Tag Archives: VW Westfalia

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 19 – Gualala CA to Pescadeno CA

Gualala was a great relaxing camping find, we would recommend it to anyone heading down the coast.

Today was dedicated to mostly travel and taking advantage traveling through a city and getting some free wifi to communicate with home and work.

We b-lined it to Petaluma and set up shop in a Panera simply based on the fact they had free wifi.  I hung out with Archer and did some work on the laptop while Connie took the opportunity to get her hair washed and blow dried at a salon, a little bit of luxury after “roughing it”.

Dog friendly retail store at Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma California
Dog friendly retail store at Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma California

While in Petaluma you must stop at one of the coolest craft breweries in North America, Lagunitas Brewing Company. This is great stop if you like craft beer, they also have a ton of merchandise that makes it easy to spend your hard earned.  If you can plan ahead it would be awesome to check out a band at their LaguMiniamphitheater.

Westfalia crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with Laid Back Dad
Westfalia crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with Laid Back Dad

We headed south in the VW Westfalia and traveled across a the Golden Gate Bridge and passed through San Francisco although we decided not to stop.  We chose to not stop in major cities that we have been to before or figured we would return to at some point in the next few years, San Fran was one of those.

View of the Ocean
A Bad Picture of the View of the Ocean

We ended our day at the KOA Costanoa in Pescadeno California.  This was a very interesting KOA that was part of a resort which included a fancy hotel and restaurant.  Since we arrived fairly late we decided take advantage of the Cascade Restaurant and we ended up with a fantastic meal backed up with great service.  Overall this was a nice resort with a great view and had very clean facilities, reminiscent of a higher end hotel.  You will pay a premium to stay here.

Another great day on the road!

Volkswagen Camper Sightings: 1 Vanagon, 1 Eurovan, 1 Split Window

Accommodation Cost: $51.00

Westfalia Road Trip Day 18 – Willits CA to Gualala CA

Well we had a great stay at the Willits KOA including a chance to relax in the hot tub before making breakfast and hitting the road.  As would be expected with a 1 year old, trips to the hot tub happen in shifts but are still worth the effort.  Now that the labour day weekend has passed we anticipate easier access to campsites like we experienced at Willits KOA.  Off we go!

Zucca and Archer ready to roll
Zucca and Archer ready to roll

From Willits we headed over to Fort Bragg and made a left on Highway 1 towards Elk California for a late lunch stop at Queenies Roadhouse.  This place is a great little restaurant that was very busy for a weekday and for good reason, the food was delicious and the service was great.

Queenies Roadhouse Cafe
Queenies Roadhouse Cafe

After a tasty lunch we hit the highway southbound along another stretch of beautiful coastal driving.  We were pushing the limits of time a 1 year old will tolerate his car seat and decided to stop for the night at Gualala Point Regional Park.

This small park is part of Sonoma County Regional Parks and although small with only 19 spots it was a great find.  The campground portion of the park is covered with very cool Laurel Trees which we have never seen before and it sits alongside the Gualala River which is almost entirely dried up this time of year.

Laurel Trees in Gualala
Laurel Trees in Gualala

We went for a 5km hike to the beach on the Pacific Ocean which turned out to be a little further than anticipated.  It was kind of cool to walk on the dried up riverbed which Archer and Zucca both enjoyed.  One interesting thing to mention here is the signs for “sleeper waves” which apparently can sneak up and carry you out into the Ocean, be safe kids.

Connie and Zucca on the Gualala River
Connie and Zucca on the Gualala River

Camping mid week after the kids are back in school makes for some peaceful camping.  We made a nice big campfire for warmth while we made dinner on the Primus.  Full of food and a sleepy baby, life is good.

Volkswagen Camper Sightings:

Accommodation Cost: $41.00 including firewood and dog fee (odd)

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 17 – Crescent City CA to Willits CA

Nothing much to report about our night at Hiouchi RV Resort in Crescent City but they did have Wifi (after moving spots to catch the signal) and the showers were hot.  Westfalia away!

