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Rocky Mountain Westy Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:14 am

Hey guys,

So another year has passed and we are going to do another open house camp out. It has been fun in the past and should be fun this year.

It is coming up pretty quick as in September 7-9. It would be great to see the regulars and some new comers. Of course, everyone is welcome.

Thanks, Mike

msinabottle Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:47 pm

I'm planning on attending, Mike. When do you want people to start arriving?

msinabottle Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:41 pm

Well, Denver was a parking lot, but Winston and I both kept our cool. Very packed! I'd say maybe 20 vans, from a Bay Adventure Wagon to a Eurovan Camper. Mike has given us access to his wireless network, and fed us on Famous Dave's pulled pork and brisket! People are settling down, now, getting ready to overnight before heading up what the fires have left of the Pouder Valley for Saturday's camping. The brave firefighters saved all the campgrounds from the Hayman Fire.

Mike raffled off 8 either T-shirts or $25 gift certificates for Rocky Mountain Westy, and the people have all been friendly and glad to talk about their Vans. We don't bore each other, you know, just other people. It was a lovely Friday evening.

Wish you were here!

Rhinoculips Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:59 pm

msinabottle wrote: Wish you were here!

Wish I were there too! Just happens to be that my van is in their shop getting a head gasket job. :'( Hope to get down to pick her up on Monday. Can't wait to see the pics and to have my van back.

Have fun everyone.

Farfrumwork Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:44 pm

I JUST saw this, Sunday night 9/9
Hope you all had a good time :D

msinabottle Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:33 pm

The Pictures I took, all 141 of 'em, are up on Photobucket in this album:

As you can tell, I didn't use my good camera! Mike took a group of us to see the Classic Car Show in downtown Fort Collins, so you've got a mixture of vintage iron and Vanagons in that album. I'll do a play-by-play a bit later.


Rhinoculips Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:10 pm

Thanks for posting the photos. Looks like a good time was had by all. Also nice to see that my van (white Westy in photo #69) was on display with the others, even with its ratty top proudly popped. I never like being separated from my van, but at least she is in good hands.

msinabottle Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:33 pm

I'll try to interleave appropriate pictures for those of you who didn't want to follow the links!

Well, never DID get a response to 'When should I be there?' and so I didn't rush my departure from parts South--a number of engrossing and irritating tasks came up before I could head out, anyway. I also paused to check Winston's tire pressure, and top him off to the 50 PSI I keep in the Agilis, and opened the engine compartment for a brief inspection. Hadn't driven him in August, although I knew his battery was topped off, which is what I also did to his fuel tank upon setting out. Previous trips had left him pegged on the return run, I decided to forestall the anxiety. He's still getting 21-22 MPG.

Denver was awful, heavy traffic in spots, but I have had my practice in driving Winston in such, and kept the fan off, for the most part, in hot weather and bumper-to-bumper. Once I got through all that I ran Winston at just a hair over 4K RPM, which kept his speed around 65 or so, the limit in that stretch of I-25 is 75. Was annoyed to find that I'd misplaced my written directions, but I'd driven to Rocky Mountain Westy four times, and my memory was enough.

When I got there at around 6:30, I saw around 20 vans with their tops up, a good many of 'em, as Rhinoculips has noted, customers, some of 'em vans the brothers Labate have for sale, and some of them, hurray! People from previous gatherings, including the nice gentlemen from South Dakota, and the 'Old Timey' musicians from last year. All these folks are on the Samba, and at least they know that I remain terrible with names. FNGRUVN was there and waved me past a group in the lot to the end of the row, where with difficulty I squeezed Winston into what was pretty much the last spot.

They were all eating the wonderful Famous Dave's pulled pork and beef brisket Mike had generously supplied, delicious, and there was a cooler full of beverages and children fighting with squirt guns. I slathered on the mosquito repellent and joined the throng, updating and admiring the lovely vans assembled as required.

Passed a pleasant night in the parking lot, noisy, but the wise Vanagonaut is well equipped, and I had a sleep mask, a 'Little John,' and ear plugs, all of which I was glad that no one saw me employing. I admit that the freight train and the rather large collection of police vehicles not too far offf showed that not an uneventful night.


Mike suggested that those of us staying to camp would enjoy going to the old car show in downtown Ft. Collins Saturday morning, and we duly went, in two vans. Fred and his lovely lady drove their van, which had been my first ride with the tencentlife/RMW tuned exhaust, sprightly! And now became my first ride in a Vanaru, because their old engine had died and they just went ahead with an RMW conversion. Not used to a van zooming or sounding like that, they had been happy with both versions of their nice yellow van.

