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Posted on September 29 2016

Three and a half years ago, I made a very special addition to the Mumble Tease family, when I purchased my first vehicle, a 1971 Volkswagen campervan (who I would later name Berthold, or Bert for short!).

Early in 2013, I was kind of panicking about how I was going to get myself, and all of my shirts and things, to my first Winnipeg Folk Festival. Up until that point, if I needed to drive to a market, I borrowed a vehicle. Kevin’s Jeep, or one of my parents’ vehicles, but it was finally looking like this awesome system of mine wasn’t going to work. I would be gone for at least a week (too long to borrow), and really, at the age of 27, it was probably time that I thought about purchasing a vehicle of my own.

At the suggestion of my boyfriend Kevin, I began searching for a vw campervan. They were cute and I would hopefully have enough room for all of my Mumble Tease things, and then I would have sweet camping accommodations at the festivals!

In February of 2013, (it was coincidentally Valentine’s Day), Kevin and I headed north to Delburne, Alberta, a small town east of Red Deer to check out a van listed on Kijiji. I didn’t know how to drive standard, so Kevin did a small test-drive, which included not being able to make it up an icy hill, and not being able to find reverse. I had been looking for a van for a while, and this one was running, and moving, and looked to be in pretty good condition (in the dark), and was available, and I bought it. And then Kevin had to drive the van back to Calgary for me (in February, not a fun thing in a vehicle that doesn’t have heat). Best Valentine's "gift" ever! 

I was super excited to show off my new purchase to my sister and parents (the above photo is of me first introducing Bert to them). My Dad’s first comment upon seeing the van was “you’ve got rocks in your head." He worked as a mechanic for many years and was all too familiar with the care, knowledge, time, skill and money that needed to go into properly maintaining an older vehicle. He figured I’d get halfway to my first festival, which happened to be a long 1300km to Winnipeg, and then would find myself stranded, and end up spending loads of money on towing and repairs.

Well, I think Bert surprised everyone that first summer when he not only made it to Winnipeg and back, but also proceeded to make it to festivals in Vancouver, Calgary, Canmore, and Edmonton, all without incident. (Above is him in the parking lot at our first Winnipeg Folk Festival!)

I’ve been driving Bert every summer since and I have definitely had my share of problems since that first magical summer. (A few highlights include a spark plug blowing out of the engine, oh, three or four separate times, finally resulting in a new head; a hole blowing out in the muffler, which was more of a problem than you would think; smoke billowing out the back in the middle of Roger’s Pass on the way back from Vancouver because air wasn’t getting to the heat exchanger, which was less of a problem than you would think; and jumpstarting him because the starter wasn’t working, which I never actually did anything to fix, it just started working again a few days later…) But a tow truck has yet to be involved, and only once have I had to leave Bert while he was getting repaired and rent a u-haul to get to the next festival in time (because of the hole in the muffler!).

And he’s so much fun to drive! I like to say that Bert has amazing powers of happiness. If I’m not in the greatest mood, that doesn’t last for long once I hop in Bert and start driving around a bit. In Bert, everything happens slowly. My top speed on the highway is about 100km/hour, but decreases rapidly when any sort of hill is involved, because of his tiny, air-cooled engine. I know that I’m just about the slowest vehicle on the road, and I accept and embrace that fact and don’t worry about getting places quickly, or passing other vehicles on the highway. Because I can’t!

Driving an old vehicle definitely comes with it’s quirks, and isn’t for everyone. (My sister has demanded that before next summer, the handle that opens the passenger window needs to be functional, or she’s not coming with me to Winnipeg! Fair.) But all the quirks and “adventures” as I like to call them, are totally worth it. Going anywhere is just more fun when traveling with my pal Bert.

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