North/South/East/West Camping 2022

We have had some time to investigate some campgrounds this winter and spring.  Now that the Canadian Border is open there are many routes that have not been explored for a couple of years.  We have plenty of open spots for reservations and we are excited to help you with your vacation plans.  Our vans get 18-20mpg and every dollar of fuel price increase costs you 5cents per mile more.  Those gas price signs that we see every day make us worry but the increases are not ruining the summer of camping.  Oregon seems to have the cheapest gasoline.

We hope to see you this summer,

Bob and Maureen,Bailey,Scooter


North-The Canadian Border is open. They are randomly testing every seventh person crossing.  Unless you are one of the seven individuals crossing who are pulled out for testing, there is no testing requirement. They are serious about this threat and you need proof of your vaccination status to enter. No test is required unless requested and there is no charge for that requirement. The campgrounds in Tofino and the Wild West Coast are filling fast but there are many private and provincial campgrounds on the sunshine coast that are available. Consider camping in the gulf islands or into the BC interior. The drive from Bellingham toward Whistler to Pemberton and then over the pass to Liloet has many first come first served campgrounds and the experience can be one of a complete wilderness setting. A trip to Jasper/Banff or east to Pemberton makes a great loop via Canadian Highway 1.

South-We have really enjoyed exploring the forest service and Oregon State Parks campgrounds in the Bend/LaPine area. There is great camping in the Mt. Hood area to the South and campgrounds in Metolius River/Crooked River and LaPine area. Fly fishing the Crooked River or the Fall River in LaPine are great experiences that do not require a great deal of experience. There are many guides available with equipment at the fly shops in Bend. The State Park in LaPine has miles of walking and flat single track mountain biking. We have walked as much as 11 miles when camping there this winter and spring.

East-I recently returned from a fishing trip in East Glacier National Park. I drove to St Regis on my first day and found a great campsite on the Clark Fork River. Cascade Creek campground is no reservation and there is a great 5 mile hike to a waterfall that continues on to Muchwater Creek. The road noise dies down at night and it is a great campground. Muchwater is a forest service recreation site that has some beautiful sites right on the Clark Fork River. The only drawback is a train line across the river but it reminds me of life on Chuckanut Point. Once you get to West Glacier you will find many camp sites in the park that are still available. There are also many commercial campgrounds and in that same area you can hire guides for rafting or fly fishing.  You need to make reservations ahead to drive the going to the sun road and all of our vans are short enough to traverse that great road. We have traveled from St. Marys up to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and then continued on to Banff and Jasper on the Ice Fields Highway and back to Bellingham via Whistler. The possibilities are endless with our Contemporary vans and two weeks. There are more first come first served campgrounds in Canada than we have here in the states.

West-The Olympics are traditionally crowded in the summer but consider a trip to Stair Case campground on the East side of the Olympic Mountains. There is also great campground at Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island on the east side. Most of the National Park Campgrounds on the West side like the one at Mora all require reservations but for the first time in two years Hobuck Beach Resort campground on the Makah reservation is open to camping. They have huge capacity and no reservations are required. The beach is among the most beautiful on the coast and they are very dog friendly.

Lets go camping!

Kind Regards,

Bob, Maureen, Bailey and Scooter

Camping 2022 with Chuckanut Westfalias

January 1,2022

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.


Van News:

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.

Chuckanut Westfalias Bellingham Wa

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.


Camping News:

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. For camping at Green Point near Tofino, make reservations through Parks Canada 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  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

Winter Chuckanut Westfalias News

Dear Friends of Chuckanut Westfalias,


Sitting in our home on wooded Chuckanut Point, looking out at eight inches of new snow covering the trees and the prospect of more we can’t help but think of spring and summer camping. Despite a very slow and unsteady start to last rental season we are happy to say that we survived the extremely confusing National Park and Forest Service shut downs and we were able to help our customers find peaceful places to camp. With greater acceptance of mask and distancing procedures and the hope of vaccines giving protection from illness, we are looking forward to spring, summer and fall camping season.



We are not very optimistic about the opening of the Canadian border because many border-states have not embraced the concept of group pandemic control and Canada will not just open the border with British Columbia alone. Locally, our favorite camp spot on the Makah reservation will not open until they reach 80% vaccination but tribal members are not against the vaccine and the opening of that campground will likely happen in May or June. We would suggest that you go online and start making reservations where that is possible for State and National Parks. It looks like Oregon has gone back to reserving 6 months in advance and it gives you a better chance of getting a great camp site if you reserve now. Also, don’t forget about Hip Camp and use the iOverlander app when searching for out of the way places to camp. We are accepting reservations at this time without a deposit and there is no payment due until 7 days before your rent. All that is required is a card to authorize but not charge the damage deposit for the reservation. In these changing times we do not want our customers to feel trapped into a reservation.