Only one VW, a nice old bug...

but a great many other interesting vehicles. I lingered over the beautiful Mopars, the oldest and pretties of them all this one:

and the ugliest vehicle of them all, and it knew it, this one:

We all took turns losing track of each other as we lingered over this or that beautiful vehicle, with periodic pauses for fatigue and a long one for lunch.

We all made it back to RMW, and as we made our vans 'ready for sea,' people started trickling out to head up the Poudre River canyon to the same campground we'd so enjoyed last year, Mountain Park, which, due to the heroic efforts of some incredible firefighters, had been spared the ravages of the horrific Hayman Fire. The river had been running black with ash earlier this horrid, hot summer. It was quite nice, for a change, that Saturday.

Not a van in sight when I got to the campground, Winston handling the gentle grades and the pretty dang sharp turns quite well. Drove through the entire campground before I overtook a pair of managers who told me which campsites Mike had generously reserved for us, and I snuggled Winston into EXACTLY the same one he'd occupied nearly a year before.

Vans started arriving, I had actually beaten everybody driving one into the campground, having taken no pauses on the way up. Patrick and other friendly folk came up to ask me about my modifications to Winston, and got... the FULL tour...


which left their eyes a little glazed--I HAVE been tinkering with Winston for quite some time. It's all up here on the Samba, folks! Saw a nice old Bay Window Westy and a beautiful Winnebago Eurovan, and people were laughing and walking through the campground and generally enjoying themselves.

I thought we might be in for some more of the wonderful music we'd had last year--there were clues:

and it turned out that memories had been so fond of the year before that we also had, in their own van, this one with Fred and Cathy's used tuned exhaust, an excellent fiddle player and another good banjo player--and more than one bottle of bourbon.


All of which duly were employed. The music in the setting under the stars in a clear, cool night sky were--superb. More than one of the Vanagonauts present remarked that this, truly, is what it's all about, and we were all very much enjoying the beauty of the music and the conversation. I'm afraid I disappointed Mike a bit--he asked if I would sing some of the Vanagon songs I've published here, and blast it, I could only remember parts of them. I must get one or two of them ready for next year. But we all had such a wonderful time...

I was one of the last to leave, other people had... What's the word? Lives, and had to return to them. Winston handled quite well in the descent down the canyon, it turned out at the very bottom that I'd left him in 3rd the whole time, and perhaps that was not a mistake. I wasn't riding the brakes. This year I grimly refused to take advantage of the 'Slow Vehicle Pull-Outs,' 1)I was doing the limit or just over it, and I wasn't in the mood to cater to speeders, and 2)When I've done that in the past THEY DON'T LET YOU BACK IN!

Nothing too remarkable on the trip back, except that my passenger side mirror folded back when I passed a semi, the turbulence WAS awful, but I'll see about tightening the interior bolt on that again.

Raves from all those with the tuned exhausts, and my own sobering realization that as fond of the brothers Labate as I am, and as generous and friendly as they've been with me, I've never, you know, actually... BOUGHT anything from them...


That must change. My heart says the exhaust to squeeze more performance out of Winston's 1.9, my head says a locking drawer... But we really did have a wonderful time. I hope we all get together next year, and that those of you who were there will forgive me for doing exactly what I said I was going to do--and forgetting your names. Won't soon forget the weekend, though.


FNGRUVN Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:02 am

Nice write up as always, Rob.

Great weekend. Weather couldn't have been nicer. Got to listen to some really good "old timey" music under a star-filled sky, provided by Fred, Cathey(sp?), Jason, and Mandy.

Thanks again to Mike and Greg for hosting this fun event.

Tobias Duncan Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:23 pm

So is this going to happen again this year?
Thinking about this or the balloon fiesta in captain kirk.

FNGRUVN Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:01 pm

There's info on their website.

msinabottle Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:00 pm

It was another lovely weekend. Many more things went right than wrong, and Mike LaBate and Rocky Mountain Westy continue to play a generous and supportive part in all things Vanagon. Winston and I had a great time, not that HE'D admit it!


Before I forget, all the pictures I took, much fewer this year, can be found HERE:

I posted the more Vanagon-specific ones here on the Samba, and shall be interleaving them.

Colorado's weather has been... weird this year. Cooler than last year's outdoor sauna, but the last two weeks had been VERY hot, and part of what propelled Winston's and my drive north up I-25 was a desire to leave the heat behind. Traffic was not quite as horrid this year, I left earlier, and two things had responded to timely repairs.

