Buses by the Bridge 2020

It felt strange comforting to be back at a festival. I spent a large proportion of my teenage years at English music festivals and I always felt a special energy by being at one. The only real difference was now I could rock up in Ruby and spend a couple of days in comfort, rather than ‘slumming it’ in a tent eating pot noodles

We slept rather well. There was no late night partying, no traffic and best of all… no wind.

After the success of our table at Bugjam, we decided to set it up again, as we still had cards leftover. If we could make just half of what we made last time, we would have been very happy.

As we had bought the electrical components to connect our new LED lights, Willow set about rewiring the front electrics. She had bought a new fuse board to try and lesson the electrical draw which was putting a lot of stress on our current set up. I set about greeting people who were curious about our table, explaining where we had come from and what we were doing.

Just after midday, we went for a quick wonder around the site, checking out our VW neighbours. We then went on a small bike ride to a nearby marine shop, as we desperately needed more butane gas for our camping stove and in the past we’d had some luck sourcing refills there.

We decided to bring Aimee along, as she wouldn’t have many opportunities to get out off of her lead. We had only brought her on a bike ride once before, when we were staying in Key West. That had been almost two and a half months ago! She had been small back then. Almost lost in Willow’s basket.

The store was only ten minutes away by bike, so we were fairly confident that we would make it to the shop without Aimee getting fidgety. And we almost did. With the shop in our sights, Aimee decided that she didn’t want to be in the basket any more, most likely because we saw an appealing tree. So Willow stopped and let her explore whilst I continued ahead to seek out butane.

Amazingly, the marine shop had refills, so I returned to Willow like a proud hunter gatherer. Once Aimee was satisfied with climbing up and down the tree multiple times, we set off back to Ruby. Aimee slightly calmer after her mad tree climbing session.

Back at the van, we were chilling out, drinking a beer, when the guys from Hot VWs turned up. After a quick chat, Eddie informed us that he would like to do another interview with us. They couldn’t believe how popular the first interview had been in just a short number of days and wanted to share more about our journey.

That night, we watched a spectacular sunset over the lake and then joined a group of people who we had spoken to at our stall earlier on in the day, for some beverages and music.

In the morning, Willow continued to do minor bits, whilst I continued to watch our stall. I had struck up a conversation with a lady parked across the path from us. Her name was Melissa, and she was there running a jumble sale, selling all sorts of bits and pieces. I learned that she had been coming to the festival for years with her husband, but sadly he had passed away. She broke my heart when she explained that 2020 would be her last visit, as she had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This touched a nerve with me, as my late grandad had suffered for many years as a result of the disease and I knew first hand what it was like to live through it.

When Willow was done wiring the new lights, She watched over the stall whilst I did a few ‘bits and bobs’.

After about half an hour, I heard Willow cry out,

“Lee, you need to come outside right now!”

Worried that there was a problem with the stall, I rushed out in a panic. I didn’t understand at first. I observed the stall and only saw Willow standing with a group of guys.

Then I saw!

Willow was stood with Leo, a guy we had met at Bugjam in Florida. Not only was Leo at Buses by the Bridge, but he was wearing a Kombi Chronicles T-shirt! When we first published our store, Leo was our first customer, order some items on the same day the store went live. And now he was standing outside our van wearing his T-shirt for the first time.

After catching up with Leo, he explained that he hadn’t sent me a picture of him wearing the top, as he had heard that we would be at the festival and so waited for the perfect opportunity to wear it. Seeing Leo in our design was one of the proudest moments of my life. At that moment, I was so grateful to Leo, and felt blessed to have met him in Florida. If Leo had been the only person to have ever bought any of our merchandise, I would have still felt privileged. Amazingly, James and Lynne, who we also befriended at Bugjam, had also bought some stickers and a t-shirt, as well as Tammie, who we had met at the Volksgiving meet in Louisiana. It meant the world to both of us that our new friends were still following us and were supporting our adventure.

As the crowds started to dwindle, I took Willow over to Melissa to introduce them to each other. Whilst speaking to Melissa, I had noticed that she was selling a fridge magnet for Brighton Breeze 1999. Brighton Breeze is an English VW Talley, which starts near London and ends up in Brighton. Apparently, her late husband had once completed the drive and she was hoping that someone would be interested in owning it. The freaky thing is though… Willow is from the Brighton area, and we have done the exact same event,only eighteen years later.