Here are a few updates:


  • Bedding/carpet/your safety update– We are going to supply everything but bedding this year. Washing sleeping bags and keeping them safe for our customers is just too challenging for us. We are going back to providing a carpet in the vans and have found that our combination of complete vapor cleaning and use of the ultra violet light and ozone circulation have made our vans a safe place for our renters. We wash every dish, cup and utensil in the dishwasher on high heat to sterilize them before your rent and wear gloves when we load the van.
  • Honu-That van spent the winter in San Francisco with our son Kjell and wife Molly. It will be back in spring for rentals with few modifications. It has been a great van and it will get a full service (bearings, alignment, ball joint examination) before it goes back on rent. It looks like a new set of tires is also in order. In September we removed the heater, replaced the fan and electronics and cleaned all of the ductwork and re-sealed the diverters. It has made a great difference in the heating system with more air on the windshield. Honu is completely off grid friendly now with two large permanent solar panels on the roof.
  • VanGogh-Bob is building a Subaru engine from scratch at the machine shop and will install it by April 1. It will also get a transmission inspection and the addition of higher 3rd and 4th gears to help it match the Subaru engine. VanGogh will still get 20mpg but will do so with twice the power. We put in higher gears to keep the mileage up, not to allow our customers to drive faster. On the long list is dash board and heater upgrade, full service (bearings, alignment, ball joint examination) and possibly new tires. Van Gogh will get two large solar panels to make it an off grid vehicle.
  • Silver Star-This Pleasure Way Tofino has turned out to be our most popular rental with 20,000 miles of rentals last season. It did laps between Chuckanut and Yellowstone. We raised the van 1 ½”, added Koni struts and Fox shocks this winter, changed the running boards to ones that are not slippery, raised all of the plumbing and installed Toyo ATIII tires to make it more forest service road friendly. As a result of the changes we are adjusting the maximum speed to 65 mph. We still have not found a way to use a bike rack on this van because of the door configuration but we are working on it. We have used Silver Star as our base when we visit Bob’s 92 year old mother and the furnace is quiet and makes it a perfect winter/early spring vehicle. The interior height makes the van much more comfortable with the pop-top down.   With Lithium Ion batteries and two solar panels this van is an off grid vehicle. There is a video tour of the van on the web site if you have not seen it yet.
  • Salish-We ordered this Pleasure Way Ontour 2.0 van yesterday. It is based on a Ford Chasis, has a gasoline twin turbo engine with 400 H.P. and a 10-speed transmission and gets 16-18 mpg. It is 19 feet in length and has a toilet, shower, medium sized refrigerator, microwave, induction range and is an off grid vehicle. Salish also has a television (something we thought we would never have in a van…. never say never…)There is a back up generator in case you need to use the air conditioner for longer than four hours. The van has four three point seatbelts but only sleeps 2 unless you use the blow up bed in the driver’s cockpit. We have not seen that bed yet but maybe there is room for kids on the floor? The bad news? This van will not be in service this summer as we will probably take delivery in November or December. It is a very popular van and their production is booked out until next winter.


The Westys aren’t getting any younger and we seem to have a number of long distance rental requests so the two new vans are for those long distance trips and we are keeping the Westys in Washington and Northern Oregon. Silver Star already has bookings for summer and will probably fill fast.


We thank you for your continued business and look forward to great times in the Olympics, North Cascades and Northern Oregon. Please let us know if we can help you with any vacation plans. For the best rate and communication book directly from our Web site or simply give us a call 360-961-9877


Thank you,


Bob , Maureen, Bailey and Scooter







Camping Baja Mexico… Westy Style

Twenty miles after crossing the border at Mexicali we turned onto a dirt road and headed to our first camp ground in Canyon Guadelupe, Baja Mexico. We chose this destination because it advertises a hot spring pool for every campsite. Two hours later we had only covered ten of the seventeen miles to our destination. The road was the worst we had ever encountered but we drove faster realizing that we not make it to the campground before dark if we did not speed up. The crash of silverware in the drawer became our speed limit. When we finally made it to our destination we stopped before a stream and looked up to see a hand painted sign that said “Office this way….Safe”. We waded across the knee-deep stream checking for large holes or rocks and decided to go for it. We had come this far and were looking forward to a good soak to remove the dust.

Our site was surrounded by date palms and had a very clean hot spring pool with a view of the hills. As we soaked in our private hot spring, our only concern was the drive back to Mexicali on that daunting road and the possible effect that eating dozens of dates would have on our traveling companion Bailey.

Our campsite at Canyon Guadelupe

Each site has a private cement lined hot spring pool

A trip to Baja is a dream for nearly every Westfalia Van owner and we are not the exception. With the adventure of extended backpacking and mountaineering trips just a memory, we were looking for a new challenge. Ruining two new shock absorbers on a terrible dirt road the first week of our trip and trying to buy replacements at “Autozona” without speaking any Spanish was perhaps more adventure than we bargained for.

Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez

Pete’s Place/ San Felipe

After leaving Canyon Guadelupe we drove two hours south to San Felipe. To our amazement, it was an easy drive on a smooth highway with beautiful scenery. The route passes close by a State Biosphere Reserve that is an estuary and home to thousands of birds. We stayed at Pete’s Place, six miles out of town. We drove onto the beach and enjoyed our first Sea of Cortez sunrise the next morning. Each site came with a palapa (small grass beach shelter) and the beach extended out nearly a thousand feet at low tide. It was a secure camping area and we enjoyed the evening around a campfire with other Westfalia owners who shared their favorite Baja destinations.

Great Camping at San Felipe despite unseasonably cool weather


Deserted Gonzaga Bay

Puertecitos/Gonzaga Bay

An hour and a half south of San Felipe on the last stretch of maintained road on this section of the coastal Sea of Cortez highway 5, is the fishing town of Puertecitos. The camping can be noisy because of early morning boat launches but the cove features a hot springs pool that is tempered by water from the sea. The springs are too hot to use at low tide but as the tide comes in the temperature moderates. We chose to camp farther south on a more deserted beach near Gonzaga Bay. The heavily cockroach infested outhouse was the only down side of the camping area but the heavily shelled quiet beach more than made up for the inconvenience (at least for Bob).

Cocos corner, an interesting stop on the way to Mulege’

Mulege’/Bahia Conception

After reluctantly leaving the beach at Gonzaga Bay we braved the 25 miles of dirt road that connects to Mexico Highway 1 on the way to our next stop Mulege’. The road was in better shape than the road to Canyon Guadelupe but the worry of rocks cutting our tires and the many washboard sections made the trip from Puertecitos to Mulege’ an all day affair. We arrived in Mulege’ just in time to enjoy a farmers market and the annual pig races. Music, great food and a welcoming local community made this a great destination after our day on gravel roads. It was like stepping back into the 1970s. The town has a cash machine that actually works, you can have your clothes laundered and folded for five dollars and a local hotel sells showers that do not cause you to linger.

Breakfast at Magos’

The beach at Mulege’

Camping Bahia Concepcion

South of Mulege’ there are a series of sandy beaches that are appropriate for an extended camping stay. With some patience we were able to find a great spot and we will leave the excitement of discovery to you. The five-dollar per night camping fee made it just right for our budget. Every morning vendors came by with fresh fish or shrimp, tamales, vegetables, avocados, firewood and baked goods. Supplying the winter campers is a good source of family income for locals in the area. During our week there and easily settled into beach life enjoying nights by the fire, kayaking, hikes in the hills and great home cooked meals.

Our Bahia Conception Campsite

Shrimp Tacos Westfalia Style

San Ignacio/Kuyima

The turn around point of our trip down the peninsula was to see the Grey whales and their babies at Laguna San Ignacio. This destination requires another 10 miles of heavily washboard dirt road but the reward is one of the nicest campgrounds we visited. Hot showers (bucket style), flush toilets, recycling and absolutely clean beaches. Reservations are required but the sites are large, sunny and at waters edge on Laguna San Ignacio. For $50 certified guides will take you out in a Panga to see the mother grey whales and their babies. The guide boats are 25 feet long and they sit stationary once the whales are near. The whales swim up to the boat and often the babies come close enough to touch. It seems as though the mothers bring their babies up to the boats to visit. We held our breath as a giant mother whale headed straight for our boat and silently swam under. It is an Eco Tourism whale watching camp and it is very well run. They are most respectful of the whales.

Grey Whales of Laguna San Ignatio

Whales swim up to the boats

The ground at the campsite is made up of tiny shells

Sunset at Kuyima

Would we return to the Baja Peninsula?

Travel in Baja can be stressful because you never know what lies around the next corner. Will the pavement end? Is that dark area on the road ahead a four-inch hole that is the size of your dining room table? Will those goats ever get off the road? Where can we buy propane or water? Is the extra five-gallon can on the roof enough to help us make it to the next gas station? Why on earth didn’t we brush up on our high school Spanish? If you travel without self contained bathing facilities you need to work on your outhouse skills.


For us, all of these inconveniences add up to adventures. Would we return to Baja?

We certainly will, because we like the white sand beaches, turquoise water, funky restaurants and coffee shops, great tequila, friendly locals and the Baja culture.   What would we do differently? We will travel less and stay in each location longer.   We will also bring a compressor so that we can lower our tire pressures to make dirt road travel more comfortable.


Follow your curiosity! It may lead you to adventures you never thought possible!


We would be happy to help you with your local adventures and travel dreams.



Bob and Maureen

Chuckanut Westfalias

We rent fully refurbished Westfalia Vans

Camping Orcas Island

Camping Orcas Island, Washington

Summer is just getting into full swing and we are already planning our fall get away trips. The crowds will have taken the mosquitos with them and gone home. It will be time for us to enjoy some of those beautiful and less crowded campgrounds in the San Juan Islands. Orcas Island camping can be a full week experience or you can island hop and enjoy some of the great camping on Lopez or San Juan Island.

