I’ve just returned from my annual holiday sortie to the Rockies, a first with my “new” 1988 VW Westfalia Camper Bettie Blue (which I bought a year ago from her original owner—who I met by chance at Lake Louise). For her part, Bettie Blue performed beautifully (aside from one blown coolant hose that I was able to fix en route) traversing the 3300 km return trip across the prairies in style and comfort.
The weather, unfortunately, crapped out a mere two days after I arrived in the mountains this year (always a risk in late August)—a whiteout on my first summit sortie, snowfall well below the treeline, freezing overnight temperatures in the valleys, and an extended forecast for cold precipitation conspired to push me back eastward earlier than planned—though this did allow me to make it back to Manitoba in time to assist Ev during the past days with The Wave Artists Studio Tour.
Photo: Bettie Blue posed in front of Cascade Mountain on Tunnel Mountain Drive above The Banff Centre (just before the weather turned nasty).
Over the past two months I’ve invested a fair bit of effort (with Ev’s help) in refurbishing Bettie Blue, the 1988 VW Westfalia camp-mobile I had the good fortune to buy from her original owner in Alberta last September. (Bettie, my first Westie, was sold to a long-time climbing friend in March). BB came to me in great shape and with exceptionally low mileage. She’s cleaned up nicely, is now sporting new rubber all around (pop-top seals on roof, and a handsome set of Michelin HydroEdge tires on new 16″ alloy rims from GoWesty below), and has been upgraded with high-powered halogen headlights up front. Already fully kitted out with camping gear, she now awaits the open road…
Image: a 1989 magazine advert promoting the VW Westie and extolling the vehicle’s versatile virtues… I’ll post some pics of BB herself at a later date.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Earlier this month Ev and I once again crossed the prairies with Bettie Blue (my 1988 VW Westfalia camper van) for a holiday in the Rockies. For a number of reasons, not least of which being that I took up fly fishing earlier in the summer, I decided not to climb and scramble as usual, but rather stick to the valleys, streams, rivers, and lakes of Banff National Park.
Above are a few images from our sortie “out west.” Ev informs me that crispy-skinned pan-fried trout are her new favorite fish… which is a nice reward for doing something I’ll admit is almost as much fun as climbing. (-:
While we were in Banff we heard the tragic news that my long-time friend and frequent climbing companion, Peter Aitchison, had been killed in a fall while attempting an ascent of the south summit of Mount Victoria. This came as a real blow, from which I’m still recovering (ergo the absence of blog posts over the past few weeks).
We ended our trip a few days early with a visit to Lake Louise, where we could sit and take in the spectacular view that would have been Peter’s last… climb on, Peter, climb on.
I’ve just returned from a 12-day road trip with Bettie Blue (my 1988 VW Westfalia) and my lovely girlfriend Evelin Richter, who was able to accompany me on my annual pilgrimage to the mountains for the first time in half a dozen years. We had a great time, incredible weather, and a raft of good experiences… as you can likely tell by the pics above. (To see more, visit a gallery on Facebook here).
Above images: Bettie Blue and Ev at Tunnel Mountain campground; Mount Rundle, with the Milk River and Hoodoos in the foreground; a 3-year-old black bear munching on berries; the summit of Cascade Mountain; Ev playing ‘tourist’ at Lake Louise; the incredible turquoise of Lake Louise (as seen from the Big Beehive); three young Osprey fledglings waiting for their next meal of trout, atop a bridge over the Bow River; and, Bettie Blue with Mount Hector in the background.
The Volkswagen Type 2, officially known as the Transporter or Kombi (short for Kombinationskraftwagen) and informally as the Bus (US), Camper (UK), Bulli, Kleinbus, microbus, minibus, and sometimes even hippie van, was a panel van introduced in 1950 by German automaker Volkswagen as its second model, following and initially deriving from VW’s first model, the Type 1 (Beetle).
Some 61 years after its introduction, the Type 2 is still to be seen everywhere (and is still manufactured in Brazil, where last month the 1.5-millionth unit rolled out of the factory). Perhaps it’s because I have many friends with them and that I myself have owned a few (including Bettie Blue, a Type 3 now safely tucked away for the winter) that I seem to encounter these perpetually iconic charmers everywhere I look (both on the roads and throughout popular culture)… thanks to climber friend Gerald Brandt for some of the links/sources of the images shown above (click on images for links to articles and more images).
Banff National Park, Alberta
I’ve just returned from a week-long road trip to the splendid Canadian Rockies with Bettie Blue, my trusty Westie companion—more rest, reading, and reflection than climbing this year, but a splendid time of refreshing renewal nonetheless.
You can see more photos in a Facebook gallery, here.