Just as we were heading off, Melissa offered Willow the fridge magnet as a gift, happy that someone actually knew what the magnet represented and would actually appreciate it. The magnet will now forever live on our fridge in Ruby!

Buses by the Bridge is only a three night event, and so it was already the final night. We decided to rejoin our new friends from Reno, Team Amigo, for more drinks and music. They were under strict instructions though to keep the noise down, as we had broke the curfew the previous evening, so we took the party elsewhere.

We joined a group with a guy named Ray, who we had meet earlier at the stall. Ray had kindly donated $60 to our travels. He was a retired forensic police officer, who now spends most of his time travelling in his VW.

I think a lot of people were still feeling pretty delicate from the previous night’s partying, so our last night at Buses by the Bridge was a more chilled out affair.

We had chatted to so many people over the weekend and as a result, we were feeling pretty shattered ourselves and so was relieved to go to bed sometime around midnight. Thanks to Ray, our stall had once again been a success. We had raised just over $100 through our personalised greeting cards, which was truly unbelievable. Our VW family keep surprising us with their generosity.

We learnt on the final night, that there was a Sunday morning tradition. At 9am, people jumped into Lake Havasu. I had agreed to join William and another English guy we had met at the stall, however Willow wasn’t quite ready and by the time we made it down, they were already in position, and I just about was able to record them coming out of the water. Maybe next year I could join in with the tradition!

We still hadn’t managed to meet up with Eddie and Shin from Hot VWs for our follow up interview, and so we headed to their tent, only to find that they had already gone.

With people starting to leave, we went for one final walk around the campground to check out the amazing VW gathering on display.

With not much left on our agenda we went in search of a shower block which we heard about the previous night. Finding it about fifteen minutes from the camp ground. Quickly returning to the van, Willow headed back and I waited at Ruby in case Hot VWs sort us out. Which they did!

When Willow returned from shower, we headed down to the lighthouse for another chat, this time with Aimee as well. Just like the last interview, Eddie quizzed us about our journey and I once again tried to make sure that I didn’t come across as a bumbling idiot.

We had tied Aimee to a nearby picnic table, but throughout the entire interview, she spent the time whining for attention, so we held her for the last part of the interview. As I write this over a month later, the interview has never been posted and I reckon this was partly down to our little madam screaming for attention in the background.

With the interview over, we grabbed a quick picture with Eddie and then said our goodbyes. The festival clears out quickly on Sunday, so we headed back to Ruby and started packing away.

Our neighbours were already packed by the time that we returned to the van, and so we exchanged details and said our goodbyes to them as well. It definitely felt as though we had just acquired more reasons to return to the States thanks to Buses by the Bridges.

Before leaving, we drove Ruby down to the lighthouse for a few pictures, stopping by a line of fancy vans along the way.

Not wanting a long drive, we located some free BML land just under an hour away from the camp ground, but before we could set off, there was something we were desperate to see.

When I was younger, I heard a story about how some Americans wanted to buy London Bridge. They offered a handsome amount and were a little taken aback when London officials agreed to sell them the bridge. Piece by piece, the bridge was taken apart and shipped to America, where it would work it’s way to Lake Havasu.

Needless to say, the Americans were confused when the bridge arrived. Apparently, they believed that Tower Bridge was called ‘London Bridge’ and so they had bought the wrong bridge! The bridge still stands there today, as a reminder to everyone to check your Amazon descriptions before ordering!

Pulling up to the bridge for some pictures, it was easy to see why you might have been a little bit disappointed when you learned of your mistake. London Bridge was a ‘run of a mill’ bridge, with nothing really distinguishing it, other than it’s legacy.

We left the bridge behind, and headed to our new camp spot, stopping off for supplies at a nearby Walmart.

The BLM land was located just off the highway, down a dirt road. We were surprised at just how many campers and RVs that were parked there. We drove for at least five minutes, with all of the available spots occupied, eventually finding a spot that was fairly isolated from everyone else.

The weekend had drained us physically and emotionally. We had met some amazing people and once again we’d had a blast at another American VW festival.

In the morning, we would start planning our route up to Vancouver, a journey which was sounding more and more unpleasant after every person we spoke to for up north.