pulling out midday Friday, to get to our campsite in Goldstream Provincial Park. It took some careful Tetris-type moves to squeeze the items in for camping and for stacking the roof (had I known the extremes people would go to, I wouldn’t have bothered because there was NO way we were going to win that award).

We were ready to go mid-morning, and I knew it would take extra time for us to get to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal as we were in Spencer’s bus.  It was exciting to finally be taking it to the Island. Had the brakes repaired and the throttle adjusted, and suddenly Buster was proving to be a lot gutsier than I had ever thought he could be.  He still burned oil, but I figured given his age and general condition, that was acceptable for the time being. We aimed for the 3:00 ferry and were disappointed to be told we might have a two sailing wait.

Jpeg

Ferry line-ups

I really should know better, I’ve crossed enough times, particularly in the last few years, and never failed to reserve a spot on the weekends. Fortunately, we only had a one sailing wait and were thrilled to be on our way, once we got through the stress of being stuck on the uphill incline of the loading ramp with a car right on our back bumper.

The trip passed uneventfully, and it was quiet, given that the rest of the LGK gang wasn’t heading over until the next day. There were no other VW’s on our ship…we checked. 

Jpeg

Maiden voyage

Corey and Cindy Strickler were scheduled to join us that evening, taking a later ferry to join us in our campsite. We were pretty stoked to have camp buddies and pretty excited about actually getting to use Buster for his intended purpose for the first time since Spencer acquired him five years ago. As we neared Swartz Bay in Sidney, we passed a Gulf Islands ferry, and my spidey-senses were tingling.  Indeed, on board the open vehicle deck we spied a bay bus.  I quickly hopped out of Buster and snapped a shot and then got another one as we were docking. We wondered if we would see it at any of the events that weekend.

A Gulf Islands Ferry bringing a Westy to Swartz Bay

It was delightful to start Buster up and drive down the Pat Bay Highway.  I’m pretty sure I was grinning ear-to-ear.  I was torn between going to the campsite and setting up everything before Corey and Cindy arrived or cruising through town to see if we would be spotted or spot anyone.  We opted for the campsite as we has no idea how long it would take to set up everything.

We cut across the bottom of the Island at McKenzie and got onto the Island Highway.  It was busy and the going was slow for a bit.  Suddenly, Taylor Clark’s white splittie roared passed, with Jake Rozell hanging out of the passenger window yelling something unintelligible at us.  Cool!  One of the only buses we knew very well–and Spencer’s personal fave–from the Victoria VW Club. They left us in the dust, almost before we could even snap a photo.

Volksfest splittie

Taylor and Jake on the Island Highway just past Admirals Road

We then made a quick pit stop in Langford for gas, groceries and libations for me.  En route back to the highway, we passed a middle school on Spencer Road (which I knew existed, but I didn’t know about the middle school).  We stopped, as quickly as possible with drum brakes–good thing we can’t drive too fast, and headed in for the best photo op ever.

Spencer Middle School in Langford. What a great photo op!

After driving the long winding road to our particular campsite at Goldstream Provincial Park, we backed in, ensuring there was enough room in the small site for Corey and Cindy to pull in and leaving enough room for my pup tent.  A sense of accomplishment welled up in us as we pulled things out and set them up, wanting the give the site a “lived-in” look by the time the Stricklers showed up.

Jpeg

The setup begins

I brought a small trunk full of fire wood (had to do a lot of double-duty type preps to cover both the camping and the stacking contest aspects of this trip. Hammock up, web chairs out, fire blazing, vintage water cooler filled. Yup.  All set. I set up my Dad’s old nylon pup tent (too close of quarters in the bus to be in there with my teenaged son), discovering to my dismay, that there was nary a tent peg to be found.  I MacGyver-ed it to a bunch of bushes with rope and thought if it collapsed it would be worth a good story. Then we walked down the road and spotted a blue bus and red bug a couple of sites away.Nobody looked up as we walked by, but it was nice to see another group there as well.

Jpeg

Waiting for our guests

When I posted that we had arrived, an orange bus posted in Site 14 that they were there as too.  We never made it that far, as in the distance, we heard the unmistakable sound of a VW engine growing nearer.  We peered down the road into the darkness and saw three lights. Two headlights and a foglamp.  Our guests had arrived. They quickly got to work and soon had their bus all ready for sleeping.  I have to admit, it looked really cozy with it’s red vinyl, and checked red curtains.  I think a lot of people in tents would have sighed enviously at the sight, had they seen it.  Neither bus had canvas installed, so it looked like a couple of tintops were parked there.

Jpeg

Time to get settled and then kick back and relax around the campfire

We spent an hour or so around the fire. I celebrated with a Caesar and we all chatted for a while.  This was to be the initial use for both the buses as campers.  I found it rather amusing that Corey used Spencer’s original shell top for his own bus, which he got from the Froses after they replaced the much worse one that we started with.  Both buses were a conglomeration of vehicles.  I had often referred to Spencer’s as Vankenstein, and I think Corey had mentioned someone calling his Frankenbus at one point in its restoration process.

It was time to hit the rack, and everybody turned in for the night.  I was a little leery of the noises in the bushes, but decided someone would rescue me if a) the tent collapsed or b) they domestic cat wandering around the site earlier was feral and attacked me.  Everyone settled in, and I wormed my way into the ridiculously small pup tent.  I was asleep in no time, and when I woke up it was still standing.  I don’t know if any critters ever visited.  It had been a long day, and the next day was filled with fun events.

Saturday, July 9th dawned overcast.  It had rained heavily overnight, waking up the camper-dwellers with the sound of the rain on the roofs.  I had a tarp over the tent and it would have been noisy if the libations hadn’t worked so well at sending me off to dreamland.

I brewed a quick batch of camp coffee in the aluminum percolator and took care of morning ablutions. We threw as much as we could into my pup tent, and Corey and Cindy packed everything up. We were on the road in short order. After a quick stop to fuel up the vehicles and grab a drink at Timmies, we were off to the pancake breakfast at Victoria Volkswagen. I had intended to go and meet the crew coming from the mainland at 8:30, but my sleeping bag on a narrow dollar store air mattress in my half-collapsed pup tent was just too comfy and I didn’t get up on time.

Jpeg

Pancake Breakfast at Victoria Volkswagen

Initially I parked in the wrong spot (near the pancakes of course) and was moved over to the far lot in front of Island Outfitters.  The owner of that store took exception as it was Saturday, and the lot was apparently soon to fill up with cars, trucks and boats. We all then transferred our vehicles to the grass strip between the sidewalk and Douglas Street.  It was nice there, maybe not so much for the gentleman flying through on his mobility scooter with his tunes blasting, but it was nice there.  I set up the little VW tent to finish the line-up where we spent a pleasant couple of hours (not in the tent, rather parked along the grass strip).  Connie Brown suggested I might find the VW tent more comfortable and certainly more stable that evening.  I tried it out and seriously considered that option.

Volksfest LGK4

“See,” they said, “you do fit.”

A quick environmentally-friendly tagging (using Squeeze Cheese in a can) of the nearest hydro pole produced some hijinx by Connie that had everyone laughing for quite a while.

