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Vanagon Stories

Day 18.  Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

Sadly, I don't have a picture of our Vanagon at our house, but it looked just like this.

I think I spent at least 40% of my childhood sleeping in a tent or in our VW Vanagon. I was lucky enough to have parents in search of adventure and exploring the outdoors, and they brought my sister and I right along with them.

I’m sure it wasn’t really every weekend, but my memory is that it was. We’d load up our camping stuff in the back of the Vanagon and head for places like Yosemite and the Red Rocks. We spent countless hours in that van. So many of my childhood adventures started there. My sister and I had our set up down pat. There was a backwards seat behind the driver and an ice chest behind the passenger seat. So we’d stack stuff in between so she could lie down. And I had the back bench seat to myself. There was a table set up in between us so we could play games while we drove. Usually gin rummy, and Christine always won.

One time, my mom, sister and I were driving to meet my Dad in Las Vegas. We were driving down the freeway somewhere near Los Angeles. And my mom very calmly tells my sister not to freak out, but there was a mouse in the car! So of course, there was freaking out, and the little mouse ran across the dashboard! Somehow it ended up in the glove compartment. But when we pulled over it was nowhere to be found. I was sitting in the back, so I wasn’t right up in the action. But I do remember all of the commotion and seeing a white (?) little mouse run across the dashboard. To this day it’s still a funny story we like to reminisce on.

Another vanagon story is when we were driving late at night, headed towards one camp ground or another, and we hit black ice and slid off the road into a snow bank. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, and this was before cell phones, we just decided to sleep on the side of the road. In the morning we were lucky enough that a truck passed by. We used a climbing rope of my Dad’s to pull us out. I can still remember watching the truck pull the van off the side of the road and my Dad showing us that his climbing rope had stretched to almost double it’s length.

Another time we were driving to Tuolumne Meadows down Highway 395. We were passing a semi truck and a rock flew up and hit the drivers’ side window. The window shattered. For some reason, my sister had moved from her usual seat behind the driver, and was back sitting with me. And it’s a good thing because her seat was filled with shards of glass. Luckily my Dad only had a few cuts.

One of my saddest memories about the vanagon was the day my Dad sold it. I think it was in 1993, so I was about 8. I was devastated. The night the new owners came to pick it up, my Dad walked in the house to find my Mom, sister and I crying in the blue chair in the study. I remember sitting there so upset. I couldn’t understand why he would sell it. It was almost like a second home. We spent so much time in that van and I had so many great memories. Looking back, I can see it was an obvious choice, I think the van was twelve years old or something. But back then, I was crushed.

I still get sentimental about everything whenever I see a Volkswagen van. I’ll always have such special memories of our many hours spent driving together as a family, listening to great music from our basket of cassette tapes, and laughing as a family.

Who knew a silly old vanagon could be so memorable?




  1. Good experience...

  2. beautiful story!

    What would that mouse? traveled with the new owners ...

    Nice read Theresa!

    greetings from Spain and from my blog dedicated to the Vw-T3-Vanagon.



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