Ruth Neslund

New member
After sunning on the San Onofre beach, my spouse and I climbed 3000 feet to a secluded campsite 4.2 miles along the Mount Palomar Divide Road. This 13 mile sometimes paved road, ultimately snakes its way up over 6000 feet within eyesite of the world's largest telescope (until 1970). After popping the westy top, setting up our $50 screened in gazeebo, we enjoyed shooting stars and at an elevation where they appear close enough to touch. MPDR has just enough pot holes, unpaved surfaces, and tight one lane turns to discourage most traffic. One vehicle passed our campsite during the entire night. The following morning, we made it to within a mile of the top when the westy's warning light said "I'm to hot". I turned off the engine to the sound of boiling coolant. Thirty minutes later, I turned over the engine and drove home. I was just proud enough of our "4 wheel" trip that I drove the westy to work this morning without washing it.
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Capt. Mike

That's what it's all about! I love getting into places the 3-Bedroom, bath-&-a-half motor home crowd can't even think about.

There are a number of posts on coolant problems. Start in the TIPS archives, Clearing the Muddy Waters . . .. Boiling over is the result of a cooling system problem; the VW can handle most anything when it's working right.


New member
Pinnacles National Monument

Out-of-the-way, often overlooked little gem. About 35 miles south of Hollister on route 25. You can only camp at the east entrance - a nice little private campground with lots of quiet sites for Westies that the big rigs can't get to. The monument has caves that are only open in March and October - recommended. The high peaks has good day-hiking. I would never have thought of this place if it hadn't been suggested to me by friends - it barely shows up on the map.


New member
Greetings fellow camper pilots and navigators. I wanted to let you know about a campsite in Monterey, CA. If you are headed for the Big Sur, or have already gone through, you might be too tired to deal with 'full' campgrounds. The Veteran's Park campsite in Monterey is clean, has nice showers, and is in close proximity to all the peninsula offers. In a town where a modest motel can pull in $100/night, it's nice to know you can have a fairly private site with fire pit for $20. Go have breakfast at the Paris Bakery downtown with the money you save! Here is the site:

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate topic & locale.

fxscout Junior Member posted March 19, 2005 04:59 PM

I was in Death Valley National Park with other Westy friends for a total of 2 Westys - but the Ranger made us register in separate sites for the stay-instead of sharing one RV site which had a 2 vehicle limit. Since when are we considered a full RV - are we not a conversion van? We have camped together before - has something changed or did we just get gouged?

Capt. Mike

Maybe neither. Go to the NPS to find National Policy, and then to the National Park in question to determine their written policy. Two vehicles vw. two parties could well have different interpretations. And you may have gotten an employee that made a mistake.

I'd have trouble with two separate camping parties sharing one fee but also understand the reality of many RV's having a 2nd vehicle or motorcycle in tow, which doesn't -- in my mind -- constitute a 2nd party.

The good thing about a National Park is they have a very comprehensive set of written rules and you have the recourse to appeal a practice all the way to the top; the bad thing about a National Park is that it's policies don't always make sense to every circumstance and employees have a lot less discretion to waive rules.


Just did a trip down the coast from Vancouver to San Francisco.

The California coast does not disapoint. February is a nice quiet time to do the trip. Great state parks all along the coast, (some not open this early) Stayed in Crescent City, Arcada, and Saltry Bay, near Pt. Reyes. If you do the drive down Hwy 1 from Leggett to Pt. Reyes be advised that it is a VERY windy (twisty, curvey, any other adjective you want) road. I had been told how twisty it was buy I had no idea. I have driven logging roads all over the west, in B.C Alta etc. but this rival them all. (I was longing for my 911 porsche I sold last fall!) Make sure that you secure everything in the van, and don't take back seat passengers unless you equip them with barf bags. Also note that the road is very poorly marked, and there are many dangerous curves and hairpins that can catch you napping. We passed one large bath and a half motorhome on it's side after failing to negociate the curve.

Take several days and enjoy the ride. We spent a coule of days in San Francisco. Since we are country bumkins, big citys are not our thing, but we had to visit once. I got smart and discovered rather than driving the car in to the city, you can take the foot ferry from Marin county (Larkspur) for $7. Free parking there as well. The ferry puts you down town, nice hotel within walking distance from the ferry. (The ferry is a great deal since it costs $40 a day to park a westy in downtown. Besides the way to do any city is public transit. SF's gets you where you need to go cheaply, quickly and safely.

Spent a couple of days seeing the sites and then back on the ferry. Great deal!

Spend a few days at a family reunion at Pt Reyes, taking day trips to the wine country, whale watching, the beach etc.

Quick 2 day trip home via I-5 Shasta, Eugene, Portland.



New member
Any secret spots?