Volksfest LGK

Considering What Action to Take (Editor’s Note:  I had the ‘other’ photo and opted not to use it–your welcome, Connie)

Volksfest LGK5

“Special” Pancakes

Sometime during the event, a green doka pulled in from Oregon. I had spoken to the gentleman at the cruise last year.  He was quite an elderly fellow that did a lot of travelling and came to the show hoping to see more of his type of vehicle.  The odd thing Spencer and I noticed the year before is that his wife never left the vehicle.  I found the gentleman quite chatty and pleasant and said hello to his wife, but she didn’t say much in return.  We watched and the same thing occurred again.  There was some speculation about her level of comfort sitting in a vehicle all day. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hot.  Several people were still chuckling about Connie’s antics when Johnnie Balfour came up with his custom-made pancakes.  When he cut into the left side of it, there were several squeamish responses, and a multitude of remarks.

Volksfest Victoria Volkswagen

Parked at Victoria Volkswagen along Douglas Street

Volksfest LGK3

“Surf’s Up”

The event came to a close around lunchtime and we decided that it was time to get some lunch before the cruise, since the others couldn’t get into their hotel rooms yet. Most opted to go to the Sticky Wicket, a delightful pub in downtown Victoria, where Don Gifford must have heard the surf was up.  I might have joined them, but felt that Spencer would probably prefer the “must” stop at the Beacon Drive-In.  Most of the gang had left by then, and so I told whoever remained that I was going to the Drive-In and would see them at the cruise. Before I knew it, I was leading the way for Corey and Cindy, Ken and Nadine, and Braun and Johnnie–two Westies, a Rabbit, and a Bug.We sat on the patio and ate lunch (I can’t believe I actually forgot to get some of their famous soft serve for desert) and had a discussion about pronunciation of such things as tomatoes, bananas and Jaguars.  The Brits and Aussie lost to the five of us who clearly spoke betterer.

After lunch, we took a trip up to Signal Hill in Beacon Hill park where we surveyed Clover Point, the location of the beginning of the cruise. It was a beautiful view across the Juan de Fuca Strait to Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains.By that time, the weather had cleared nicely and the temperature was balmy.

Volksfest Signal Hill

Signal Hill at Beacon Hill Park

There were some modifications made to the Rabbit’s number–37 temporarily became 317 and everyone had to test out its driver’s seat because Braun Gunson was having “issues” with it when he sat in it. But it was only Braun, the rest of us had no problems. We all looked under its bonnet (for you Aussies and Brits) and discussed the door-handle stick shift knob.

Volksfest LGK7

Goldilocks in the Bear’s Chair

Then, while that discussion continued, I thought I had better test out Braun’s car.  I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks testing out chairs.  But we only had one bear. I generously shared my previous year’s research with the group regarding how to get peacocks to raise their tailfeathers into the beautiful fan shape, and told them that with a brightly-coloured shirt and the proper movements, it could be achieved.  Nobody could be enticed to try it, despite my encouragement.

There was a little time left so Connie and Jim, and Braun and Johnnie went to check into their hotel. Corey and Cindy and us needed a few items we had forgotten to bring camping, so with the time remaining, we opted to find the nearest shopping center and pick up a few sundries.  We went off to James Bay and picked up our items and took in a local market where the discussions revolved around whatever it was Corey was drinking.  Then Corey rescued me from my feeble attempts to get the VW tent back in its bag (when I tried later on at home it took me multiple attempts and three days to accomplish the feat).

Volksfest tent folding

Corey Saves the Day

After that, it was getting close to cruise time. Parking is always a bit of a problem at Clover Point, so we headed in that direction.  I led the Stricklers on the scenic route along Dallas Road–the old yellow dot route.  Along the way, we saw the rest of the gang “having a moment” at one of the parking pullouts near Ogden Pier.  We gallantly waved as we drove by–which, by the way, we heard endless commentary about later on when they joined us at the cruise start location.

There was plenty of time to enjoy the beach while waiting for the others to arrive.  Much ado was made about who would bring Shane Constantinescu the largest piece of driftwood.  I’m pretty sure that the girls totally rocked it.

Volksfest LGK8

It’s a “thing” I do with Things

Cindy Gifford carried a log up and put an end any competition there might have been.  Meanwhile, I found a nice long piece of semi-dried bull kelp and did a little skipping with it; then I tested it for “whippability”.  Don Gifford thought it was a real whip from where he was standing and made some remark indicating his surprise.  I couldn’t get close enough to Shane and Corey to have any fun, so I dropped it, and carried on with other “things”.  I left our mark in Squeeze Cheese, which I’m sure the seagulls would enjoy once they got their mouths unstuck from trying to eat the glommy stuff.

Volksfest LGK rocks

Stating the obvious, not that the rocks belonged to LGK

Amanda gazed out at the water and walked among the tidepools taking in the beautiful scenery and looking very peaceful.  It’s good to have someone that’s sane and can take care of us in the midst of our shennanigans. I certainly felt reassured, particularly when Shane mentioned something about his new Vans runners being so light and that he had given everybody the opportunity on the ferry to feel the weight of them.

Volksfest Clover Point

There were an unbelievable amount of participants and it was a long procession that left Clover Point to take a scenic drive through the Lower part of Vancouver Island.

Finally, all the vehicles had arrived, and it was time to start the cruise.  The weather was “iffy” at best, and a few raindrops had started to fall as we pulled out from Clover Point.  It was an amazing sight.  It didn’t take long before we were several mini-cruises, because there were so many of us.  We drove through Oak Bay, through the Uplands and through Cadboro Bay.

Volksfest Mount Doug Park

Taking a break mid-cruise at Mount Doug Park

We pulled into a parking lot in Mount Douglas Park, so that everyone could regroup and have a little break (by then it was raining and the roads were slick), then carried on through Cordova Bay, across the Pat Bay Highway and at that point, I lost the people in front of me.  I turned the bus around and, not having taken a map because I thought it was the same route as the year prior, opted to take the Pat Bay Highway back to Victoria.  I now knew the final destination was on Burnside Road East, so headed off at McKenzie, and then down Interurban.  Little did I know that I had met up with the intended route.  I pulled into a parking spot on the road near Progressive Auto where the barbeque was taking place and found our group.  There was some talk about cheating, but I wasn’t having any of that.  I was so familiar with the town–“my town” that I made my own route.  These were my old stomping grounds.  Ah, the misspent days of my youth.

There was a lot of noise and it was very busy at the barbeque, and I was tired from the long cruise.  I asked Spencer if he wanted to go to the Gorge, have some great pizza at the Lantern House and go to the house I grew up in–the guy there has a bunch of Wedges and I thought he might enjoy a visit. We snuck out quietly to do our own thing and just as we were fuelling up got a text to meet at an address out in the sticks.  Well, it used to be out in the sticks. When I was growing up the area around Francis King Park was where we went to ride our dirt bikes.

I cast aside plans for the house and the pizza and off we went.  As we passed the Nature House in Francis King part, I told Spencer the story of how my Mom made me deliver a massive two-foot diameter wasp nest there in a box, when I was 16.  She had cut it out of a cherry tree, and put it in the back of my Gremlin. Stopped at the Helmcken Road traffic light at the Island Highway (there was no overpass then), I wondered why my car sounded so strange.  I turned down the tunes and was horrified to hear a constant hum.  I booted it the heck up to the Nature Centre (listening carefully as the decibels of the humming increased and not so pleased at having a hatchback and no trunk) and dumped that box on the steps there.  I don’t know what I was thinking–actually I wasn’t thinking. It still creeps me out to this day and I still feel bad that I didn’t just turf the box in the bushes. Ah, regrets.