When in the land of the giant redwoods on a road trip you must drive through one, just cuz.  Well that was the plan when we took the Westfalia to Chandelier Tree in Leggett California.  Apparently when they designed this 2400 year old tree they didn’t have the Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia in mind, we didn’t fit through.  Oh well at least they had another gift shop to add to our list.

A really tight fit...too tight
A really tight fit…too tight

After the indescribable excitement of almost driving through a tree we b-lined it to the KOA in Willits California.  We have never stayed at a KOA style campground before and we didn’t know what to expect.  The Willits KOA definitely exceeded our expectations even though it didn’t offer the natural environment we’re getting used to in the Provincial and State parks.

Little Westy in a Big RV Spot
Lonely Little Westy in a Big RV Spot

It was an interesting change with all of the family programing that they have at this KOA, Fishing Pond, Arcade, Wild West Show, Mini Golf, Pool, Hot Tub, Splash Pad, Playground, Petting Zoo, Dog Park…really, there is more.  Our favorite thing was the Ice Cream Social and the Outdoor movie after the sun goes down.  Archer had a blast and it was nice to be able to watch a movie while he slept in our lap.  I’m not sure if all KOA’s are like this but if they are I can see the appeal, especially for family camping.

1990 Volkswagen Westfalia KOA
Willits KOA Fishing Pond

Weather’s warmer and it’s starting to feel like California, it’s crazy the distance we’ve traveled so far.  ZZzzzzz

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 16 – Cape Blanco OR to Crescent City CA

Cape Blanco Oregon is a pretty nice place to wake up, a little bit cool and foggy but very nice.  Nothing an early morning campfire can’t cure.

Cape Blanco Volkswagen Westfalia road trip
View from Bed

We decided to spend the morning at Cape Blanco and go for a hike to the lighthouse.  Before a big hike you need a big breakfast, Connie was on chef duty this morning.

Cooking by campfire with baby
Breakfast by campfire

Of course when traveling on a road trip with a baby you need to factor in time for naps.  Archer loved the Volkswagen Westfalia and was quick to nap on the comfy bed before our hike.

Camping with kids
Archer’s unique napping position

We hiked to the lighthouse and back which is about 2km each way.  We took the trails through the park on the way there and on the way back we walked down the beach.  We had the whole beach to ourselves so our Portuguese Water Dog Zucca got to run off leash and burn off some energy.  Some pictures of Cape Blanco…

Baby backpack carrier hiking oregon
Archer watching my back
Cape Blanco Oregon hiking
Yup, Cape Blanco is Beautiful
Road Trip to Cape Blanco
Connie and Zucca taking it in

We had a great time in Oregon, now off to California.  We had our first bout of bad luck when we got to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the park was sold out so we had to stay at Hiouchi RV Resort down the road.  Hiouchi is a pretty plain park with not much to review, at least they had wifi…in some spots.  Sleep

Volkswagen Camper Sightings:

Accommodation Cost: $37

 

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 12 – Bainbridge Island to Millersylvania

What a great nights sleep!  As mentioned yesterday we stayed at a friends property which had a seemingly endless supply of apples and blackberries.  Granola and fresh fruit for breakfast, delicious!

Blackberry for breakfast on road trip
Mmmmm fresh blackberries

To catch the Ferry to Seattle we headed to Downtown Bainbridge.  We had an hour to burn before heading to the Ferry so we stopped at the Blackbird Bakery for a bite and did a little bit of shopping.  We really liked this town, it’s on our list of places to return to.

Road trip to Bainbridge Island WA
Great slogan for Bainbridge

As seems to be par for the coarse we almost missed the Ferry and were the last ones to ssqueeze on.  Off to Seattle!

Does the Westfalia Float?
Does the Westfalia Float?

