Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wenatchee trip #1

This past Tuesday evening Corbin and I packed up the Mini and headed to Wenatchee where Matt was working for the week. The plan was to stay Tuesday and Wednesday night leaving Thursday after Matt got off of work. Corbin did great on the drive over and didn't make a sound.
Wednesday morning we got up and planned on hitting old main street where there was a coffee house I had heard about and a few other shops. Sunset magazine had just done a write up on Wenatchee, so I had some ideas as far as where to go. I got my amazing cup of coffee and we were off but not to where I was planning. We found a bridge that went over the train tracks and decided to follow it. It brought us to the prettiest park right on the river. This park is where we ended up spending most of the day. I found a bakery that had the some of the best food I have ever had. My sandwich was so pretty I had to take a picture of it.
That night we went to a quiet little Italian Restaurant that is my new favorite. Johnny and Becky even you would have been impressed!
The second day was a little hard because once I checked out of the room Corbin and I had no place to go so we headed to the park. Now I have
to say that I have made up with my mini and once again I love it but there are days were I wish it was slightly bigger, this was one of those days. To feed Corbin and be comfortable I had to put all the bags on the roof in the basket which was not so bad. That was until Corbin decided to poop his pants and I ran out of wipes and had to dig though all the bags to find the big container of wipes. Corbin on the other hand loved this part because as I ripped thought all the nicely packed bags he laid in the grass naked from the waist down enjoying the cool breeze on the warm day. He liked it so much I just let him lay like that till Matt met us at the park. The weather was in the mid 70s the entire time we were there it was a great couple of days.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

$40,000 VW bus


Matt sent me this article and I wanted to share it with everyone because first off look how awesome the new VW buses are and second he is a pro writer describing perfecting how we feel when we go on our bus trips.

As soon as I read this article I asked Matt how we could get one (they are not in the US as of now) I think I might start saving because if I were to get a new car/truck/van this would be it.

Also if you have never watched "Top Gear" a British car show I recommend watching it, its one of our favorites at our house.

Along with a lot of other folk, the Hammond clan has just returned from a short Easter break. Which, in our case, was a week in a van.

I know, it’s weird – I’m on the telly and everything and there wasn’t a private jet or a five-room suite in sight.

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Just my wife Mindy and I, our two daughters and a VW campervan touring Cornwall for seven days.

And it was, without doubt, one of our most successful holidays ever and quite possibly my favourite of all time.

Now it’s pretty common knowledge that old VW campervans, while tremendously evocative things to look at, tend not to work.

And even if they do, they won’t go over about 5mph. This one worked perfectly and cruised at a steady 70mph.

It’s not a replica though, not some recreation of the evocative old Boogie Bus of the 60s and 70s – it’s the real deal. But brand new.

The van is made at a VW factory in Brazil and imported to the UK by Danbury Motor Caravans, based in Bristol.

They turn it into a camper in much the same way as companies have been doing since the 60s. Except of course, they have access to modern materials and equipment to turn a base van into a genuine home from home complete with cooker, fridge, TV and a double bed in the roof that means it can sleep four. So long as you’re not complete ­strangers.

Best of all, the wheezy old air-cooled engine has been replaced with a modern 1.4-litre petrol unit from a Polo – not enough to trouble hot hatches but hence the healthier cruising speeds.

I idolised the Boogie Bus as an art student in the 80s when I considered setting off on the open road in a flower-painted hippy wagon to be about the coolest thing it would be possible to do.

I never did it, of course, and so as we trundled out of the drive, girls sitting in the back clutching teddy bears, my soul was soaring at a teenage fantasy fulfilled.

You might expect the rose-tinted glasses to slip and the reality to be a story of breakdowns, cramped quarters, lost sleep and arguments.

But no, the rose-tinteds stayed firmly on for the entire week.

Within half an hour of setting off I had found an excuse to pull over, pop the roof up and construct the first of a million cups of tea while Izzy, 10, and Willow, seven explored the roof bed – we called it the loft – and Mindy lay on the leather sofa.

I’ve never tried one of those canal boat holidays, but I’m guessing there’s some similarities here because we really did slow down. As we dawdled about Cornwall I would keep an eye open for places to stop and enjoy the view. And make another cup of tea.

Some of these vans are bought or hired just to be used for days out and it’s easy to see why – it’s an instant base from which to explore.

We stopped on beaches, on Dartmoor and on hillsides and saw places we would have missed. The girls played in streams, climbed on rocks, explored seaside rock pools and did the things we all did as children and thought had disappeared for ever with the arrival of Nintendos and satellite TV. We took it a stage further and spent the nights in it, camping at a farm by the sea where the ­children can bottle-feed lambs.

We had a barbecue. We drove for miles to see a miniature pony centre. We sat in it in a car park by the sea eating chips, looking at the waves and the seagulls through the rain-soaked windows and all four of us stored up precious memories of happy-go-lucky times spent with the ones we love. It was, to be honest, entirely beyond value.

Speaking of which, they are pretty costly.

A fully-kitted version could set you back well over 40 grand. But you’re getting a brand new, ­warrantied vehicle that can do duty driving to school or the shops as easily as it can be your home for a week.

They hold their value extremely well and, of course, it has the potential to be a memory-machine.

We came straight home, sold our family car and bought one.

It’s going to be pink – to keep the girls happy – it’ll be ready in three months and I shall spend the entire summer in it.