Monday, May 25, 2009

Introducing Marie

... the newest member of our fleet! Yes, it's true - this beautiful '79 VW Westfalia pop-top is our new home away from home.
Here she is in front of our house:

A view from the back seat:

And from the fish eye side mirror:

Some may fear that we've lost our minds, but oh life is sweet in the Westy. We came across her a couple of weeks ago... we had been on the lookout for a while and this one was the first that met our three requirements: 1) Automatic 2) Runs well and 3) Under 5K. We spotted the ad on a Tuesday - that evening Dave took her for a test drive, and the next day she was ours! We bought her from a very nice lady called Connie, who told us that the camper's name was Muriel, and that she didn't mind if we changed the name, but would prefer it if we kept her a girl. Done. After a few little trips around town, we took her on our maiden voyage last weekend; a trip to Pender Island (to coincide with a certain disc golf tournament).

Here she is at the campground:

With Dave heading off to the disc park Saturday morning, I wondered what I would do with the children all morning (and worried a bit about having to drive Marie around the hilly island myself). And then I had a flash - a memory really, from my first visit to Pender eleven years ago. I remembered that the friends who were hosting us had taken us to a piece of land that had previously been a rustic sort of seaside summer resort. Dave and I had strolled past abandoned cabins, and out along a tiny spit of land, and when we got to the end there was a bench with a spectacular view. All I remembered was that it had 'rose' in the name. I looked at a map of the island, and spotted a park called Roesland, and figured that must be it. So Saturday morning, with me in the driver's seat, we dropped the disc man off at his tourney, and headed to the other side of the island to explore.

It wasn't quite as I remembered it. For one thing, in my memory there were many more cabins to peek in. But in the time that has passed since my last visit, the park has been taken over by the Parks Canada - it is now a part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (as is the campground we stayed at). I suspect that most of the cabins were knocked down so they wouldn't crumble on squatters (or explorers like us). The cabins that remained had signs on the top steps telling us not to go in, but we could still peer through the windows, and get glimpses of some other family's vacation memories. In one cabin I saw a carved wooden sign with the four names of the family members followed by '79-'82. Roesland closed in '92. The site now holds the Pender museum as well, but we were there too early, so we'll have to wait until our next visit to scope that out. Across Otter Bay (where we did actually spot five otters looking out at us - so satisfying when a place lives up to its name) you can now see a new vacation home development. This is another change from the last time I was there, and offers quite a contrast from the humble old log cabins tucked into the forest. After we'd had our fill we headed off to the farmer's market, where the kids played while I stocked up on Ewa's European cakes (rhubarb coffee cake -yum) and admired some hand-dyed island sheep's wool. We then loaded back into Marie, and drove back to find Dave, getting only somewhat lost along the way. Despite her lack of power steering, Marie is very nice to drive, especially if you aren't in a hurry.


Happy Farmer said...

Marie is splendid ! Looks brand new! Congratulations. I am so happy that you first adventure was such a great success. Here's to many more. Love to all.

Hilary said...

I love her! Marie is so cute. I would like to own a 70s Shasta camper van... except that I don't really like camping.

I don't like Stephen Fry's Twitter updates just because they're too hard to follow. He seems to spend the whole day online chatting.

Alex said...

Hello Marie! She looks like a lot of fun - and your pictures are gorgeous. All that gleaming blue water and those lovely trees... I need to come visit already!

Rebecca said...

Hi HF! Yes -she's in great shape. The previous owner had a lot of work done on her and only gave her up because of her arthritis (now that I've experienced the lack of power steering I can see how that could be an issue!)

Thanks Hilary - in case you ever change your mind about camping, check out camper for hire company outside London that has super cute VWs, all decked out in Cath Kidston prints! They may be enough to convert you! I haven't latched on to the twitter thing yet... do you recommend it?

Alex: YES! do come for a visit! The carriage house is waiting for you!