The Ferry docked close to Pike’s Market so we headed straight there to check that off the list.  One place that was kind of cool was RGB (Rachel’s Ginger Beer) which had just opened a store in the Market.  Since I’m in the craft beer industry it was interesting to check out a craft soda company.  Should also note they do serve the sodas with booze in them too.

Pikes Market Soda
RGB Growler Display

We decided not to stay the night in Seattle and start heading towards Portland.  We put a bunch of miles on using the freeway and it was freeway boring.  We ended up camping about an hour from Portland at Millersylvania State Park, really that’s it’s name.  The park was nothing special but did have a lake and some hiking trails, it seems like a place used by people not wanting to travel to far to camp.

Millersylvania State Park
Millersylvania State Park

We went for a walk and then fired up the camp stove for some vegetarian chilli before cleaning up and hitting the hay.

Simple dinner
Simple dinner

Volkswagen Camper Sightings: 1 Vanagon

Accommodation Cost: $23

 

 

Westfalia Road Trip Day 10 – Hope to Victoria

We woke up at Sasquatch Provincial Park to a beautiful morning and packed up early to hit the road.  Instead of making breakfast we decided to head out and grab something in town en-route.

Road Trip Sasquatch Park camping
Morning at Sasquatch Provincial Park

Before leaving Connie found a list of the best Ice Cream shops in Canada and one happened to be on our route to Victoria in Abbotsford BC.  It was only 10 in the morning but stopping at the Birchwood Dairy seemed like a great idea.  It’s a cool operating farm in the country that includes a petting zoo, antique tractors and a retail shop featuring dairy products, baked goods and of course ice cream.

Family vacation to birchwood dairy
Birch Wood Dairy for Ice cream
Birchwood dairy abbotsford BC
Archer driving a vintage tractor

One thing that we tried to do was pack light but when heading on a road trip with a baby and a dog it’s not simple task.  We realized quickly that we had brought stuff we simply wouldn’t use.  Before we left the country we decided to hit up the UPS store in Surrey and ship some stuff home.  We had a great experience dealing with the owner of the store Jasbir Mehta who took the time to help us get packed up, if you need some shipping done hit these guys up.

Road trip shipping ups store
Shedding some weight at the UPS store

We headed over to the catch the ferry to Victoria and learned that we should of made reservations.  Our karma kicked in we were one of the last cars squeezed on, whew.  The ferry ride is very scenic and we used the opportunity to have a late lunch in the restaurant, mmm lunch.

We headed straight for Goldstream Provincial Park to check in for the night.  Given that it was a Friday we discovered that there was 1 spot left and it was slotted in with a group of folks that we didn’t feel would be ideal neighbors with a baby.  We headed back to the gate and just as we were handed our refund a lady came to the gate declaring camping wasn’t for them and they were leaving early, we snapped up her spot which turned out to be one of the better ones at Goldstream.  Karma!

Goldstream Provincial Park Road Trip camping
Set-up at Goldstream Provincial Park

Goldstream offered some great hiking so we loaded Archer up in the kid carrier back pack thing and went for a hike around the park.  After our hike we did dinner and hit the hay.  Well before that Connie did manage to get lost and ended being guided back to our site by some wine filled ladies.

Goldstream Provincial Park road trip
Hiking with Archer at Goldstream

Volkswagen Camper sightings:

Accommodation Cost:

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Westfalia Road Trip Day 9 – Chase BC (Kamloops) to Hope

As mentioned yesterday we ran into some problems with the Westfalia late in the day, it started making a disturbing creaking noise when going over bumps.  We stayed at a hotel to regroup and get some internet access to find a shop.  Luckly we found Axel’s Auto Service on Road Haus (Link) who opened at 8:30 am.  With a call to them in the morning they said they would try and squeeze us in to assess the situation.  So far we’re having good karma.

