As soon as I found out about Syncrofest 4 back in early March I was very interested in going just to see everyone’s vans. Being from Texas means having such a small population of Vangons and Vanagon owners around to talk to and learn from, I get most of my info online from various sources. In order to really put things in perspective, the largest Vanagon meet/camp out I’ve been to topped out at 12 Vanagons and everyone was excited because that beat the 9 that attended the previous year. This year’s Syncrofest had 174 vans registered by the time the first day of the event got here. Wow.
I was #75 to sign up and I posted on the Syncrofest thread on thesamba.com (a huge online community for VW owners) if there was anywhere I could just tent camp as I was planning on flying to San Francisco and renting a car to drive to the event. A couple of members whom I’d never even met offered to bring me a tent, air mattress, bedding and pillows etc so that I wouldn’t have to purchase those items once I got there. How nice was that!? Totally unexpected.
After a few options were offered another member posted “Why camp in a tent? Just rent a Vanagon Westfalia for the weekend?” Wait. Hold the phone! People actually rent out Vanagons?! He gave me the name of a place in Redwood City which is about a $30 cab ride from SFO airport that does indeed rent out Westfalias. Score!
So I called up CaliforniaCampers.com and asked about their rates. When I told them I was flying in from Texas and wanting to attend an event in Hollister, CA they knew exactly what event I was talking about. The first response was “Yes we have vans available BUT you can’t drive them on the trails.” Hehee. I assured them that I had no intention of driving their van on the trails, I merely wanted a place to stay for the weekend and “fit in”.
So here she is. Bonnie. Our 1989 Vanagon Westfalia. She was pretty stock and had no real frills which wasn’t a big deal at first but by the time the second day came around I was really missing my own Westfalia back home in Texas. All of the creature comforts that I’ve installed in Libby have gotten me more spoiled than I had realized. I also added on a couple of extras to our rental such as bedding, pillows, lawn chairs, ice chest and towels. It was nice being able to add those items for a small fee rather than having to buy our own. The only thing we needed to do was to fill up our ice chest with food. Easy peasy.
Since we had a few hours to kill we decided to take Bonnie over to the coast and hit Santa Cruz for lunch and then head over to Hollister in order to check in and get set up before dark. I had never driven down that part of the Pacific Coast Highway and I must say that a few of the inclines gave Bonnie a real fit! Some of them I wasn’t sure we’d even make it up all the way, pedal was floored and maxed out at almost 30mph. I’ve never driven a Vanagon with a stock engine before as my Vanagon has a GoWesty 2.5L power plant in it that has a lot more pep than a stock 90hp engine.
Once we had gotten (way too many) groceries for the weekend we headed down to Hollister in order to check in and set up camp. I mentioned earlier that 12 was the most number of Vanagons we’ve had at an event here in Texas.. well we saw more than that simply driving the 70 miles from Redwood City to Watsonville that weren’t even heading to Syncrofest.
One main reason I wanted to make this trip was so that I can see how everyone has their van setup and maybe borrow some ideas in order to bring back to Texas. I know there were a few items I was on the fence about getting for my Vanagon but after seeing them in person at Syncrofest I now know I do want them. I can’t tell you how many items got added to my To-Do List after this past weekend! Ha.
Mike from GoWesty had asked how I like Syncrofest so far. I said I’ve had a great time and that I even got a ride up to the top of the hill earlier in the day. Mike asked if we have gone over some of the crazy obstacles in The Quarry. I said we drove by them but didn’t do anything crazy, I mentioned the trip to the top was crazy as it was for me. He said “You can’t come all the way from Texas and not go play in The Quarry!” Next thing I know we were buckling up in the back of the GoWesty trainer van with Jad in the driver’s seat and Mike navigating! Thanks a ton guy for taking us over these crazy obstacles as I had never seen a Syncro do those thing much less ridden in one doing them.
Also… as if it couldn’t get any better… I won a pair of Porsche 944 CV Joints from The Bus Lab and a set of Fender Flares from Terrawagen in the raffle. There were a ton of great prizes! I actually had to buy a second suitcase for the flight home so I could get my raffle winnings, my Santa Cruz souvenirs and my GoWesty hand delivered order back home to Texas. lol.
I’d also like to thank everyone that we met at Syncofest as you guys truly made it a great experience for us. David and Diane offered to give us a ride to the top of the hill in their 16″ Subi powered Doka which was insane for this flat lander! Congrats to David/Diane for winning the Best 2WD Vanagon Award! Our neighbors Kevin and Jennifer for loaning us a lawn chair once the chair I got from the rental company pretty much exploded once I sat on it. Ha! Congrats to Kevin/Jennifer for winning the Best Syncro Award!
There are so many others I know I’m forgetting… Let me say this, if we exchanged words at some point over the course of the event I want to say thank you as well because you also contributed to me feeling right at home even though I was 1,900 miles away from Houston.
Next year. I will be making the drive from Houston for this event. i’m not going to miss it for anything! I have a year to prep!
Here are the photos from the event… I have them divided up into 3 parts. First, campground photos. Second, photos from our trip to the top of the hill. Third, Syncro Challenge competition photos. Feel free to share our link and/or download the photos of your vehicle. Enjoy!