But I digress. The wilderness opened up to a wonderful property with a beautiful house, amazing garages and outbuildings and a fantastic barbeque.  I felt a little like an interloper as we didn’t know anyone there except Shane and Amanda, but as time passed more people we knew arrived and I relaxed a bit.  I particularly enjoyed getting a close look at some of my favourite vehicles that I had seen in past shows and seeing some of the new ones (we had parked Buster at the end of the drive as I wanted to leave room to get out and Buster’s story might be interesting but he’s not on par with any of the vehicles we were seeing).  Spencer loved it when Taylor showed up in his double door panel, remarking that all he would do to change it would be to add a ladder. I kept my eyes on the splittie from Colorado, a personal fave.

The evening wore on and I enjoyed the conversations that I was listening to, but I knew we’d have a super-early start and I had been yawning a lot.  It was time to head back to the campground and tuck in for the night. We drove back and arrived early enough to have a short time around the campfire and recap the day with a glass of wine. We had additional guests as Andy and Gianna and their daughter Zoe needed a place to camp.  Having experienced a rough day with some alternator problems (and consequently the way that people in the VW family come to the rescue), they were relieved to be done for the day. It was time to hit the hay. Or in my case, the uncomfortable lumpy, narrow air mattress. I had repeatedly spied a raccoon wandering around in the area, and no sooner had I zipped up the sleeping bag than I heard it on the other side of the nylon of the pup tent “chirring”.  I decided I didn’t need it rummaging around or getting into the coolers so had a little conversation with it and asked it to go away. Then I realized they might be able to hear me in the buses and thought how crazy I must sound.  Then I started laughing–I swear I heard doors being locked. Eventually I fell asleep.

Volksfest Circle the Wagens

Circle the Wagens (one of my favourite pictures)

The morning dawned way too early for me.  Once again I had survived the night.  We literally threw everything in the bus and got on the road. Grabbed fuel and a coffee at Timmies, and were on our way. As we drove out of sight of the campground, I said a quiet thank you in my head that I had not dropped my phone in the pit toilet by some freakish chance. It’s the way I think–deal with it. I tend to overthink, I think. I was in a hurry to get to Cadboro-Gyro Park and get a dash plaque. It would be Spencer’s first.

We arrived too early to register so went to a spot to set up, where I promptly started stacking the roof and pulling apart the hastily tossed in gear in the bus.  When it was basically all lying on the ground, we were asked to move to a better location as we were being surrounded by the watercooled vehicles and the buses were setting up in a different area.  It was muggy out, and had begun to warm up–or maybe it was me in my state of hurriedness.  The others walked the 10×20 easy-up shelter over to the new location while I tossed everything back in the bus. We quickly registered and moved to our new location, where I began the procedure to set up anew.

Volksfest, the group

The Group

It became blatantly obvious within a very short period of time who was going to win the stacked contest, and rightfully so.

DSC_0695

Highest (and best) Stacked, and it now had a ladder and a trailer!

DSC_0699

The Trailer

DSC_0675

Gotta love this one as well, right Connie?

I cursed myself for bringing all the gear to stow on top of the bus and vowed never to do both camping and bring stacking items again.  Some performed double duty, like the water cooler and the trunk filled with firewood and a couple of suitcases, so that was okay. I will admit that during rolling up sleeping bags and stowing the camping gear and trying to tidy up the bus, a few stressful moments occurred. It was turning out to be a beautiful day and I was uncomfortably hot and may have dropped a few stress-induced words.

For the rest of the gang that had showed up and set up, it was time to relax.  I finally finished and had gone to get a desperately needed Starbucks while Spencer stayed behind to guard the valve-cover racers from Shane’s curiosity (the unveiling was to take place at the actual event). When I came back, we started to wander, the caffeine was kicking in and I was happy.  And then the best part the day occurred.

I had met a Canadian Coast Guard Cutter captain’s daughter through posts on Facebook. Her father had passed away shortly before mine did and we had become exceedingly good friends.  We shared so many similarities and had such a strong connection, that we became more like sisters, but while I was on the Island when my Mom was sick, I never had the chance to visit.  And then, there she and her family were.  It’s still hard for me to go to the Island because my Mom’s passing is so fresh, but seeing Susan immediately had me crying tears of joy.  There I stood in the middle of the field, tears streaming down my face, thinking “Great, these people are going to think I’m totally bonkers”.  They brought me a wonderful Coast Guard hoodie and we talked as long as I could before I noticed Spencer chomping at the bit to go view the vehicles in depth.  When I said goodbye, my heart was full, knowing that I still had “family” on the Island–my town.

I opted to change into shorts before checking everything out in detail. As I was leaving the change rooms, a man came up to me and said “Sara!” as if he knew me.  I attempted to respond with enthusiasm and as if I had a clue as to who he was.  He told me I wasn’t crazy.  I was relieved.  I had never met him.  It turns out Bruce works with my husband, and had heard all about our VWs and sought me out. Poor Spencer, we talked at length while he stood there, waiting, not wanting to wander by himself. We had a nice long chat, but I finally begged off to go and explore.  It was awesome.

DSC_0843

The Single Cab Shorty

The rest of the gang went off to a local pub for brunch, introducing Ken Baker to the delight of the Caesar, but a few of us opted to remain behind.  I cashed in on the free hot dog, and Spencer had the chips and pop.  I ran into a couple of guys I had met from the mid-Island a month or so ago, and had a nice chat with Rob and then found Don and talked with him for a while too. I was so glad to see his shortened single cab there with it’s amazing story. I told Rob to convey to Reagh that it was his fault I now owned a Manx.  A ride from Coombs into Parksville to fetch Starbucks from the drive through and then along the road near the beach with Brent Petrie completely sold me on the buggy. I never had the opportunity to find Russ, who was apparently somewhere about. What a great group of guys, I’m so grateful to have met them and heard their stories.

The moment had arrived. I felt like a kid when they announced the valve-cover racing was about to begin.  I had absolutely no idea how Spencer’s and mine would compare, but they seemed half-decent.  I stood a chance. Going on a wing and a prayer.  I seriously didn’t think I’d beat Jim Brown’s racer, but I had a bit of hope that I could pull it off against Shane’s.  I was fully prepared to eat humble pie, but oh, how I wanted to win. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did win.  My delight was probably apparent, I don’t have much of a poker face if I don’t make an effort to conceal my emotions (which is why I don’t play poker often) I not only beat Shane, but a few others as well. Then Spencer went on to race and he did equally well.  You can rest assured they will be tweaked, painted and prepped for the GCVWS. That was truly a highlight of the day for me.  Not so much the winning but the fun we had with the running commentary/trash talk.  I really felt like a part of the group and it was amazing to be surrounded by such awesome people. I tucked that moment away–not the winning, but the the acceptance and love of the people around me–in my heart.

