American West Magazine

Some of you know I tried my hand (briefly) at freelance writing once we came off the road. In the turmoil of moving across the US and securing steady employment, I totally forgot to brag about my publication in American West—a very cool magazine I adore run by an editor with a keen eye for all things that-side-of-the-Big Muddy. At any rate, here’s a link to the article about rambling around New Mexico. (And my one gripe is that photos are credited to me, but they are, in fact, mostly Miracle’s work.)

Detour #7: How does Colin sleep at night?

Colin (left) is road weary. All photos on this page courtesy of the well-rested Ian McIntyre (right).

Colin Kellogg of Itinerant Air-cooled fame has logged more miles on the road than most humans. When you live on the road full-time in your VW bus, you sometimes bed down in strange places and make friends (and enemies) out of your nighttime visitors. We knew when we sat down with Colin last year, we would end up making a detour that asked the question, “Colin, how do you sleep at night?”

If you want details on some of his on-the-road accommodations, follow his Itinerant Air-cooled group on Facebook.

Detour #8: Birding on Attu

VW people are by nature obsessive people. Maybe obsessive isn’t the right word. We are driven, passionate, and—well, obsessive, might be the right word. Oftentimes, we have interviews where our VW bus owner reveals they have another passion. Perhaps the best example of this is Birding By Bus. Marc and Eliana are professional birders who had so many stories to tell, we thought it was only right we bring them back for a detour episode that focuses on where their love for birding has taken them. And this detour might hold the record for our farthest fetched episode: they will take us all the way to Attu, the most remote island in the United States. How remote? Well, take a look:

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The winter car

We had outfitted the Beetle—Miracle’s ’74 Sunbug—for the Maine winter. Heater boxes and a new blower (and then a new new blower after the plastic one melted). I shored up the floors with sheet metal screws and plugged any gaps with foam. I even lined the boot with reflectix to keep the draft from leaking through the dash. I drove it from Ohio to Maine comfortably, without incident, in December, logging over 1,200 miles. 

But the cruelty of the Maine winter is not the cold, nor the snow. Even the gale-force winds rampaging fresh off the whole of the Atlantic pale in comparison to the corrosiveness of their salt. Whatever sort of salt they use up here, it is chemically altered to eat through any amount of ice and, by the looks of it, pavement as well. Large clumps of salt bond together and can actually auger their path straight to hell. The heat from hell helps melt the snow and the combustion of small vehicles falling into said potholes keeps Satan’s fires roaring at road-melting temperatures. Maine: We partnered with the Devil to keep our roads clear. 

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Podcast: Tim

Tim from Tok. Is there any other way we could cap off this season than with our Alaskan road savior? We were in sorry shape when we were towed into Tok. And we were complete strangers to Tim, yet he and his wife Maria were welcoming. They shared their time, expertise, food, and wisdom with us while Miracle recuperated from her long-standing injury and the bus was repaired. Before we got back on the road, Tim was gracious enough to share his memories of coming to Alaska and finding his split window bus. He weaves in his philosophy and also outlines the laws of the land here in the far north. 

Podcast: Zach

Zach Wallace has just about the coolest fleet of vehicles in all of Alaska—a squad of Vangons, including a Syncro. Luckily for those who travel north to Anchorage, he rents them out. Last Frontier Westys has been in business for only a couple years, but his love for VWs has been around for, well, generations. 

Podcast: Eilana & Marc

You’ve probably heard of Birding By Bus—the personal endeavor by birders Marc and Eliana that turned into a world-traveling business. We had a chance to catch up with these two in Wasilla, Alaska, and hear all about the start of Birding by Bus and how it became an online sensation. And, if you’re anything like me (a real dunce when it comes to our avian friends), you’ll probably learn quite a bit. 

Podcast: Jeremiah

Jeremiah Woods is the owner and operator of a bed and bus-fest called Camping in the Woods. Each rental unit is a decked out VW bus themed around a movie or an idea. Located in Golden, British Columbia, the scenery is stunning. It’s no wonder Jeremiah was able to secure a sizable check from the Canadian version of Shark Tank called Dragon’s Den

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Podcast: Pete

Pete Wedin is a fishing boat captain and guide who let us camp out at his place in Homer, Alaska, for a couple of nights. We all became fast friends. We sat down with Pete over a halibut dinner (excellent by the way) and a couple of cocktails. Following in the long tradition of seafarers also being experts storytellers, Pete regaled us with tales of the bus he owned forty years ago when he first came to Alaska as well as his current project—a bay window he is restoring.