Has anyone had any luck along the CA coast with finding a spot to just pull over and sleep overnite at, where they weren't bothered? I know, it's probably illegal, but my adventurous side rules, as it should. That's kinda why we own Westie's, isn't it?

'86 Water-cooled


New member
California over Christmas: where NOT to go?


We are taking a 3 week first-time ever Westfalia vacation beginning December 14.
We had a pop-up trailer and then a 24 feet trailer before but never a Westfalia. We'll be renting from VW Surfari in LA.

Above what elevation should we not go to avoid freezing at night in the Westy?
We understand that the coast would be warmer but on the other hand one of the goals of this trip is to see things apart from "beach towns" like desert parks or unusual scenery to us East Coast Canadians. (we LOVED Grand Canyon NP).

Also, the whole "state parks-closing" story is annoying, at best. I read the list of the parks supposed to close down but since it's so exhaustive it's unclear what will stay open and if they're will be many interesting parks left for us to visit.

Any insight on those 2 questions? Any NP or state park suggestion that we could enjoy?
Thanks many times from Quebec city, Canada.

PS: we're used to camp in our pop-up trailer in September where the nights can be chilly but I admit that sometimes it IS very chilly.


New member
free camping in the west

if you do a search for the "Land Survey Information System" you get a federal GIS program (like google earth) that shows where all of the public lands in the west are located.

You can find a lot of well graded dirt roads in California that I have no trouble getting around in with my '85 2wd 1.9l.


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New member
2wd accessible dispersed camping in CA

Hwy 20 splits off from Hwy 80 just a few miles west of Donner Summit in California. About 8 miles down Hwy 20 (it only goes in one direction from Hwy 80) there is a paved road called Bowman Road. This road is paved for about ten miles and then turns to a well graded gravel road and there are lots of pull outs and campsites all over the place (check it on google earth but don't expect the campsites to be marked).

I have seen lots of 2wd cars out there. One time I went up a dirt road that I thought was pretty hard core and then came across a parking lot with about 30 cars: honda civics, toyota camry's, even a mini minor! In the summer there are a lot of people out there, you can still find a spot to camp with no one around, but it is good to know that there are people around to help if you need it.

I am attaching some pics, all of these are on dirt roads near Bowman Rd.


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New member
from barstow:

I-15 N 61.6 mi
Take exit 246 for CA-127/Kelbaker Rd toward Death Valley; 0.2 mi
Turn left at CA-127 N/Kelbaker Rd; Continue to follow CA-127 N; 48.3 mi
Turn right at Old Spanish Trail ; 16.9 mi
Turn right toward Mesquite Valley Rd; 0.4 mi
Slight right at Mesquite Valley Rd; 2.8 mi

That will get you to the Tree, and the road to this campsite is very well graded and passenger car accessible. If you want to get to the meadow area from the Tree:

Head south on Mesquite Valley Rd 4.6 mi
Turn left toward Smith Talc Rd; 151 ft
Turn left at Smith Talc Rd; 4.7 mi
Continue onto Excelsior Mine Rd; Destination will be on the left; 1.9 mi

You might be surprised to see that there are street signs denoting smith talc road out in the middle of nowhere. Smith talc road is fine, even paved in sections, a honda civic could make it without any problems BUT, the last 1.8 miles (excelsior mine rd) is pretty rocky and the extra clearance of the vanagon is good to have. If you have some experience driving on dirt roads it is not a big deal, if you don't it can be a white knuckle deal...

This meadow is by an abandoned mine, and there is a spring there. If you go farther than this mine (where my directions take you) then the road turns into a 4wd road, see attached pic with the door open and the westy tilted...


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New member
I should probably add something like: BE PREPARED! (for anything)

===Make sure you carry anything you need to survive!===


- It might be good to invest in a cb radio. I have a handheld model, in case I need to abandon my car (which you are not supposed to do).

My philosophy is basically to have everything I need to survive for at least three to five days in case of breakdown or anything crazy. Worst case, I can always walk back to a paved road and flag someone down to get help, but I am confident in my hiking ability.

===Check the weather before you go!===

From June to August it is way too hot out in that part of the Mohave. Fall or spring are the times to go.

***Desertusa has excellent sections on: Desert Safety Tips, a Desert Survival Primer, Desert Survival Skills

Do your homework! Find out what an go wrong and prepare yourself to deal with it. Carry an extra belt!


New member
We need more post like yours .
Will definitively give it a try and report back.
I "back-country back pack" so I guess I can survive with a westfalia.
You just remind me to carry my water filter.
Where you looking for gold ?


New member
Re: San Diego Party Bus

Pacific Limo Bus has the ultimate Party Bus San Diego, provides individual accommodations specifically to fit your San Diego Party Bus needs. Whether it is a full night rental or just pick up/drop off, we can make it work for you. Limo Buses in San Diego are the way to go to get your group around town.