Category Archives: Around North America

Westfalia Road Trip Day 23 San Luis Obispo CA – Los Osos CA

It’s with a heavy heart that our time in is coming to an end in San Luis Obispo, but we still had a few hours to enjoy it while Westy Werks put the final touches on our Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia.  We spent the day picking up a couple things at the shops on main street and had a great lunch in the park with Archer and Zucca.

Zucca at the park
Zucca at the park

We got the call from Westy Werks that our Westfalia was done and ready to roll. Words can’t describe the positive experience we had with this shop, not only do they know their Volkswagen’s they have perfected customer experience.  They picked me up downtown and brought me back to the shop to settle up and explain everything they did.  Although they were not cheap I felt comfortable for our upcoming trip across the desert knowing I had specialists working on our 23 year old Westy.  Money well spent.

Westy Werks Sign
Westy Werks Sign Says it All

One of the must stop destinations on our trip was Go Westy in Los Osos California. This is a parts supplier that I had purchased parts from before our trip and they’re the foremost supplier and manufacturer of specialty parts for Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalias in the world.  Unfortunately when we arrived they had just closed although we did manage to get a campground recommendation from an employee that was leaving the parking lot.

Although the last few nights in a hotel was a nice luxury we were looking forward to some more camping.  We headed to Montana de Oro State Park based on the recommendation, if you’re heading there it’s further down the road than you think it should be. This turned out to be a pretty plain and uneventful State Park and had a few sketchy campers there. Probably the most uneasy feeling place we have stayed so far, not bad enough to leave although I wouldn’t go again.

It was also nice to have a “home cooked” meal again on the Primus camp stove.  One more sleep by the ocean before we start heading across the desert.  Mixed Emotions!

Accommodation Cost:  Montana De Oro State Park in Los Osos $25.00.

Volkswagen Camper Sightings: Vanagons are everywhere!

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 21,22 – San Luis Obispo CA

We love this town!  We had stopped in San Luis Obispo (SLO) on a trip a few years ago when we rented a convertible Nissan 350Z and drove California Coast, the days before a child seat was mandatory.  The San Luis Obispo of our memories was beautiful and full of very friendly people, not a bad combo.

We decided to spend a couple days here in advance which worked out well since there is a highly recommended shop that specializes in Volkswagen campers called Westy Werkz.  Our Volkswagen Westfalia had been making some noise while turning left we thought it would be good to have them check it out.  It turned out the Westy needed new Axles and brakes and would take a couple days, well at least the timing worked out.  A couple days in a hotel in one place would be a nice change.

Westy Werks
Westy Werks

Once thing we love about San Luis Obispo and is how dog friendly they are.  It seemed that most restaurants were welcoming to dogs as long as you dined on the patio.  Most of the stores we went to also allowed dogs inside, even finding it odd that we even asked before coming in.   The first night our Porty Zucca had been holding in a pee and when we couldn’t find some grass she took the initiative and made due with this bush, felt I need to explain the picture.

Zucca's gotta go!
Zucca’s gotta go!

While we were in town we celebrated our anniversary at Novo Restaurant on their beautiful Patio.  The fact that you can take your dog to a restaurant of this caliber is amazing and the service was fantastic in catering to our needs while dining with a baby.  The great reviews online are well deserved, check it out if you’re in San Luis Obispo.

Patio at Novo
Patio at Novo

Another great culinary find was a block away from the Garden Street Inn was Batch, an ice cream sandwich store…yup that’s what I said.  They make their cookies and ice cream and have have a feature flavour each day.  You pick your cookie and ice cream combo and they assemble it for you, simple but so so good.  We actually went back 3 times while we were in SLO.  When traveling with Children there is a large candy and shop called Rocket Fizz across the street with hundreds of different treats and sodas that the kids will love.

This is one of those places you visit and you wonder for days afterwards why you don’t reside there.  The weather, the people, the great VW repair shop, fabulous food, dog friendly, kid friendly and the laid back vibe all add up to make this a great town.  It lived up to our memories and to it’s title of Happiest City in America, we love it!

Accommodation Cost: $132.08 per night in San Luis Obispo

Volkswagen Camper Sightings: Vanagons are everywhere!

Note: For some reason we didn’t take many pictures while here, sorry about that.

 

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 20 – Pescadeno CA to San Luis Obispo CA

A good nights sleep in the Westy at the KOA Costanoa and we’re back on the road heading down the Coast.  Barely on the road 15 minutes and we were already pulling off of HWY1 into Swanton Berry Farm since I had been craving Pie for a couple of days.  This place was very cool and the karma led us to one of the best Strawberry Shortcakes on the planet!  To add to the uniqueness of this stop was the fact that they had a Honor Till in an unmanned store, there is still trusting people in this world and that is very refreshing.  This is a must stop if traveling this route, must stop!

Honor Till at Swanton Berry Farm
Honor Till at Swanton Berry Farm

This drive along the coast through California is beautiful and this clear sunny day was perfect for it.  Our trusty VW Westfalia camper has been holding up well and the twisty coast roads definitely taxing it’s 90hp engine.

Driving our 1990 Volkswagen Westfalia down Hwy1 California
From the Passenger Window

When traveling on a long road trip with a baby and a dog you need leave lots of wiggle room in your “schedule” for changes of plans.  We were starting to realize that our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca hadn’t had any real exercise in a few days and this breed needs to burn off energy regularly.  We had been told by someone in passing that the beach in Carmel was one of the few in California that allowed dogs, so we made sure to stop there when passing through.  Zucca went bananas and made a few doggie friends on the beach while Archer did his own thing.