Volksfest Racing Shane

The Challenge, the Race, and the Win (and the gloating therafter)

The day wore on, and it was just pleasant and wonderful and an all-around amazing time. When it came time, the first group left for the ferries. They had made reservations for the

DSC_0727

Feeling deflated.

four o’clock sailing.  Spencer and I had managed to get a reservation for the five, and the others were reserved for the six o’clock sailing. The dismantling and packing up went a little better than the setup, thank goodness. But still I was hot and tired and feeling a little deflated.We followed Alp and Bruce along the Pat Bay Highway. It was ironic, as we had met Alp wandering the car decks on the ferry the previous year, returning from Volksfest.

DSC_0845

Alp and Bruce heading home.  And making a little girl giggle every time they started driving.

DSC_0730

Easy up, not easy down

We had a bite to eat and wandered the car decks to see who else was on board.  We were both exhilarated and exhausted. The weekend had been a total success. We learned a few things (although it took me almost three days and multiple tries to get the little VW bus tent back in its carrying case).  And we had so much fun.

Pete the Cat

“Stuff will come and stuff will go, but we keep on singing. -Pete the Cat (Thank you Connie Brown)

As we were leaving, I heard Corey Strickler remarking to Cindy that this is what it was all about.  So many different interests, air-cooled, water-cooled, stock, slammed–you name it, they were all there. And they were all appreciated.  I think Connie Brown made the same observation at the Classic. Spencer and I also discussed how Volkswagens encompass every interest as well.

DSC_0721

Spencer’s and the Strickler’s Buses

For me, it’s the family.  It’s really a family.  I love that.We have so many amazing photos of the days and so many great memories.  The only one I saw of Buster was one that Spencer took.  He’s just not photogenic, poor guy. But he has a beautiful soul and a wonderful story and a lot of people took the time to take a look and read his story, including Spencer’s middle school Vice Principal, Matthew Brooks.  I am so thankful that Spencer bought Buster.  It’s what started all of this. I am awestruck at the world it has opened up for us and the dear friends I’ve made–we’ve made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Classic

The Classic, from the vantage points of Shane Constantinescu and Connie Brown

In Connie Brown’s opinion, the Woodburn Oregon show was a huge success, despite extremely hot weather. Volkswagen events are unique in many ways: it doesn’t matter what genre of car you have—a drag car, a rusty, slammed rat rod, a Cal Look, a bus, or a water-cooled—everyone is open minded, appreciative and accepting. Winning an event is not as important as inspiring someone to love Volkswagens as much as you do. I have to say, she really nailed it when she described what VW events and clubs are about in the minds of most of us.

The Countdown to the Classic in SoCal had begun. It was Tuesday June 7th and already the LGK Club’s Facebook Page was virtually buzzing with excitement. There were literally people counting down the hours until the event. It’s not just the Classic, but the journey, the stops along the way, and the familiar faces that seemed to have people excited. There were mentions of stopping for In’n’Out burgers on the road, mentions of the Cheesecake Factory, and people talking about looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making new ones. There was even an odd thread about someone donning a Speedo in anticipation, and an appreciative like from someone else. Meanwhile, in Gig Harbor, Washington, Connie and Jim Brown loaded up their trailer and were on their way to Orange County California. Connie bade goodbye to the water, the trees and the clear air and anticipated all that lays ahead at the VW Classic as they headed on down the highway.

Classic 1

Shane Constantinescu recounted how his decision to go to the Classic came about: “It has been a crazy year for me. Both kids moved back home; one was trying to get into med school, and the other was opening her own store. The past four years have been filled with travel and enjoying the empty nest life. Then, this winter, the oil fields crisis occurred, which affected my business and slowed everything down. So after many discussions, I decided to take a year off from racing and the California VW scene, as we needed to put our money towards other things. Then, about a month ago, I got a text from Mike Hole, showing me a drawing of the Classic poster. My car was placed front and center. I asked him if that was really the Classic poster. He confirmed that it was, and that it was also the T-shirt design. Then he said ‘We need you down here buddy.’ So with that I booked my flight.”

On Wednesday, June 8th, Connie checked in: “We made it through the long, long, long…and very boring drive through Northern California and stopped for the night in Gustine, CA. I entertained myself by looking for farm animals (especially goats), scoping out people’s properties for car hoarders, and playing “There’s Something Dead on the Road Ahead”. Tomorrow we conquer the Grapevine and enter the world of So Cal. I’ve been going to VW events off and on for 45 years, but this will be my first VW Classic. There are lots of events to go to leading up to the actual Classic: visiting the Bergs, the Schley Museum, Pierside Parts, the Octo Show, the toy show, the swap meet and then off to Knotts Berry Farm! I better take a nap!”

Classic 3

On Thursday, June 9th, Shane was sitting at the airport awaiting his flight. He was headed back to what some call the greatest VW show on earth. If you have never been to the Classic, it truly is a bucket list adventure. Shane’s visit was to entail flying in and meeting up with Jim and Connie Brown. Then the plan was to head off to see Dee Berg of Gene Berg Enterprises. Dee is an amazing special friend of Shane’s. From there he’d head back to the hotel and then off to dinner with the Hole family who own Bugformance and Pierside Parts and also host the Classic. On Friday morning the plan was to head to M2 toy cars to meet up with his friend Sean, and then have lunch at the Pierside Parts open house. From there they’d head to Fullerton, CA for the DKP car show in the middle of town. On Saturday morning it was to be Cars and Coffee in Huntingdon Beach and then he’d be off to Long Beach for the Octo show. After the Octo show there were open houses to visit everywhere and the Koch toy show. Of course Sunday was the big show, and he’d be up at 4:30 a.m. to help park the vendors and work the day at the show. Those were his plans in a nutshell. Let’s see how it all pans out.

Connie checked in again Thursday evening: “We had a great afternoon starting with visiting Gene Berg Enterprises. Shane had arranged to meet with Dee Berg to look at her VW toy and accessories collection. What a woman! And what a collection! Rooms and rooms filled with boxes and totes. She was so accommodating and gracious. It was such an honour to meet her and be allowed to see her collection. There are no words to describe all that she has!”

On Thursday afternoon, a flight landed in California and Shane got off the plane and things started off full tilt Shane ran down to Budget to rent a car. He informed them that he was a fastbreak member and asked which car was his. The kind lady informed him there was no car for him. What? No car? Apparently he failed to rent himself a car. So he asked if there were any cars available and she asked him what he would like. He told her he would like a BMW. Shortly thereafter, he hopped in the Hyundai and headed off to pick up Jim and Connie Brown from the hotel. They then headed off to the Bergs. He hadn’t been to the shop in ten years.Classic 11

Dee had finally decided to sell her toy collection. When they arrived, Dee was waiting outside. There were two forty-foot containers full of toys that Shane had never seen before. He said “I was in shock, delight and sweating like a fat kid over a chocolate cake. I can say that because I’m fat.” Inside were floor-to-ceiling toys. He ended up picking up a few amazing items.

Then she took them inside and there were more toys in a show room. So after viewing that, she asked us if we wanted a shop tour. Heck, yeah, they did! They got a tour of the shop and then she said “Do you want to see the loft?” What? There was more? Up they went to see even more toys. Shane was in heaven and says if you haven’t met Dee, she is the sweetest person around.

Classic 5

“If you haven’t met Dee, she is the sweetest person around.”