Volkswagen Westfalia repair shop kamloops
Axel’s Auto Service Kamloops BC

Well once on the highway things seemed to be OK as long as we stayed off the bumps.  After a tense 40 minute drive we pulled into Axel’s and met Axel sitting at the counter.  I’m starting to learn people in the VW business have unique personalities and Axel was no different, in a good way.  Turns out we had lost a bolt in the sway arm that was causing the noise.  Luckily they had a scrapped front end sitting around back and they scavenged the parts needed off of it instead of having to wait the weekend for a part to come in, Karma!  We were back on the road within an hour and everything seems back to normal.  They did mention my brakes seemed to need servicing but they couldn’t fit it in, that’s reassuring for the coastal drive ahead.

Since we were unsure of how long we would be in Kamloops we didn’t really make any plans but since we got back on the road so quickly (10am) we decided to head towards Hope BC and see how far we got.

Hope appeared sooner than we thought and we learned at the tourist information center that Rambo was filmed there, how awesome is that?

Volkswagen Westfalia Road Trip Hope BC
Zucca as Rambo in Hope BC

The nice folks at the tourist info centre recommended Sasquatch Provincial Park which was 30 minutes south.  It’s one of those places that just when you think you’re lost and gone too far it’s right there.  The park operates on a partial reservation system which means some sites are first come first serve and did we ever luck out.  When the ranger came around and chatted with us he said of the 100+ sites we had scored the best one, Karma!  Our spot was lakefront with a beautiful view out our bedroom window.  Check my review of Sasquatch Provincial Park here.

Sasquatch provincial park scenery
The view from our campsite in Sasquatch

After setting up our gear and converting the Westfalia for sleep we broke out the Primus camp stove and cooked up a Quinoa and Veggies recipe that Connie had found online.  I was skeptical at first but it turned out to be very tasty and simple to make.  We went for a walk along the water and let Archer play for a bit on the new playground that was close by.  Bed time comes quickly when you’ve had a long day.

Volkswagen Camper Sightings:

Accommodation Cost:

Westfalia Road Trip Day 8 – Banff to Chase BC

Here we go!  After 2 days in beautiful Banff Alberta we are on the road to the coast, a few hours at a time.  Since we’re traveling with 11 month old baby Archer we made the decision to keep drive time to 3 hours a day or less, we’ll see how that goes.

Today’s destination is Salmon Arm BC since it falls into this time slot and seemed like a nice place to visit.  After a slow load up time (will improve with practice, I hope) we reluctantly left Banff in a great running Vanagon Westfalia.

Baby sleeping in VW westfalis
Archer has a nap while we pack up.

We stopped at the Modern Cafe in Revelstoke BC for lunch and it turned out to be a delicious Decision.  We also made a pitstop in Sicamous BC at the D. Dutchman Dairy for an ice-cream, this seemed to be a popular stop that had a line up out the door.  We decided not to check out the barns and petting zoo and continued add of km’s instead.

Road Trip D Dutchman Dairy
D Dutchman Dairy for Ice Cream!

On the road the scenery was beautiful as expected and the weather held up until late afternoon when we started to get rain.  When Volkswagen designed the Vanagon Westfalia with a 90hp motor they must of been been drinking a few too many Marzen’s, this underpowered van does not like hills!  Going this slow does cause a type of relaxation as the world drives by on the left.  That said our Westy was running great until just past Salmon Arm (we decided to press on a bit) when something happened causing a noise like something had bounced up underneath the van.  That caused us to give up on the day and pull into Chase BC and grab a room for the night.

Banff picture
Pictures from the window on the road

After searching the Road Haus site again I discovered Axel’s Auto Service (no website) in Kamloops.  The decision was made to limp the 60km’s to Kamloops in the morning so I left a voice mail on their answering machine to give them a heads up.  Fingers crossed.

We checked into the Chase Country Inn which is a small 2 story hotel right beside the highway.  It was basic, clean and showed a pride in ownership that was appreciated.  A bonus was they had coin operated laundry and a restaurant so we got some washing done while having a bite to eat.

Volkswagen Camper Sightings:  4 Vanagons, 2 Eurovans

Accommodation Cost: $120