I wrote this 10 years ago and found it for this post. It seemed like a good time to post my musing from a decade ago. Maybe I’ll work on a revision now that it’s just us. Seems weird to take a trip without my girls. It’s the first time I’ve ever been the outnumbered gender.
This I believe:
In 2002, a lovely couple sold our family Veronica. It has dawned on me since then that it was the best money we ever spent. She’s a member of the family that we dote over. We’ve had to nurse her back to health on occasion, because she struggles with a little gas problem; if you move her too fast, a little slips out, and that might even cause her to catch on fire …well, just that once.
Veronica is our 1978 VW Westy – more often we call her ‘the bus’
It all started when I came across an …‘older’ picture of my sister (8) and me (3) in a photo op on the top roof of my parent’s hippie van. My sister is in her jazzy bus-appropriate apparel. I matched (of course), and yes, we both matched the VW. It must have been around 1976. From this, an idea started to formulate. I love being in the woods, to smell the earth, walk in the rain, take a dip in a river, and camping under the stars with the sound of nature around me, but I seriously value my sleep. At the time of the great bus idea, our first born was already impeding our sleep schedule therefore; sleeping was a central part of the new camping plan. Thus, I set forth to convince my husband that we (not I) needed a hippie van. Luckily, he didn’t take much convincing. With Veronica, it was love at first sight. We would have probably paid an arm and I leg, but, honestly, I feel like we ripped them off.
On our first trip out, we sat high in those bouncy seats with our 1& ½ year old daughter (Sadira) in the back counting tunnels (9) up to Mt. Pisgah. It was September. That was the first time that we entered the bus nirvana. We left work and the world behind us. It was the way it has been every trip since then, the feeling that all we need in the world fits into veronica. We built a fire and watched the light dance on the leaves above us. Sadira fell right to sleep. George and I stayed up talking by the campfire, sang songs, watched the stars, we even peed in the woods and then made plans where we would go next. The daily mundane had turned into a weekly adventure. The following morning, Sadira even slept in past 7, it was (at that time), a small miracle.
The beauty of Veronica is how she always works mysteriously to get to the core of what I think is important – what I don’t (shamefully) make time for everyday.
Here is what Veronica/the bus has taught/reminded me
● To slow down… considerably, literally. Slowing down let’s you stop along the scenic routes, and the trip always ends up more meaningful. My parents were onto something, getting there IS half the fun – especially since the bus enables a good time, but you certainly don’t make good time.
● To be flexible, to change my plans or NOT make plans – expectations are overrated and not having them is quite liberating.
● To let fate lead you, like when you are out in the middle of nowhere and you bump into old friends – friends you may have just been talking about, well -you’d sure better invite them to dinner. Moments like that can be sacred. Friends become strangers too quickly. Sometimes the friendships you have to work the hardest to keep are the ones that are the most special.
● National & State parks are the American pie – you meet all walks of life visiting them. If you are enjoying the park, you’re all right by me. I’m not too proud of our government expenditures most of the time – but in the park, I am very patriotic.
● To romp these beautiful mountains that I take for granted every day. I should know the swimming holes and sliding rocks and be able to share these treasures with my friends and family. And I have no excuse not to get in the water because there is always an extra change of clothes in the bus.
● To share your food with others because it’s true that food brings people together. For that matter, sometimes a little thing like a salt shaker or a can opener can open the doorway to a new friendship.
● Music is the heartbeat of life and for some reason it is always better outside. You should always carry a music book with a variety of songs on every trip, because I have never met a single person who hates all our campfire songs.
● To live unplugged and only use the Internet to find the local brewery.
● To let the kids get bored, so bored that they remember how to explore and play.
● Veronica brings my family together and allows me to be present in my family by helping me forget the petty bothers of everyday life. She helps me show my kids the how and where I find meaning because trips in the bus are like going to church, I am closer to god in a poo brown bus.
We managed to sneak Ringo into a non pet friendly room after legitimately booking a pet room online that wasn’t available. Lesson learned. Call first.
Saw my first legal 80 mph zone, and drove #60mph..
We crossed the Missouri River 4x. Went through Missouri, IA, and half of SD. In those states, we encountered the strange assortment of MO billboards in 2 strict categories: repent and be saved OR adult superstores. ( correlated?) In SD now, and have entered the wall drug signage.