From there they headed to Pierside Parts to see Mike and the team. Connie and Shane got their pictures taken on the bench. Then they headed back to the hotel. Mike called and asked Shane if he wanted to have dinner in Huntingdon Beach. Why yes,he did. So he says he’ll meet them there. When he arrived, Mike was talking to a woman with an English Bulldog. Mike told her Shane had one and they start sharing pictures. Then her boyfriend walked out and she tells him about Shane’s dog. When Shane turned around, he realizes it’s UFC fighter Nate Diaz. For Shane, it had to be the best Thursday he had had in some time. The day was over and he was exhausted. He knew Friday was going to be off the hook. It was time to get some rest.

classic 4

Friday morning, June 10th, arrived early. Shane had to be at Pierside Parts at 6:30 a.m. to help set up for the open house. The vendors started arriving at 7 a.m. Ron Lummis, JayCee, IAP, Empi. Wow, this was a serious open house. Big names were showing up. The cars started rolling in at 8. Soon the parking lot was full, there was nowhere left to park. Shane was behind the counter trying to help as many customers as he could.Classic 17 They were lined up out the door wanting posters, tickets to the show, t-shirts and parts for their cars. Everyone was having pictures taken on the bench, it was chaos. But it was so much fun. He took a lot of pictures on that crazy skateboard bench. For those of you who don’t know about the bench, Greg, who started Pierside Parts, had a bench made out of skateboards. Anyone from far and wide, who would come in, would get their picture taken on the bench. After Greg passed away the tradition continued on. To this day, people still come to sit on the stickered skateboard bench.

After the open house, it was time for to go to the DKP meet in Garden Grove, CA. This is where they fill the downtown with as many VWs as can be stuffed into the Main Street area. There had to be 100+ cars, and not just any cars. These were top-of-the-line cars. There was music and food all along the street. It is such an amazing venue. The day ended early as it was decided a visit to the Cheesecake Factory was in order as well. Rob, Debbie, Art and Lucas Frose and Shane headed for comfort food.

Classic 10

 

Classic 9

For Connie, the Pierside Parts open house and the DKP meet were huge successes. The cruise had an overwhelming amount of cars and spectators. The cars were lined up around the corners on side streets to get parked. The one thing she did notice is that there were no slammed, patina-look cars. She wondered if that was a Northwest thing? She was looking forward to the Octo Show (wow ! an entire show of buses?!) on Saturday and the Schley’s.

Classic 12

Saturday morning, June 11th, started off bright and early. It was time to head out to the Octo bus show at the Long Beach stadium. Rob and Debbie Frose caught a ride with Shane, and Art and Lucas Frose went with Jim and Connie Brown. The first stop was Starbucks, so they could actually wake up. Then they were off to the show. The morning weather was drizzly and a little cold. They arrived at the show and the bus count was down from previous years, because of the weather. There were only sixty to seventy vendors and about the same amount of show buses. Now some might think seventy buses, wow!–but there were usually more.

Classic 8

Connie’s take on the day revealed a bit of a let down on her part. After the previous day’s event, she had hoped for more. The weather was rainy and it was drizzling. The Octo show was smaller and it seemed more like just a big swap meet. The Schley visit didn’t happen and the toy show wasn’t what she had hoped for. Connie and Jim decided to head off to Knott’s Berry Farm and Huntingdon Beach, hoping to finish the day on a high note. They were also hoping for better weather the following day.

Classic 15Classic 14

There was a definite theme in footwear at all the events.

For Shane, It was a tough day because there were so many treasures to be had, except he had already run out of room to bring them home. So after they walked the show, they Classic 6headed back to the hotel so Shane could head to TJ Maxx to buy a suitcase to transport everything home. The Froses headed off to a Porsche museum and Shane returned from the store with his new suitcase, only to be picked up by Bob and Larry Hole. They said they were off to the DBK barbeque. This was the home of the car builder, Pip. They arrived to see two of the baddest Harley Davidsons Shane had ever seen, parked out front. They went into the back yard to be welcomed by about twelve of the most custom VWs he had ever seen in his life. Each car was worth well over $100,000. This was totally “next-level” stuff. And their hashtag was #notyourordinaryshit. After the barbeque, they decided to head back to the hotel to take and take in the toy show. It was relatively small, but there were sure some gems there. That evening, it was decided that round two of the Cheesecake Factory was in order, and then it was time to head to bed, because Sunday was going to be an early day.

Sunday, June 12th, the Classic. For Connie the weekend had come to a close. What started out as a gloomy drizzly day ended up being quite pleasant. According to people who had attended the Classic in previous years, attendance was down, due in part to conflicting events. At the close of the event it was announced that in the year ahead, things would be different, so it appears that the effect of the conflict and people’s comments were duly noted and taken to heart.

Connie believes that what sets the Classic apart from other events is the presence of the “Old Vanguard”, people and businesses that have been around for many, many years: the Bergs, the Schleys, Ron Fleming, Empi, Scat, the Hole family and DKP to name a few. Having quality, high-end builders like Buddy Hale and pip Hancock there, with their cars, really brought things up a few notches. One milestone that was celebrated this year was the 50th anniversary of the original BRM wheels. The venue at the fairgrounds was great. There was lots of room, clean bathrooms, food vendors, and a stage with a live band. From her vantage point, Connie could see the cars drive in. Regardless of the car they were driving and despite the gloomy weather, everyone had smiles on their faces. She loved seeing kids in the back seats smiling and waving as they arrived.

The variety of cars was impressive. There were high-end builds, off-road cars, water-cooled, race cars, vintage builds and daily drivers. There were so many interesting things to see and experience. Everyone was there! Everyone is a family at a Volkswagen event. Everyone is connected by their love and passion for the cars. Everyone helps each other out and supports each other. These attributes make going to an event so enjoyable and worthwhile.

Back at the hotel, on Sunday June 12th, Shane was awoken by the phone. He struggled to make his way across the King-sized bed to answer it. Finally, he grabbed the phone and said an exhausted “Hello?” There was no one at the other end of the line. It was 4 a.m. already and time to get up and head to the fairgrounds. He got in his car to make his way there. As he got off the freeway and rounded the corner, he saw vehicles already lined up to get in. Seriously people? It was 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday. He got to the gate and had to convince security to let him in. He told them he was working at the show and asked if they would please let him in? The security guard asked how he would know that what Shane was saying was true. Shane thought to himself that the t-shirt saying “Staff” might be a good indication. He convinced the guard to let him in and headed over to where Larry and Mike were busy setting up tables.

Soon the gates were open and the swappers started pouring in. The vendors started to arrive. Shane’s job was to park vendors this year. Half the vendors were in and the show cars were starting to arrive. The weather was once again not so good, and the car show cars were not pouring in as fast as they liked. Before he knew it, it was ten o’clock and the show was in full swing. The live band was playing on the stage. Spectators were all taking in the rides.

Classic 18For Shane, one highlight was having the artist who drew his car on the poster and t-shirt autograph all the posters for the past four or five that had one of his cars on them, as well as his show shirt. He was a bit of a celebrity himself and was being asked to sign a couple of posters. At 2:30, it was trophy time, and it was great to see Jim Brown win yet another award, this one for “Best Cal Looker”. After that Jim and Connie took him to their favourite taco joint for dinner. They came back and Shane helped Jim load his car for their trip home. Then he went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
All in all it was a great trip to the Classic, like they all were. And he can’t wait until next year.

