Dear Friends of Chuckanut Westfalias,
We hope that this mail finds you in good health and looking forward to another season of camping. We still enjoy being in the van rental business and the wonderful people we meet make it all worthwhile. Many of our rentals this year were to past customers and we were able to reward their loyalty with a gift of our monogramed Chuckanut Westfalias insulated Yeti mugs.
Covid made being in the van rental business a challenge at times the last couple of years but it certainly helped us hone our cleaning skills. Our business has continued to grow despite the frustrating Canadian border closure and the challenge of obtaining reasonable transportation from Seattle airport to Bellingham. The shortage of rental cars combined with the cancellation of Amtrak and Bolt Bus frustrated our out of state renters but many were still able to arrange reasonable connections. We hope that the availability of rental cars and improved public transport is coming.
Honu has been on rental for over 60,000 miles since we started our business. The engine in that van came out of a vehicle with 80,000 miles and it is time for a complete rebuild. Bob will start that work after the new-year and will drop it off in Bend for a refreshed German Transaxle transmission later in March giving that van a new lease on life. Honu has 200 watts of solar power and there will be no need to plug into shore power. The van will be based in San Francisco with our son Kjell and his wife Molly. We are undecided about renting from that location but for some of you it might be a great way to see Big Sur and the Mendocino Coast. We will supply more news on that opportunity later.
Van Gogh has been on rental for 45,000 miles on a rebuilt VW engine and last spring Bob did a Subaru conversion with a completely rebuilt engine. We also had the transmission refreshed and strengthened to meet the new engine. With some modifications the engine develops 140hp and combined with a higher fourth gear is great to drive. This van has 200 watts of solar power and there will be no need to plug into shore power. If you drive a manual transmission and want that Westfalia feel this is your vehicle.
Silver Star is our 2020 Pleasure-Way Tofino. This is a great van built on a Ram Promaster van base. It is simply a large version of the Westfalia with lithium batteries, a 16000BTU furnace and an induction cook top. The van has been lifted and has all terrain tires but is a great road van getting18-20mpg. You will enjoy the air conditioning and cruise control on longer trips. Silver Star has been making laps between Bellingham and Yellowstone or Glacier every summer. It is also a great Washington/Oregon Coast/San Francisco van. The van sleeps 4 and with all terrain tires and 200 watts of solar power is suitable for forest service camping.
Salish is the newest addition to our fleet and is a van for two people. It is a 2020 Pleasure-Way Ontour 2.0 and is a full on Class B Coach. It has 200 watts of solar, a generator, camper and vehicle air conditioning, toilet/shower, instant hot water system and two-speed furnace. It also has a Bose sound bar and small TV with adapter for Netflix viewing, large refrigerator, microwave and induction range. We have been out about 40 nights in this van and we are still learning the systems. Orientation will likely take over an hour and we are in the process of putting together an operating manual and a video. We are excited about this van that sleeps 2 in a queen size bed but until it has been lifted and larger all terrain tires installed it is only for highway and developed campground use. The Ford Transit van has a twin turbo engine and it has plenty of power. You can expect 16-18mpg depending on how you drive. This van has a 6 night minimum.
Canadian Camping: It looks like Canada will be open for the fully vaccinated with a recent Covid test. The B.C. Provincial Parks camp-sites may be reserved two months in advance. https://bcparks.ca/reserve For camping at Green Point near Tofino, make reservations through Parks Canada https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np after January 1, 2022. These reservations go fast as it is a beautiful campground and will be likely filled in a month. You can also make reservations for Banff /Jasper from that site. One of our favorite campgrounds is Bella Pacifica in Tofino on Mackenzie Beach http://www.bellapacifica.com/ Fine Print: Because the status of entry into Canada is completely out of our control we will be unable to refund deposits if the border closes. We suggest that you make two sets of plans so that you do not miss out on a great vacation. If the border is open you need to present us with your proof of vaccine and proof of negative test before you leave our site. We cannot afford to have a van stuck at the border.
Washington and Oregon State Parks: Both States have clear instructions for campground reservations. We suggest that you plan to make reservations rather than hunt around for a campground at the last minute. There are many alternatives to State Parks on Hipcamp that you should consider. We really like forest service campgrounds and as long as there are no forest fires during your rental period they are a great place to camp. The National Parks also require reservations.
Yellowstone/Glacier/Banff/Jasper: These are all great destinations for our two modern vans. We do not allow our Westfalias to venture farther north than Tofino and farther south than the Oregon/California border. The Westys have new engines and transmissions but they are not getting any younger. To avoid mileage charges and to have a more relaxing time be sure to plan two weeks for any of these destinations. We have had customers do it in 9 days but they always come back complaining about time constraints. Remember, the journey is most of the adventure of a road trip. Take your time getting to your destination and then drive hard to get home in a couple of days.
Refunds and Deposits: We did not require deposits for rentals for the past two years. The first year it worked out great but last year was very disappointing. We had cancellations because of “weather”, “change in plans”, “the border did not open” as expected “found a better deal” or “bought a cool van” and we had several vans held out from rental during prime time when we had individuals who actually wanted to camp who thought all of our vans were rented. For that reason we are back to our old policy:
50% deposit to reserve
Cancellations must be received in writing 30 days before pick up.
Cancellations made prior to 30 days will result in a full refund minus $300 booking fee.
If you must cancel a reservation made within 30 days of scheduled pick up, we can offer you a credit, minus $300 booking fee that may be used within one calendar year.
A $1500 security deposit against damage, unreasonable use (driving faster than 65 in a Westy or 70 in Silver Star or Salish) or excessive cleaning requirements is authorized 7 days before your rental and is usually fully refunded within 3 days of the last day of your rental.
A few final details:
- We have decided to continue to rent to dog owners. There is a cleaning fee and your dog (not dogs) must be at least 1 year old. Any dog that weighs less than 25 lbs needs to come with a carrier for times when you are not able to adequately supervise your dog. All damage has been done by small dogs.
- Please be aware of the occupancy restrictions: Westfalia Vans 4 persons but 2 adults and 2 children is best, Silver Star is suitable for 4 but the upper bed has a load limit of 250lbs and the seatbelts in back are only lap belts and there is no attachment for car seats, Salish is a 2 person van.
- The Westfalias and Silver Star have roof racks that can be used for paddle boards or small kayaks. They must be removed before lifting the top and you must bring your own straps.
- We are again able to rent sleeping bags with our vans. If possible however, we would prefer that you bring your own bedding.
- All of our vans have new Swiss Diamond cook ware, an aero-press coffee maker and a Yeti insulated coffee cup for each member of your party.
- As a returning renter we will give you one of our really nice engraved Yeti coffee cups when you return.
We are looking forward to working with you on your next vacation….we open for reservations on January 1, 2022 and begin our rental season March 1, finishing some time in the fall likely September 30.
Bob, Maureen, Bailey and Scooter