Carmel Beach with baby and dog
Archer Digging in

One of the key destinations when we planed this trip was Big Sur California and unfortunately we ended up there on a weekend.  We called ahead to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and they said they were sold out but informed us there could be spots due to cancellations.  When we showed up there it seemed like we lucked out and were given a spot, but upon arrival at camp site 58 it was essentially in the parking lot of a variety store.  This park didn’t live up to our expectations, I think it’s popularity has caused it to be over populated and worn out.  We did a U-Turn and changed our plan with sites set on San Luis Obispo.  I must add that the drive through Big Sur is breathtaking.

After a couple more hours on the road and a few pit stops along the way we rolled into San Louis Obispo a little after dark.  Using Trip Advisor to find a hotel downtown we ended up at the Garden Street Inn and were greeted by a very friendly host.  We love this town and can’t wait to spend some more time here.

Accommodation Cost: $132.08

Volkswagen Camper Sightings: 3 Vanagons

 

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 13 – Millersylvania to Cannon Beach OR

Voodoo Doughnuts!!!  Never mind whatever happened in the morning let’s just skip ahead to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland Oregon.  The first I heard about Voodoo was when Rogue brewing released their Voodoo Maple Bacon Ale and it was a must stop on this road trip.

Voodoo donuts with baby
Voodoo Doughnuts Sign

Well, Voodoo lived up to it’s reputation for being busy and at 11am on a weekday was lined up down the street.  After waiting 20 minutes we finally got to the counter and it was a seriously tough decision to pick only 6.  We sat on the patio and ate 4 of the 6 before checking out the city.  Yes they’re Awesome!

Voodoo Doughnuts Portland Bacon
They’re as good as they look

In my younger days I spent many hours playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater on Playstation.  One of the levels on the game was a place called Burnside which is in Portland Oregon, this was another on my list of places to see.  Well the game was pretty generous in it’s portrayal of the size of Burnside, it turns out that it’s pretty small and not a whole lot to see.  Oh well, off to the Coast.

Burnside Skate park Portland under bridge
Burnside Skate Park

We headed out to Cannon Beach Oregon to start our trip down the coast to California in the Westfalia.  Cannon Beach is a beautiful little tourist town that turned out to be very busy and had very little accommodations available.  We ended up “dry camping” in our VW camper at the Cannon Beach RV Park.  Dry camping means a spot with no hook ups for power or water, it also meant we paid $20 to camp in a parking lot.  It turned out to be a bit of a blessing since we go free wifi, access to laundry machines and all the other facilities.  A well spent $20 considering the other option was a $300 for a dog friendly hotel room.

Road trip cannon beach with kids and dog
The view from of Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park

Volkswagen Camper Sightings:

Accommodation Cost: $20

Westfalia Road Trip Day 1 – Toronto to Blind River

After a full day of work it was finally time to start our 6 week family adventure. Since we had loaded the Vanagon a few days earlier it was just a case of a some last minute items and hit the road, sort of.

Just as I was about to pull out Connie announced she had lost her cell phone. After a 20 minute search and rescue Zucca and I were on the road…in traffic!

After a crappy bout of bumper to bumper, things finally cleared up past Barrie and I had clear sailing all the way to Parry Sound where I ran out of gas literally pulling into a gas station. Lesson 1 – a 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia that shows a half tank of gas might not really have that much. New rule, fill the Vanagon up once it shows half a tank.

Dog Travel
Zucca in the navigators seat

I found a tip on an RV forum that the information centre in Blind River was lenient towards over nighting in the parking lot. As I learned this is called boondocking in the RV world. Being my first boondocking experience it helped me feel safe since there was a police station next door. Up at 6am and on the road!

Road Trip Toronto to Blind River
The smoke stack in Sudbury polluting at night.

“The Plan” – Across North America with a Baby and Dog in a Volkswagen Westfalia

So my wife and I made the decision to both take off time towards the end of her maternity leave to spend some bonding time with our 10 month old boy Archer and our furry child Zucca.
What did we decide was the best way to spend this time you ask?  Well driving around North America in a VW Vanagon Westfalia of course.  3 months before the set trip date we started an exhaustive search that quickly expanded out from Ontario to cover North America.  After a few missed opportunities we located one in Victoria BC that fit the bill and had it shipped to its new home by train.
Vanagon Westfalia Camper
Our new Westfalia arrived in Toronto 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave. Not much time to get it safetied, emission tested and have the accessories we felt would be necessary for the trip.  More about them later.
Trying to get things sorted with work proved to be a little more time consuming than anticipated but with some late nights the van was ready for its maiden voyage with 0 days to spare.
The Plan:
Jason and Zucca the 3 year old Portuguese Water Dog would drive from Toronto to Calgary over 4 days and pick up Connie and Archer at the Calgary Airport.  From there there is a loose plan that involves Banff AB, Salmon Arm BC, Hope BC, Naniamo BC, Seattle WA, Portland OR, then over to the Oregon Coast and head south to Cali then a left up Route 66 towards home.  Simple plan with a 23 year old Van, an 11 month old and a dog right?  Well day one proved that this plan was meant to be broken.
Read on to see how it all plays out…Westfalia Trip Day 1 – Toronto to Blind River