 

 

CALIFORNIA DREAMING (Confessions of a Rookie Drag Car Driver) or A BUG, A DREAM AND SIX MEN IN A MOTORHOME

(There was very little editing done to this story,it is the story of a novice driver and gives an amazing perspective)

A plan was hatched.  A dream was realized. Corey (Crew Chief), wanted to go to Bugorama in Sacramento, CA.  He convinced a group of five others to go.   Preparations began in earnest with the careful placement of stickers on the window of the motor home and the guys set out on their adventure.  Shane Constantinescu, Don Gifford, Greg Gunson, Corey Strickler and Ken Baker left Canada, stopping to pick up Jim Brown on their way.  This is Ken’s story …

California Dreaming.  The motor home was loaded, the trailer was hitched to it and the guys were ready to head to Sacramento.  Since he was a small child back in the UK, with hot rod pictures cut from American magazines pinned up on his walls, Ken Baker had dreamed about road trips like this.  As they set out, he was already getting nervous. He didn’t really know the guys he was travelling with, having joined the Luft Gekuhlt Kreuzers the previous year, and had only met them a couple of times.  Aside from that, Canada seemed like a big and scary place coming from Great Britain, but the United States seemed much bigger and much scarier. I reminded him of the boy with the cut-out pictures of hotrods on his walls, and the fact that he was realizing a dream, and of course, of the adrenaline rush that was to come.  His response was that adrenaline or fear—they were pretty close and indistinguishable.

Ken Baker leaving

Thursday morning, the 26th of May, and the guys set out at around 7 a.m. That meant Ken got up at around 4:30 a.m. and started driving up Highway 1 to Langley.  Surprisingly, traffic flowed nicely considering it was a weekday. The trailer was unhitched from the F350 and hitched onto the motor home.  Everything was loaded up.  One of the first lessons learned was that buying Canadian beer in Canada was not the smartest thing to do, since it’s cheaper in the States.  Even the U.S. border guard laughed at their folly—and waived them through.  It must have put him off his stride a bit as he laughed and watched the five VW guys in the motor home drive away with their Canadian beer.

Travelling deep into Washington State, the group stopped in Gig Harbour to pick up the sixth team member, Jim Brown. Jim and his wife Connie travel quite a distance for club meets in Canada and for lunches with the group at the White Spot in Aldergrove, BC; showing impressive dedication to a club that feels more like a family.

Motor home

The next port of call was to gas up.  The cavernous gas tank of the beast holds more than $150 of cheap U.S. gas (U.S. gas is about half the price of Canadian gas).  Then it was onto the Interstate 5, followed by more I-5, then even more I-5.

After more I-5, it was time for some sustenance in Oregon.  A few of the crew had never been to an In’N’Out Burger and were treated to the experience.  In Ken’s words, it was awesome…fast food, cooked slow and easy. I believe there are now new “In’N’Out” fans in the group. The posting on the LGK Facebook page resulted in a form of virtual drooling; that many people can’t be wrong.

Later that evening, in California, for no apparent reason, a truck driver, with what sounded like a train horn, decided to try and run them off the road en route, and it appeared as though he had a sore middle finger because he kept trying to show it to them.

Midnight saw the guys checking into a brand new Comfort Suite (or so the sign said—it had actually been open for two years).  Bunking down for the night in single beds that actually turned out to be King-sized beds (bonus! or just a misunderstanding by a guy from the UK), thoughts were on the road ahead and the adventure to come.

Friday morning, the 27th of May, and after an excellent sleep, albeit only five hours long, Day 2 of the road trip was dawning. Over breakfast, the conversation turned to how fast the bug should run.  It began at 13 seconds and worked down to 9. Ken wasn’t so sure, in his mind 13 sounded about right.  Discussion even turned to swapping out the engine and gearbox and adding electronics and turbo. Ken reiterated that the end result of that, with the same driver, would likely be the same 13 seconds.

Along the way, it seemed the group visited almost every Walmart on the road between Vancouver and Sacramento; and it looked like another might be coming up on the road ahead. Ken reflected on the fact that it would have been a wise move to buy shares in “Hot Wheels” before leaving—that, and tiny little beer bottles (it’s a group joke and if you ask Corey, he’ll tell all).

The climate and the landscape had changed as they travelled on down the road.  Things started to look dry and arid.  The LGK hoodies were no longer necessary and Ken put his aside as temperatures were headed towards 34 degrees Celsius.  Then, having second thoughts, he kept it handy to mop up the sweat when he melted into a puddle of salty water in the 100 degree heat. A quick stop in at Bugformance in Sacramento for some browsing and buying and a fantastic impromptu lunch of Tacos and Fajitas provided by the crew at Bugformace.

The Sacramento Raceway loomed ahead. Lots of top fuel V8 dragsters and a few VWs were present for the test and tune.  Ken was starting to get nervous, not wanting to let the club down, but he knew that he wasn’t driving a 10 second car; he ultimately knew that it was what it was. They stood on the starting line and watched a few passes. Ken tried to watch what the water box guy was doing when calling people, and the starter.  Everything seemed pretty relaxed.  A few cars were pulled due to oil leaks.

Sacramento Raceway.jpg

Sacramento raceway sign

Taking a deep breath, Ken decided it was then or never and walked back to the car back at camp, making a pit stop at the nearest washroom along the way.  He told himself to have fun and enjoy it, but that wasn’t working; as he got closer to the car his heart rate was increasing.  He got in the car, got it started straightaway and headed off to the lanes.  When he arrived Shane, Jim and Corey, were there waiting.  He should have gone up against Mr. Lauffer in the Hater Maker, but he was running a pro tree, and Shane said to hold back and they would change the setting on the tree.  That’s when the nerves really started to kick in, because he was waiting and then someone had an oil down, so the engine was shut off and they waited more.

Eventually, Ken was called up to the line, but on the opposite side to what he had been, so there was a bit of shunting around at the start line.  He ran through the checklist in his head:  pull into water box, remember to line lock while foot is on the brake, spin up in second.  He was ready.  He heard the wheels spinning, but his focus was on the start line and releasing the line lock so he’d go straight and wouldn’t take out the tree.  The burnout was successful and he was relieved he didn’t screw it up.  Step two complete, now to stage; slowly forward, slower, slower.  First light on! Stop! He edged forward, just enough, then just a little bit more.  Second staging lights on.  Yellows and launch!  Wow! The car pulled left and stuff was flying about inside, and that may have been the GoPro mount that went flying by.  He pulled for second far too late and apparently his rev limiter was screaming for him to change but everything inside was a blur and it was all he could do to focus on the end of the track and keep it straight while having such a narrow field of view (Ken remarked that he thought his brain was shutting out anything not in his direct field of view, it was like some sort of “fight or flight” reaction).  The end of the track came up quicker than he could remember and everything else was a blur, it felt surreal, like an out-of-body experience.

Racing

He went straight back down to the start for another run, then he started to worry about battery power and whether or not he should have stopped to re-charge.  More shuffling took place on the start line and eventually he’s called to the water box.  Then he was told to pull out and reverse up.  Oh no!  Something was wrong, but what? He was stuck in his helmeted, muffled, narrow field of view little world and he had no idea of what was going on.  The door opened and he was told he was leaking oil. It’s what happened, and Ken felt like he’s let the club down.

