Labrador Caravan

June 5, 2007.
The Start: Bus Fusion

Phil, Kim and I met a Bus Fusion, which is one of the better planned and attended events in the Westy calendar. (Thanks, Frank Condelli - pictured to the right.) For ten years it has been held every June on the shores of the Mississippi River in Almonte, Ontario. The other Mississippi River, that is. Last year when I was there, it was cold and raining, and we huddled in our vans with the heaters running, seeking shelter from the elements. The year before, when I wasnít there, it was hotter than blazes and everyone spent a lot of time in the water cooling off. This year we were lucky, and it was just right. Perfect blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and one simply splendid thunderstorm that began as a tornado warning which had us all scurrying to batten down hatches and put things away lest they be caught up in the wind.

Iíve gotten used to vanagon events by now, and the overall scene no longer seems worthy of note. The one was distinctive in a new way. One after another, I remembered people Iíd met elsewhere in the Westy world who

would be coming to Bus Fusion. Good people, people whom I was excited about seeing again. When I moved back into housing, I worried that I would lose my niche in the Westy world, but hat hasnít happpened. I still make new friends at VW events, and now there are increasing numbers of old friends whom Iím delighted to see again.

So this time I saw Tony again, a white-bearded man from Ontario, and his daughter Kathy from Ottawa, and her daughter Emma, a charming twelve-year-old with a passion for costume design. She had grown since last year, from a round-cheeked child into a comely almost-teen, who sniffed in disgust at whatever her mother said. Which fazed Kathy not a whit, she

laughed at her daughterís airs and continued telling me about her upcoming business trip to the D.C. area, the boyfriend whom she had ditched because she didnít need a man cluttering her life, and the dope habits of her teen-aged son.

It was good to meet up with Joel from Rochester and his excitable dog Rťmy, with whom I had spent a good bit of time at Everybus in April (both of them). As well as Jamie, the self-described ďkookie math teacherĒ from North Carolina, and Mike and Mary Collum from Maine.

And I was especially happy to be designated an honorary Canadian, so I could camp with the Potts clan from the Toronto area, patriarch and matriarch Gord and Marg, their son Greg and his wife Colleen, their children Matt, Lisa and Franny, Gregís brother Marty and his son Erin. Iíd met them all before at one time or another, and they are all good folks. Greg is an organizer and a giver, he brings people together, and heíll help anyone with anything at

all. So when I mentioned that my poptop canvas had shredded from wear, he suggested that we make replacing it a project for Bus Fusion. Vanagonauts like to jump in on campout repairs, as long as their own vans arenít at risk. And lots of people want to know how to replace a poptop canvas.

I didnít really want to know how to replace a poptop canvas, but I was happy to have a crowd of people to help with mine. It isnít really very exciting, except to a vanagon geek, but it was good fun to stick my head through the totally shredded canvas, and out of my open-air van once we removed the top altogether. And to stand on the upper bunk in the sun and look down into the inside of my rolling house. Iím not too impressed with the quality of my new poptop canvas (for those who care, itís the low-end option from Bus Depot, too loose, and a few inconvenient design imperfections), but it is better than a shredded one, and nice to have three windows, anyway.

Kim and Phil and I made plans for our travels that mostly involved food. Elaborate schemes for chicken piccata, boeuf bourguignon, fine wines, excellent coffee. We agreed that we had to plan on dinner in the fanciest restaurant in Newfoundland, at the far end of the Great Northern Peninsula, and worked out which day that would have to be in light of Kimís work

schedule. His schedule also determined when we had to take the ferry from Happy Valley out of Goose Bay to Cartwright. A check on the internet showed that there are only two ferries a week, one on Sundays and the other on Tuesdays. We didnít think weíd make it in time for the June 17th ferry; our earlier Ė and preferred - option would be the 19th, our later choice the 24th. But we didnít call to make reservations, since we didnít know quite how fast weíd drive the 1100 kms from Baie Comeau to Happy Valley.

That turned out to be a mistake.

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