A weekend of Buses, Bikes and a birthday

What a great weekend! (warning, this is a long post).
Well, to be fair it was a great long weekend since we set off a little after noon on Thursday with the camper packed and bikes on the back. The weather was not the best, although not as bad as the day before. There had been some serious storms throughout Southern Ontario and a lot of places were still without power a day later. We learned this when we stopped in for lunch in Omemee (as we had planned). One thing that didn’t occur to us was that the gas stations would not be able to pump fuel without it… we were lucky to have filled up earlier (@ $1.17.9/L) however some volks commented on it being a challenge on their way to BusFusion.

Base camp for the weekend

We drove through some heavy rain on the way, otherwise it was an uneventful drive and we arrived in Almonte around 6. We did our grocery shopping at the Independent there (supporting the local economy) and then drove down to the fairgrounds where BusFusion was happening. We were bus #30 to arrive (the official count for the weekend was 171) and got a nice spot near the Potts clan. Gord and Marg were already there and had set bikes and a boat out to reserve room for Greg’s bus. Chatting with a few people over the course of the evening, set up the BBQ, opened a bottle of red wine and set up the awning and chairs. We were officially at our 2nd BusFusion, the first actually in our Westy.

Beachfront property

As we sat enjoying the evening, there was a steady stream of buses arriving and many of the choice spots filled up. Sites in the big field near the entrance were flat while the riverside spots were scenic. The last to fill was the large field  by the bleachers… that was going to be home for all the late arrivals.

Friday was the first day with planned festivities, so we made a point of getting a good sleep Thursday night and woke to a beautiful sunny day. We had some coffee and breakfast, and chatted with a lot of folks about their campers, mine, the event and life in general. Folks we had met at BusFusion last year were interested in seeing Babe first hand (many had read about her in the various mailing lists we all belong to or on this blog). And I was surprised at how many people remembered the “couple in the Jetta and tent”. The fact that Babe is a diesel was also of interest, particularly to the handful of other diesel bus owners. I learned a lot about the workings of the TD vs TDI conversions and some little (and not so little) things I could do to improve performance. High on that list is an inter-cooler, something I will need to research.

We also chatted with AJ and admired his new trailer set-up, Paul who was the first Splitty to arrive, Charles who had camped beside us in 2010, Mike and his tale of bringing a Bay back from out west, Frank and Rita of course, Jim and Nancy in their green high-top Adventurewagon, and our neighbours nearby.

Charles and his two-tone brown camper “Ouesty” took the same spot he had last year

Then we got ourselves ready for a bike ride with no particular destination in mind and set off looking for small back roads and trails. We made our way north and east then decided to loop back and see what trails there were by the river. That took us through Blakeney and then across the Mississippi River. A small park there described how the town had come about and the importance of the river. For us it also meant a little cross-country riding on the trails. A very pretty spot.

Andrea and the Mighty Mississippi
Perhaps the only photo of me on this side of the lens! @ the Mississippi River

We continued along a variety of roads for a while longer and then finally made our way back. Total riding time was a little over 2 hours and we were hungry by the time we got back. Someone had mentioned how good the fries were at the chip truck up by the beer store so guess were we went next! (Yes, they are very good… try them next time you’re in Almonte).

After lunch Andrea and I wandered around admiring people’s buses, chatting with them, and just enjoying the day in general. Here are a few random photos (and if you’re really interested in the photos then I have more of them up on a BusFusion 2011 Picasa Gallery).

The Potts Residence
The mugs were very popular

So much love… a beautiful Splitty shining from the care it gets

Traded in their camper for a Boler (towed by a new beetle)… give them some time to decide which is better

A cat… and a different layout, Andrea was interested in seeing what a Bay Westy interior looked like

High-tops… two generations parked next to each other.

Frank and Gary

There are always lots of little stories from events like this and Gary (from Mississippi) was part of two of them. He’d left a message in the Vanagon list about having engine trouble as he was crossing the border and wondered if anyone would be able to help him in Almonte. Home to Frank Condelli (and a whole lot of other Vanagon owners this weekend), help was close at hand.  Also in Gary’s bus was Mark and I’m told he made a well received guest appearance at the Barley Mow Friday evening, getting up and performing a few songs. I heard that Greg also got his daughter Lisa up to play her new guitar and I heard nothing but praise for her performance too. Andrea and I missed the “Mow” as we ended up chatting with a bunch of folks who decided our camper was a good place to get together for a drink and chat.

Evening @ the campground

Another fun story is the “attack pig” that Robin and David had at their camper. Lots of folks bring their pets, enough that there is even a puppy parade and contest as part of BusFusion (and other VW events). They had a stuffed pig on a leash.. and a great sense of humour about it. The pig would routinely “attack” dogs if they came too close, and always lose.

David was really helpful and a source of lots of great info as he’s a real tinkerer and loves to do his own mods. He also has a diesel and is also really into figuring out how to store and use auxiliary power for camping.
He and I both went down to look at Jim’s TDI setup… very impressive.

David examining Diesel Jim’s TDI

Saturday morning was the swap meet and I had only brought a bead seat cover and compact propane stove so I put those with all of Gord’s assorted parts. Putting them down I noticed he had a bug screen for the kitchen side window, something Babe has been missing since I’ve had her. “For you, it’s free” sounded like a great price so now I have one screen. At the end of the day, Marg had one bead seat cover too, same price : )

Last year, there were folks selling really nice mats made of recycled plastic and we both thought there were cool even though we didn’t buy one. This year they were back and Andrea bought me one as a birthday present. It will show up in future photos! I also scored some wind visors for the doors and to close the deal Ian offered some nice bug screens he no longer used… that was the best deal of the weekend for me!

Campsite 138

Then it was time for saying farewells as Andrea had a bike race Sunday morning. It meant we would miss the big campfire however there just wouldn’t be enough time to drive back in the morning so we headed to a campsite at Albion Hills Conservation Area where the race was going to be held. We ended up in the same spot we had last year, the first place we ever camped in Babe.

It was a relaxing evening and an early night. And a good choice… Andrea had a great race finishing 2nd on the day (just barely holding off a late charge by Julie). All in all, a great weekend.

Julie, Mo & Andrea

Oh… and yes, it was my birthday. I’ve now celebrated as many birthdays as my father did, this one means a lot on a personal level.

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