Where to Camp on Orcas-

  • There are more camping options on Orcas than other islands and if you are a tent camper this is the place for you. We like Moran State Park with its 5000 acres of hiking, biking and great camping for tents and RVs. The Mountain Lake campground puts you right at the start of many trails. Make reservations in advance.
  • If you are a tent camper and want to be on the water be sure to check out Doe Bay Resort and Retreat Center. They rent cabins and yurts but also have some very unusual walk in tent sites with stunning views.
  • West Beach Resort has a few tent and RV sites but their biggest attraction are their west-facing shoreline beach cabins.
  • Families with children should check out Mount Baker Family Campground. This is a relatively new campground with several walk-in tent only sites. They have a full gage railroad that runs through the property and several farm animals to entertain the whole family.

Camping at Doe Bay


Chuckanut Westfalia Moran State Park

Moran State Park

Activities on Orcas-

  • If you are a hiker there are 30 miles of trails in Moran State Park. Challenge yourself by hiking up to Mount Constitution from Mountain Lake. Walk through a beautiful forest on your way. The top of the hike is 2409 feet and while others usually drive up, you will enjoy a great sense of accomplishment if you hike to the top. Pack a lunch and enjoy the view.

Hiking Mt. Constitution

View from the top

  • There are five lakes to explore in the park. Rent one of the boats, paddleboards or canoes at the park concession on Cascade Lake.

  • Drive toward West Sound and take a hike in the Turtleback Mountain Preserve. The reward after a gradual 800 foot climb is a beautiful view to the west looking toward Victoria B.C.
  • While you are near West Sound be sure to stop at Orcas Island Pottery. This beautiful gallery has been open since 1945 and their collection is astounding. They bring in visiting artists from around the country and their resident potter regularly adds to the collection.

Orcas Island Pottery

  • Make a picnic lunch and drive down to one of the few public beaches on Orcas located on the southeast tip. Obstruction Pass State Park has a great walk in campground with beautiful views to the south and a pebble beach.  Watch the seals and shore birds as you eat your lunch.

Obstruction Pass State Park

Where to eat on Orcas– The restaurants on Orcas feature local, organic foods prepared with great care and at very reasonable prices. Here are just a few of the places to eat on the island. Discovering new places to eat makes this island a food lovers paradise.

  • Drive toward Olga and stop at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. You select your own oysters stored in fresh seawater. Take some home to grill or buy a glass of their wine and use one of their oyster knives to have fresh oysters on the half shell. You could continue down to Obstruction Pass State Park and have your Oysters there.

Buck Bay Oyster

  • Stop at Island Hoppin Brewery and taste some locally made beer. We usually bring our own snacks to eat with the beer but they also have a small selection of food available. You will enjoy the small town atmosphere of this great little brewery.
  • Our van rental customers always return with rave reviews of Hogstone’s Wood Oven in East Sound. They are only open for dinner but their farm-to-table menu with specialty pizzas will give a nice break from camp food.
  • Another East Sound favorite is Roses Bakery Café. Be sure to make time to have a late breakfast or lunch here. Their café is attached to a gourmet shop and their wine selection ranges from local wines to a wide variety of European wines. Their food is all locally sourced and reasonably priced.
  • If you are camping at Moran, the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat Center is nearby and has a great little restaurant and bar. Try their Grilled Asparagus with fried wild mushrooms and poached duck eggs all covered with Hollandaise Sauce.

Doe Bay Cafe

A sign at one of the campgrounds says “Slow Down…..You are on Orcas now” That certainly sums up the island experience. The locals are friendly and always ready to make suggestions about where to camp, eat or hike. Take some time to “Slow Down” and spend a weekend or a week on Orcas. Let us know if we can help you with your vacation plans.


Bob and Maureen Jorgenson

Chuckanut Westfalias


Camping with Dogs

Chuckanut Westfalias

Camping with Dogs

( as told to Bob and Maureen by Bailey )

First let me say that I am one camp loving dog. One of the hardest things for me is when one of our rented vans heads down the driveway without me. It is not that I never get to camp. I spent over 120 nights sleeping in a van last year but I can’t seem to get enough! There is nothing better than sleeping on the floor of the van so close to Bob and Maureen and knowing that our next walk full of new sights and smells is just a few hours away.   As a fellow dog traveler I want to give you some sound advice that you should share with your owners when they take you van camping.


Bailey, packed up and ready to vacation!

Riding in the Van

  • I ride on the rear seat. Bob and Maureen bought me a really nice sunbrella cover and I am only allowed on the seat when the cover is in place. They get really mad if I get up on the seat without the cover and sometimes they have to shampoo the upholstery so the next renters don’t have to sleep with their face in my hair and dander. It takes two hours and they forfeit some of their deposit. I hate listening to Bob carry on as he cleans the seat.
  • I know that I am in the front seat for photos sometimes but I am so afraid to get up there that they have to bribe me with cookies. Bob and Maureen do not allow me up in the front seat….ever! (except the time Maureen broke her foot and there was no where else to sit).
  • When it is hot Bob puts little white fan on and points it toward me so that I don’t overheat. Sometimes he even closes the curtains on the sunny side of the van. Every time we stop I am allowed to get out of the van, do my business (usually at a McDonalds because they always have grass) and get a drink of water. We never ride with the overhead vent open because the plastic will break in the wind.

