travel

From Pop-Top Hippy Bus to Sleek Eurovan

eurovanNo Grateful Dead tunes were blaring from the tape deck of the Volkswagen Eurovan on its maiden voyage. Actually, the music that came from the four-speaker Sony 1200 SD 10 CD player was a romantic sounding ballad by the Gypsy Kings – and gypsy may have been the operative word.

But make no mistake, the Volkswagen Eurovan is not the groovy hippy transporter of old. All you have to do is step on the gas and you know the world has changed. There’s a powerful 6-cylinder engine under the front hood. That’s right, it has a 200 horse power engine and it’s located in the front. Plus, the camper pop-top version is now converted by Winnebago here in the United States, rather than Westfalia in Germany as it was back in the sixties. Add plentiful cupholders, the aforementioned multi-disk CD system, fresh water and gray water systems, furnace, refrigerator, stove, and yes, the kitchen sink, and you’ve got yourself a very nice way to cover a lot of miles.

But what’s it like to live in a Eurovan camper for a week or more? eurovanbackhatchThe best answer I can give you is that things can be close and comfortable at the same time. Two adults (both under five feet eight inches) will find it’s got a lot of creature comforts and is definitely more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. There’s no bathroom or shower as you might have on larger truck and van campers, so that still presents a “roughing it” scenario. On the other hand, you can cook a nice breakfast on a propane fired stove, brush your teeth at the sink, and feel the nice breezes in the screened canvas pop top at night.

One thing you learn very quickly about a Eurovan Camper is that every maneuver has a eurovancounter maneuver. If you sleep in the fold down seat bed, you can’t open up the frig until you fold up the middle seat. Or if you want complete privacy, you put up all the window curtains, but then you have to open them back up to get to something in the front glovebox. Or once you lower the rear mini-blinds, you cannot easily adjust the window screen opening on the other side. Big inconveniences? Not really, when you weigh them against the comfort and overall functionality of the total package.

You reach a point in your life when discomfort is more than an inconvenience, it’s a real downer. So having standard features that include power windows, a pollen/dust filter, air conditioning, power locks, cruise control, 6-speaker cassette stereo, intermittent wipers, heated windshield-washer nozzles, rear wiper/washer, power mirrors, full-swiveling captain's chairs, window blinds, and a second deep-cycle marine battery – well you deserve that kind of comfort.

If you do any camping at all and you see someone with a Eurovan Camper (the Winnebago versions range from 1997 through 2003), go up and ask them how they like it. That’s what we did, and we never met anyone who did not rave about their Eurovan. You may not keep it forever (we didn’t) but you’ll have a lot of fun as long as you have it.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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