Remember how I mentioned having Winston's tires balanced at Bryant Tire? Not one recurrence of that annoying 'Thunk... Thunk... Thunk...' that had bedeviled my earlier runs up to Fort Collins. Also, last Wednesday I took Winston back to Wheels of Time to see about that #@%[email protected]!% whistle, I recall that I mentioned that, and the whistle, also, was a thing of the past. I didn't miss it.

I had Winston as fast as 75 mph this run, which he managed quite easily, not bad for an air-starved stock 1.9 at altitude. I was getting around trucks with badly-stowed items in their bed and small vehicles towing far too much. Most of the time I cruised at 4,000 RPM--I usually drive by the Tach! And a bit over 65. I made it to Rocky Mountain Westy in a bit more than an hour.

The Fort Collins crowd all had very nice things to say about Winston's new appearance, but I think the most sincere flattery came within minutes of my arrival at Rocky Mountain Westy, when a small swarm of wasps almost immediately tried to MOVE INTO HIM.


I do not exaggerate, and there are witnesses! I got out to turn on the propane and get the fridge going, and found 10 or so aggressive yellow wasps showing a great deal of interest in Winston's passenger side front door. When they started crawling in and out of the crack, I went in and asked if they had any wasp spray. They did, and I got at least 5 of them as they lit on the van and crawled over him--and the survivors did so sporadically for all the time I was at RMW.

Maybe it was the paint! Very aggravating! Ran into fellow Sambinistas once I got the fridge lit and, for some reason, all the screens in place and all the windows open. It was still HOT. I looked over the shop, ate yet more wonderful Famous Dave's barbecue, and met assorted fellow board members. I passed out Wheels of Time business cards and my own author's web site bookmark:

Let's see, who shall I insult by forgetting to mention they were there... davevickery was, and very nice in his beautiful self-customized white van... FNGRUVN was there with his lovely lady and Corgis... ColoradoYeti and Chewie were, in fact, there, still in the first throes of early Vanagon infatuation, and full of ideas and plans for still further improvement...

I'm pretty sure Sanchius was there. I got to meet Farf and his wonderful globe-trotting van, and many more other people whose handles I forget were also there to join us, including a very nice fellow from Texas who was trying to cope with some heat-induced Vanagon syndrome. He wasn't able to join us up the canyon. There were fewer children, but some old friends, Fred and Cathy among them, and others I hadn't seen last year but whom I'd gotten to know on earlier camp-outs. On the whole, Friday evening was very pleasant.

I sat in Winston and READ 'til Midnight after everything slowed down, some folks took Mike up on his offer to pay for camping in the canyon on Friday night--although they found out that Mountain Park campground was full, and had to move back up the canyon to a site called the Narrows, which was different, but quite nice itself.

For the first time since the new tent I slept upstairs, which was a good idea, since it was HOT that night and that morning, and yet I slept quite comfortably in between the tent's three windows. I had a Coleman tent light up there on my tent arm, and found out that an idiot can get away with closing that up inside the tent when he pulls out the next morning. I shall not identify which idiot that was.


Mike, Fred, Cathy, and others invited me to breakfast, but I had already started mine and was content to wait while they ate, walked the Ft. Collins car shoe, and the poor Texan frantically tried to get his van reliable. I got Winston ready for sea and read my book some more. At about 2 the convoy formed up and I found myself in Winston behind FNGRUVN in his magnificent Vanaru dark Green Westy Syncro and rolling up the canyon. Rick charitably didn't lose me.

Winston rolled well! <I had to break off here, if no one posts, I'll continue this post, otherwise, I'll start another one>.


zipster48 Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:14 pm

Thanks Rob, we had a great time and enjoyed seeing you and Winston wehabilitated, he looked awesome! Nice to see all there, thanks Mike & Greg & Joe & Jennifer at RMW!

msinabottle Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:35 pm

It gets campy. It was lovely seeing you, too, zipster48, and thank you!

I was pleased with Winston's cornering, the Agilis were at high pressure and since I've driven the canyon a few times by now, I was braver and determined not to get lost--particularly since there was a string of Vanagons behind me!

We made it to the Narrows in good order, and although it was a bit more cramped and had less amenities than the other campground, the scenery was lovely, we were on the other side of the river, and the company couldn't be beat.

Just to give some of you the lie, I left Winston's refrigerator burning on propane, and arrived at the campground to find that... It had stayed lit. In fact, it stayed lit all the way back down to Denver the following day.


That's a first!

An advantage of Vanagon camping--'Tripling Up' on a campsite, which some of us had to do, is possible, given the van's small 'footprint.' I ended up sharing Dave Vickery's spot, and he was the best of company.

