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By Gabrielle.

As I’ve mentioned, I grew up driving Volkswagens and the family car was a VW Bus. This was back before the invention of the mini-van, and if you had a big family then your options were pretty much a VW Van or a Suburban. My family was definitely the VW type. We drove a green one for many years and an orange one after that.

I have so many memories in those vans! We went on dozens of road trips — most often to Los Angeles and San Francisco — the cities where my parents grew up. I can specifically recall the process of loading up before a trip. This is how it went:

Since we were such a big family, we had a huge open-air luggage rack (it looked a bit like this) on top of our bus. My dad, who liked to do the driving, preferred we get on the road as early as possible in the morning. 6 AM would be the goal. 7:00 or 8:00 would be reality. : )

The night before, we would pack up the van. My brother Josh would climb on top and sit in the luggage rack. Then, the siblings would throw up sleeping bags one-at-a-time, and he’d line them up in two rows. Next came the duffle bags and suitcases. And when everything was up top, Josh would secure it all, weaving bungee cords through handles and ties and hooking them on the metal rack. Any thing that didn’t make it up top, like jackets, pillows, and last-minute wardrobe choices, would go into the “way-back” which was what we called the elevated trunk of the Van. (There was the front, the middle, the back, and the way back.)

While the packing was going on, my mom would spray out the black rubber floor so it was clean for the trip. A good thing! Because since this was pre-seatbelt-laws, we ended up moving around a lot, using all available space, including those rubber floors.

Early the next morning, sleepy-eyed and somewhere between grumpy and happy, we’d all pile in. Everyone had their favorite spot (of course!). We’d take I-15 and point the car west. Next thing I knew, we’d be surrounded by desert, singing California Here I Come as we crossed the state line into the golden state.

Tell me, friends? Do you have memories like mine? Did you grow up in a road-tripping family? And did you have a favorite spot in your car?

VW + Giant Sequoia via Jay Mug.

P.S. — We made a video of the kids washing a vintage VW bus. It will make you smile! I promise.