Chillin on the back seat!

All Alone-

  • I am so glad that we have a rule that I can never be alone in the van.…even for a quick stop. The van is my part time home and I still worry that I will be left alone in there. We were parked next to a van on the ferry once and the dog in the van next to us was left alone while the owners went up on deck. I felt so sorry for that little guy! He ran back and forth inside, barked constantly disturbing us as we were relaxing on the ferry. He had licked the windows, was scratching at the doors and I think he did a lot of damage. He might have even peed on the seat in his anxiety.
  • I am too big for a dog carrier but if I was smaller having a place I already know would ease my anxiety and I would not bark so much.  I don’t know why but small dogs sure get nervous.
  • Not being alone means that Bob and Maureen really don’t eat out much because there is nowhere for me to be while they are gone. I am lucky that they look for restaurants with outside seating because sometimes I can wait out there with them. I know I am an inconvenience but that is what they signed on for when they decided to take me camping. In Switzerland I can just go in the restaurant and lie on the floor if I behave but not in the U.S.A.

In the Campground-

  • I go everywhere on leash with Bob and Maureen when we are in a campground. It is against the rules but sometimes Bob even sneaks me in the men’s bathroom. One time we were at Kalaloch and Maureen let me off leash for just a couple of minutes so I could do my business in peace and a ranger came around the corner, gave her a lecture and a ticket for letting me be off leash! It was just for two minutes! Honest! Those rangers drive around in the early morning looking for dogs that are off leash! You can’t even pee in peace in State Parks and National Parks. Private campgrounds are much cooler and I can usually just run free.
  • Some beaches don’t even let dogs on the beach. When we go to California we need to be really careful because they think I will chase their birds (my favorite!). They even let motorcycles on their beaches but not dogs! It is not fair at all because we are the coolest animals on earth. Bob and Maureen always carry a long rope that I am tied to when we are in camp. Once I walked around the fire pit and my rope was burned in half. It is a hard adjustment for me but Bob says that it is for my safety because the raccoons in the campgrounds and the Fog Wolves on the coast are really dangerous. Once when we were in Banff a wolf walked right through the campground. There are groups of coyotes in some remote areas that try to get me to play with them and to have me for their dinner.

Why Don’t Other Van Rental Companies Allow Dogs?-I asked Bob and Maureen why other van companies don’t allow dogs (service dogs excepted). Here is what they told me.

  • A rental van is a new place for dogs and they are nervous. A perfectly calm dog that is accustomed to being home alone will bark, chew even pee in an unfamiliar enclosed van. A van ruined by a dog also ruins the next persons vacation and that is not fair to them.
  • Some people are allergic to dog dander and hair. Even the cleanest dog leaves hair and dander behind and most often the van seats are shampooed after a dog rental. This is a lot of extra work and the $50 fee doesn’t cover it.
  • People leave their dogs in the van while they go in the store or on a ferry or in a restaurant and the dogs wind up in the front seat scratching the dash board and door panels, barking and slobbering all over the windows. Re-painting a dash board is a $500 project that is done by their detail shop and renters are responsible.

Dogtini for my birthday.

I hope that you bring your dog because there is nothing cooler than camping with a dog but be sure that you know the responsibilities that go along with the experience.

Camp On!!


Animal Coordinator

Chuckanut Westfalias LLC


You rented a great van! Maybe you should buy one!!


“We rented one of your vans and now we want to buy one…they are so cool and we see them on Craigslist for not much money” here is the real truth about owning one of these great pieces of German engineering!

These vans are cool but are the vans as “road ready” as their owners say? This actually depends on your tolerance for surprises on the road and what the phrase “road ready” means to you. Here are some things to look for before you buy your own Westfalia Van.


Honu- before and after shot one year later.

Age-Most of these vans are at least 30 years old. We think that the best age van to purchase is a gas powered Westfalia Vanagon from 1986-1990. These vans have larger front suspensions and will accommodate brake upgrades without searching for new front spindles. They also came with a larger stock engine a 2.1 Liter (95 hp) rather than the old 1.9 Liter (83 hp). We know that the difference in horsepower is small but every little bit helps. The water cooled version built since 1984 has several advantages not the least of which being that the windshield defroster actually works which is a plus in the Northwest. Any van you buy will have a “rebuilt engine with um……20,000-60,000 miles on the new engine…..” Sometimes you are good for many miles with these exchanges but it all depends on who did the build and how honest the seller is. We have a savings account for an engine exchange for each van and I will probably build a Subaru over the winter to put in VanGogh.

Our Rental Fleet!