Since we had to be out of there by 1 the following day, Dave did not deploy the famous canopy. I rigged screens again, having washed the bug spray off of Winston before we set out, and settled in to be comfortable.

We were an eclectic lot! There were clowns to the left of me, a joker to my right:

And we were stuck in the middle, we two.


At first it was pretty hot, then a string of clouds rolled in and a great many of us indulged in a siesta. Of whiles we took advantage of the opportunity to admire the scenery and the vans about which we'd read so much.

The Narrows was one of the places where the High Park Fire crossed the river, you could see the burnt trees going up to the Cache La Poudre and across where we were and up the hill behind us.

There was Maker's Mark this year, but music, none--we were all too busy talking, socializing, and eating wonderful food. Mike's shop manager, Joe, and his lovely lady made and shared gumbo, there was sausage, and a nice box of wine. I had printed out many of my songs from this board, but I was not asked to deploy them.

The following morning, I walked up and down the campground keeping my camera busy.

...taking candids...

Steven was very pleased.


I should mention Jürgen. A very nice German designer of kitchen gadgets was in the process of escaping New York, for a bit, having been born in Konstanz along the German Alps and getting rather desperate for the sight of mountains.

He had spent 6 weeks in New Zealand in a modern VW Camper, and upon seeing our nest of Vanagons ducked in and bought 1/3 of Dave's and my campsite from Mike. He overnighted with us in his Forerunner and shared wonderful Appenzeller cheese and Franzia Merlot and said many polite things about our vans.

Farf is another world traveler, and he and Jürgen talked for quite some time. Farf, Jürgen and many others left early on Sunday, sadly, so I took a few more pictures

and lingered. There were blueberry pancakes, and as a rain storm rolled in, fond and sad goodbyes. Winston and I rolled back down the canyon at 12. The rain has continued, for those of you wanting to know about the flooding, and it's quite likely the river flooded out our pleasant campsite. From what I hear, though, there has only been minor damage to the road.

VERY hot once I got back down into Denver--by the time I got Winston back into the garage, his internal thermometer read 102 degrees.


Winston, however, was perfect, except that my 'floppy mirror' syndrome has returned since the bodywork, I'll pull the passenger's side mirror and tighten it down again. My thanks to Mike Labate and Rocky Mountain Westy for their hospitality and generosity, and my fond greetings to all I met on the camp out. I don't think Winston ever got tired of being told how handsome he's looking with his RMW Pike's Peak Bumper:

You can see the shackles I've installed into the holes they left with that sort of thing in mind--for either winching or towing Winston out of trouble, or lashing him to a rock or tree on a hillside. No need for any of that sort of thing on this delightful weekend.

I hope we'll all do this again next year.


FNGRUVN Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:09 pm

It was good to see you and Winston again. He looks even better in person. Winston, that is. Rob, you still look the same. :lol:

It was another great weekend spent with the RMW gang. Perfect weather and even better company. Vanagons attract the nicest people. Even a German tourist couldn't resist stopping to check us out. He ended up camping with our group.

I was hoping Fred and Cathay would play for us again this year, but the Maker's Mark had little effect this time. :lol: Since they weren't pickin' and a singin', it gave us a chance to sit around and chat with them. Good times! Rob didn't sing for us either, but we did manage to get a couple good jokes out of him.

Thanks again, Mike, Greg, Joe, Jennifer, and all the gang at RMW for another fun weekend.

Farf Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:36 pm

Yes, thanks to RMW for a great weekend, it was fun putting names to faces and the food was awesome too.

Rob, Winston looks good like (as) a Vanagon should....

Many people asked about our misadventure south of the border. A video is linked below to show the final push to get the van back on the road. Note RMW front bumper hand holds for 8 people and the rear bumper for 2 ropes to pull us out, and not to mention the tow hooks on the front to stop our descent into oblivion. Thanks RMW you guys rock!!!!

Farfrumwork Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:30 pm

I was saying that Mike and the RMW crew went the extra mile and even brought in a REAL German for the event

Good times. We pretty much took over an entire campground! (save for one couple stuck in the middle of the sprawl)

Such a wide range of people these Vanagon folk are!


luVWagn Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:25 pm

Is this on for 2014? Where/when? :)

Wolfram Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:20 pm

Sept 12-14. Details here:

msewalson Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:02 pm

Thanks to Mike and crew for putting on a great event. The wife, kiddo and myself had a great time with a great group of people. Hope everyone makes it home safely and we will see ya next year.

Matt, Katie and Amelia.

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