Corey came over and directed Ken to the recovery lane at the side and he drove it back to the camp. When he got out he had that feeling that a person gets when they bang their thumb or cut their finger and they just grab it tight; not wanting to look at it, in case it’s bad. He looked underneath, and it was bad, a puddle of oil is already forming—like the puddle of blood from a badly cut finger.   Dammit, all that way and all that effort by the club, for one rookie run at 14.04 seconds (even though it felt like much more), and what he was looking at now looked terminal.  The adrenaline was being taken over by a strong sense of disappointment and discouragement.

While looking at the bug and wondering “what now?” it was high time to pitch a tent and get some sleep for the night.  He set up the tent on the concrete/tarmac/volcanic rock-like surface and the tent pegs bent into the ground with about as much holding power as sticky tape on a dusty surface.  The ground was, well, stones. If his pump-up mattress survived the night without a puncture it would be amazing.

The guys sat down to eat.  Ken recalls that it might have been hot dogs, but his mind was on other things, and then he decided he couldn’t do anything at that point, so why not have a beer and try to relax and not think about sleeping—or rather not being able to sleep.  Eventually he climbed over the rocks and into bed around midnight.  Generators were running, lights were on and inebriated people were milling about.  With some ear plugs fashioned from tissue that didn’t seem to do anything, apart from making his ears ache, he tossed and turned all night.

The campsite

Saturday morning the 28th of May. Ken eventually got out of bed at around five in the morning and wandered around tidying the camp and pondering solutions to world peace and how to get the car running and even whether or not he wanted to, as his back was hurting badly.  He popped a couple of pills and had a coffee.  It was Day 3:  the resurrection and stemming of a massive oil leak that seemed to have grown overnight.  Not so much fun.

Engine out 2

By 11:30 that morning, with help from everybody, and instead of just masking the problem with a diaper (the Paradise Crew said “take it out and fix it properly, it’ll only take 15 minutes”) they worked on the car.  An hour later and the engine was out.  It appears others may have overestimated the skill set required to do the job, as it was being done by non-professionals with limited tools.  The Paradise Team came to the rescue and supplied help and tools, these guys are awesome!   In any case, it went well and it was out and the problem was close to being identified.  Shane went on a shopping trip for a socket big enough for the flywheel bolt.  It was an odd size, so nobody had one.  It appeared they may be hooped, and that they had stripped it down only to have to put it all together again.  Oh well, Ken figured, the practice would do them good.

engine out

Tools and parts were secured and the rebuild began.  Everything went back together relatively quickly and the engine was back in and running in no time.  Ken received more coaching from the guys and got back in the car.  The heat was brutal and the racing pants weren’t helping, nor were the full sleeves and helmet strapped on tight.  This time they were missing the water box and going dry off the line.  This time, and for the first time that weekend, Ken got the left lane.  This was beneficial as his eyes could actually see the light.  He wasn’t feeling less stressed, but had been giving himself a pep talk, “Just do it”.  His launch was great, his reaction wasn’t, but he hit all the gears in the correct sequence this time and he got to the end with nothing breaking and no oil leaks.  Even better, he got the WIN light.  He knew it wasn’t not about them, but that it was about wasn’t about racing others, but that it was about him improving  his times and ability; but he took any positives he could get after the first few runs.

Ken Baker 3

Racing 2

As the day came to a close, it was time to have a beer and relax.  Jim had made some truly magnificent pulled pork and boy, was that needed. .  The Paradise Crew also had some Carne Asada, so we mingled and shared food and stories. The guys walked around that evening taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a drag strip taken over by thousands of VW-loving people.  They strolled around and stopped to talk to other racers, including the guy Ken was last up against.  Everybody was exceptionally friendly and wanting to chat, that’s what the VW scene is all about.  They headed back to camp and Ken was exhausted.  In his words, the heat, the adrenaline, and age were getting the better of him.  He left the guys to chat for a while and went off to write the last section of notes for the day and then crash for the night.  There was more racing in the morning, but right then all he was hoping for was more sleep than the previous night.

Sunday morning, the 29th of May, Day 4 or was it Day 3? The days were all starting to blend together.  Ken had a good sleep and apparently he snored, which gave the guys a chuckle until one of the others fell asleep and woke up parts of California.  Watching the Paradise crew checking their nuts, Shane suggested that Ken should check his (it’s a “race guy thing” apparently).  It was lucky that he did, because the header nuts were loose and the tie rod ends were as well.  That would not have been good because drag racing is about going straight, not all wobbly.

The driver’s meeting was scheduled at 9:30 a.m. and racing was to start at 10:00.  It was getting very hot; there was very little breeze so it was factor 50 and he made sure to keep hydrated.  The guys were off to the swap meet to have a look around and try to find that elusive “VW unicorn”.  Ken needed some parts for trophies and also the Valve Cover Racer build.  He figured he’d wait and if he was eliminated he’d have time then and he could relax and enjoy a bit more of what was going on, other than racing.  That was of the biggest down side Ken had realized about racing:  there was no time to yourself or to see other things; you missed almost everybody else’s passes and you just couldn’t relax and enjoy the vibe.  There were show cars he wanted to go and see and also a massive swap meet, but for the time being the focus (worry) was on racing…it was a long way to come and Ken contemplated not racing next time and wondered if he’d enjoy it more.  But the racing is a big part of the weekend.

Ken Baker 2

Corey described the swap at Bugorama 77 like nothing he’d ever experienced in a VW swap section.  As far as the eyes could see there was vendor after vendor.  He personally enjoys the swap aspect of a car show as much as the show itself.  There were countless tables with parts old and new and friendly people behind them to greet you and answer questions.  Not all the parts were top notch and desirable, but there were plenty of treasures to be found.  He found a great deal on west coast mirrors for his Westfalia and a couple of other small items.  As for the Bugorama Sacramento experience, it was so awesome he wants to go every year.  Being accompanied by a great group of friends this year only made the experience that much better!

swap

At 9:30, the driver’s meeting took place at the tower.  There weren’t many present and it seemed odd.  Ken asked an official why, and he said they were running a little slow. Ken knew exactly how that felt.  There were literally hundreds of VWs coming into the track, some racing, some showing, some swapping and some just chilling.  It felt like an American Bug Jam.

The driver’s meeting was done and Ken ran back to the camp to get suited up. It was hot, hot, hot.  When he got there the guys had already started to take down his tent for him. They were chasing him to get going and there was a change of plan for the burnout.  Kris Lauffer (who runs a 7 second car, so he should know) said Ken should do the burnout in third as it was hot and the wheels would still spin up and it wouldn’t get so squirrelly when he lets off the line lock.  Ken had his doubts that his car has that sort of power but decided to give it a try.

He joined Lane 5 right at the back, so Shane was right to chase him.  Another two cars showed u p behind him, but they were right back, probably 300 metres.  Ken’s car has no charging system, so stopping and starting the engine to move around twelve feet at a time was not possible.  Luckily, Jim came around with a bottle of water for Ken and to help with pushing.  The line started to move fast so Jim said to jump in and get strapped in.