Power Train-We own one van with a manual transmission and one with an automatic. The advantage of the manual transmission is gas mileage and simplicity. Our manual transmission van with a standard engine gets 20mpg up hill and down. Shifting the van is like rowing a boat but once you learn where the power curve is you won’t find yourself to be the slowest vehicle on a hill climb….usually. Our friend has an automatic transmission on a similar van and only gets 14-16mpg. In addition, his van is dependably last up the hill. Our other van has an automatic transmission paired with a Subaru engine and a modified transmission. The power curve is significantly different for a Subaru than a Wasserboxer (the standard VW engine) and stepping up to 175 horsepower requires several expensive modifications to keep the transmission running cool and the engine RPM below 3000 when cruising. The powertrain combination for this van is amazing….but the transmission alone was $4000 and unless you do the conversion yourself the engine replacement is in the area of $18000 by the time you are finished. (see NorthWesty of Small Car Performance) That van is a dream to drive and with a low slip torque converter, 3:27 rear end and Peloquin limited slip rear end it will go anywhere…..sorry I got carried away…. What to avoid? Do not buy a diesel Westfalia, don’t even take one for free. They came stock with a 48 hp. Engine and have been described as “slower than a turtle on Valium”. Can you imagine pushing a fully loaded 5000 lb. vehicle with a 48hp engine? Guess what….they have a following and the previous sentence will certainly offend someone.


Cooling– Vanagons came with either steel or fiberglass cooling lines that run the length of the van from the engine up to the radiator and back. After 30 years these lines can become the source of a catastrophic leak causing an engine melt down. We replaced our cooling lines with stainless, replaced the radiator, front and rear heater core and controls and our vans are truly “road ready”.

Coolant Lines…The old and the new.

Fuel-Guess What? Vanagons catch on fire! They do it all the time! The fuel lines run right over the top of the hot engine and add to that a nasty little fitting on the firewall that is made of 30 year old plastic and can fail sets you up for trouble.  Every couple of years we replace the fuel lines using a kit available from GoWesty.  Now while you are working on the fuel you should replace the fuel filter, CLEAN THE GROUND TO THE FUEL PUMP, and drop and either re-seal or replace the fuel tank and maybe even the fuel sensor.  It is a nasty job the first time but you will not be stuck on the side of the road because you sucked up rust into your fuel injection system.  VanCafe and GoWesty both sell re-seal kits and also tanks.  There is information on VanagonFAQ to help you with the install.


Suspension-I will never forget the drive up the freeway after we purchased our first Westfalia Van. A truck passed me and our van literally changed lanes without warning. The suspension was extremely worn, the previous owner had replaced the tires with trailer tires (no lateral stability) and the sum of these suspension problems made the van terrifying to drive. We have replaced all of the bushings in our front suspensions with polyurethane, we have installed larger Audi front brakes, Koni adjustable shocks, new springs, larger 16” SUV rated tires and have the vans aligned by a company in Seattle who know how to align these vans. They handle better in a wind than any other Westfalia van on the road and they still are not a pleasure in a strong crosswind.


Refrigerator-we removed the Dometic that came with our van and put in a Truck Fridge from the company that supplies Peterbilt Trucks. Dependable, makes ice and is energy efficient.

Truck Fridge

Camper Wiring– It seems like the only people who work on Westfalia wiring do so with a roll of electrical tape and a pair of wire cutters. One of our vans had been so poorly modified by the previous owner that I just started over with a new camper fuse box from Blue Seas. That van does not have voltage leaks and the installation of a house battery under the rear seat saves on kitchen space. Many vans have auxiliary batteries installed under the sink and that takes valuable storage space and the battery components are not compatible with cooking supplies. Our batteries are under the rear seat, closer to the engine and alternator. We remove radio power amplifiers and also power inverters because they suck power and will kill your auxiliary house battery. A friends van did not come with an auxiliary battery set up and he needs a jumpstart to leave the campgrounds after two days. We only buy AGM (glass matt batteries) because they can be located in any position and last longer. We also install LED lighting because that type of lighting is brighter and does not drain the battery. We buy our stereo equipment from Crutchfield and install it ourselves. Our first stereo was professionally installed and cost over $1000.


Sink and Water Tank-Plan on replacing everything but the tank. Both of our vans have required new drains, new water pumps and we decided to replace the water lines after we looked at them.


Solar Panels-We buy rigid panels that are portable from GoWesty. You can move them to follow the sun and unlike the new flexible ones they will stay in place in a wind.

Solar Panels work in the rain in Alaska

Damage and Rust-All vans have some rust but how much is too much? Look under the van to see if suspension parts are rusty. Avoid buying a van from the east coast because of the salt used on roads during the last 20 years. A small rust seam needs to be carefully inspected before you buy. Avoid buying a van that has been painted unless it was a full window out paint job. Lift up the window rubber and look for a paint line. A vanagon paint job is about $14000 because of the rust issues on windows and the number of flat panels that need to be carefully faired.


Social Media is full of “Van Lifers” who live on a shoe string and it looks like their life is just one big campground. If you look carefully, nearly every one of these individuals really knows their way around a toolbox and has a tolerance for breaking down on the side of the road. Everyone who owns a Westfalia Van has a subscription to AAA premium.