Ken was in and strapped, with his helmet on and started just in time to be called to the water box.  Third gear:  mustn’t forget.  Shane is at the box holding up three fingers.  All good; select third, foot pumps brake, and line lock on.  It was time to see if he could spin the tires up in third.  Yes, it worked and it was nice and straight coming off the line lock and spinning to the stage lights, just like they said it would be. Shane spotted Ken’s first stage and Ken pulled forward slowly in his favourite left lane.  Staged, and 1, 2, 3, yellow lights, dumped the clutch and got a good .100 second reaction.  Second selected good, third—third?  Where was third?  Oh no, the clutch was out in third and no drive. He fumbled around a bit and got it into fourth (but it sounded a little clunky).  He crossed the line and headed back, picked up the timing slip from the booth and he already knew it was slower—15.6 and a very clunky gearbox.  It was the end of racing and time to save for a new box.  The guys packed everything away and went and watched some racing.  The Paradise crew were set up and had a good run, literally.Ken couldn’t remember the time, but it was well into the 7 second bracket.

The guys said their goodbyes to their friends and Bugorama and what was an awesome weekend. They hit the road and boy, did they need showers.  On the way home, they get a call that Kris Lauffer from the Paradise Team crashed at the top end at around 180mph.  Not good news, but apparently Kris was up and walking.  Unfortunately the car was a wreck. Everyone was relieved at the outcome and breathed a big sigh of relief that Kris was okay.

The plan was to drive hard and try to reach Eugene, Oregon by around 9:30p.m. and head for a hotel with showers. Then the next day they’d head out to drop Jim off in Gig Harbour.  Everyone was dropping off to sleep from the heat and fun-filled weekend (beer, bourbon and vodka).  Well, all that is, except Shane, since he was driving.

The drive from So-Cal to Nor-Cal (if that’s even a place) seemed long.  They missed it on the way down as it was pitch black and because they were pre-occupied with the semi that thought it was a train and tried to run them off the road.  Seeing it in the daylight, the scenery was spectacular and definitely an area to be revisited when there was more time to drive a little slower and take it in.

Reflecting on the trip, Ken felt very blessed with his life and seeing some of the things that he’d seen (Don’s Shasta Valley not necessarily being one of them).  Some people live their lives without experiences such as this, and it is Ken’s wish they could—or would—see them.  The heat of California was relentless and left Ken wishing for the normal Canadian-type temperatures, from which they were many miles away.  They neared the California/Oregon border and the next thought he mulled over in his head was why there were borders within the same country.

A quick pit-stop in Medford for an In’N’Out burger…so good and fresh.  Now there were 150 miles to Eugene for a stop and showers.  The sun was starting to set over the Oregon hills and had a pink and purple hazy shade, a sight that just begged to be put to music (perhaps Jimi Hendrix had travelled this road).  They were storming through Oregon, or so it appeared and not stopping for coffee.  That brought a round of uncomplimentary comments.  They decided not to stop at Eugene as someone recalled a really good Best Western that did an excellent breakfast.  A bed, shower and good breakfast. What more could six tired, dirty, and hungry guys need.  They pulled off in Sutherlin, Oregon at a Best Western right across from a Dutch Bros. coffee franchise.  One of the club members had asked for some stickers, so that would be the first stop in the morning. The Costco cards offer a good discount and soon everyone was in there rooms ready to shower and get cleaned up.  After that, there was a quick call to HQ at home and then it was time to sleep.  No sooner did heads hit pillows than no one remembered anything until morning.

In N out

Breakfast the following morning proved to be well worth the extra drive to reach this particular hotel.  The remainder of the trip was planned along with stops for fuel before heading out, but wait!  “Men of the Open Road” don’t plan.  With a half-full tank they could go anywhere (deep down most agreed that they all preferred their own beds and home).  They pulled into Dutch Brothers for coffee and stickers but there were none left with the Splitties.  It was therefore decided to add one of the LGK stickers to the building (that definitely could become “a thing”). They made Portland in short order.

dutch Bros. Coffee

As they pulled in for gas, Ken mused to himself that American gas stations were strange.  They didn’t like to take Canadian money from their neighbours up north.  Well they did, but only in small quantities up to the value of $75.  It took three people’s credit cards to fill up the motor home.  And their zip codes (you had to type them in when you fuel up) only had numbers–maybe it’s like when they took the vowels and letters out of words like colour and neighbour when they modified the English language.

Gas Station

At the end of the day, they made it safely across the border after the normal question:  Where have you been?  Sacramento.  What did you buy?  Most of the US stock of Hot Wheels.  Do you want to donate any money to the Canadian Tax Fund? No.  How much alcohol have you brought back? None.  Wait! None? They knew they forgot something; all that way and they forgot about Duty Free shopping.

Back at the PBI ranch, the RV was unloaded and it breathed a sigh of relief.  They washed it down and scraped about ten pounds of bugs off of the front.  The Canadian Border Security Agency completely missed that illegal importation of meat!  The trailer was swapped from the RV to the truck and now Ken was on his last leg of the journey.

Ken parked the bug in the garage and contemplated what to do next with the old girl.  The car was a 40-year old race car and he didn’t think it would ever break any records.  He’d like to get it into the high 12’s or low 13’s, and thought that would be achievable without changing it too much.  It was a nostalgic racer and should stay that way.  It wasn’t about getting into 9 seconds; he’d need a different car for that and wasn’t sure he had the nerve for 9 seconds anyway.  It really was more about showing people some of the history of these old cars and where the 7 second cars of today had come from.  It’s the history of VW drag racing.

So what did he learn from the weekend?  He had only ever raced once before and that was at the Great Canadian event at Mission.  He ran once and the battery died at the start line for the second race.  Luckily the LGK crew were there with a golf cart and Shane kindly dragged him back.  At that point he decided he needed to be in a club, as being on his own was no fun, and so the relationship with LGK began.  He is still grateful for that failure in the start line as it changed things in a big way.  Learning point number one: when things go wrong, good things come out of them!  Number two:  always have a battery charger; your life is not complete without a battery charger.  Number 3: sleeping in a tent at a race track in 100 degree heat is no fun.  As soon as he got back he started looking at old “Class C” RVs.  His only needs were air conditioning and a shower.  The rest isn’t important.

Driver, Ken Baker

The car is an old nostalgic race car.  Drag race fans should be content with seeing these old cars still racing—slowly, but still racing.  Once you get a 40 year old car, it’s not about making it go faster, it’s about preserving the history.  Ken has a split screen camper with more power than it needs and that can be tweaked and modified to go faster.  So for now the bug will get minor changes to make it reliable and consistent.  He will, however, modify the rear end to make getting the engine out easier and also get a new harness for racing.

Volks and Gene Berg Ken’s car is a 1962 High Tech Volks drag bug.  It was built in the 70s by Ron Pahl of High Tech Volks in Airdrie, Alberta.  He raced at Seattle International Raceway for a few years as well as Calgary and Edmonton and around the Northern USA. The photo with him and Gene Berg next to the car is at the 1987 meet at Castrol Speedway.

Volks emptyVolks in the Snow The car was later restored by Blair Duffy in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.  It is seen in the pictures as it was found, it still has original paint and graphics.

Volks restoration         It has new everything else: 2332 engine with super fow heads ported by brothers machine shop, 51mm carbs, Wiseco pistons, a beefed-up transmission, msd, wide band new roll cage, seats, gauges, wiring, line lock. 11:1 fk8, Jaycee external bypass oiling system, and M&H 6” slicks.