A sad day…needed help from Peace Vans to fix the problem with VanGogh

Let us know if you are considering a van purchase and would like us to help you do an evaluation. It might be money well spent….or you can do it the way we did…..go in blind and learn as you go….and as you watch your bank balance go….


We love Westfalia Vans and would love to own a third. They are amazing vehicles, the best for camping, always bring a nostalgic comment from people you meet and are just plain cool. We spent over 100 nights in one van or the other last year and they can’t be beat!


See you out there,



What is Included when you rent from Chuckanut Westfalias

What is included in the price?

Incluso nel prezzo, Inclus dans le prix, Im Preis inbegriffen….in any language the question is the same. When you rent a van are there hidden costs? At Chuckanut Westfalias we include everything you need for a great outdoor experience at no extra charge. Here is the list:


Your Ride: Our vans are completely safety checked before every rental. We know these vans inside out and make sure that the upgraded suspensions, Audi brakes and oversize tires are in top shape. The van you rent from us is road trip proven. Both vans have new three point seat belts front and back and will be a pleasure to drive.

Your Meals on Wheels: Part of camping is keeping your food cold, dry and easy to access. Every van has a large high efficiency electric refrigerator. No ice chest to step over, no drippy blocks of ice, and no added charge! In fact, our refrigerators will keep your ice cream cold and make ice for your evening sundowner. We supply two plastic boxes to keep your food organized, dry and safe from those four-legged creatures that can make your life miserable in a camp ground. All plates, bowls, wine glasses, and quality cooking pans and utensils are included. At Chuckanut Westfalias we have a wealth of camping experience that we are happy to share with you. Great meals are possible in a Westfalia Van! Try some shrimp tacos and a little Spanish wine.

Your Creature Comforts: When you rent a Westfalia Van from us you do not need to bring anything but clothing, towels and sleeping bags. Is your van chilly in the morning? Just reach up, turn on the built in forced air furnace, start your coffee water and climb back under the covers. We supply you with clean dish towels and a supply of paper towels.


Your Outdoor Life: Your van rental comes with chairs for every member of your group, small foldable table and even a portable solar panel if you plan to stay in the same place for a week. If you like to cook outdoors we will send you with a small portable stove. Every van comes with an axe, small saw, shovel, fire starter and extra dish pan in case you find washing dishes outside easier. It is all-inclusive and at no extra charge.

The places you will go: We are your northwest camping source. We camp the sunshine coast of B.C., Banff/Jasper, Highway 20 and the North Cascades, the West Coast of Vancouver Island and of course the Olympics. We will help you with an itinerary and give you advice on reservations at no extra charge. We have many resources and they are at your disposal when you reserve one of our vans.

When you rent from Chuckanut Westfalias there are no extra charges….. Incluso nel prezzo? Tutto ciò di cui hai bisogno!

The sun is out! Lets go camping!

Bob and Maureen

Chuckanut Westfalias


Camping San Juan Island, Washington

Camping on San Juan Island-

Travel to the San Juan Islands used to be an all day affair.  The new Washington State Ferry Reservation System  makes access to the San Juan Islands both easy and economical. It takes the stress out of ferry travel and allows advance planning and full use of time on the island.  A trip to San Juan Island takes about an hour and if you are lucky you will see members of our local Orca pod, seals and even dolphins during the crossing.  Plan ahead, make your reservations and enjoy beautiful campsites, great hikes, and enough food and spirits establishments to satisfy the most discriminating epicure. We like to chose one island per trip and set up a base camp making day trips in the van or by cycle and hikes from that location. 


Where to Camp-

Make reservations so that you are able to secure a nice camp site on San Juan Island.  Consider the San Juan County Park as your first choice.  Gather shells on the beach, use the no bank shoreline to launch your kayak or take a short drive with a picnic lunch to Lime Kiln State Park to watch for Orcas that often frequent that shore.   You can also camp at Lakedale Resort which is located on the northeast end of the Island and has a variety of nice campsites that can be reserved in advance. 

Activities on the Island-

  • Be sure to stop at English Camp to walk the grounds, visit the formal garden at Garrison Bay.  Try to envision island life at this small outpost in the mid 1800s. If you are there in early July you may be able to pick some of the tiny wild blackberries that grow along the trails to the beach.
  • Pack a lunch and take a short drive to the other end of the Island for a day on the wild beaches of American Camp.  Walk the shoreline out to Cattle Point and view the over 150 nesting pairs of eagles present at this National Park Site.  If you are there in spring you may be able to view one of the nests of fledglings through a telescope at the interpretive site.  Pause during your walk through the open fields to the beach to look for Black Foxes on this part of the island.
  • Make time to go into the city of Friday Harbor and visit the nationally acclaimed Whale Museum. You will enjoy looking through the shops and restaurants in this little town that has a population that ebbs and flows with the arrival and departure of the ferry.


Where to eat and drink on San Juan Island-

  •  Downriggers Restaurant in Friday Harbor is top on our list of places to eat if you are tired of camp food.  They have fully recovered from the fire that devastated the restaurant in 2013. They have great views and a wide assortment of Northwest seafood.
  • For a variety of ethnic menu choices in a beautiful garden setting make reservations for dinner at the Backdoor Kitchen.
  • Stop by San Juan County Distillery and taste their latest spirits.
  • Make time to visit Roche Harbor.  We enjoy walking the docks, looking at the yachts and hiking around the grounds of the old estate. Enjoy lunch at the Lime Kiln Cafe out on the end of the dock.  This is also a great place to get a hot shower if you feel the need.

San Juan Island is just a short ferry from Bellingham but the “island feeling” makes it feel miles away. A trip to the island is a great camping experience with each coastline offering a different view of life on this island.  There are opportunities to study the history of San Juan Island, appreciate the marine life and as you explore the island you will have many opportunities to visit the variety of farms that sustain the full time residents.  A camping trip to the islands is a great chance to slow down, smell the salt air, listen to the birds and appreciate this part of the area known as the Salish Sea.

Let us know if we can help with your camping plans,

Bob and Maureen Jorgenson
Chuckanut Westfalias

Camping the Wild West Coast

Camping the West Coast of Vancouver Island

If you love to camp and have not been to the West Coast of Vancouver Island this trip needs to be your next outdoor adventure.   Vancouver Island is easily accessible from Bellingham.

Make early ferry reservations and take the BC ferry from Tsawwassen to Duke Point/Nanaimo. Plan to have breakfast on the ferry and keep an eye out for whales and other marine life during your two hour crossing.

Be sure to stop at the MacMillan Cathedral Grove on your way to the Long Beach peninsula and walk through the type of forest that transforms you into a dark world that makes you feel tiny. Next stop is Port Alberni where you can pick up any supplies that you have forgotten to pack before continuing your trip to the coast. Farther down the road to the coast you can eat a picnic lunch at the Taylor River Rest Area. It is a nice stop with clean restrooms and a river next to the picnic tables. Feel like doing some cliff jumping or swimming in a giant river pool? Stop a few miles farther toward the coast at a spot marked as “cliff diving” on Google Maps.

When you reach the Long Beach Peninsula information center you are almost at your destination. You can turn left and explore the fishing town of Ucluelet or turn right and continue on to the surfing town of Tofino.


 Camping in Ucluelet

If you are ready for wild beach camping with pit toilets and outdoor showers make reservations at Mussel Beach Campground. The road in is six miles of washboard dirt but the reward at the end of the road is your own beach fire, great kayak access and a beautiful view of the broken group islands. Be sure to bring your own water!


Hiking in Ucluelet

Plan to spend an hour or two hiking out to Amphrite Lighthouse and walking along some of the Wild Pacific Trail.  Take photos of the ocean between wind shaped trees and look for stairs down to hidden driftwood-covered beaches.



 Eating in Ucluelet

If you are tired of camp food be sure to make a reservation for Norwoods Restaurant. Their menu item “A Taste of the West Coast” offers a gourmet approach to great West Coast seafood.  If you are an Oyster fan be sure to reserve a table at Raven Lady Oyster Forte. You will not be disappointed.



 Camping in Tofino

If you are interested in forest camping with access to a beach that you can walk six miles in either direction then Parks Canada Green Point is your campground. Each site has electricity and there are four large new tiled bathroom toilet facilities with room to clean dishes, take showers at no extra charge. Simply the best facilities we have ever seen. Reservations are open now and they go fast.

Another great campground is closer to Tofino on Long Beach where you can walk six miles on a flat sand beach is Bella Pacifica. At least check out their list of things to do in Tofino.

 Hiking in Tofino

Be sure to take a shuttle out to hike the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. This island is part of the B.C. conservation history and the opportunity to stand among these giant cedars is something that reminds us of our place in natural history.


Eating in Tofino

Plan ahead and find a way to eat at Wolf in the Fog. This is a very famous restaurant with outside and indoor seating. West Coast ambiance plus! Stop off and buy a bag of Rainforest Blend coffee at Tofino Coffee Roasting Company on your way into the city. Rainy day? Find The Pointe Restaurant Wickaninnish Inn Tofino for a great lunch with a view that consists of a 200 degree window to the waves of the West Coast. We park in their lot, have a great lunch and then go down their stairs and walk the beach in front of the Inn. You can walk for two hours in one direction on a low tide.

What else to do in Tofino?

The list ranges from Salmon Fishing to First Nations Art Galleries. You can rent Kayaks, go on a whale watching tour or spend time at their farmers market and craft shows on Saturdays. It is a great community that gets more interesting every year that we visit.

Please let us know if you would like more information about travel on the West Coast of Vancouver Island and of course, if you would like a comfortable, safe restored Westfalia Van to use during your trip. All of our vans have heaters and a built in electric refrigerator.

It is time to plan your summer adventure!

Bob and Maureen

Chuckanut Westfalias